The latest meeting between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and President Barack Obama on February 21, 2014 has led to some developments, including in the Chinese Government asking the question, “What is this “middle way” the Dalai Lama preaches?” (via a Xinhua report on February 22). If the Chinese authorities feign to know this even after the past many years of dialogue with his representatives, I believe the answer can be got by looking at some outcomes of the Obama-Dalai Lama meeting.
An international statesman was received at the White House on the 21st February to meet and discuss the issues of the day with President Obama. While this alone would not be cause for consternation, the identity of said statesman is a volatile one to say the least, a reputation he would abhor: it was His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. As usual, any state visit by the Dalai Lama produced mewling from the Chinese, who claimed that the visit would “…inflict grave damages upon the China-US relationship”.
In the Strasbourg Proposal His Holiness the Dalai Lama outlined the main features of the Middle Way Approach as follows: “… The whole of Tibet known as Cholka-Sum (U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo) should become a self-governing democratic political entity founded on law by agreement of the people for the common good and protection of themselves and their environment, in association ‘with the People’s Republic of China. “The government of the People’s Republic of China could remain responsible for Tibet’s foreign policy.
The President met this morning at the White House with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. The President reiterated his strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China. The President commended the Dalai Lama’s commitment to peace and nonviolence and expressed support for the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” approach.
Edited Excerpts: Q: The Tibetans have been indulging in fresh round of self-immolations in protest against China’s rule in Tibet and in demand for more rights. Do you support this method of protest? What are your views on Beijing’s approach in dealing with Tibetans? Ans: Tibet is under Communist China’s totalitarian regime. Unlike democratic India, there is no religious freedom there. Many Tibetans including the illustrious heads of the different sects of Tibetan Buddhism had to flee to India following the Cultural Revolution.
We’ve heard a great deal this week about the Dalai Lama’s ‘middle way’ political solution to the violence in his homeland. This political ‘middle way’ calls for Tibetan autonomy within China. But there is another middle way that has dominated the headlines this week. Separated by 40 years and 7,000 miles, Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama both embodied a stunning middle way approach to conflict resolution. The hallmark of this approach is a non-reactive and compassionate response to conflict based on a clearheaded assessment of its scope.
DHARAMSHALA, March 10: President of the European Economic and Social Committee, Henri Malosse, has expressed his support for the exile Tibetan government’s policy of Middle Way Approach to resolve the long-standing issue of Tibet with China. “Middle Way means to develop, to ask for more autonomy for Tibet not just because it’s pragmatic approach, but also because it is a realist pragmatic approach,” said Malosse at a press conference following the official ceremony of March 10, at Tsug-la Khang.
Whatever is dependent arising We declared that to be emptiness. That is dependent designation, And is itself the middle way. —Nāgārjuna, Mūlamadhyamakakārikā In early 2011, I had the rare opportunity to attend a commentary session by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Mulamadhyamakakarika (Verses on the Fundamentals of the Middle Way). This opportunity effectively gave me an insight into my identity and consciousness which was otherwise unsettled due to being uprooted like many of my fellow young Tibetans worldwide.
Tibetan Political Review: In the on-going discussions regarding Tibet”s status among nations, there are two main ideological perspectives – autonomy and independence. These two points of view have been debated, often acrimoniously, for over six decades, and yet a solution to the vexed Tibet question remains elusive. Invariably, the rhetorical gyrations have often generated more heat than light. Two unfortunate facts have, however, remained unchanged. One, the immeasurable suffering of Tibetans in their occupied country has indeed escalated.
It is not unusual for Harvard to host a head of state. During one recent week, there were five on campus in five days. But it is unusual for Harvard to host the leader of a government in exile, as in Tuesday’s tightly guarded Tsai Auditorium lecture by Lobsang Sangay, LL.M. ’95, S.J.D. ’04. The 44-year-old Harvard Law School graduate is sikyong, or prime minister, of the Central Tibetan Administration, the government in exile’s top political official. The late afternoon talk was his first in the United States as a head of government and his first in a university setting.
I wish to express my solidarity with the people of Tibet during this critical time in their history. To my dear friend His Holiness the Dalai Lama, let me say: I stand with you. You define non-violence and compassion and goodness. I was in an Easter retreat when the recent tragic events unfolded in Tibet. I learned that China has stated you caused violence. Clearly China does not know you, but they should. I call on China’s government to know His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as so many have come to know, during these long decades years in exile.