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Dalai Lama silent on monk self-immolations
May 14th, 2012
05:55 AM ET

Dalai Lama silent on monk self-immolations

By Richard Allen Greene

LONDON (CNN) - The Dalai Lama refused to answer a question Monday about whether Tibetan monks should stop setting themselves on fire to protest China's occupation of Tibet.

"No answer," he said, saying it was a sensitive political question and that he had retired from politics.

He handed over political leadership of the Tibetan community to an elected prime minister last year.

Self-immolation is becoming an increasingly common form of protest for Tibetans who want genuine autonomy from China and accuse Beijing of repression.

More than 30 of them took place in the last year in China, Tibetan advocacy groups say.

The Dalai Lama was speaking in London, where he is accepting the Templeton Prize, an award worth £1.1 million ($1.74 million) which honors "outstanding individuals who have devoted their talents to expanding our vision of human purpose and ultimate reality."

The Dalai Lama will give $1.5 million to the aid organization Save the Children, he said.

He is giving another $200,000 of the prize money to the Mind & Life Institute, and $75,000 to his own monastic community.

FULL STORY
- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Buddhism • China • Dalai Lama • Tibet

soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. pro china propaganda

    this is a cnn censored site

    May 14, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  2. Frank Robinson

    Recent FBI reports estimate that the Chinese Army has specifically developed a network of over 300,000 Chinese military cyber spies, plus more than 500,000 private-sector computer experts, whose mission is to steal American military and technological secrets and cause mischief in government, news and financial services. These Chinese spies also logon to various English news cites pretending to a ordinary news readers and then try to mislead people on issues like Tibet, Uyghur people, Tiananmen Square, free speech in China.

    May 14, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  3. Expat In China

    I think some of these "pro-china" responses smell of a propaganda machine at work. Their language is similiar to smart tsinghua students I have met, thngs like "Indeed blah blah" are perfectly good English grammar, but kind of little used in the last 20 years except by smart young china grads.

    I agree that China has a long history of dominating this racially distict region and I agree that such complexities are not unique to China. But in the democratic world that would have led to more compromise by the dominant power, eg England's support of the Scottish Assembly, the USA's recognition of some Native American "reservation" independence, or Canada's political support of French language. I don't think this sort of effort has been shown by the Chinese government?

    May 14, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  4. GEORGEL

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0Vp4dpvj70&w=640&h=360]

    May 14, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  5. Fact

    Many US people do not believe history, do not believe fact.

    In fact they believe nothing real.

    They only believe their interest.

    They have medias.

    If they believe moon is bigger than earth.

    They can MAKE this fact in one week.

    "Repeating lies 1000 times it became the truth!"

    Many US people believe in such Nazi sayings.

    May 14, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • ChangCHong

      This makes little to no sense. As do a majority of your posts below. I'm not sure exactly what you are trying to do in comparing the Chinese/Tibetan issue to the US/UK, but your logic is on par with a 4 year old drunk on cough syrup.

      May 14, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Sippin on sum syzurp, syp syzurp

      May 14, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  6. Fact

    So They say they kicked chinese out of tibet?

    You must believe USA was not colony of UK, mustn't you?

    May 14, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • ME II

      I don't know that much about Chinese/Tibetan history, but wasn't that the point of the Battle of Chamdo?

      May 14, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  7. Fact

    Just like Yuan Dynasty of China,
    Ming Dynasty of China ruled Tibet as province.
    Who can deny this?

    Ming Dynasty was Han-Chinese Dynasty, was not Obama's dynasty!

    What about Qing Dynasty of China?
    Emporer of Qing Dynasty was Manchu which has called themselves Servants and later brothers of Ming Dynasty of China.
    They changed their name also from "Jin" to "Qing Dynasty of China".

    In 1644 they united China.

    So again, Obama's USA was not USA just because he had Kenya origin?
    Only White President's USA is USA?

    ROC and PRC are Han-Chinese China.

    Tibet can require freedom just like many Chinese people.

    But Tibet can never be allowed to be independent from CHina.

    PRC can not admit it.
    The Democracy Government after PRC can also not admit it.

    Which Chinese government admits the independence of Tibet.
    Which Chinese government gives China's territory to USA.

    This Chinese government will be thrown out by all Chinese in one week.

    May 14, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  8. Fact

    Why was Yuan Dynasty Chinese dynasty?

    Mongolian Empire was splitted in 4 parts.
    In 1271 Mongolian Emporer Qubilai has changed the name "Mongolian Empire" to "Yuan Dynasty of China".
    The Name "Yuan" comes from Chinese Book "IGing".
    But wait, he was not Chinese Emporer yet,
    because the Chinese Song Dynasty existed.
    In 1279 Qubilai united China.

