The Dalai Lama, a Policy of Kindness: An Anthology of Writings by and About the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama:
a Policy of Kindness
An Anthology of Writings
by and About the Dalai Lama
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
Sidney Piburn (Editor)
Foreward by Senator Claiborne Pell
Lion Publications
Paperback, 144 pages,  2nd edition (July 1993)



Table of Contents :



1 The Nobel Peace Prize Lecture

2 Tibet’s Living Buddha by Pico Iyer

3 His Life: An Interview by John Avedon

4 A Life in the Day by Vanya Kewley

5 Kindness and Compassion

6 Cooperation Among World Religions

7 Reason, Science and Spiritual Values

8 Meditation

9 A Talk to Western Buddhists

10 Living Sanely

11 Human Rights and Universal Responsibilities

12 An Ethical Approach to Environmental Protection

13 The Nobel Evening Address

14 The Dalai Lama in Depth by Catherine Ingram

15 Report From Tibet

16 Statement on Use of Prize Money

Source Acknowledgements


Further Reading

The Nobel Peace Prize Lecture
Oslo, Norway

Brothers and Sisters:

It is an honor and pleasure to be among you today. I am
really happy to see so many old friends who have come from different corners
of the world, and to make new friends, whom I hope to meet again in the
future. When I meet people in different parts of the world, I am always
reminded that we are all basically alike: we are all human beings. Maybe
we have different clothes, our skin is of a different color, or we speak
different languages. This is on the surface. But basically, we are the
same human beings. That is what binds us to each other. That is what makes
it possible for us to understand each other and to develop friendship and

Thinking over what I might say today, I decided to share
with you some of my thoughts concerning the common problems all of us face
as members of the human family. Because we all share this small planet
earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and
with nature. That is not just a dream, but a necessity. We are dependent
on each other in so many ways that we can no longer live in isolated communities
and ignore what is happening outside those communities. We need to help
each other when we have difficulties, and we must share the good fortune
that we enjoy. I speak to you as just another human being, as a simple
monk. If you find what I say useful, then I hope you will try to practice

I also wish to share with you today my feelings concerning
the plight and aspirations of the people of Tibet. The Nobel Prize is a
prize they well deserve for their courage and unfailing determination during
the past forty years of foreign occupation. As a free spokesman for my
captive countrymen and women, I feel it is my duty to speak out on their
behalf. I speak not with a feeling of anger or hatred towards those who
are responsible for the immense suffering of our people and the destruction
of our land, homes and culture. They too are human beings who struggle
to find happiness and deserve our compassion. I speak to inform you of
the sad situation in my country today and of the aspirations of my people,
because in our struggle for freedom, truth is the only weapon we possess.

The realization that we are all basically the same human
beings, who seek happiness and try to avoid suffering, is very helpful
in developing a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood—a warm feeling of
love and compassion for others. This, in turn, is essential if we are to
survive in this ever-shrinking world we live in. For if we each selfishly
pursue only what we believe to be in our own interest, without caring about
the needs of others, we not only may end up harming others but also ourselves.
This fact has become very clear during the course of this century. We know
that to wage a nuclear war today, for example, would be a form of suicide;
or that to pollute the air or the oceans, in order to achieve some short-term
benefit, would be to destroy the very basis for our survival. As individuals
and nations are becoming increasingly interdependent we have no other choice
than to develop what I call a sense of universal responsibility.

Today, we are truly a global family. What happens in one
part of the world may affect us all. This, of course, is not only true
of the negative things that happen, but is equally valid for the positive
developments. We not only know what happens elsewhere, thanks to the extraordinary
modern communications technology, we are also directly affected by events
that occur far away. We feel a sense of sadness when children are starving
in Eastern Africa. Similarly, we feel a sense of joy when a family is reunited
after decades of separation by the Berlin Wall. Our crops and livestock
are contaminated and our health and livelihood threatened when a nuclear
accident happens miles away in another country. Our own security is enhanced
when peace breaks out between wring parties in other continents.

But war or peace; the destruction or the protection of
nature; the violation or promotion of human rights and democratic freedoms;
poverty or material well being; the lack of moral and spiritual values
or their existence and development; and the breakdown or development of
human understanding, are not isolated phenomena that can be analyzed and
tackled independently of one another. In fact, they are very much interrelated
at all levels and need to be approached with that understanding.

Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little
value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold. It will not remove the
pain of torture inflicted on a prisoner of conscience. It does not comfort
those who have lost their loved ones in floods caused by senseless deforestation
in a neighboring country. Peace can only last where human rights are respected,
where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free. True
peace with ourselves and with the world around us can only be achieved
through the development of mental peace. The other phenomena mentioned
above are similarly interrelated. Thus, for example, we see that a clean
environment, wealth or democracy mean little in the face of war, especially
nuclear war, and that material development is not sufficient to ensure
human happiness.

Material progress is of course important for human advancement.
In Tibet, we paid much too little attention to technological and economic
development, and today we realize that this was a mistake. At the same
time, material development without spiritual development can also cause
serious problems. In some countries too much attention is paid to external
things and very little importance is given to inner development. I believe
both are important and must be developed side by side so as to achieve
a good balance between them. Tibetans are always described by foreign visitors
as being a happy, jovial people. This is part of our national character,
formed by cultural and religious values that stress the importance of mental
peace through the generation of love and kindness to all other living sentient
beings, both human and animal. Inner peace is the key: if you have inner
peace, the external problems do not affect your deep sense of peace and
tranquility. In that state of mind you can deal with situations with calmness
and reason, while keeping your inner happiness. That is very important.
Without this inner peace, no matter how comfortable your life is materially,
you may still be worried, disturbed or unhappy because of circumstances.

Clearly, it is of great importance, therefore, to understand
the interrelationship among these and other phenomena, and to approach
and attempt to solve problems in a balanced way that takes these different
aspects into consideration. Of course it is not easy. But it is of little
benefit to try to solve one problem if doing so creates an equally serious
new one. So really we have no alternative: we must develop a sense of universal
responsibility not only in the geographic sense, but also in respect to
the different issues that confront our planet.

Responsibility does not only lie with the leaders of our
countries or with those who have been appointed or elected to do a particular
job. It lies with each of us individually. Peace, for example, starts within
each one of us. When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those
around us. When our community is in a state of peace, it can share that
peace with neighboring communities, and so on. When we feel love and kindness
towards others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but
it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace. And there are ways
in which we can consciously work to develop feelings of love and kindness.
For some of us, the most effective way to do so is through religious practice.
For others it may be non-religious practices. What is important is that
we each make a sincere effort to take seriously our responsibility for
each other and for the natural environment.

I am very encouraged by the developments which are taking
place around us. After the young people of many countries, particularly
in northern Europe, have repeatedly called for an end to the dangerous
destruction of the environment which was being conducted in the name of
economic development, the world’s political leaders are now starting to
take meaningful steps to address this problem. The report to the United
Nations Secretary General by the World Commission on the Environment and
Development (the Brundtland report) was an important step in educating
governments on the urgency of the issue. Serious efforts to bring peace
to war-torn zones and to implement the right to self-determination of some
peoples have resulted in the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan
and the establishment of independent Namibia. Through persistent non-violent
popular efforts dramatic changes, bringing many countries closer to real
democracy, have occurred in many places, from Manila in the Philippines
to Berlin in East Germany. With the Cold War era apparently drawing to
a close, people everywhere live with renewed hope. Sadly, the courageous
efforts of the Chinese people to bring similar change to their country
was brutally crushed last June. But their efforts too are a source of hope.
The military might has not extinguished the desire for freedom and the
determination of the Chinese people to achieve it. I particularly admire
the fact that these young people, who have been taught that “power grows
from the barrel of the gun,” chose, instead, to use non-violence as their

What these positive changes indicate is that reason, courage,
determination, and the inextinguishable desire for freedom can ultimately
win. In the struggle between forces of war, violence and oppression on
the one hand, and peace, reason and freedom on the other, the latter are
gaining the upper hand. This realization fills us Tibetans with hope that
some day we too will once again be free.

The awarding of the Nobel Prize to me, a simple monk from
far-away Tibet, here in Norway, also fills us Tibetans with hope. It means
that, despite the fact that we have not drawn attention to our plight by
means of violence, we have not been forgotten. It also means that the values
we cherish, in particular our respect for all forms of life and the belief
in the power of truth, are today recognized and encouraged. It is also
a tribute to my mentor, Mahatma Gandhi, whose example is an inspiration
to so many of us. This year’s award is an indication that this sense of
universal responsibility is developing. I am deeply touched by the sincere
concern shown by so many people in this part of the world for the suffering
of the people of Tibet. That is a source of hope not only for us Tibetans,
but for all oppressed peoples.

