Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, spoke of love, honesty, and truthfulness at the end of the International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington last week.
The 86-year-old monk said in a videotaped message from India that both those who believe in god and the non-believers aim “to be kind, honest, and truthful.”
“These days, I emphasize that we need to understand that entire seven billion human beings (alive today) are the same,” he said.
The three-day summit addressed religious persecutions around the world, but focused heavily on China’s targeting of Muslim Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
US officials called for stepped up pressure on China to change policies in Xinjiang that Washington and some European parliaments have determined constitute genocide.
“The Uyghur case is just such a profoundly disastrous situation and it is a current and ongoing genocide,” said Sam Brownback, former US ambassador at large for international religious freedom, told Radio Free Asia.
The situation in Tibet — which has been under harsh Chinese rule similar to that of Xinjiang — was mentioned in passing by Brownback, said an RFA report.
“Religious freedom is actually an expression of freedom of thought,” said the Dalai Lama.
“Our various religious traditions have different philosophies and different practices, but all carry the same message—a message of love, forgiveness, contentment, and self-discipline,” he said.
“Even for those with no faith, these qualities—contentment, self-discipline and thinking more of others than yourself—are very relevant,” added the religious leader.
“There are many differences, but these ideas are related to methods to increase love, which is the real message,” said the Dalai Lama.
“In the past, and unfortunately even today, religions have been manipulated for political reasons, or out of concern for power, leading to fighting among some of their followers,” he said
“We should leave such thoughts in the past,” he added.
The Dalai Lama fled Tibet into exile in India in the midst of a failed 1959 Tibetan national uprising against rule by China, which marched into the formerly independent Himalayan country in 1950.
Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on Tibet and on Tibetan-populated regions of western China, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identity, and subjecting Tibetans to imprisonment, torture, and extrajudicial killings. – with a report from Radio Free Asia