    Now the teaching
    Qubilai is mongolian.
    China's majority is Han-Chinese.

    One Empire with Mongolian Emporer can be called as China's Dynasty?

    Obama came from Kenya.
    The majority of USA are white people.

    so Obama's USA can be called USA?

    May 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • ME II

      Not sure what you point is, but Obama came from Hawaii, by parents of European and Kenyan heritage.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  9. Fact

    Teaching 1:
    Tibet want freedom, it is OK.
    But it can not change the fact that tibet was and is part of China.
    Tibet was part of Yuan Dynasty of China
    Ming Dynasty of China
    Qing Dynasty of China
    Republic of China(Taiwan)
    PRC

    Tibet was and is not independent in one day since Yuan Dynasty.

    May 14, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • ME II

      Didn't the Dalai Lama kick the Chinese out of Tibet in 1912?

      May 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  10. Joe

    How unfortunate! He could have saved many lives. Not only have there been monks who self-immolated in recent months and years, there have also been teens who did the same. The question to me was more of a religious and moral one than a political one. What a shame that an opportunity was lost.

    May 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  11. Jason

    The Chinese propagandists are at work again. They lurk from behind their firewall waiting for relevant topics to abuse. What a sad and paranoid government it is in China that it should want to repress not only it' own citizens, but also the outside world's freedom to engage in civilized debate.

    May 14, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Jeff

      Tibet for Tibetans! That's a no brainier. Too bad the Dalai Lama sold out his countrymen in 1987 when he caved on the independence issue choosing to pitch for Tibet as part of China and a zone of peace in his Straussburg proposal. Now that he has retired from politics (yeah right) he has no answer to the sad state of things with his countrymen immolating themselves? It is truly shameful the Dalai Lama will not speak out against the suicides of his fellow Tibetans knowing one word from him would stop the practice because the Living Buddha, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama said No don't do it. The retired politician isn't practicing Buddhism either. The most fundamental tenant of Buddhism is not to harm any living being. Dalai Lama please practice what you preach!

      May 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  12. Paul

    So how,

    I believe Tibet belongs more to the chinese than Afghanistan to America.

    Amarite?

    May 14, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • bbcredux

      Paul, then prove it. Even ww2 US Government propaganda clips and pre-1949 National Geographic maps show Tibet as part of China.

      May 14, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Kaden

      America doesn't and never has wanted Afghanistan. It just happened to be the home to some of the most violent extremists who would love violence and bloodshed.

      I think the Russians already taught everyone that lesson when they tried to commit genocide in Afghanistan to force them into communism (and annexation), only to be destroyed and embarrassed.

      May 14, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • bspurloc

      Tibet belongs to TIBET.....
      China took it to for its rare earth elements to mine that is it.

      May 14, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  13. Jessica

    Do you know since when has Tibet been part of China? 13th century. The history has solid proof for that. Why can't you leave Chinese people alone? All they want is peace and feed their family.

    May 14, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Kaden

      Leave the Chinese people alone? Are you delusional? The Chinese are the ones who wont leave anyone alone, including the Tibetans.

      May 14, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • chubby rain

      13th centrury? You mean following the occupation by the Mongol empire?

      May 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • bspurloc

      Do u know Tibet wants to be free they dont care about the resources china wishes to take from its lands.
      Why cant China the GREAT EMPIRE let these people go instead of oppressing them and murdering them

      May 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • ME II

      Thought the Dalai Lama kicked the Chinese out of Tibet in 1912.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  14. bbcredux

    Why isn't CNN reporting on Dalai Lama's remarks that he might catch STD stroking the pubic hair of his female devotees?

    May 14, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  15. observer

    Sad chinese propaganda ! Your state (and people to some extent) have alote to answer for when minority treatment is concerned . Not gona even mention human rights .

    May 14, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  16. Paul

    The Dalai Lama loves President Bush.

    May 14, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  17. Joe or Providence

    The monks are a bunch of freeloaders and that is why they want to break away from China – The Chinese believe that you should work and earn your keep if you are able bodied.

    It’s a shame that the west (particularly the British) constantly push to turn public support towards what is essentially a backward and archaic system that has limited support even from native Tibetans – For better, Tibet is part of China.

    It is totally laughable that a nation like Britain who believed that they had a right to seize control of people after people the world over and transplant their laws and civilization in a far flung empire upon distant and ancient cultures and overturn dynasties that date back to pre-history but when China re-conquers a territory that it lost temporality (through British intrigue no less) during the chaos and turmoil of its post WWII civil war it is suddenly an act of great evil. Britain should start paying out its reparations to all the people and cultures it destroyed in the last 250 years and keep its mouth shut criticizing others.

