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Man of Peace: His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet

His Holiness the Dalai Lama during an event at the main Tibetan Temple in Dharamshala, India, on March 10, 2010. Photo: TPI/Yeshe Choesang
Dharamshala: - On December 10, Tibetans and supporters all over the world will mark the 25th anniversary of the day the spiritual leader of Tibet His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his commitment to world peace, justice and freedom and his consistent resistance to the use of violence in his people's struggle to regain their liberty.

Recipients of the award, considered "the world's most prestigious prize," receive a medal, personal diploma and prize money. After being awarded the peace prize in 1989, His Holiness the Dalai lama announced that he would donate his prize money to the cause of a better world, including money for the many who are facing starvation in various parts of the world, the leprosy programs in India, existing institutions and programmes working on peace, and the establishment of a Tibetan Foundation for Universal Responsibility.

Awarding him the prize, the Nobel Prize Committee said "Ever since 1959 the Dalai Lama, together with some one hundred thousand of his countrymen, has lived in an organised community in exile in India. This is by no means the first community of exiles in the world, but it is assuredly the first and only one that has not set up any militant liberation movement."

It further stated: "This policy of nonviolence is all the more remarkable when it is considered in relation to the sufferings inflicted on the Tibetan people during the occupation of their country. The Dalai Lama's response has been to propose a peaceful solution which would go a long way to satisfying Chinese interests.

"It would be natural to compare him with Mahatma Gandhi, one of this century's greatest protagonists of peace, and the Dalai Lama likes to consider himself one of Gandhi's successors."

Though much may have changed in 60 years, the torch for this heroic struggle has already passed to new generations. As the Central Tibetan Administration has dedicated 2014 as the year of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to celebrate, pay tribute and express the gratitude of the Tibetan people for the all the achievements and blessings that he has bestowed on us. At the same time, we must remember His Holiness' dedication to peace, love and civil rights, the work that earned him the prize and a place in history—continues to live on. Here are some of his timeless messages:

1. "Tibet could indeed become a creative centre for the promotion and development of peace."

During his Nobel Lecture, His Holiness said: "It is my dream that the entire Tibetan plateau should become a free refuge where humanity and nature can live in peace and in harmonious balance. It would be a place where people from all over the world could come to seek the true meaning of peace within themselves, away from the tensions and pressures of much of the rest of the world."

2. During his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, the Tibetan spiritual leader spoke of the need for humankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression.

"The suffering of our people during the past forty years of occupation is well documented," He said. "Ours has been a long struggle. We know our cause is just because violence can only breed more violence and suffering, our struggle must remain non-violent and free of hatred. We are trying to end the suffering of our people, not to inflict suffering upon others."

3. When asked about basic human problems, His Holiness has never stopped speaking of the importance of global ethics and universal responsibility.

"Science and technology, though capable of creating immeasurable material comfort, cannot replace the age-old spiritual and humanitarian values that have largely shaped world civilization, in all its national forms, as we know it today," he said during an event entitled: "Secular Ethics, Human Values and Open Society."

No one can deny the unprecedented material benefit of science and technology, but our basic human problems remain; we are still faced with the same, if not more, suffering, fear, and tension. Thus it is only logical to try to strike a balance between material developments on the one hand and the development of spiritual, human values on the other. In order to bring about this great adjustment, we need to revive our humanitarian values."

4. In 2008, His Holiness spoke about the values of democracy, and open society.

He said: "I believe that many of the violations of human rights in Tibet are the result of suspicion, lack of trust and true understanding of Tibetan culture and religion. As I have said many times in the past, it is extremely important for the Chinese leadership to come to a better and deeper understanding and appreciation of the Tibetan Buddhist culture and civilization. I absolutely support Deng Xiaoping's wise statement that we must "seek truth from facts." Therefore, we Tibetans must accept the progress and improvements that China's rule of Tibet has brought to the Tibetan people and acknowledge it. At the same time the Chinese authorities must understand that the Tibetans have had to undergo tremendous suffering and destruction during the past five decades."

5. His Holiness is a principled advocate of human rights for all sentient beings.

"At birth, all human beings are naturally endowed with the qualities we need for our survival, such as caring, nurturing and loving kindness," he said. "However, despite already possessing such positive qualities, we tend to neglect them. As a result, humanity faces unnecessary problems. What we need to do is to make more effort to sustain and develop these qualities. Therefore, the promotion of human values is of primary importance. We also need to focus on cultivating good human relations, for, regardless of differences in nationality, religious faith, race, or whether people are rich or poor, educated or not, we are all human beings."

6. During his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, he expressed the importance of truth and love in overcoming evil, stating:

"No matter what part of the world we come from, we are all basically the same human beings. We all seek happiness and try to avoid suffering. We have the same basic human needs and concerns. All of us human beings want freedom and the right to determine our own destiny as individuals and as peoples. That is human nature."

7. His thoughts on nonviolence:

"Genuine non-violence is not the mere absence of violence. The demarcation between violence and non-violence depends less on the kind of action involved and more on the motivation or attitude with which we act," His Holiness said in New Delhi, India, on September 12, 2012.

"If we are to learn from that, when we are faced with conflict we have to find peaceful ways and means to resolve it. Whatever kind of problem we face, we need to address it through dialogue, by sitting down with our opponent and talking it through. Remembering the tragedies of the 20th century, we need to make this a century of dialogue."

8. His Holiness has always believed that war and the large military establishments are the world's greatest sources of violence.

