Bengaluru, Karnataka, India, 7 December 2015 — During interviews this morning with Elizabeth Jane of the Trans Asia News Service and BD Narayankar , His Holiness addressed a wide range of subject including historical missteps on the handling of the Communist Chinese.
In response to questions about relations between Tibet, China and India, His Holiness said that while there is no formal Sino-Tibetan dialogue currently taking place, informal links with informed businessmen, retired officials and so on exist. He said it is hard to say how things will work out. There have been reports that when President Xi Jinping seemed to be about to take a more conciliatory view of Tibet, hardliners strongly opposed it.
He regretted the fragmentation of Tibet that took place after the 9th century assassination of the Tibetan Emperor. He speculated that things might also have been different if the 13th Dalai Lama has remained in Lhasa when the Younghusband expedition reached there in 1904. He noted several other lost opportunities such as when the advice of a high Tibetan official, who visited India on pilgrimage in 1946 and witnessed the Indian drive for independence, was ignored. He had recommended making contact with Indian leaders, but nothing was done. Similarly, in 1948 the Government of India sent a message to the Government of Tibet warning of the impending Communist victory in China and its potential ramifications. This too was ignored. Once Chinese troops occupied parts Eastern Tibet in 1950/51, the Tibetan Government tried to raise the issue at the UN, without success.
"I don't feel Nehru made big mistakes over Tibet. The Government of India tried to warn Tibetans, who didn't respond. Narasimha Rao pointed out to me that India didn't recognise Tibet as a part of China, but as an Autonomous Region of China. The Shimla agreement is regarded as valid." Asked whether the Middle Way Approach remained a practical option, His Holiness said, "Let China build Tibet, but protect its ecology and natural resources. We should also be allowed to preserve our culture and language."
Asked if His Holiness has suggested the next Dalai Lama could be a woman. He agreed that it is possible and cited the established precedent of Samding Dorje Phagmo, a line of female reincarnations almost as old as the line of Karmapas, the first reincarnate Lama in Tibet. He also reiterated his stance that the use of violence by Buddhist monks in Myanmar and Sri Lanka never be justified.
As to whether there are ways to counter the radicalization that is taking place, he suggested that generally speaking the human mind not only resists being told what to do, but is curious about what is forbidden. A better approach may be to explain that if people behave in one way, this will be the result, whereas cultivating harmony, another approach, will yield a different result. "One of the features of Nalanda University," he said, "was that a wide range of views were expressed and explored. People were able to study and compare them, drawing their own conclusions, without having to follow any rigid line of thought."
His Holiness also said India's image has improved so far under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and contrasted the freedom of expression in India along with access to information in the United Staes with totalitarianism and restrictions on information in China.
His Holiness added that the Chinese judicial system needs to be raised to international standards so that ordinary people can also obtain protection. He mentioned Chinese writers he met a couple of years ago in New York saying that China was now at its lowest point, morally speaking, for 5000 years.
His Holiness then spent the afternoon at the National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences (NIMHANS) attending a conference conference on Integrating Scientific and Contemplative Approaches to Explore the Mind was held in conjunction with the Garden of Samadhi Mind Centre.
Addressing the conference, His Holiness said, "I always make clear that we all the same as human beings, physically, mentally and emotionally. I too am just a human being. I'd like to tell you about some things I've learned that are helpful for maintaining a calm mind. One is that the practice of altruism gives rise to inner strength. Another is that because of the dependent arising of all things, looking at them from different angles enables us to better assess reality, so our approach is realistic. Many of the problems we face are actually our own creation. This is not because any of us want problems, but because, despite our wish to live a happy life, we act out of ignorance and short-sightedness.
"We have a marvellous brain, but we have to use it properly. A scientific approach is to be skeptical, to research and experiment. This is a method I admire and which I believe accords with the stance of the Nalanda masters of the past. Ancient Indian psychology is highly developed, while modern psychology has not yet caught up. We need to examine and analyse this to see what is relevant for us today. Modern science has thoroughly examined the material world, while Buddhist science possesses profound understanding of the working of the mind and emotions."
His Holiness drew an important distinction between appearance and reality and its role in combatting destructive emotion, for example, he shared how Aaron Beck pointed out to him that when we are angry the object of our anger appears to be very negative, but 90% of that is mental projection.
During the audience questioning, His Holiness discussed the similarities and differences between Hinduism and Buddhism, stating that although ethics, concentration and wisdom are a focus of each, the main difference surrounds the Buddhist believe that there is an absence of the existence of an independent self.
Another question related to validation of modern psychology through research, His Holiness responded that "Modern scientific research depends on the use of instruments to see and measure the object of investigation. This can't easily be done with the mind. However, not being able to see something doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't exist. It is also the case that insufficient attention has been paid so far to the distinction between sensory consciousness and conceptual consciousness and the differing effects they have on the brain."
In closing His Holiness said "We all have a responsibility to ensure the welfare of humanity, let's all try to make this a happier more peaceful world. We have to find ways to promote an acceptable, universal approach to ethics or human values. Open hearts encourage a sense of security and trust that is the basis of genuine friendship, which is to everyone's benefit "