"Since the Tibetan leader was first elected in 2001, I have been semi-retired, but after Lobsang Sangay was elected last year, I thought the time was right, so I retired completely and handed my political responsibilities to him, so now he's my boss - although when it comes to spiritual affairs, I'm still his boss!"
In response to a question about his hopes for Tibet, His Holiness said that observing the power of truth compared to the power of the gun for over 50 years, it seems that in the short term the gun may prevail, but in the long run the power of truth is much stronger. This is why, he continued, Tibetans have adhered to their policy of non-violence - in contrast to which the Chinese authorities appear to think they can solve Tibet's problems by increasing suppression through the power of the gun. He added that support like the planned rally on May 26 will show that the Tibetan problem will not go away.
Another questioner wanted to know about links between Tibetan resistance forces and the CIA. His Holiness admitted the connection, but clarified that Tibetan resistance had already begun before the CIA became involved. What's more, His Holiness's escape from Norbulingka was planned and executed by Tibetans and the CIA made contact only after he was well on his way.
In the afternoon, His Holiness began his talk at the Vienna Stadthalle by introducing his German translator, Christoph Spitz, and his English-speaking assistant, Geshe Tashi Tsering, to the audience.
Considering that about 200 million died in war and violence during the twentieth century, His Holiness recommended that we take steps to ensure that the 21st century is instead the beginning of an era of peace and non-violence. But, he said, this will not be achieved by mere prayer or meditation, peace will have to be brought about through action. He also made clear that even if there is peace, there is no guarantee that we will not face problems or conflicts. The difference will be that we need to address and solve them through dialogue.
His Holiness again stressed that we need moral principles, but as many people think that ethical principles are the preserve of religion and many of them have little regard for religion, we need to employ secular ethics. He clarified that he uses the word secular not to dismiss religion, but as it is used in India, to include and indicate respect for all religious traditions. Secular ethics, he said are what we will need to solve the gap between rich and poor and the threats climate change present to our environment.
His Holiness then invited the audience to submit questions to him. To a question about the most important value to apply in daily life, he said, "Lead an honest life, help people, and animals if you can, and at least refrain from harming them. Keep a calm mind, and then you'll stay relaxed whatever happens. Practice with determination, but don't inflate your expectations. People sometimes ask me for the quickest way to change their minds, but in our day and age I expect they also want to know the cheapest way and the way that requires the least effort."
About the future of humanity, His Holiness again raised changing attitudes to war, pointing out that in the early 20th century young men joined up without hesitation, whereas now the public has by and large turned against war, as shown by the demonstrations against the Vietnam and Iraq wars. He also cited changing attitudes to relations between science and spirituality, both of which now seem much better able to learn from each other. Although he hopes and expects the 21st century to be a better more peaceful century than the last, he reiterated that it will not be achieved just by wishing for it. Everyone will have to make an effort and contribute to a people's movement for change, he concluded.
On 26th May, The Dalai Lama will participate in a symposium on Buddhism and Science titled Mind and Matter - New Models of Reality and also address the European Solidarity Rally for Tibet.