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Questions and Answers with H.H. the Dalai Lama on Conflict Resolution Translated by Acharya Nyima Tsering

I have nothing to say here at first, ask me a question, and then based on the question if some wisdom comes through my brain, I will share it to you.

Question: What is the cause of conflict and what are the ways to resolve it according to the Buddhist philosophy?

Answer: According to the Buddhist philosophy the main source of conflict arises from hatred and attachment, the root cause of these conflicting emotions is the ignorance. It is obvious, for instance, let us not speak in terms of Dharma but generally speaking, most of the conflict and disputes arise due to feeling of repulsion. There is no such concrete object where we can pinpoint as a source of undesirable. There are so many causes and conditions, which produces these conflicts and problems, within these causes and conditions, it also includes your behavior and actions. For instance, when any person becomes your enemy or undesirable object, one condition of this person becoming your enemy trace back to your way of dealing and relating with the person. If you relate to this person with doubt, suspicion and ill feelings motivated with different negative thoughts, slowly and gradually other person also started disliking you; result is that both ends up hurting each other and then eventually becomes an enemy. In reality, source of becoming enemies of each other comes through so many causes and conditions.

Within these so many causes and conditions, your way of conducting yourself is also very much involved. But in our usual way of thinking, "we think that I have done my best to deal with this person but he behaved so badly with me, this person is so bad, I behaved sincerely, with pure motivation, but he or she gave me lots of trouble". Immediately there arise a thought of revenge in your mind. These are not dharma talks, just examine, how it came to happen. If you understand the reason, causes and conditions, time factors and so- forth, then we realize that there is no such concrete object to pinpoint as the main cause. If you think these general processes and research it, you cannot pinpoint a concrete object and consequently reduces your ill feeling.

For instance, how many wars were fought in the earlier part of the 20th century? When the wars were fought, they are fighting through targeting one concrete object as undesirable, but do not see that how many inter-connections are there. In reality, the plan of using that much forces to destroy the opponents does not materialize since it is so much inter-related, it is therefore, earlier idea to use such forces and weapons to destroy the opponents does not eventually accomplishes. It is therefore, in the idea, one presumes there is only one concrete object, however, the reality is completely different. From the perspective of dharma, we say that it is hatred and attachment, and strong partiality of ourselves and others, by building these strong notion of self and others are based on ignorance or not knowing the reality. Ignorance of concrete grasping of self, which is diametrically opposed to the comprehension of selflessness, has caused all these problems. This is very profound discussion of the Buddhist philosophy. Even though I am not talking from the profound level of Buddhist philosophy, but due to not realizing the reality results in strong partiality of others and we. In my usual general statement, I am always saying that now the world is one and there is no need to make strong barrier of others and we. For instance; usually we are saying "these Indians", in reality our survival is dependent on Indians. If one Indian is causing us problems; for instance, I am wearing one yellow watch here, it is due to a Tibetans being showoff and stylish by wearing brand new watches, riding huge motor cycle, then definitely, it causes uncomfortable and uneasy for the Indians. If we look down upon them and then of course, it is complete mistake to blame that they are creating us a problem. If we think through wider perspective, through knowing the real causes and conditions, and then when something goes wrong, during that time, we could think that they are nothing to blame on them. In actual sense, it is our mistake, Indians are really kind, and our survival of life is depending on them. If we think in this way, there are no any conflicts at all. Therefore, it is extremely important to know the reality and view the problem through wider perspective. Secondly another main cause of conflict is not being justice and honest. For these things one must take counter measure. There is another technique to deal with such problems. If the conflict arises due to different interest and approach, in such cases, both are true from their side. For these problems, we must have to be open in our discussion and dialogue with honesty and sincerity. Neither to feel afraid of each other nor it is wise to talk differently and think differently. With honest motive, one should say that you have these benefits and I have this. Now we both should receive the benefits therefore, we should do in this way, there is nothing to hide each other, and there is no need to deceive each other. Be open from the heart and outside, in this way we can solve the problems. If, by being dishonest, we do not go to the right direction then problem will definitely arise and of course, it is your mistake since you are telling lies. If the problem arises due to telling lies then one must not tell lie and keep the right track of honesty. There is no other solution than this. We must solve the problem by making the matter clear through sincere motivation with honesty and justice; taking care of the interest and benefits of others and respecting them. I think that there is ways to think in this way.

