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For this worldwide growing interest group we are planning a medial companion, a publication which promises orientation and clarification – as the first integral social magazine in the world. Later on goodGURU will be expanded into a brand that stands for a sustainable lifestyle.  » German

goodGURU shall become the nucleus for a new way of thinking. Ideally its circulation will lead to other debates and thus to a change of consciousness and conduct of more and more people – away from an ego-driven economy to a constructive and considerate togetherness.  » German

“There is an opportunity to create a better world”

Interview: FRANZ ALT

What is the current status of the human rights in Tibet?

Difficult, still very difficult. Among the Chinese officials there are still hardliners that are more prominent. The hardliners believe that all problems can be solved by force, by suppression. That's totally wrong and unrealistic. I see in many parts of the world that the use of force never solves problems. In the case of Tibet, it has now been 60 years that they have been using force. But more force means that resistance becomes stronger. Still they do not realise that. However, among the Chinese public, and also some leaders, they begin to feel that their existing policy of suppression is counterproductive. They are thinking of a more realistic approach. But it's still too early to say something definite. In the meantime, people suffer immensely. Suffer means not starvation or anything alike, but suffering mentally. Fear, too much anxiety, too much sadness. That is why self-immolation happens.

During the last three years more than one hundred Tibetans have committed suicide by self-immolation. What is your opinion on these self-destructive acts?

This is sad, very very sad and such a drastic action. I don't know how much effect this has on those hardliners. There is more anger, more suppression, and in a number of cases like these, members of the family are arrested. This is a very sensitive political issue. Even though I totally retired from political responsibility in 2011 Chinese hardliners still manipulate whatever I say. They consider me a demon. Every word from the demon's mouth they always manipulate [laughs]. So, I prefer to keep quite. Only prayer, only prayer.

In many of your lectures all over the world you speak about the concept of mindfulness. Why is mindfulness so important in our time?

There is too much attention or involvement in external material values. The material values will not solve our mental-level stress or anxiety or anger or frustration, or these things. So, the mental-level experience such as fear, stress, anger, these things, must be solved, must be reduced. Therefore, we need some deeper level of thinking on mental level, not sensory level. The mindfulness, thinking more deeply, is something very important. Irrespective of religious believer or non-believer. It doesn't matter, we are the same human beings. We have the same emotion, the same sort of intelligence. So, we must use our intelligence properly, and then think what you call 'pros' and 'cons'. Some of these emotions are very, very destructive. They not only destroy peace of mind, but also, you see, eventually, destroy our health. Some scientists have already found that peace of mind is very, very important for good health. So, anger, hatred, fear, some medical scientists say, are eating our immune system. So, a calm mind is very very important. I always say: There are seven billion human beings, all have the same potential, all are the same mentally, emotionally, also physically. So, all have the ability to use our intelligence properly. And then, on the basis of pros and cons, we should analyse: this is something good for our health, this is harmful, so avoid it. Similar are the emotions, some emotions are very good, also for our health and peace of mind. And some emotions are very destructive. We have to develop the ability to reduce destructive emotion and increase constructive emotion. That applies to seven billion people, not only believers or disbelievers.

What is the essence of all religions – love?

That's no question. People who believe in God, the creator, they practice love. Many Christian brothers and sisters are really dedicating their life serving others, particularly poor people. All this is coming from the teaching of love. In the field of philosophy, there are no big differences. At least I consider that different philosophical views are simply different methods, different ways of approach to promote, to bring conviction, the importance of love, forgiveness, tolerance.

One hundred years ago, mankind witnessed the outbreak of World War I, resulting in a death toll of 17 million, and some 50 million in World War II. Do you think mankind has learned from these disasters, possibly resulting in the 21st century to become a century of peace?

I had the opportunity to visit quite a number of countries and meet people. Everywhere the desire for peace is, I think, very strong. But we need still worldwide effort to reduce or eliminate violent methods. Just telling people that we don't like violence, that we want peace, is not sufficient. We must introduce effective methods. Whenever we encounter problems or source of conflict due to different economy reaons, or even religious sorts of differences, we should educate that the only right method is dialogue. I often tell: the past century has been the century of violence. The 21st century should be the century of dialogue.

What is the most important goal for the young generation in the future?

I think that the generation of the 20th century has created a lot of problems. Now the 21st century's generation must solve this problems – in a peaceful way, in dialogue. They have the opportunity. Past is past. The 21st century is only 14 years old, the remaining years are still to come. There is an opportunity to create a better world, to change the thinking. Through dialogue. On family level, community level, national level or global level. Through education we can promote this concept. Violent methods are outdated. Media people and also thinkers, educationists have an important role in this field.

Are you optimistic, if you think about the relationship of China and Tibet in the long run?

Yes, optimistic. Why? China, I mean, they hung people and Tibetans. For thousand years we have lived side by side. Sometimes very friendly, sometimes through fight. In the 7th or 8th century Tibet also invaded China. So past is past. Buddhist population in China is over 400 million. Many of these Chinese Buddhist are really showing genuine interest in Buddhism and appreciate our knowledge. Beside that Chinese interviewers and writers in the past three or four years have written about 1000 articles that fully support our way of approach. They are very critical toward their own government policy. This is, I think, a clear sign that many Chinese are supporting us. Over the past two or three years, I met several thousand Chinese students, teachers, business men, and some intellectuals, writers, and many of these people are really showing concern about Tibet and solidarity with us. And the top leaders in China are becoming more realistic. When Xi Jinping visited Europe this year, when he was in Paris, he expressed that Buddhism is very important in Chinese culture, he also mentioned Buddhism should take more responsibility regarding preservation of Chinese culture. The communist leader now speaks more favourable about Buddhism. That's something quite new. Things are changing.

Do you pray for the communist leaders in Beijing?

Certainly, they are also human beings. They also want a happy life. Particularly for those people who have some anger, who have some negative attitudes towards Tibet and towards me, it is our duty to say a special prayer for them.

Do you see any chance of returning to Tibet?

Oh yes, things are changing.

But you are 78 years old.

Yes, if I die this year, then I may not see it. But if I live another 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, I'm quite sure.


Photo credit: "Franz Alt with the Dalai Lama" by Marcus Gernsbeck


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