As you know, Tibet has, for forty years, been under foreign
occupation. Today, more than a quarter of a million Chinese troops are
stationed in Tibet. Some sources estimate the occupation army to be twice
this strength. During this time, Tibetans have been deprived of their most
basic human rights, including the right to life, movement, speech, worship,
only to mention a few. More than one sixth of Tibet’s population of six
million died as a direct result of the Chinese invasion and occupation.
Even before the Cultural Revolution started, many of Tibet’s monasteries,
temples and historic buildings were destroyed. Almost everything that remained
was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. I do not wish to dwell on
this point, which is well documented. What is important to realize, however,
is that despite the limited freedom granted after 1979 to rebuild parts
of some monasteries and other such tokens of liberalization, the fundamental
human rights of the Tibetan people are still today being systematically
violated. In recent months this bad situation has become even worse.

If it were not for our community in exile, so generously
sheltered and supported by the government and people of India and helped
by organizations and individuals from many parts of the world, our nation
would today be little more than a shattered remnant of a people. Our culture,
religion and national identity would have been effectively eliminated.
As it is, we have built schools and monasteries in exile and have created
democratic institutions to serve our people and preserve the seeds of our
civilization. With this experience, we intend to implement full democracy
in a future free Tibet. Thus, as we develop our community in exile on modern
lines, we also cherish and preserve our own identity and culture and bring
hope to millions of our countrymen and women in Tibet.

The issue of most urgent concern at this time is the massive
influx of Chinese settlers into Tibet. Although in the first decades of
occupation a considerable number of Chinese were transferred into the eastern
parts of Tibet—in the Tibetan provinces of Amdo (chinghai) and Kham (most
of which has been annexed by the neighboring Chinese province)—since 1983
an unprecedented number of Chinese have been encouraged by their government
to migrate to all parts of Tibet, including central and western Tibet (which
the PRC refers to as the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region). Tibetans are
rapidly being reduced to an insignificant minority in their own country.
This development, which threatens the very survival of the Tibetan nation,
its culture and spiritual heritage, can still be stopped and reversed.
But this must be done now, before it is too late.

The new cycle of protest and violent repression, which
started in Tibet in September of 1987 and culminated in the imposition
of martial law in the capital, Lacy, in March of this year, was in large
part a reaction to this tremendous Chinese influx. Information reaching
us in exile indicates that the protest marches and other peaceful forms
of protest are continuing in Lhasa and a number of other places in Tibet
despite the severe punishment and inhumane treatment given to Tibetans
detained for expressing their grievances. The number of Tibetans killed
by security forces during the protest in March and of those who died in
detention afterwards is not known but is believed to be more than two hundred.
Thousands have been detained or arrested and imprisoned, and torture is

It was against the background of this worsening situation
and in order to prevent further bloodshed, that I proposed what is generally
referred to as the Five Point Peace Plan for the restoration of peace and
human rights in Tibet. I elaborated on the plan in a speech in Strasbourg
last year. I believe the plan provides a reasonable and realistic framework
for negotiations with the People’s Republic of China. So far, however,
China’s leaders have been unwilling to respond constructively. The brutal
supression of the Chinese democracy movement in June of this year, however,
reinforced my view that any settlement of the Tibetan question will only
be meaningful if it is supported by adequate international guarantees.

The Five Point Peace Plan addresses the principal and
interrelated issues, which I referred to in the first part of this lecture.
It calls for (1) Transformation of the whole of Tibet, including the eastern
provinces of Kham and Amdo, into a Zone of Ahimsa (non-violence); (2) Abandonment
of China’s population transfer policy; (3) Respect for the Tibetan people’s
fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms; (4) Restoration and protection
of Tibet’s natural environment; and (5) Commencement of earnest negotiations
on the future status of Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and
Chinese peoples. In the Strasbourg address I proposed that Tibet become
a fully self-governing democratic political entity.

