His Holiness the Dalai Lama Visits Norwegian Parliament and Nobel Peace Centre

May 10th 2014

Oslo, Norway, 9 May 2014 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama was met on the steps of The Storting, the Norwegian Parliament building by Ketil Kjenseth, Liv Signe Navarsete and other Members of Norwegian Parliamentary Group for Tibet, who escorted him into the building. Ketil Kjenseth explained that he was dressed in the local costume of his constituency, Oppland, to mark the fact that it was the first place in Norway to welcome and accommodate Tibetan refugees. After Members of Parliament, including members of the governing coalition, representatives and youth representatives of all other political parties, had introduced themselves, His Holiness was invited to speak.


Members of Norwegian Parliamentary Group for Tibet meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama on steps to the Parliament building before their meeting in Oslo, Norway on May 9, 2014. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
“Brothers and sisters, I am honoured that you are receiving me. I’m a great admirer of democracy. I often say that the world belongs to the whole of humanity; we are the owners. Each country belongs to the people who live there. When a government is chosen by the people it is accountable to those people. Since 2011 I have completely retired from political responsibility and I have retired the institution of Dalai Lamas from this responsibility too.”

He said that since the 7th and 8th centuries, when Buddhism of the Nalanda tradition reached Tibet, the whole way of life changed, giving rise to a culture of peace and non-violence, a culture of compassion. He mentioned that China too is historically a Buddhist country despite the efforts of the Cultural Revolution to eliminate Buddhism. Now there are said to be about 400 million there who think of themselves as Buddhists.

Regarding the environment, he said that a Chinese ecologist had estimated the significance of Tibet to be equivalent to that of the North and South Poles, so he had described Tibet as the Third Pole. Asia’s major rivers ultimately have their source in Tibet and 1 billion people depend on their waters. One Chinese Prime Minister acknowledged that the unprecedented flooding in China was a result of deforestation in Tibet.

“As everybody knows, I’m a Buddhist monk,” His Holiness concluded, “committed to promoting human values, inter-religious harmony and the preservation of Tibet’s Buddhist culture and natural environment.”

Ketil Kjenseth opened the meeting to questions from the floor and the first was about religious conflict. His Holiness replied that in most cases such conflict is political or economic rather than religious. He commented that while it is sufficient for an individual to think personally of one religion, one truth, in today’s world on a community level we have to respectfully acknowledge several religions and several truths.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to members of the Norwegian Parliamentary Group for Tibet at the Norwegian Parliament in Oslo, Norway on May 9, 2014.
Photo/Duy Anh Pham

Asked how Norway can support human rights most effectively, His Holiness said that smaller nations like Norway may be seen as less of a threat and so able to establish the trust necessary to engage in dialogue about this. Trust and respect are key factors. When a similar question was posed a few minutes later, His Holiness said:

“Like peace, progress on human rights will not come about just by making good wishes, it will require action. Once in Hiroshima when there were prayers for peace, I suggested that we have to make efforts to create peace. “

Another questioner began by expressing the hope that His Holiness had felt the warmth with which he is received in Norway. He said: “You’re always smiling, what’s the reason?”

“Peace is actually related to inner peace. Anger destroys our inner peace, while love, compassion and forgiveness are its source. Religious traditions like Christianity and Islam see other beings as creations of God. I met an Israeli teacher who advised his Palestinian students to see hostile security guards as in the image of God. They reported back to him that it was very effective. Sometimes we just pay lip service to our religious traditions, but if we follow a faith, we should do so sincerely. As for why I laugh and smile, that’s my secret! Actually, I work for about 8 hours a day and at night I get 8-9 hours sleep. Laughter is one of our unique human abilities. The human smile is an expression of love and affection.”

To a question about how he sees the future of an autonomous Tibet, His Holiness said that as early as 1974 he and his advisers had decided that they needed to talk to China and that they could not seek independence. Tibet was historically a separate country, but what is past is past. He expressed admiration for the European Union whose members are prepared to be part of a greater whole. He said Tibetans want the Chinese authorities to grant the rights and privileges to Tibetan areas already mentioned in the Chinese constitution. These include human rights and environmental issues, for example where mining is being undertaken contrary to the wishes of the local people. Also China tends to look down on Tibetan language and culture, which is a kind of human rights violation. He said he tells Chinese friends, ‘Look at India with its many different scripts and languages and no threat of separatism.’ Tibetans want religious freedom, the right to preserve their language and culture.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama meeting with members of the Norwegian Parliamentary Group for Tibet at the Norwegian Parliament in Oslo, Norway on May 9, 2014.
Photo/Duy Anh Pham

“Finally, there is the fact that in the past Tibet acted as a buffer state between China and India. China’s stationing of so many troops in Tibet alarms India. If the situation in Tibet were normalized these troop numbers could be reduced.”

