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 [Last updated: 18 May 1993]
 by H. H. the Dalai Lama
 [This text was kindly supplied on 17th May 1993 by Phil Calvert
 Reprinted, with permission, from the Spring 1993 issue of Snow Lion Newsletter and Catalog.
 Rinchen Dharlo, the representative of H.H. the Dalai Lama in N. America asked to
 have the following article printed. It is very relevant for Westerners to
 consider these thoughts carefully and for all of us to do what we can.
 I am very happy today to communicate with all of you American Buddhists from
 [the Tibetan Buddhist Learning Center], the oldest of the Tibetan Buddhist
 monastic centers in America. It is encouraging to note the present spread of
 Tibetan Buddhism, some 1000 centers around the world with over 250 in the United
 States alone. As I often say, Buddhism has a special gift for helping people
 calm their minds and learn to live more happily. In the midst of what can
 accurately be called "the Buddhist holocaust" of the 20th century, we Tibetans
 were forced into exile by the Chinese invasion of our homeland. Since then, we
 have been privileged to share the gifts of Buddhism with fellow beings of other
 nations, who all must face the countless difficulties of life in our restless,
 anxious, modern world. Perhaps the only good thing that has come from our
 tragedy is the spread of the teaching and practice of Tibetan Buddhism.
 Of course, it would have been much better for everyone if it could have happened
 without such an unspeakable toll of human suffering. Imagine, Tibetan lamas
 could have come out to teach in different countries, travelling with their visas
 stamped on Tibetan passports! Western Dharma students could have freely come
 into Tibet's peaceful mountains to enjoy her fresh air, study at her monastic
 universities, and meditate in her inspiring solitudes.
 I say this not just to complain about our ordeal but because I have noticed that
 people tend to adopt a sort of fatalism about the history and problem of Tibet;
 "Well, it had to happen that way - otherwise Tibetans would not have come out of
 isolation into the world." Thinking this way can make them slow to take action
 to try to improve the real Tibetan situation, to solve the Tibetan problem, the
 human problem of six million Tibetan human persons.
 Now, it is a useful practice to reflect on one's own suffering, to think of it
 as the "return of one's own karma," and thus get the benefit of cultivating
 patience with one's difficulties. But it is not useful, nor compassionate, to be
 patient about the sufferings of others. In fact, as Shantideva says, the
 bodhisattva should be absolutely intolerant of the sufferings of others, should
 find them utterly unbearable.
 To give a personal example, I have said that I myself have actually benefitted
 from the hardships of losing my homeland and wandering in exile - and I meant
 it. Not having a sheltered life and having to suffer and struggle has helped me
 to grow. Worldly difficulty can lead to faster spiritual growth and greater
 strength of mind, and I personally am quite content with my lot. I have been
 given the inspiration to take the Buddha Dharma seriously and the opportunity to
 work hard to put it into practice. I cannot complain. Yet the plight of my
 people, the six million Tibetans who look to me to help them, is different - I
 cannot forget their cries. How can I pray and recite the bodhisattva vow to save
 all beings from suffering and the cause of suffering, and at the same time leave
 anything undone that could actually help these suffering people who are my
 immediate responsibility? So I am always trying to do as much as I can.
 Perhaps my example can help other Buddhists who want to maintain their spiritual
 practice and also want to work for the good of society. In the past, scholars
 have said that Buddhism was single-minded in its focus on Nirvana, giving up the
 mundane world as a hopeless case. With this preconception, they thought that
 Buddhism made very little contribution to civilization, letting social problems
 go their own way. Now, it may be true that Buddhist persons and institutions
 could have done a better job of helping people in different periods and
 different countries. But I believe that from the time of Buddha until today all
 forms of Buddhism have been continuously trying to help people, whether in
 social groups or individually. It has never been the case that Buddhism did not
 care about the world. The freedom and happiness of all living beings have always
 been the ultimate ideal and the working goal.
 Tibetan civilization is very much a product of the socially transformative power
 of Buddhism. Brought from India by the great Emperor Songsten Gampo in the 7th
 century, Buddhist wisdom began its slow but steady work of making the people
 more gentle, happy and peaceful. After a few centuries, Tibetans had become so
 fond of the Buddha Dharma that they made great efforts to make it the center of
 their lives, even without the support of a royal dynasty. Finally, after one
 thousand years, Tibetans succeeded in expressing Buddhist ideals in the national
 government itself, established as the integration of the sacred and the secular
 by the Fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century. We believed that the Buddha's
 teaching was the indispensable key to achieving national as well as individual
 happiness. So our whole social system - our culture, arts and life style - was
 centered on people's spiritual development according to the Dharma. Though we
 never achieved perfection, we did preserve many unique teachings and traditions,
 some of them long lost to other Buddhist countries. But I don't need to say too
 much about this, as I know many of you have come to realize the preciousness of
 Tibetan Buddhism, to cherish it just as we do.
