July 2001, recorded in
My Four Meetings with Dalai Lama
More than thirty years ago, I was sixteen or seventeen, a youth "sent down" to the countryside of northeastern
1. Invitation from exiled
In October, 2000, I traveled to
As I recall it, in that event the Tibetans were the best-behaved group. Rational, restrained, serious, polite, they were outstanding among all the representatives at the conference. Without a doubt, this was partly due to the fact that they were a governmental delegation. Their words strictly conformed to the positions expressed by Dalai Lama in various occasions, never overstepping one bit. During meetings they quietly sat together, and at parties they deliberately scattered into the crowd, publicizing their viewpoints mildly but explicitly. Observing them often filled me with admiration.
Among the Tibetan delegates was a "nongovernmental figure" named BQ. He once was a reporter in
As soon as I arrived at the meeting, a staff member at the conference told me that some Tibetan delegates had asked if and when I would come. The first day of the conference, BQ came to me during break. Since my English was very bad, I couldn\’t really talk to him. I thought they were interested in contacting me because they knew that I had written books and articles about the
One day BQ extended to me an invitation. He hoped that I would travel to
WA was in his early forties. Growing up in
The autumn in
BQ had originally told me that this meeting would be only casual conversation, but I could guess that they mainly wanted to hear me talk. After the first cup of tea and all the pleasantries, LD expressed interest in hearing my views on how to solve the
However, in the final analysis, to solve the
If we used this criterion to evaluate the work of exiled
Of course, I did not mean that it is exiled
Even though the solution to the
After the unavoidable political reforms in
When I say this, of course I don\’t mean that only Tibetans should act this way but not the Han people. I admit that as victims, Tibetans have more right to demand that the Hans should take a lead in considering the Tibetan perspective, to take the initiative in not doing onto others what one does not want for oneself. I myself have been acting exactly according to this principle. The reason I make this suggestions is because the exiled Tibetans have their own government, and are thus able to behave with more rationality and self-awareness; they are able to form a consensus and act in a more united way through the unity of their government. The current government of the Hans is the Chinese communist regime, the creator of the
The discussion of that day concentrated in this area. LD listened very intently. He spoke very little, but still made me feel like we communicated a lot. He was good at listening and encouraging criticisms. In a few days he was going to accompany Dalai Lama to
For lunch LD invited me to a Southeast Asian restaurant near his home. During the meal he revealed that Dalai Lama had recently written the
As I spoke, I couldn\’t help recalling that
After lunch we took a walk at the bank of a quiet lake with many wild birds. I told LD a bit about my ideas on successive multi-level electoral system. Since there was not enough time and we needed interpreting, we couldn\’t really have a discussion in detail. But the one thing he said, that "we are also considering whether we should implement a western democratic system" gave me the feeling that he also felt that
After that meeting, LD went to Eastern Europe, and I traveled to other places in the
Though Dalai Lama had already met some Han people from the mainland, they were mostly exiled participants of the democratic movement. In my observations, the status and political situation of the exiled Han people determines that their views would often be different from the populace in the mainland. There are some among them who support exiled
At the same time, LD told me, Dalai Lama\’s middle-of-the-road position, which states that
I answered LD that being able to meet Dalai Lama would be my honor. I would be willing to do it absolutely. I have always believed that Dalai Lama is the key element in solving the
In terms of specific plans, LD at first thought that I should go to
I was right.