He said: "Whether their purpose is defensive or offensive, these vast powerful organizations exist solely to kill human beings. We should think carefully about the reality of war. Most of us have been conditioned to regard military combat as exciting and glamorous - an opportunity for men to prove their competence and courage. Since armies are legal, we feel that war is acceptable; in general, nobody feels that war is criminal or that accepting it is a criminal attitude. In fact, we have been brainwashed. War is neither glamorous nor attractive. It is monstrous. Its very nature is one of tragedy and suffering."

9. His Holiness' thoughts on how to achieve happiness and the purpose of life.

"As long as we live in this world we are bound to encounter problems," he said. If, at such times, we lose hope and become discouraged, we diminish our ability to face difficulties. If, on the other hand, we remember that it is not just ourselves, but every one who has to undergo suffering, this more realistic perspective will increase our determination and capacity to overcome troubles. Indeed, with this attitude, each new obstacle can be seen as yet another valuable opportunity to improve our mind.
"Thus we can strive gradually to become more compassionate, that is we can develop both genuine sympathy for others' suffering and the will to help remove their pain. As a result, our own serenity and inner strength will increase."

10. His Holiness the Dalai Lama's message that China needs human rights, democracy and the rule of law:

"China needs human rights, democracy and the rule of law because these values are the foundation of a free and dynamic society. They are also the source of true peace and stability. I have no doubt either that an increasingly open, free and democratic China will be of benefit to the Tibetan people too. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality in Tibet and China can lead us to a viable solution to our problems. While great progress has been made to integrate China into the world economy, I believe it is equally important to encourage her also to enter the mainstream of global democracy."

11. His Holiness' viewpoint on Ecology and the Human Heart:

"As to the question of human survival, human beings are social animals. In order to survive we need companions. Without other human beings there is simply no possibility of surviving; that is a law of nature.
Since I deeply believe that human beings are basically gentle by nature, I feel that we should not only maintain gentle, peaceful relations with our fellow human beings but also that it is very important to extend the same kind of attitude toward the natural environment. Morally speaking, we should be concerned for our whole environment."

12. His Holiness' message on developing compassion and how can we start:

"Some of my friends have told me that, while love and compassion are marvellous and good, they are not really very relevant. Our world, they say, is not a place where such beliefs have much influence or power. They claim that anger and hatred are so much a part of human nature that humanity will always be dominated by them. I do not agree.

We humans have existed in our present form for about a hundred-thousand years. I believe that if during this time the human mind had been primarily controlled by anger and hatred, our overall population would have decreased. But today, despite all our wars, we find that the human population is greater than ever. This clearly indicates to me that love and compassion predominate in the world. And this is why unpleasant events are news, and compassionate activities are so much part of daily life that they are taken for granted and, therefore, largely ignored.

We should begin by removing the greatest hindrances to compassion: anger and hatred. As we all know, these are extremely powerful emotions and they can overwhelm our entire mind. Nevertheless, they can be controlled. If, however, they are not, these negative emotions will plague us - with no extra effort on their part - and impede our quest for the happiness of a loving mind.

So as a start, it is useful to investigate whether or not anger is of value. Sometimes, when we are discouraged by a difficult situation, anger does seem helpful, appearing to bring with it more energy, confidence and determination.

13. His Holiness' thoughts on Religious Harmony:

"In every religion, there are transcendent things that are beyond the grasp of our mind and speech. For example, the concept of God in Christianity and Islam and that of wisdom truth body in Buddhism are metaphysical, which is not possible for an ordinary person like us to realise. This is a common difficulty faced by every religion. It is taught in every ­religion, including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, and that the ultimate truth is driven by faith.

The root cause of these man­-made problems is the inability of human beings to control their agitated minds. How to control such a state of mind is taught by the various religions of this world.

If a harmonious relationship is established amongst societies and religious beliefs in today's multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural world, then it will surely set a very good example for others. However, if all the sides become careless, then there is a danger of imminent problems. In a multi­ethnic society the biggest problem is that between the majority and the minority."

14. His Holiness's Middle Way Approach For Resolving the Issue of Tibet:

"The Tibetan people do not accept the present status of Tibet under the People's Republic of China. At the same time, they do not seek independence for Tibet, which is a historical fact. In treading a middle path in between these two lies the policy and means to achieve a genuine autonomy for all Tibetans living in the three traditional provinces of Tibet within the framework of the People's Republic of China."

His Holiness said during his March 10 statement in 1998: "Last year, we conducted an opinion poll of the Tibetans in exile and collected suggestions from Tibet wherever possible on the proposed referendum, by which the Tibetan people were to determine the future course of our freedom struggle to their full satisfaction. Based on the outcome of this poll and suggestions from Tibet, the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies, our parliament in exile, passed a resolution empowering me to continue to use my discretion on the matter without seeking recourse to a referendum. I wish to thank the people of Tibet for the tremendous trust, confidence and hope they place in me. I continue to believe that my "Middle-Way Approach" is the most realistic and pragmatic course to resolve the issue of Tibet peacefully.

15. Announcing his retirement and the transfer of political authority to the democratically elected Tibetan leadership in 2011, His Holiness said:

"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."

In 2011, Dr Lobsang Sangay, who was democratically-elected as the leader of the Tibetans, signed the charter amendment bill related to this in the Tibetan parliament, which gave its unanimous approval to the charter amendment.

"I took over the political leadership of Tibet from Sikyong Taktra Rinpoche, when I was 16 years old. Today, in the 21st century, when democracy is thriving, I hand over the political leadership of Tibet to Sikyong Lobsang Sangay," His Holiness said during a speech on August 8, 2011.