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Interview with Telemundo, the Largest Spanish TV Channel in the USA

Dallas, Texas, USA, 2 July 2015 - In addition to holding a string of private meetings, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was interviewed this morning by Edgardo Del Villar, who is a news anchor for Telemundo, the largest Spanish TV channel in the USA. He began by noting that His Holiness turns 80 early next week and asked, “Who are you?” The direct reply was:

“A human being, a male, an Asian from the Land of Snow, the Roof of the World, a Buddhist monk, and lastly the Dalai Lama.”

Del Villar followed this up by asking what it means to be the 14th Dalai Lama and he was told:

“According to Indian and Buddhist tradition we believe we live life after life, that our subtle consciousness is continuous. Of course, the body changes and with it our gross consciousness changes too, but the subtle consciousness goes on.”

When asked where he’d like to be reborn, His Holiness retorted that he didn’t have the spiritual power to make the choice, but that every one of us is the reincarnation of our previous life.

Invited to respond to the news that the USA and Cuba are to reopen embassies with each other, he noted that Cuba is a neighbour, that both the USA and Cuba are part of the world and have to live together. He said that you can argue about ideology while also maintaining close relations. Asked to advise victims of violence, for example, in Mexico, he observed that there has already been too much violence in the past and that if we want to live in a more peaceful future, we have to start to sow the seeds for it now. He mentioned his hopes for this century to be a century of dialogue.

Regarding the topical question of same-sex marriage, His Holiness repeated what he has said before that if you follow a religious tradition, you should take account of what that faith has to say about this. But if you have no faith, then, of course, it’s up to you.

Asked to define holistic education, His Holiness asked,

“Can you buy peace of mind? Can you remove fear surgically or mechanically? What destroys our peace of mind is anger and fear. If we cultivate compassion and love, we can counter anger and fear. So, we need to educate people about the way the mind works and our system of emotions.

“Science can help us understand reality. I’ve been having useful conversations with scientists for 30 years. Technology too is helpful because it has brought us closer together. What we have to be careful of is misusing it.

“Pope Benedict, the German Pope, recommended that faith be coupled with reason. In this case, science as reason is linked to the brain, while faith relates to the heart.”

In the search for inner peace, His Holiness said we have to distinguish between our sensory and our mental experience. He said that if we have mental peace, sensory disturbances won’t upset us. But if our knowledge is dependent only on sensory input, peace of mind will be hard to find. He agreed that religion can help, because all our major religious traditions, despite their different philosophical views, have a  goal of achieving peace of mind. But since there are many people who have no faith we need a way to achieve peace of mind that relies not on a religious approach but on common sense, common experience and scientific findings. When Del Villar asked what advice he thought Pope Francis could give Catholics about finding inner peace, he said he could encourage them to be sincere in their practice.

Changing the focus of his questions, Del Villar recalled that in 1987 His Holiness released a Five Point Peace Plan and he wanted to know what had happened to that. His Holiness told him:

“The Zone of Peace was an idea for the longer term, what we need to do now is preserve Tibetan culture and language, which remains the best medium for explaining the Nalanda tradition of Buddhist understanding. Ecology too is important. We opened a dialogue, but hardliners brought it to a halt. Xi Jinping seems to be a more realistic leader, but he is currently absorbed with tackling corruption, taking a courageous stand that I admire.”

Regarding his retirement from political responsibilities in 2011 and the response to it from Tibetans in Tibet, His Holiness stated that by and large they trust him, so they understood why he’d done it. He mentioned that some Tibetan religious conventions are linked to the earlier feudal system and the time has come to change them. The custom of Dalai Lamas being political as well as spiritual leaders, he said, is out of date.

As for what might change in China, he said that the 1.3 billion Chinese people have a right to receive reliable information and that censorship is wrong. Meanwhile students abroad will learn about reality and take that knowledge home with them, therefore, he repeated, censorship should stop. He added that it’s also important that the Chinese judicial system be raised to international levels. Xi Jinping has spoken about this, but hardliners in the system continue to ignore reality. In the meantime, Chinese Buddhists who come to see him regularly weep and plead with His Holiness not to forget them.

The interviewer concluded by returning to personal questions. He asked what His Holiness would have wanted to study if he hadn’t undertaken a spiritual training and he replied without hesitation, “Science.” He added that although he had made a hobby of dismantling watches and so on in the past, these days when he has time he prefers to read religious texts and revise what he has studied before. Asked who he admires, he answered, “Humanity”, noting that if you believe in God, then God’s greatest gift has been the human brain. The important thing to do, however, is to learn to use it properly.

Finally, in answer to a question about what he most likes doing, he replied: “Talking”, adding that his favourite topic is human values.

“When I open my mouth, I always talk about humane values, science and Buddhist philosophy.”

Asked what is the most important of those humane values, he replied unhesitatingly:

“Concern for others.”

Tomorrow morning, His Holiness will leave Dallas for Los Angeles, where he’ll be for five days.