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11january20101At a charitable event on Sunday, Tibetan political and spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that he was optimistic about the prospect of eventual autonomy for Tibet, despite the ongoing efforts of Chinese authorities to crush the freedom and human rights movement.

He gave two reasons for his optimism: China’s new status as a major economic power, and its improving relations with the US. "I am optimistic," the Tibetan spiritual leader said when asked about the chances of China giving autonomy to Tibet.  

"Tibetan spirit is very strong and basically I think things are really changing. I have a strong feeling that over a billion people in China have the right to know the reality," he said, expressing hope, while criticizing the Chinese authorities.

When someone brought up the unlikelihood of China granting autonomy, given that a filmmaker there was just arrested and sentenced for making a documentary about the current situation in Tibet, he said, "Basically, I think things are changing."

His Holiness emphasized that transparency is extremely important with regard to the Tibetan issue, and reaffirmed his faith in the growing support of Chinese writers and artists, who are most interested in Tibetan Buddhism and culture.

He was speaking on “The Art of Happiness” at an award function organized by the Ladies’ Study Group Charitable Trust. He handed over an award to the NGO Disha for their work in educating underprivileged children.

With his characteristic candor, His Holiness the Dalai Lama commented that it is more important to build hospitals and schools than temples, if spiritual goals are to be pursued in earnest.

"[The] teachings of Buddha are more important than the statues of Buddha," he added.

His Holiness said that true happiness comes from the heart, from within; and not through money, power or even knowledge.

"Buddha says ultimate happiness is within yourself," he said. His Holiness also asked hihs audience to fight the forces of hatred and jealousy, and urged them to work for the poor.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, whose recent trip to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh resurfaced tensions between India and China, also said that India is showing the world the true spiritual path.

"I think Indians should value their treasure of over 1000 years and not neglect it. I go everywhere as an ambassador of India to spread its message of religious harmony," he said.

He said India's ideals of ahimsa (non-violence) and karuna (compassion and kindness) is what the world needs to pursue happiness. "India is our guru (teacher) and we are chelas (followers)," he said.

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