    May 14, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      China also believes in forced labor and diminishing personal liberty. While I do agree that the Dalai Lama and many Tibetan separatists advocate an archaic lifestyle, China advocates a barbaric lifestyle.

      May 14, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Joe or Providence

      I disagree, I see the trend going in the other direction – I see China trying to move forward. People have to look at from where a nation is coming from and moving towards rather than judge where they are at present – if you took a snapshot of countries like the USA around 1865-1880 or during the race riots or peace marches of the 60’s you’d come away with a view of America as being an oppressive country (at least in the south) – there is not a single thing happening in China that hasn’t happened in the US or Britain as well your just looking at a single timeline while making a judgment.

      May 14, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • bspurloc

      Tibetans are not Chinese.... China only wishes to Oppress them and take their mineral resources. they do not about TIbet and Tibet does not want Chinas "help"

      May 14, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • DaLe

      i doubt they have much or any of social welfare for them, and more importantly many or most, if not all, monastic orders were actually pretty self-sufficient and all, tending not only to fields and buildings, before land lived righteously on was taken/stolen from them, something which happened at various places.

      Also, many monasteries where basically as educational places.

      And surely nothing wrong with working (not only) for a living, tho i don't think that "work merely to build pyramid for the pharao" is really progressive or meaningful.

      May 14, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • DaLe

      But sure, the relevant issues are more in regard to effectivity, such as that two machines with drivers can harvest a field quicker than a dozen or so men, and while a life without any work can be boring and/or decadent very quickly (and similarly such with no physical activity whatsoever), an overall system e.g. where productivity and numbers are "alpha and omega" seems to be very out of touch not only with nature.

      May 14, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • DaLe

      Also in relevance, not only humans are not really as robots with programming without real depth, individually, and collectivly.

      May 14, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • DaLe

      *Also in relevance, not only humans are not really as robots with programming and without real depth, individually, and collectivly.

      May 14, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • DaLe

      en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Monastic_rule
      e.g. en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Saint_David#Monasticism

      Some of it may sound harsh to some, tho
      en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Asceticism

      And mind you, communism at its roots itself actually "derived" from monasticism, with an idea about it being as an/the approach e.g. in Islam I think. Tho pretty sure that the idea wasn't for any family to suffer in poverty so other/s were living "high life". Nevertheless, if society at large wants to live worldly lives with worldly 'values', there is not much of a point forcing (or similar) them not to, but nature and animals suffering for that surely is not righteous, and similarly neither in regard to any human/s, particularly such as when some have "fun fun fun" and then go, without any or much regard to anything, rob those who worked for what they have.

      Nevertheless, surely broader topics, and i am sure even many ascetic monastic orders appreciate being able to sell and buy things.

      Regarding "basics", if education (and science/s), and also entertainment (/arts) (that is especially provisions thereof) are not considered work whatsoever, and if so-called '(social) darwinism' is considered as what determines judgement/s and agreement/s, perhaps it should be clear which group/s think/s so?

      These comments provided free of charge, even so if i had currently an employment.

      en. wikipedia. org/wiki/History_of_Tibet#Early_history
      en. wikipedia. org/wiki/British_expedition_to_Tibet

      And yeah, apparently a lot of the 'colonization' was derived from 'superiority complex', such as calling something "backward and archaic system" and that without even talking about why it was/is considered such and without talking about what is supposedly better in the supposedly superior system, apparently in which education (respectivly mish-mash thereof) is a lot only applied when it serves some lower motive/s.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • DaLe

      en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Monastic_rule
      e.g. en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Saint_David#Monasticism

      Some of it may sound harsh to some, tho partially relevant regarding that
      en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Asceticism

      And mind you, communism at its roots itself actually "derived" from monasticism, with an idea about it being as an/the approach e.g. in Islam I think. Tho pretty sure that the idea wasn't for any family to suffer in poverty so other/s were living "high life". Nevertheless, if society at large wants to live worldly lives with worldly 'values', there is not much of a point forcing (or similar) them not to, but nature and animals suffering for that surely is not righteous, and similarly neither in regard to any human/s, particularly such as when some have "fun fun fun" and then go, without any or much regard to anything, rob those who worked for what they have.

      Nevertheless, surely broader topics, and i am sure even many ascetic monastic orders appreciate being able to sell and buy things.

      Regarding some "basics", if education (and science/s), and also entertainment (/arts) (that is especially provisions thereof) are not considered work whatsoever, and if so-called '(social) darwinism' is considered as what determines judgement/s and agreement/s, perhaps it should be clear which group/s think/s so?

