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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

English transcript of remarks made by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on his retirement from political responsibilities during a public teaching in Dharamsala on 19 March 2011

March 22, 2011

After coming into exile, I have made sincere efforts to establish a
democratic system of governance in the last more than 30 years. The
Tibetans in exile say “our democracy is a gift from His Holiness
the Dalai Lama.” Ten years ago, the system of electing Kalon Tripa
through democratic elections was introduced rather than nomination
of the candidate by the Dalai Lama, which was not correct. Since
the direct election of Kalon Tripa, the system of the institution
of Gaden Phodrang of the Dalai Lama as both the spiritual and
temporal authority has ended. Since then I described myself as in
semi-retired position.

Since then ten years have passed and the day will come for us when
we have to follow a meaningful democratic system. The rule by kings
and religious figures is outdated. We have to follow the trend of
the free world which is that of democracy. For example in India,
besides its huge population and diverse languages, religions and
culture, but on the whole it remains very stable. This is because
of democracy, the rule of law, free expression and media.  To the
contrary, China under the authoritarian rule is always facing
problems. It was mentioned in a recent Chinese government's
document that it is allocating more budget to maintain internal
stability than national defense. This shows that they have more
enemies inside rather than outside, which is a matter of shame.

The government of the People's Republic (of China) is meant to work
for the people's welfare. So fulfilling the people's aspirations
must come through democratic elections. If the leaders are selected
through elections, it would be a matter of real pride. But to hold
power at the barrel of the gun rather than through elections is
immoral and outdated as well. So the system of one-man rule is not
good. Therefore, it is not at all good if the Dalai Lama keeps on
holding ultimate power. The Dalai Lama as the spiritual and
temporal authority of Tibet did not begin during the period of the
first four Dalai Lamas. It started during the time of the fifth
Dalai Lama under different circumstances and the influence of the
Mongol chieftain Gushri Khan. The system has brought many benefits
since then. But now as we are in the 21st century, sooner or later
the time for change is imminent. But if the change comes under the
pressure of another person then it will be a disgrace to the former
Dalai Lamas. Since the fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso,
the Dalai Lamas have assumed both spiritual and temporal rule over
Tibet. As I am the fourteenth in line of that institution, it is
most appropriate if I on own initiative, happily and with pride,
end the dual authority of the Dalai Lama. Nobody except me can make
this decision and I have made the final decision. The leadership
democratically elected by the Tibetan people should take over the
complete political responsibilities of Tibet. Some kind of a
vestige of the dual system will remain if I am vested with the
political authority in the Charter. This should change and now
seems to be the time to do it.

I can talk a little about the great deal of accomplishments that I
have made for the Tibetan cause, as the Tibetan people both in and
outside Tibet put faith and trust in me and there are also many
people around the world who consider the Dalai Lama as someone they
recognise, trust and love.  So now is the right time to end the
dual system of governance established during the fifth Dalai Lama
and retain the kind of unanimity and recognition gained by the
first four Dalai Lamas in the spiritual domain. Particularly, the
third Dalai Lama received the honorific title of an ecumenical
master with yellow hat. So like them I will continue to take
spiritual responsibilities for the remaining part of my life.

Personally, I have been working for the promotion of moral values
and religious harmony in the world. These are proving quite
beneficial. Moreover, I receive many invitations from different
schools and universities around the world. They are not asking me
to come to preach on Buddhism as such, but to teach how to promote
inner happiness and Buddhist science to which many people take
interest and love to listen. So when the present Dalai Lama is in
such a position, it would be a matter of great pride if the 400-
year-old rule of Dalai Lama as both the spiritual and temporal
authority gracefully comes to an end. No one else except me can
decide to end something started by the fifth Dalai Lama and my
decision is final.

Recently, I received telephone calls from Tibetans inside Tibet
saying they are extremely worried and feel abandoned as I am
retiring. There is absolutely no need to worry. After taking
retirement, I will continue to lead Tibet in spiritual affairs like
the first four Dalai Lamas. Like the second Dalai Lama Gedun
Gyatso, who founded the Gaden Phodrang institution and led Tibet
spiritually with unanimous mandate, I will also retain that kind of
spiritual leadership for the rest of my life. Perhaps if I bring no
disgrace on the people and make good efforts in the future, I will
continue to lead spiritually.

If such a Dalai Lama with an unanimous mandate to lead spiritual
affairs abdicates the political authority, it will help sustain our
exile administration and make it more progressive and robust.
Similarly, the international community, who support the Tibetan
cause, will commend the Dalai Lama's sincerity for the complete
democratization of the Tibetan polity. It will raise our prestige
in the world. On the hand other, it will fully expose the falsehood
and lies of the Chinese government that there is no Tibet problem
except the issue of the Dalai Lama's personal rights. The Tibetan
people inside Tibet should not feel discouraged because I have made
this remarkable decision by taking in consideration the benefit of
the Tibetan people in the long run.  The Tibetan administration in
exile will be more stable and progressive. Contrary to the system
of the Chinese Communist's authoritarian rule in Tibet, our small
community in exile has been able to establish a complete modern
democratic system.

