Dalai Lama: “The concept of war is outdated”

The Dalai Lama at Middlebury College. Photo by Brett Simison

The Dalai Lama at Middlebury College. Photo by Brett Simison

In a rare appearance in Vermont, Tibet’s 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso told packed audiences at Middlebury College that demilitarization and world peace hinge on the interdependence of nations and overcoming “superficial differences.”

The Dalai Lama emphasized the common problems and mutual dependence between nations, and he said he hoped eventually for a demilitarized world. He expressed a wish for a 21st century of peace and dialogue, in contrast to the 20th century, which he called a “century of bloodshed.”

“Accepting all humanity as [the] same,” he said, “United States’ future [is] very much related with rest of the world. That’s a reality. … Now the concept of violence, the concept of war, is outdated.”

“Violence never seems now to produce positive results,” he continued.

Watch Friday’s talk here.

Although he chided America for unspecified foreign policy decisions, he also called it the “leading nation in the free world.” He added that its political example had inspired him during his darkest days, when he became exiled from Tibet at 24 years old.

In the two candid talks, one on Friday and another on Saturday, the 77-year-old Nobel Peace prize winner accepted pre-submitted questions. He didn’t always manage to answer them — his responses were punctuated by jokes, anecdotes and meandering reflections on other subjects.

Asked if he had any regrets, he said he’d wished only that he’d taken his studies more seriously as a youth. He said he believed his decisions as spiritual leader of Tibet eventually turned out alright. “I think major decisions in the spiritual field, as well the political field — no regrets.”

The Dalai Lama rarely veered into explicitly references to Buddhism or political territory related to China and Tibet. Instead, he focused on secular ethics, the cultivation of personal compassion, and the conflicts accompanying globalization.

He said he considered himself a Marxist, and he admired Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party’s revolutionaries prior to 1957.

“As far as socioeconomy theory is concerned, I am Marxist,” he said Saturday morning. “So, still I believe that. But that does not mean I accept totalitarianism system, no, certainly, I [am] totally against this totalitarian system.”

Middlebury College senior Andrew Weaver, who attended the Saturday talk, said the Dalia Lama’s speech had been “much funnier than I expected it to be. He had a great sense of humor, cracking jokes throughout the meaningful things he was saying.” Weaver described himself as “just enamoured” with the Dalai Lama, having read two of his books and visited his temple residence in Dharamsala, India.

The Dalai Lama’s popularity in Vermont is consistent with his appeal to New Englanders, according to Middlebury College religion professor Bill Waldron, but he didn’t equate the leader’s personal appeal with a broader interest in Buddhism. “He presents himself as a kind of secular spiritual teacher very often,” said Waldron. “The popularity of the Dalai Lama and of Buddhism are two different things.”

Middlebury College has hosted the Dalai Lama twice before, for symposiums in 1984 and 1990. Laurie Jordan, the college chaplain, said she’d been planning this visit for two years.
Jordan said the Dalai Lama wasn’t personally paid for the talks, and Middlebury College funded the event.

Gov. Peter Shumlin attended the Dalai Lama’s private talk with the Middlebury College community on Friday. The governor didn’t respond to questions from VTDigger about his religious views or the issue of Tibetan autonomy from China.

The Dalai Lama at Middlebury College. Photo by Brett Simison

The Dalai Lama at Middlebury College. Photo by Brett Simison

Nat Rudarakanchana

Comment Policy

VTDigger.org requires that all commenters identify themselves by their authentic first and last names. Initials, pseudonyms or screen names are not permissible.

No personal harrassment, abuse, or hate speech is permitted. Be succinct and to the point. Comments should be 1000 characters or fewer. If your comment is over 500 words, consider sending a commentary instead.

We personally review and moderate every comment that is posted here. This takes a lot of time; please consider donating to keep the conversation productive and informative.

The purpose of this policy is to encourage a civil discourse among readers who are willing to stand behind their identities and their comments. VTDigger has created a safe zone for readers who wish to engage in a thoughtful discussion on a range of subjects. We hope you join the conversation. If you have questions or concerns about our commenting platform, please review our Commenting FAQ.

Privacy policy
  • Jay Davis

    The reason I find Buddhism the only human faith having any maturity is it has a philosophy for live rather than an after life and some strange superhero God m such as Zeus, watching from a distance.

  • David Carter

    This is clearly an unAmerican comment. If the Dalai Lama was an American, he would probably have to be exiled for such “unpatriotic” rhetoric. Apparently being exiled from one country isn’t enough for him.

    The US has the world’s largest war based economy,and if Romney is elected, it will become even larger. More war-it’s the American way.

    I believe it was former US VP, Dick Cheney, war monger extraordinaire, who said that war is the natural state of man. Gotta love the American way!

  • Lance Hagen

    “The fearmongering has reached heights not seen since the Cold War.”

    Talk about fearmongering if Romney is elected

Thanks for reporting an error with the story, "Dalai Lama: “The concept of war is outdated”"