      These comments provided free of charge, even so if i had currently an employment.

      en. wikipedia. org/wiki/History_of_Tibet#Early_history
      en. wikipedia. org/wiki/British_expedition_to_Tibet

      And yeah, apparently a lot of the 'colonization' was derived from 'superiority complex', such as calling something "backward and archaic system" and that without even talking about why it was/is considered such and without talking about what is supposedly better in the supposedly superior system, apparently in which education (respectivly mish-mash thereof) is a lot only applied when it serves some lower motive/s.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • DaLe

      Oh, and while at it, in older days, wandering monks were kind of the internet of those days. And especially ascets usually still have (in parts of the world) kind of special social standing, unlike in supposedly superior systems where merely the amount of mammon and looks are considered as what determines "social standing" – with money (or similar) being a/the 'value' of determination of "social standing" surely making some sense in a capitalist(ish) system, tho there being many (possible) downfalls to that, such as 'robber society'.
      The "social standing" being surely a broader topic as well, about which (not only) i wrote a bit already elsewhere.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • DaLe

      Tho true that "social standing" surely is not in the "pursuit" (if it could be called as there being anysuch) of the ascet, with the approach thereto being largely from society, and not as imposture or such.

      May 14, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  18. Rational Libertarian

    The Dalai Lama is a self-important theocrat, the Buddhist version of that self important luddite Gandhi.

    Eat that liberals.

    May 14, 2012 at 8:39 am |
  19. Reality

    " It is true that many exponents of Buddhism, most notably the Dalai Lama, have been remarkably willing to enrich (and even constrain) their view of the world through dialogue with modern science. But the fact that the Dalai Lama regularly meets with Western scientists to discuss the nature of the mind does not mean that Buddhism, or Tibetan Buddhism, or even the Dalai Lama’s own lineage, is uncontaminated by religious dogmatism.

    Indeed, there are ideas within Buddhism that are so incredible as to render the dogma of the vir-gin birth plausible by comparison. No one is served by a mode of discourse that treats such pre-literate notions as integral to our evolving dis-course about the nature of the human mind. Among Western Buddhists, there are college-educated men and women who apparently believe that Guru Rinpoche was actually born from a lotus. This is not the spiritual breakthrough that civilization has been waiting for these many centuries.

    http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/response-to-controversy2

    May 14, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  20. Flamespeak

    It is good he is being generous with his award money.

    I always figured wanting to be independent was going against the core belief of Buddhism to 'want' nothing, though. It just strikes me as odd that monks, who are supposed to be prime examples of the faith, are showing a political stance and going against the teaching by making such a request and performing such an action.

    May 14, 2012 at 6:20 am |
    • John C. Kimbrough

      Well said......

      May 14, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • bspurloc

      what was said?

      May 14, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • jack

      so happy,so much love 4 children

      May 14, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • DaLe

      insisting on Justice is not really a desire per se.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • DaLe

      Neither Truth for that matter.

      May 14, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Flamespeak

      @DeLA

      Wanting justice IS a desire. You must learn to not only be content with absolutely nothing, but be joyful of the experience of not having or desiring anything at all. That includes justice, peace, and other kind and honorable notions. If you are a monk of Tibetan Buddhism, you should take an aggressive strike on your freedoms with the same grace and joy as you take a welcoming handshake.

      May 17, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • DaLe

      To want (anything) is a desire, by a definition of the word "desire". Admittedly, definitions of the word "insist" include "to want", tho arguably from my side, as act not as motivation. Albeit sure, in "me-universe" in a/the state of zen, J/justice (in the understanding thereof) is irrelevant, but surely different in a social setting (not meaning that anyone would be by default, and anyhow, capable of standing above Justice). Nevertheless, besides the issue of natural justice, I think that desire is defined as something that is considered to have a so-called positive outcome, so I would think that on a personal level self-immolation has no personal desire (unless "fame" and/or desire to die are there) and it is surely painful to the person self-immolating (unlike e.g. self-explosion), and the thing being probably considered by individual persons as social sacrifice. Not that I would be fully aware of the reasoning thereof, but pretty sure it isn't blackmail (both in the meanings of blackmailed into it, and blackmailing anyone), and that it isn't about wanting after-life reward.

      Does that mean I condone self-immolation/s? Not at all, but here I am looking for a job to pay off the financial debt I made thinking I am sort of called, to eventually f(o)und family, and going starting tomorrow on a full-time two week course on how to write job applications, so me explaining the sinfullness of suicide, and regarding many persons on this planet me motivating them to endure whatever crappy situation (often for profit and/or gain of someone else) even tho they would be better off leaving such situation/s if possible (kind of Moses), seems rather pointless. Tho sure, after storm comes sunshine, at some point, and things are often not as bad as they seem, etc. etc.

      May 22, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • DaLe

      And surely relevant are also possible differentiations, such as natural urge desires and higher desire/s. Not that I am a scholar on these things tho.

      Albeit simple really, can be a bit intellectually complex I think.

      May 22, 2012 at 9:27 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.