I would like to take this opportunity to explain the Zone
of Ahimsa or peace sanctuary concept, which is the central element of the
Five Point Peace Plan. I am convinced that it is of great importance not
only for Tibet, but for peace and stability in Asia.

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. Tibet
could indeed become a creative center for the promotion and development
of peace.

The following are key elements of the proposed Zone of

—the entire Tibetan plateau would be demilitarized;

—the manufacture, testing, and stockpiling of nuclear
weapons and other armaments on the Tibetan plateau would be prohibited;

—the Tibetan plateau would be transformed into the world’s
largest natural park or biosphere. Strict laws would be enforced to protect
wildlife and plant life; the exploitation of natural resources would be
carefully regulated so as not to damage relevant ecosystems; and a policy
of sustainable development would be adopted in populated areas;

—the manufacture and use of nuclear power and other technologies
which produce hazardous waste would be prohibited;

—national resources and policy would be directed towards
the active promotion of peace and environmental protection. Organizations
dedicated to the furtherance of peace and to the protection of all forms
of life would find a hospitable home in Tibet;

—the establishment of international and regional organizations
for the promotion and protection of human rights would be encouraged in

Tibet’s height and size (the size of the European Community),
as well as its unique history and profound spiritual heritage make it ideally
suited to fulfill the role of a sanctuary of peace in the strategic heart
of Asia. It would also be in keeping with Tibet’s historical role as a
peaceful Buddhist nation and buffer region separating the Asian continent’s
great and often rival powers.

In order to reduce existing tensions in Asia, the President
of the Soviet Union, Mr. Gorbachev, proposed the demilitarization of Soviet-Chinese
borders and their transformation into a “frontier of peace and good-neighborliness.”
The Nepal government had earlier proposed that the Himalayan country of
Nepal, bordering on Tibet, should become a zone of peace, although that
proposal did not include demilitarization of the country.

For the stability and peace of Asia, it is essential to
create peace zones to separate the continent’s biggest powers and potential
adversaries. President Gorbachev’s proposal, which also included a complete
Soviet troop withdrawal from Mongolia, would help to reduce tension and
the potential for confrontation between the Soviet Union and China. A true
peace zone must, clearly, also be created to separate the world’s two most
populous states, China and India.

The establishment of the Zone of Ahimsa would require
the withdrawal of troops and military installations from Tibet, which would
enable India and Nepal also to withdraw troops and military installations
from the Himalayan regions bordering Tibet. This would have to be achieved
by international agreements. It would be in the best interest of all states
in Asia, particularly China and India, as it would enhance their security,
while reducing the economic burden of maintaining high troop concentrations
in remote areas.

Tibet would not be the first strategic area to be demilitarized.
Parts of the Sinai peninsula, the Egyptian territory separating Israel
and Egypt, have been demilitarized for some time. Of course, Costa Rica
is the best example of an entirely demilitarized country.

Tibet would also not be the first area to be turned into
a natural preserve or biosphere. Many parks have been created throughout
the world. Some very strategic areas have been turned into natural “peace
parks.” Two examples are the La Amistad park, on the Costa Rica-Panama
border and the Si A Paz project on the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border.

When I visited Costa Rica earlier this year, I saw how
a country can develop successfully without an army, to become a stable
democracy committed to peace and the protection of the natural environment.
This confirmed my belief that my vision of Tibet in the future is a realistic
plan, not merely a dream.

Let me end with a personal note of thanks to all of you
and our friends who are not here today. The concern and support which you
have expressed for the plight of the Tibetans has touched us all greatly,
and continues to give us courage to struggle for freedom and justice; not
through the use of arms, but with the powerful weapons of truth and determination.
I know that I speak on behalf of all the people of Tibet when I thank you
and ask you not to forget Tibet at this critical time in our country’s
history. We too hope to contribute to the development of a more peaceful,
more humane and more beautiful world. A future free Tibet will seek to
help those in need throughout the world, to protect nature, and to promote
peace. I believe that our Tibetan ability to combine spiritual qualities
with a realistic and practical attitude enables us to make a special contribution
in however modest a way. This is my hope and prayer.

In conclusion, let me share with you a short prayer which
gives me great inspiration and determination:

For as long as space endures,

And for as long as living beings remain,

Until then may I, too, abide

To dispel the misery of the world.

Thank you.

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