When a questioner suggested that human rights violations in Tibet are among the worst anywhere, His Holiness replied that about 15 years ago a local Party Secretary told a Party meeting that the ultimate threat to separate Tibet from China lay in Tibetan Buddhist culture and sought to suppress it. Tibetans like Norwegians are proud of their culture and were offended. Installation of CCTV cameras in every corner of Lhasa and in temples has created an atmosphere of fear and suspicion.

“Meanwhile,” His Holiness said, “many friends say that Xi Jinping is more realistic in his thinking. He is boldly challenging corruption. Recently, on a visit to France, he praised Buddhism as having a special role to play in reviving and revitalizing Chinese culture. We’ll have to see. The totalitarian system has become osssified after nearly 70 years, but many Chinese intellectuals are raising their voices in the cause of freedom. The EU should express support for these people and for Xi Jinping. The world’s moral support will help.

“At present China spends more on internal security than on defence; no one else does this. Wen Jiabao said that China needs political reform, suggesting even US style democracy. He was laying out policies on which to build in order that China can play a constructive role in the world. Secrecy and censorship don’t attract trust and respect.”


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to members of the Norwegian Parliamentary Group for Tibet at the Norwegian Parliament in Oslo, Norway on May 9, 2014. Photo/JeremyRussell/OHHDL
Asked again how Norway can contribute to ensuring human rights in Tibet, His Holiness recalled that Hu Yaobang went to Tibet to see for himself. He sent his own observers ahead to report back to him and rejected the concocted reports of local officials. It remains important for people to go to Tibet and to report what they find.

A question was raised about the self-immolations that have taken place in Tibet. His Holiness said that because it is a sensitive political matter and that hardliners distort whatever he says he prefers to keep quiet.

“When they began I told a BBC correspondent that such events were really very sad and questioned how effective they would be for the Tibet issue. Later, in Japan I stated that these events are symptoms of a cause which urgently needs to be investigated and addressed.”

Ketil Kjenseth concluded the meeting:

“Thank you for coming with your smile and positive values. It was a pleasure to have you here.”


His Holiness the Dalai Lama meeting with group of high school students at the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo, Norway on May 9, 2014. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
At the Nobel Peace Centre, His Holiness was welcomed by the director, Bente Erichsen, who showed him around. Among other things she showed him the Fred and Toca Loca children's display about Nobel Peace Prize winners that features him as one of the five best loved Nobel laureates. In a recorded conversation that will be played in schools, His Holiness spoke to a group of high school students about the value of affection and inner peace in creating a happier world. The Mayor of Oslo, Fabian Stang, took the opportunity to introduce himself to His Holiness.

Speaking to Tibetans and Tibet Supporters from Nordic countries he encouraged them, praising the value of Tibet’s Buddhist culture and expressing the hope that China continues to change. From there he went to the Folketeateret, where he was first presented with the Erik Bye Memorial Prize, commemorating the father of modern journalism in Norway. In his subsequent talk, His Holiness spoke about the need for ethics in our world, saying that the essence of ethics is love and respect for one another. These are fundamental values also expressed in all major religious traditions. He said that the distinction between non-violence and violence lies less in the nature of the action than in the motivation for it.


Tibetans and Tibet supporters from Nordic countries listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during their meeting in Oslo, Norway on May 9, 2014. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL
When a Shugden supporter raised a question he explained that he had propitiated Shugden himself from 1951 until the early 1970s, when he realised there was something wrong with it. He stopped and eventually others came to know that. He said that since the 5th and 13th Dalai Lamas had opposed the practice he felt a duty to explain that to others. He went on to answer questions about the status of men and women in Buddhism and how to respond to the loss of loved ones.

At each event in Oslo, Tibetans and their friends and supporters turned out in large numbers to express their support for His Holiness and to wish him a long life. He in turn made a point of acknowledging and expressing his appreciation for their support.

Tomorrow, he travels to the Netherlands where he will hold meetings and give teachings.
 

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