2. First meeting with Dalai Lama
WA had worked on arranging my meeting with Dalai Lama. In the spring of 2001, he sent me an invitation from "International Campaign for
WA had sent me the plane ticket beforehand. When I arrived in
According to the original plan, I was going to meet Dalai Lama sometime between May 25th and May 27th in
I asked LD, could my meeting and conversation with Dalai Lama be made public? He answered that on their side there were no reservations, because there was nothing secretive about it. But they would not take the initiative to publicize it, mainly for my safety. What I wanted to do was up to me. I asked this question not out of a desire to interview or publish anything, but out of safety concerns, too. Once I returned to
Counting this meeting, I had only met LD three times, but I already admired him greatly, and could understand why Dalai Lama relied so heavily upon him. He had a clear, analytical mind and was also very personable. He played a large part in the success that exiled
After meeting LD, I went to
After the seminar, a Tibetan woman came and said to me that she could accept what I had said in this speech, but she thought the views on
On May 23rd, the 50th anniversary of the Seventeen Agreements, I arrived in
My meeting with Dalai Lama was arranged for the second day, on May 24th 2001. The weather that day was very clear, with bright sunlight. Our meeting time was scheduled for ten o\’clock in the morning. WA guided me through the subway system to the Park Hyatt Hotel, where Dalai Lama was staying. Since we arrived very early, we had enough time to first have breakfast nearby. Park Hyatt Hotel looked quite high-class. Approaching the hotel, we could see small groups of Tibetans in traditional clothing, many of whom looked families. Before meeting me, Dalai Lama was meeting Tibetan residents in
Meeting Dalai Lama was a very formal event, and one must consider how to dress. (There was one thing that WA was dissatisfied with Wei Jingsheng, because Wei had actually worn shorts when he met Dalai Lama). I had never worn suits, and could not even tie a tie. This time I had brought from
There was a lot of security in the hotel. The protection of Dalai Lama was provided by the American government. There were already security on the ground floor, and also bodyguards with dogs. We took the elevator to the floor where Dalai Lama was residing, and waited at first in an outside room. There were some people working in that room, and one even brought children, so the atmosphere did not seem tense. The president of the International Campaign for
While we were talking, suddenly someone hurried in and motioned urgently for us to go over. We got up hastily and followed. The place where Dalai Lama lived was a closed quarters; perhaps it was the so-called presidential suites. There were a bunch of bodyguards in front of the door. By the time we walked over, the front door was already opened, and there was a lot of people inside, too. It seemed to me like a dense mass of people. I saw Dalai Lama among the crowd right away. He was standing in the middle, wearing a red cassock, slightly crouching, looking out of the door quite attentively. It was his typical pose. Originally I expected to meet him in something like a living room, and did not expect at all that he would be waiting for me in the door. Later I found out that he had just received the Tibetans from
I went up to Dalai Lama , put my palms together, and said in Tibetan "how do you do". Dalai Lama told me in Chinese: "Ni Hao." His voice was loud and clear. Then we shook our hands, not the usual ceremonial handshakes, but with both hands clasped together. Dalai Lama held my hands and looked at me carefully, saying: "I already know you. I have read your articles. I am very happy to see you." He said this in Tibetan, which WA interpreted for me. I also uttered a few polite greetings. Then Dalai Lama led me by the hand and walked to his room. This scene impressed me greatly. It was a very long hallway, brightly lit, with many rooms on both sides and more than ten doors. In front of every door there was a bodyguard from the American government. Every single one was dressed in dark suits, tall and large, with short hair and earphones in the ear. I don\’t know why they had to stand in front of every door. Was it to prevent assassins from suddenly bursting out? Dalai Lama led me by the hand through the long corridor. It was like a scene from a movie: a Lama in red cassocks and a Chinese in a blue gown, behind us a whole silent crowd. Dalai Lama\’s hands were warm and full.
Walking into Dalai\’s drawing room, I presented Dalai Lama with a hada according to Tibetan custom. WA had prepared it for me the day before.. Dalai Lama took the hada and set it aside, then we sat down. Dalai Lama looked at me, and I looked at him, and he began to smile but said nothing. Suddenly, he reached out and pulled me over. I didn\’t know what he was doing and thought that he wanted to say something in my ear. I was trying to guess what he might say, but I wouldn\’t have understood anyway if he spoke in Tibetan. But unexpectedly, he touched his head against my head. Our heads touched for a long time, ten or twenty seconds. Though I did not feel any warm stream coming into me or anything like that, I knew that it must have been a very good blessing. From the Buddhist perspective especially, it was the highest honor. After our heads separated, I sensed that Dalai Lama was a little emotional. I could see it from his eyes, and even felt that his eyes were moist. I don\’t know whether it was really so or merely my imaginations. Maybe he took me for the representative of the Han people who for generations lived in the land near the Tibetans. Though he had met a few Hans in the past, those people were mostly émigrés who no longer had their roots in
Aside from Dalai Lama and I, present at the scene were also WA, LD, and the main secretary of Dalai Lama. The main secretary looked about fifty, bespectacled, and not very tall. He was reputedly the descendent of an eminent aristocratic Tibetan family.
