Be responsible human beings: Dalai Lama

IANS, December 31, 2011

Moscow, Russia -- Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has called on people to be responsible human beings, to think more of the entire world they live in, rather than caring about their own narrow interests alone, as a way out of the global crisis.

"At the Copenhagen summit on climate change, some participant countries showed that their own interests are more important than interests of the whole world," the Dalai Lama told RIA Novosti in an exclusive interview.

Avarice and short-sightedness were to blame, he said, adding that people were guided by emotion and did not think of the long-term consequences.

"Ecology and global warming - for these problems there cannot be any interstate borders, they must concern the whole world," he said.

The Dalai Lama recently met over 7,000 pilgrims from Russia, India, China, Mongolia, Japan, US and other countries at his residence in Dharamsala in India's northern state of Himachal Pradesh.

Russia's Buddhist regions have had close relations with Tibet, and it was good that interest in Buddhism in these regions was growing, the Dalai Lama said.

Among the pilgrims were around 1,500 people from the traditionally Buddhist Russian regions of Buryatia, Kalmykia, Tuva, as well as from Moscow, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg.

The Dalai Lama held special teachings for the Russian Buddhists.

"I always tell people from Buddhist regions that this is the religion of our ancestors. They must simply preserve all our own ancient traditions. I am very happy that interest in Buddhism in these regions of Russia is growing and they find something relevant for them in this religion," he said.

"Buddhist republics in the Russian Federation over the last several centuries had very, very close ties with Tibet. A number of Buddhist scholars and masters came from this area. There were outstanding scholars, wonderful masters who came from your country. So we always had special, close relations," he said.

"Secondly, before the Russian revolution, the 13th Dalai Lama had contacts with Russian tsar Nicholas II. In Norbulingka (the Dalai Lama's summer palace in Lhasa) there are gifts presented by the Russian tsar to the 13th Dalai Lama," he said.

"When I meet Russians, they always recall my predecessor and I feel there is some connection between us," he said.

The Dalai Lama's December meeting with Russian pilgrims was the first since he retired as the political leader of the Tibetan community-in-exile in March 2011. He explained his retirement from political life.

"Since my childhood, I understood that the Tibetan system of government has a lot of drawbacks. In 1959, as soon as we came to India, our political structure began to change towards democracy. In 2001, it was the first time we had election of political leadership," he said.

"Last 400 years, the Dalai Lama automatically became head of a government in Tibet. This system is outdated. We must change it since the people are the owner of a country," he said.

"I am retired already for 10 years and all this period all the political decisions were taken by elected political leadership, not by me."

"But I still remain Dalai Lama. And my responsibility is to promote universal human values -- to make happy different peoples, families, societies. I am also committed to promote harmony in relations between different religions," the spiritual leader said.

When asked how to cope with persecution of Christians in Africa and the Middle East, he said: "To establish harmony in these relations, we need to learn other religions. If you focus on traditions of different religions, you'll see that there are many similarities. If there are some 'bad' people among representatives of one religion, one must not judge by it about religion as a whole."

"When people live in isolation without contacts, then unfortunately some people can use religion to satisfy their own political or economical ambitions," he said.

"To be religious or not it is a personal choice. You may be atheist but you have to remain a sensible and responsive human being. But once you accept any religion, then you should be serious and sincere," he said.