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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

His Holiness In Japan: November 6, 2009

November 8, 2009

Tibet House in Japan
November 6, 2009

His Holiness devoted the morning of his last full
day in Japan--a radiant blue morning, the sea
blue and green outside his windows--to a series
of six interviews, five with Japanese media
groups and one with an international television network.

At one point he remembered being in Berlin just
as the Wall was coming down, and heading out,
with a mixture of fear and excitement, into
previously forbidden East Berlin, where he took
some photographs of the historic moment and held
a candle as the wall came down. Even a few months
earlier, he recalled, no one had believed that
change would come, let alone so suddenly, and so peacefully.

As one interviewer after another quizzed him
about talks with the Chinese government, His
Holiness kept stressing, "We are always ready to
talk with the Chinese government." China itself,
he noted, was opening up and people were feeling
free to express their opinions in ways that could
not have been imagined thirty or forty years ago.
But the Tibet issue, he said, has nothing to do
with him and everything to do with six million
Tibetans, for whom he is just a free spokesman.

When one television network, preparing a segment
on Gross National Happiness, asked His Holiness
one question after another about the nature of
greed, the nature of happiness, the place of
desire, he rose to the challenge with zest. He
felt very sad for the people who had been hurt by
the crisis, he said, but "sometimes I feel that
this crisis may be one reminder that we human
beings need other values. And with material
values there is limitation. And uncertainty."

Yet desire itself is not bad. "Desire is the
force whereby we survive--and achieve success. In
fact, the desire to achieve Buddhahood leads to
our success. Without desire there is no progress.
But desire must be realistic." Greed isn't just a
function of capitalism, he stressed; capitalism
also offers real freedom, and an independent
judiciary, freedom of the press, democracy.
Indeed, asked by the next interviewer to define
the current century, he said, "The 20th century
is sometimes considered the century of bloodshed;
the 21st should be the century of dialogue. Even
if you fail in dialogue, there are no
side-effects. But if you use force, even if you
achieve some effects, you still get some
side-effects. As in Iraq." And for each person
killed, ten more are wounded, inwardly.

Asked to name the most impressive leader he had
ever met, His Holiness instantly invoked Chairman
Mao. "In 1954, 1955, we developed some kind of
intimacy. Chairman Mao considered me his own son.
On several occasions, I really admired his
leadership--full of self-confidence. At the same
time, I found a wise vision--not just for one
country's revolution, but for transformation of the world.

After a final lunch with his Okinawa
hosts--enjoying pineapple and fish, the local
specialties, in a room whose windows looked out
on a wide blue sea--he took his leave of his
island and flew back to Tokyo to spend the night
before returning to India. His brief stay in
Okinawa had been "very meaningful," he said,
repeatedly, both as a way of making a connection
with an area he had not seen before and as a
place for thinking anew about peace, among the
memories of war and death all around. With each
visit His Holiness makes to Japan--and there have
now been four in the last four years--there seems
a greater sense of free communication, with
fellow Buddhists and with the thousands of
regular Japanese who crowd into His Holiness's
talks and bring to him, as to a visiting doctor,
their stories of suicide or depression or
disconnection with their families and societies.

Study harder, was His Holiness' recurrent message
to other Buddhists, and study English, he told
the country at large. That way wisdom can be
increased, and dialogue with the global family.
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