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Mundgod — The spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has expressed the hope that he will be able to return to his homeland, from where he fled into exile more than half a century ago.

Since the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959, thousands of Tibetan refugees have been living in India, Nepal, and Bhutan as well as the United states, Canada and European states. For three generations, they have dreamed about returning home, a dream most of them believe will come soon.

Addressing a group of Tibetan pilgrims from Tibet at Drepung monastery in Mundgod on 19 December on the sidelines of the Emory-Tibet symposium, His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressed the concerns of many Tibetans with regard to the deteriorating political situation inside Tibet and the Tibetan people's longstanding aspiration to see His Holiness return to Tibet.

"The fact that Tibet has been able to survive in the conscience of the world even today is solely because of the resolve and remarkable determination of the Tibetan people. Tibetan people's resilience and valor against the atrocities of the Chinese government has led to a growing awareness on Tibet," His Holiness told the crowd, and urged them not to be demoralised by the critical political situation.

Addressing the aspiration of Tibetans inside Tibet to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama return to Tibet peacefully and in glory, His Holiness said: "I am 81 years old now. However, I am perfectly healthy and I am hopeful that we will be able to reunite in Tibet very soon in a few years. So don't worry."

This is not the first time that the spiritual leader has acknowledged his return to Tibet. "Yes, I remain optimistic that I will be able to return to Tibet. China is in the process of changing. If you compare China today to ten or twenty years ago, there is tremendous change. China is no longer isolated. It is part of the world community. Global interdependence, especially in terms of economics and environment make it impossible for nations to remain isolated. Besides, I am not seeking separation from China. I am committed to my middle-way approach whereby Tibet remains within the People's Republic of China enjoying a high degree of self-rule or autonomy," he previously said in an article on his official website.

"I firmly believe that this is of mutual benefit both to the Tibetans as well as to the Chinese. We Tibetans will be able to develop Tibet with China's assistance, while at the same time preserving our own unique culture, including spirituality, and our delicate environment. By amicably resolving the Tibetan issue, China will be able to contribute to her own unity and stability, he added.

"The most important thing is the education of the younger generation of Tibetans. Besides education, economic development is an integral part of life and you should seize the opportunity provided by the Chinese government to enrich yourselves. However, don't just spend your income on cars and buying big houses. Spend it on helping the poor and the less fortunate in their education, or in building schools and hospitals," His Holiness added.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama also urged the Tibetans to refrain from mere rituals and prayers but to study and understand the Tibetan Buddhist texts and philosophies thoroughly which His Holiness said "would be more beneficial."

"Since we are all followers of the Buddha and descendants of Avalokiteshwara, blindly following the religion without understanding the concept is not sufficient. We should study and analyse the scriptures. We should understand the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and their relevance," His Holiness said.

"All religions are noble and focus on universal values such as love and compassion. There are minor differences over concepts such as the existence of a creator. Therefore, while respecting all religions, we should understand these differences so that we can also understand their point of view," His Holiness noted.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama also spoke on the recent reports about China's ultimatum to Tibetan pilgrims to return to Tibet or face consequences, which have compelled many to consider returning to Tibet before the Kalachakra.

"I understand that many of you will be unable to attend the Kalachakra teachings due to a hardening of stance by the Chinese government in Tibet. I am sorry to hear that. However, you need not worry. The main Kalachakra initiation will be from 12 to 14 January. During that time, you recite your prayers and maintain purity of mind. I will think of you from Bodh Gaya and make sure that you get the initiation in spirit, if not in person," His Holiness promised.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is known throughout the world as a leading advocate for world peace and non-violence. His message is one of kindness and compassion to all sentient beings. Over the past 50 years, he has travelled around the world spreading a message of Peace and Universal Responsibility. He believes that the common aim of all religions, an aim that everyone must try to find, is to foster tolerance, altruism and love. He retired from politics in 2011. But, as one among six million Tibetans, His Holiness said he will continue to serve the cause of Tibet.

In 1959, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama along with thousands of others escaped to India, where he was given political asylum. The spiritual leader has set up a government and rebuilt monasteries where masters pass on their teachings to young monks. Tibetans in exile have succeeded in gradually rebuilding their monasteries, preserving their culture, restructuring their society and keeping it alive, in spite of the extremely difficult circumstances.

Tibet was invaded by Communist China in 1949. Since that time, over 1.2 million out of 6 million Tibetans have been killed, over 6000 monasteries have been destroyed— the acts of murder, rape and arbitrary imprisonment, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment were inflicted on the Tibetans inside Tibet, Beijing calls a "peaceful liberation".

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