Speech to Congress – Dalai Lama

Remarks by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

to the Members of the United States Congress
in the Rotunda of the Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
18 April 1991

Mr. Speaker, Senator Mitchell, Representative Gephardt, Senator Dole, Representative Michel, Senators, Members of the Congress, other distinguished guests and brothers and sisters, I am extremely happy and honored to be with you today.

Now, if you would give me permission, I would like to use my broken English. I think there is a solemn atmosphere. Now since there isn’t much time, I would like to first express my deep feelings. I am a bit moved and touched today; so therefore, instead of reading my prepared statement, I would like to say something else.

As human brothers and sisters, I have a feeling that deep down we are all the same human beings. Therefore, it is quite natural that when some human brothers and sisters suffer, then other brothers and sisters spontaneously develop some kind of sincere feeling or concern. At this moment, I find this very much alive. I consider this a hope for the future.

Another basic thing very useful for humanity is a good heart. Without that, I think our future is doomed and there may not be a very happy state. If this human feeling, this human affection, is kept alive, it will be carried in all human activities and then there will be real hope. I believe that during this century, we have learned many negative things. As a result, humanity has become more mature. So, I have every reason to believe that the next century will be a nicer and friendlier one. I feel a more harmonious world may be achieved.

Now I would like to say something about my own case. Here, I enjoy the freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and freedom of movement. This nation has always cherished these principles. However, when I was about 15, I lost those freedoms. Now I am 56… 40 years later. The first nine years were not only without freedom, but also witnessed real terror and I was always surrounded by fear. Somehow I managed. Now after more than 32 years, although there is no longer that kind of terror or fear, I still remain a refugee. For the most part of my life, I never enjoyed this freedom or liberty. And the worst thing is that thousands and thousands of my Tibetan brothers and sisters have not only lost these freedoms, but they have suffered tremendously, something really unthinkable. Besides this suffering, there is also a lot of destruction. For the present Tibetan generation, we are passing through the most difficult and darkest period in our history.

Sometimes, when I look at this negative side, I feel very sad. But then on the other hand, if there is a challenge, then there is an opportunity to utilize our human intelligence and determination. Its seems to me that the Tibetan nation is not only a civilized one, but also one that possesses genuine inner strength. So, this is a good opportunity to face the challenge. I think after 40 years, after so much destruction, after so much human misery and suffering, the Tibetan spirit was never lost. It is still kept very firmly.

And in recent years, positive changes have taken place in the world as a whole. It is still changing due to many factors, both internal as well as external. I have a deep conviction that things will change. At the same time, this problem is basically a human created one. In order to solve this problem, the answer must come from humanity itself. Nothing else can be blamed. The answer or solution must come from ourselves. With this feeling, with this conviction, when I look around my own country and other continents, I see more or less a similar situation existing in other parts of the world.

The world is becoming smaller and smaller. Our interdependent nature is now much stronger and clearer. I think a crisis in one part of the world is essentially a global crisis. It is the same with the modern economic situation, and also the new environmental and ecological problems. These facts and events show us that humanity needs a wider outlook, a holistic view to solve this crisis, including our own Tibetan issue.

I consider a genuine sense of universal responsibility as the key element. With this motivation, and also the realization of oneness, our entire humanity with it’s different human actions and activities can be constructive. I believe this is the beauty.

Unfortunately, there are some cases that I feel are due to ignorance, shortsightedness, and narrow-mindedness. I think in certain fields, such as in international relations or the contact of continent to continent or nation to nation, the atmosphere is not healthy. I think in some cases it is quite sad. We still have something lacking. Look at the recent Gulf crisis. In my mind, this crisis was not due to the behavior of one or two people, but there were many levels of causes.

Therefore, now that East-West tension has been reduced and some of the other factors I mentioned earlier appear to be having a more positive development, perhaps the time has come to think more deeply or more philosophically in order to solve or to find new arrangements that are more enlightened and civilized – or what you call the new world order. I feel the new world order should be based on principles of compassion and freedom.

We need to think very deeply and hold consultations to come up with some kind of master plan for a better world. Sometimes, perhaps I think it is a little bit idealistic, but I feel our role should be based on the principles of democracy, freedom and liberty. I think the ultimate goal should be a demilitarized world. I feel very strongly about this. This may appear very far and we may face many obstacles. But I believe if we keep our determination and effort, we may find some way to achieve this kind of goal. I usually call this `nirvana’ or the salvation of humanity.

So in this respect, our entire humanity has a responsibility, particularly this nation. Among others, you have economic power, but the most important thing you have is the opportunity to utilize your human creativity. This is something very good. Therefore, I think America has the potential to make this world straight. Certain activities or certain atmospheres are unhealthy and seem to be very crooked. I think in order to make them straight and more honest, with more human feeling, this nation has the real potential and the ability to correct those smaller nations trying to change the world, but the existing pattern may face some immediate consequences which they cannot face. I think this nation is the only superpower. Therefore, I think you have the opportunity or ability to change it.

When some of you talk about this nation, you have mentioned its ancestors. I think they greatly cherished and implemented these basic human principles. Now, with these principles, I think the time has come for you to expand everywhere, not only in your domestic policy, but also in your relations with other nations and continents. So long as there is human business, I feel we can solve many problems with these principles. This is my hope and my prayer.

Finally, though the Tibetan and Chinese issues have similarities, they are vastly different. Yet on behalf of the six million Tibetans and millions of Chinese brothers and sisters, I would like to express my deepest appreciation and gratitude to this country, particularly to the Congress, for all your support.

Thank you very much.

Web Source: His Holiness the Dalai Lama- Site of the Tibetan Government in exile

Dalai Lama 

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