In the long run this decision will make our exile administration
stronger and efficient. Where else, if we compare our community in
exile with the authoritarian communist regime in China, we have
actually become a modernized society. This is our glorious
achievement. Tibetans inside Tibet should be proud of this
achievement. You all should understand and realise that I am not
discouraged and I have not given up on the cause of Tibet.

I am a native of the land of snows. All the six million Tibetans
from the land of snows carry the common responsibility of the
Tibetan cause.  As for me, I am also one  Tibetan from the Amdo
region of Tibet, so until my death I have the responsibility of the
Tibetan cause.

While I am still healthy and present amidst you all, you should
take full responsibility of the Tibetan affairs. And if some
problem arises that necessitates my help, then of course, I am
still here. I have not given up and neither am I disheartened. The
democratic system that we have followed till now can take full
responsibility and after considering the many requirements and
reasons, I am asking the democratic system to take full
responsibility. All of you present here and all of the Tibetans in
Tibet should not get disheartened. There is no reason to worry.

Just yesterday, I met a Chinese scholar who told me that he was
conducting a research on the Tibetan electoral process and had also
come here five years ago. He told me that this time around,
Tibetans were very actively participating and fully utilizing their
democratic rights. He praised the advancements that the Tibetan
democratic system had made. So these developments represent our
growing political awareness and the strides that we have taken in
our democratic process. And so the decision to devolve my power is
also a part of advancing democratization process.

Those of you from Tibet when you return and if there are people to
whom you can confide then tell this to them. This may also be
broadcast on the radio as well. I have made this decision to retire
after giving thorough thought over it for years and years and for
the ultimate benefit of Tibet. There is no reason at all for you to
be disheartened.

On the other hand, Ganden Phodrang is not being shut down. Ganden
Phodrang is the institution of the Dalai Lamas and as long as I
live, I will need a small institution. So, this Ganden Phodrang
will still remain. What is happening is that Ganden Phodrang is
relinquishing its political responsibilities.

And then, regarding the future reincarnations, of course there is
no hurry as of now. But after 20 or 30 years when I am near my end,
then depending mainly on the wishes of the Tibetan people and also
the people of the Himalayan regions and other Buddhists who are
connected to the Dalai Lamas, if they so wish then the 15th, 16th
and 17th Dalai Lamas and so forth, will come. So Ganden Phodrang
will still remain intact. Political changes are bound to come but
such a move will lend stability. Ganden Phodrang reverting back to
its role and responsibility as being the spiritual head as during
the times of the second, third and fourth Dalai Lamas have great
significance and reason.

In the long run, if you think about it, then this change and
decision I am making has great benefits for the Tibetans. In my
letter to the Tibetan Parliament, I suggested that the title of
Ganden Phodrang Shung will have to be changed. Ganden Phodrang will
remain but it will not take any political responsibilities as we
are now a democratic establishment.

The Tibetan word ‘shung’ may not necessarily translate in English
as government. We don’t use the English word ‘government’ as such
to describe our exile administration. At one instance during a
press conference in Delhi, Rinpoche was also there, a journalist
addressed Samdhong Rinpoche as the Prime Minister of the exile
government. So, I instantly clarified that we don’t use these
titles like Tibetan ‘Prime Minister’ or the Tibetan ‘Government-in-
exile’. We call our administration the Central Tibetan
Administration. Of course there are Tibetans in exile and we need
an organization to look after them. This is the direct
responsibility of the administration. Generally, the few of us in
exile, being Tibetans, have the responsibility to articulate the
aspirations of the Tibetans inside Tibet and to tell the world of
the real situation inside Tibet.  We have never called our
administration the Tibetan exile government. Calling the
administration the Ganden Phodrang Shung is another case in matter.
So, the precise title is the Central Tibetan Administration whose
leaders are all democratically elected.

To be true, this provides the leaders of the Tibetan autonomous
areas in Tibet a reason to think. Those of us in exile, though
remaining as refugees in alien countries, have carried out a
genuine electoral process. If those leaders are really capable and
confident, then let the Tibetans inside Tibet democratically elect
their own leaders. Whatever the case maybe in the rest of China, if
we could emulate the exile system in Tibet itself then it would be
very good.

So, the many political changes that I have made are based on sound
reasons and of immediate and ultimate benefit for all of us. In
fact, these changes will make our administration more stable and
excel its development. So, there is no reason to get disheartened.

This is what I wish to explain to you.

- --Translated from His Holiness the Dalai Lama's remarks in Tibetan
made during a public teaching at Tsulagkhang, the main temple, in
Dharamsala on the morning of 19 March 2011. (Click here to listen
to remarks in Tibetan)

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