Dalai Lama began to speak. The content of his speech was to this effect: whether or not the Chinese government acknowledges it, the
To show that he was not against the Chinese government, he told me in Chinese: "I am not against communism!". He explained that one could tell from his work that he was in favor of many things in socialism and communism. He also told me an anecdote. When he visited
He went on to say: the Chinese government repeatedly said that
Dalai Lama was very eloquent. He spoke on various occasions every day and must have had a lot of practice already. His talk was clear and logical; the points were well-connected; and his diction was simple and precise. People who knew him had already told me before that when Dalai Lama met Han people in the past, they rarely had in-depth conversations. Sometimes he liked to look back in history and to talk about how
The arranged time for this meeting was only half an hour, and just interpreting took half the time. Thus after Dalai Lama had spoken, I did not have a long time to speak. The main point of what I said to Dalai Lama was this: if we view
In reaction to this, Dalai Lama jokingly said, right now I have been branded a separatist for merely talking about the
During that meeting there was a strange interlude. As soon as Dalai Lama and I began talking, after only a few sentences, the fire alarm in the room suddenly went off. The bodyguards outside ran in to check, and I could hear someone talking in the intercom, as if the central control office was also checking. The confusion was quite overwhelming. Dalai Lama stopped talking and asked what happened. But those people could not find the problem, nor could they make the alarm stop ringing. So Dalai Lama talked with me while the alarm was still ringing. One of the bodyguards had to cover the alarm with his hands so the sound would not disturb us too much. More than ten minutes later, the alarm was finally overcome and silenced. Later I asked WA about this, and joked that I didn\’t know what kind of omen this was. WA mumbled something and did not continue the topic. According to the Tibetan way of thinking, this should indeed mean something and therefore requires an explanation. I did not dare to ask further, since it might involve me – did the alarm go off because my appearance could result in some bad things, or was it predicting that my meeting with Dalai Lama could set some things "on fire?"
Time was soon almost over. LD and Dalai Lama\’s secretary began to look at their watches frequently, and finally told us explicitly that we needed to stop. Before I said goodbye, I gave Dalai Lama a set of photographs taken during the Cultural Revolution in
As soon as we left the drawing room, we met in the corridor the next group coming to see Dalai Lama. Those people were carrying all sorts of TV equipments. WA told me that the one in front was the most famous black woman TV host in
LD came out as well and invited me to sit for a while in the bar downstairs. He could not accompany Dalai Lama to
3. Listening to Dalai Lama\’s lecture in
That same afternoon Dalai Lama was going to speak at a commencement ceremony. It was a school devoted to training political and diplomatic talents. Its English name was quite long:
WA got two tickets for me. He had a lot of work, and had already seen a lot of this kind of events, so could not accompany me. By chance I had a friend who really wanted to go, so I made an appointment with her, and she also acted as my interpreter. Having already seen such tight security measures this morning, I was worried that this time we also needed to pass a security check. There were a lot of people attending the commencement ceremony, and it would take a long time for sure. So we came half an hour early, but the entrance was not restricted at all. Perhaps it was because at the commencement ceremony Dalai Lama was only a guest and not the main program, thus they could not check each visitor out of security concerns for him. Looking at it from a security perspective, as long as there was an event like this without security checks, the strict precautions this morning became completely meaningless, since assassins would of course avoid the situation this morning and choose a place like this one, in which it was both convenient and easy to flee from.
Before the commencement started, the graduates entered first. One of the graduates glued on her doctoral cap a white adhesive tape that read: "Free
After the graduates came in, the guests followed. Dalai Lama entered in the front of the procession. The audience cheered thunderously, mostly to Dalai Lama. The guests walked through the middle aisle to reach the stage. My seat was the fourth seat from the aisle, and my friend\’s seat was the third seat. Dalai Lama stopped right beside us and kissed a child. Later my friend said with wistfulness that if she had sat at the aisle seat, she would speak to Dalai Lama, and would introduce me to Dalai Lama and tell him that I was a Chinese writer researching the
Before Dalai Lama spoke, the president of the university and a few other people gave speeches. Among them was a deputy secretary of the Department of Defense, a graduate from the school. As he explained what kind of official the deputy secretary of the Department of Defense was, he joked that whoever was interested in how many missiles
Dalai Lama\’s speech was scheduled for the last slot. He spoke at first in Tibetan, and a Tibetan stood beside him to translate. But after the beginning, he no longer needed the interpreter and began to speak English himself. He said that he could actually speak English. Though his pronunciation was not good, he could express the meanings clearly. Then why did he first speak in Tibetan? Because there was an interpreter right there. If he did not speak any Tibetan, then wouldn\’t the interpreter be out of his job? His speech was very humorous, and the crowd erupted often in laughter. The central idea of his lecture was, human beings need to have knowledge and skills, thus humans need to be educated. You people came to this school to study in order to acquire knowledge and skills. But just having knowledge and skills is not enough. If at the same time you do not have the compassion for humanity and the sense of responsibility for society, then the effect of knowledge and skills becomes negative, becomes destructive to others, and would ultimately be destructive to yourself. The more you have knowledge and skills, the more destructive you become. Thus, only when someone possesses the compassion and sense of responsibility for society, can knowledge and skills have good impacts. His speech would have been right on target for the educational situation right now in
