Melissa Mathison interviewed the Dalai Lama for a piece in Rolling Stone. Some answers on his positions, and the recent changes in the Central Tibetan Administration:
So you feel good about your decision [to retire from politics]?
Oh, yes. The 19th of March, after I offered a more detailed explanation to the public about my retirement — that night, my sleep was extraordinarily sound. So it seems some relief.
Now we are completely changed from the theocracy of the past. Also, our decision is a real answer to the Chinese Communist accusation that the whole aim of our struggle is the restoration of the old system. Now they can’t make that accusation. I am often saying that the Chinese Communist Party should retire. Now I can tell them, “Do like me. Retire with grace.”
Why do the Chinese demonize you by calling you things like a “devil” or a “wolf in monk’s robes”? Is there a reason they speak about you in such archaic language?
Generally speaking, such sort of expressions are childish. Those officials who use those words, I think they want to show the Chinese public that the Dalai Lama is so bad. And I think also that they are hoping to reach the Tibetans. They want 100 percent negative. So they use these words. They actually disgrace themselves. I mean, childish! Very foolish! Nobody believes them.
You have said that Tibet’s survival will depend on China changing from within. Are you optimistic that will happen?
When President Hu Jintao expresses that his main interest is the promotion of harmony, I fully support that. I express on many occasions that real harmony should come from the heart. For that, trust, respect and friendship are all essential. To create a more harmonious society, using force is wrong. After almost 10 years of Hu Jintao’s presidency, his aim is very good. But the method — relying more and more on force — is counterproductive.
The first important thing is transparency. I am saying that 1.3 billion Chinese people have the right to know the reality. Then 1.3 billion Chinese people also have the ability to judge what is right or what is wrong.
Do you believe the day will come when you will be allowed to return to Tibet?
The Tibet issue is not an issue about the Dalai Lama. It is about six million Tibetans and their culture. So unless the Chinese government addresses the real issues, talks about my return to Tibet are irrelevant. This is an issue of six million Tibetan people. I am one of them. So naturally, like every Tibetan, I also have the responsibility to serve.