 I have been very moved on this trip because so many people have expressed to me,
 in actions as well as words, their respect, not only for the teachings of
 Tibetan Buddhism, but also for their source, namely, Tibetan culture and
 civilization, which itself is ultimately rooted nowhere else than in the living
 hearts of the Tibetan people. Tibetan culture belongs to all humanity, and its
 extinction would not just affect Tibetans, but all humanity. We, therefore,
 appeal to the members of all other cultures to help the Tibetans preserve our
 unique and rich cultural heritage.
 Our friends in the Congress of the United States have acted powerfully to
 express their support for our cause, urging China to cease her attempts to
 eliminate the Tibetan race, erase the Tibetan nation from history, and eradicate
 the Tibetan culture. These senators and representatives will increasingly need
 your help and the help of all Buddhists, all religious persons, all humanists,
 and all friends of Tibet, to make an even stronger push to get China to change
 her attitude. This push is urgent and essential to save our people and culture
 before it is too late. For China, too, it is an emergency because if her leaders
 do not change their present course, it will eventually rebound upon themselves
 in a negative way. But I do not wish to elaborate on this, as I am basically an
 optimist and still have great hope that sanity will prevail and that good and
 truth will triumph.
 You might be surprised, but I think such optimism is quite practical. For, you
 see, everyone just wants happiness. If we investigate the human heart, not just
 to follow religious teaching, but to analyze carefully what is really there, we
 find that what everyone wants, what gives satisfaction, is the warm heart, the
 good heart, compassion and love. These give calmness, tranquillity, and real
 contentment; and that gives inner strength. On the other hand, hatred, anger,
 and greed simply produce uneasiness and always more dissatisfaction. Even
 nations need to control and minimize anger and hatred; it is the only way they
 can avoid suffering and bring their people happiness. So nations will eventually
 do the right thing, because it is in the ultimate best interest of their people.
 Goodness is finally the most practical, the most realistic solution.
 Perhaps most of you already know the importance of compassion and love. The
 practice of compassion is what gives me greatest satisfaction. No matter what
 the circumstances, no matter what kind of tragedy I am facing, I practice
 compassion. This gives me inner strength ad happiness. This gives me the feeling
 that my life is useful. So you see, up to now - I am 57 years of age going on 58
 - I have tried my best to practice these things, and will continue to do so
 until my last breath, my last day. I myself, you see, am the devoted servent of
 compassion. That is the way I really feel.
 We need public support, the active expression of your goodwill towards us.
 Please keep this in mind, and whenever the occasion arises express your deep
 sympathy towards the Tibetan cause. As Buddhist practitioners, you should
 understand the necessity of preserving Tibetan Buddhism. For this the land, the
 physical country of Tibet, is crucial. We have tried our best to preserve the
 Tibetan traditions outside Tibet for almost thirty years, and we have been
 comparatively successful. But eventually, after our time, there is a real danger
 that they will change, that they will not survive away from the protective
 nurture of our homeland. So, for the sake of preserving Tibetan Buddhism, which
 can be seen as a complete form of the Buddha Dharma, the sacred land of Tibet is
 vitally important. It is very unlikely that it can survive as a cultural and
 spiritual entity if its physical reality is smothered under Chinese occupation.
 So we cannot avoid taking responsibility in trying to improve its political
 Clearly, in this light, active support for the Tibetan cause is not just a
 matter of politics. It is the work of Dharma. We are not against the Chinese;
 we, in fact, have a deep admiration for the Chinese civilization. We are only
 trying to gain our rights, to save our people, and to preserve our Buddha
 I dream of a new Tibet - a free land, a zone of peace - where my six million
 people can restore our spiritual way of life while becoming attuned to the best
 aspects of the modern world. I see it as a place where all people - not
 excluding our eastern neighbor - can visit and enjoy the fresh air and brilliant
 mountain light, can find inspiration in a peaceful, spiritual way of life, and
 perhaps can learn to understand their own worlds better by getting away for a
 little while to meditate at our high altitude. With your help we can return
 there. Now is the time when your action is practice.
 Thank you very much.
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