Question: What is your expectation of our forming a new NGO?

Answer: As long as there is human society, there will always be conflict. As I always say that if one do not need conflict at all, we will have to make the entire human race stupid or dull and then there will be no problem at all. We can take out the human brain, which thinks so much, nothing else just leave knowing how to eat and sleep, then there will be no conflict at all. This is impossible, even though we try to do this, and it is really stupid idea. Since human intelligent is so precious. As long as there are human intellect, there will definitely be different ideas, viewpoints, different outlooks. This is also a kind of basis for human conflict. As long as human has a conscience and intellect to think about the future, there will definitely be conflicts. There is also a solution to resolve the conflicts. Conflicts are made by the human beings and methods to solve the conflict must be created through human intelligent. It is wise to resolve the conflict through dialogue, not through weapon and nuclear power. One has to discuss clearly to solve the human conflict. Therefore, this New NGO program is extremely important. As I have mentioned earlier, method of seeing interconnectedness to resolve the conflict are based on Buddhist perspective of dependent arising.

This interdependent idea shows the real situation very clearly. Therefore, if we implement this idea of inter-dependency, this will help us to realize the real causes and condition of the problems. It is important to implement the idea through honesty and justice. Basis of honesty and justice is love and compassion.

If one has love and compassion in one’s heart one will definitely think about other’s purpose and accept the others as they are. One thinks that other being is also a part of my being, on that way we can remain truthful and open.

Naturally suspicions and doubt arise if we built thick barrier of wall between them and us. Particularly if one holds strong hatred, ill feeling towards other, automatically this will bring suspicion and doubt. In such circumstances, openness is impossible. Therefore, this Buddhist view of inter-dependence helps us to think more broad and widely. If we set up good new NGO and if it develops more connection with many foreign countries, it is possible that we will definitely contribute new ideas to them. As a result we will also be able to find another path to enter the UN. This will make some extra work for and pressure to the Chinese embassy.

Question: Your Holiness, Non-violence is the best way to solve our conflict between Tibet and china, however sometimes, I feel which is not rational in some sense because it is taking long time. Therefore, we would love to hear from your holiness if there is any other ways to achieve our aim. Please advice?

Answer: I have adopted this idea or method of middle way approach Since 1973 for 27 years despite lacking the response from the Chinese government. I still believe middle way approach is the best way and practical. I think there is no reason to change that position, if you have something to say then it is welcome, any criticism is welcome. Not just merely criticism of my approach but it must show some alternative solution, just mere criticism without any alternative solution, is of no much use.

Question: We were given this training on the conflict resolution. Your Holiness, what is the best way to solve the conflict according to your opinion?

Answer: I have mentioned my answer to this question before, in addition to what I have said, the most crucial factor is determination and will power. Our middle way approach has no progress, no response from the Chinese government’s side and also sometimes among us Tibetans, there is no response. But despite that, we are fully committed for this approach and keeping on our determination. Any sort of human effort needs determination. To overcome obstacle for the determination is tolerance and patience, tolerance should not consider as the sign of weakness, since we hold to the truth, eventually there will be a result, if not in our generation then in the next generation, beauty of truth always remains. Force, aggression, power, gun is not beautiful and do not last long, truth and honest always inspire and practice of tolerance and determination will come. These are important, for instance in our saying: “bridge the rift nine times” is very good in practice, khampas and Amdo people say, “bridge the rift nine times” but in practical when something goes little wrong, they immediately fight. It is good to implement the practice of “bridge the rift nine times”.

That is all.

Thank you