Monday, April 14, 2008

In the News: The Dalai Lama - Conferences and China

The Dalai Lama is in Seattle this week for the Seeds of Compassion conference -- many of the sessions are now available online at their site, where they can be viewed. This is a great event bringing together psychologists, neuroscientists, and Buddhists to discuss various facets of compassion.

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On the 16th from the Mayo Clinic will be "Mind and Life XVI, Investigating the Mind-Body Connection: The Science and Clinical Applications of Meditation," which will be held at Mayo Clinic Rochester, will be available via live webcast on April 16, 2008.

Mind and Life XVI convenes the Dalai Lama, scientists, clinicians, other contemplatives, and an audience of Mayo Clinic professionals to review the current science and clinical applications of meditation, and, to identify new lines of research on and clinical applications of contemplative practices such as meditation within medicine.

(Please Note: The webcast will be available at the above URL from 9:00 AM CDT when the conference begins, until 4:00 PM CDT when the conference ends. The web URL will be not be active until 9:00 AM on April 16, 2008.)

[Thanks to Sujatin at Lotus in the Mud for the heads up and links.]

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More on the Tibet/China situation. These are just excerpts -- follow the links to see the whole article.

From Reuters: China says firearms found in Tibetan temple.

Chinese forces found firearms hidden throughout a Tibetan temple in an ethnic Tibetan area of southwestern China which has been the scene of anti-Chinese riots in recent weeks, state television said.

And Chinese police detained five air passengers, possibly Tibetans, whose "suspicious remarks" prompted the return of their flight half an hour after take-off from the southern city of Shenzhen, a newspaper reported.

Police, responding to what they said was a tip-off from the public, found 30 firearms in the monastery in Aba prefecture of Sichuan province last month, state television said in a report, a transcript of which was posted on its Web site ( ).

"At the time these firearms were scattered around, some were where the monks keep the scriptures," policeman Lan Bo told the program. "They were modified semi-automatic weapons."

Aba has seen confrontations between police and Tibetan protesters who, along with Tibetans in Tibet proper, have been protesting against China's rule and calling for the return of the exiled Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama.

Protesters have also disrupted the global torch relay for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but the torch passed through Tanzania's commercial capital of Dar Es Salaam peacefully on Sunday.

The official People's Daily newspaper accused Western media of distorting protests against the relay and playing up their scale.

From The New York Times: Dalai Lama Says His Aides Are Talking to China.

“Just a few days these are going on,” the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, said of the discussions. He said it was unclear what the talks might yield.

He would not say specifically what matters were being discussed, and he said he had not been directly involved in the conversations.

Western leaders have encouraged China to resume discussions with the Dalai Lama in the wake of the unrest in Tibet, which began on March 10.

As recently as Saturday, President Hu Jintao echoed other Chinese leaders who have accused the Dalai Lama of encouraging violence. Mr. Hu left open the door for dialogue but only if “the Dalai side stops activities splitting the motherland, stops activities scheming and instigating violence, and stops activities sabotaging the Beijing Olympic Games,” according to Xinhua, the government’s official news agency.

The Dalai Lama, who is in Seattle for a conference, told reporters on Sunday that he was unaware of the comments by Mr. Hu and, as he has done repeatedly, denied that he had played any role in the violence. He noted that he had also been criticized by some Tibetans who have said his strategy of nonviolence has produced little change.

He rejected the suggestion that Tibetan leaders might make concessions to engage in more extensive dialogue with China. “We’ve become refugees,” he said, adding that Tibetans had little left to concede.

Asked whether he would accept an invitation to the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, he laughed and said he did not expect to receive one. More important, he said, was for China to take steps to earn the international respect and trust it hopes the Olympics will help nurture. As part of doing this, he said, China should release Tibetans arrested since the protests began and provide those injured with proper medical care. He also said China should open Tibet to the news media.

“Let them go there, see the actual situation,” he said.

He restated positions he has made clear in the past: that he does not seek independence for Tibet but what he calls a more genuine autonomy and that he is eager for the Chinese people to know that Tibetans are neither anti-Chinese nor opposed to the Beijing Olympics. He said he met with a Chinese media agency here on Saturday with the hope of sending those messages directly to the Chinese people.

He said he believed that the idea of a “harmonious society” promoted by Mr. Hu showed that the governing Communist Party was “in a state of transformation,” even as the Chinese government continues to distort information and manipulate its people. He said some Chinese officials were demanding that Tibetans put their thumbprints on statements saying they did not want the Dalai Lama to return.

Also from Reuters: Dalai Lama would resign if Tibet violence worsens.

The Dalai Lama said on Sunday he would resign as leader of Tibet's exiled government if violence in his homeland spreads out of control.

"If violence becomes out of control then my only option is to resign," the Buddhist spiritual leader said at a news conference. "If the majority of people commit violence, then I resign."

The Chinese government has accused the Dalai Lama of orchestrating last month's deadly riots in the Tibetan capital Lhasa and unrest that followed in other ethnic Tibetan areas, as part of a bid for independence and to ruin the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing.

The Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959, would retain his post as spiritual leader of Tibet if he were to step down as the head of state, a threat he also made last month.

The 72-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate was recognized as the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama at the age of 2. The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of the patron saint of Tibet, according to the Dalai Lama's Web site.

China's official Xinhua news agency earlier on Sunday denounced the Dalai Lama as a sham. China has gone on the offensive in the face of mounting international criticism of its handling of the riots, wider unrest and a subsequent crackdown in the run-up to the Olympics.

The Dalai Lama said he supported the games and he was saddened by recent anti-Chinese protests that marred the traditional torch relay through the streets of London, Paris and San Francisco.

He reiterated comments that he was not pushing for a separate state, saying that Tibet should be "a happy citizen" of China.