After the speech, Dalai Lama departed immediately. The whole audience cheered thunderously again, and the applause did not die down for a long time. Dalai Lama frequently turned back and acknowledged the audience. We were not interested in the rest of the ceremony and left as well. Outside his row of cars had already started to move. People on both sides of the road waved to his car warmly. A female reporter was using her cell phone to dispatch the news. The president of the International Campaign for
Outside it was a sunny and breezy spring day. I suddenly wondered how
It happened that I also came to the
4. Second meeting with Dalai Lama
That night I had dinner with WA, JM, and another Tibetan couple at a Chinese restaurant near JM\’s house. JM had just bought a new house. It was a town house. He had lived in the
After dinner we parted, and I went with JM to his new house to talk. JM looked a bit wooden on the outside but was actually a deep thinker. In the eighties he visited
I don\’t understand why the government in
That night I stayed with JM. The house was not yet furnished; in my room there was only a mattress on the rug. The next day, on the morning of May 25th, JM took me to the airport before he went to work. I flew to
WA flew from another airport on the same day, and reached
On May 26th, the second day of Dalai Lama\’s scripture teaching, WA and I went to hear the lessons in the morning. He was teaching the Ban Ruo Xin Jing. Before entering one must pass through a security check. No bags were allowed. Everyone had to pass through a metal detector, and there were policemen sweeping people with wands. Dalai Lama\’s bodyguards followed him from
My meeting with Dalai Lama was scheduled between the two lessons in the morning and in the afternoon. After hearing the lesson in the morning, I had a picnic-styled lunch with WA and BQ outside of the hall. We discussed how to proceed with the conversation with Dalai Lama this time. The time scheduled for us was not as sufficient as we had expected. In fact it was not so much more than the first meeting, thus we must consider how to say as much as possible in a short time, while also explaining clearly what we wanted to say. WA thought that it was really inauspicious that LD did not come to
Fortunately I had already printed my two articles in advance. One was titled "Successive multi-tier Electoral System and Representative Democracy: A Comparison of Solutions to the
Our meeting time came. We went in through the side door of the auditorium. The side door served for the moment as the personal entrance for Dalai Lama. There were bodyguards both outside and inside. We were led into the resting room on the side of the auditorium. It was not large, very simply furnished, and did not have too much light. It could not even come close to the hotel in
Since time was urgent, I started speaking before Dalai Lama had said very much, because if he started to speak, then it would not be polite to interrupt him, and he was usually very talkative and would not have left me with too much time in the end. I first gave him my two articles and told him that my thoughts about how to solve the
I had already discussed with WA in advance what I wanted to say. We had also decided that some things I would only bring up the beginning, and he would continue on in Tibetan. This way we could save a lot of time. I first talked about the situation and problems in current
I then went on to speak about the dilemma Dalai Lama found himself in when he wanted to use non-violent methods to solve the
I said, right now the methods of non-violent opposition are all passive. Whether or not the goal can be realized depends entirely upon whether the opposing side – namely, the Chinese government – would yield or not. No matter how much support you get internationally, how many congresses pass resolutions regarding the
I told Dalai Lama, I am against all violence, and completely approve of his non-violent principles. But with the realities in
Later WA told me, he had interpreted for Dalai Lama many times before. This time his expression was the most grave. He had never seen Dalai Lama with such a grave expression; it even made him afraid.
I continued to say, successive multi-tier electoral system is such a new method. Specifically, take the election of a village: as soon as the villagers there realize one thing – from then on, they would only recognize the village head that they elected themselves, and would no longer obey the person appointed by the authorities, whether it is a village head or a secretary of the party, then advanced self-governance is realized in that village. When another village do the same, they have also realized advanced self-governance. When all or most villages in the township do so, they can begin the election on the next level – all the village heads come together to elect the leader of the township, and only recognize the township leader that they elected themselves and no longer obey the leader appointed by the authorities. This township then would also have realized advanced self-governance. Thus step by step, from township to country, from county to region, the advanced self-governance of whole
Of course, in the beginning stages, this process must go through certain trials. For instance, the authorities have imprisoned the township leader. What should one do then? No problem, elect another one. It is convenient for the village heads from the same township to elect a new township leader together. Then the village heads would still only recognize the township leader they elected themselves. Though the township leader appointed by the authorities could use the office and the seal of the township, if the village heads do not obey him, he would be nothing more than an empty title. If the authorities arrested the second elected township leader, then one can continue with the non-violent method and elect the third township leader. In short, the authorities can use violence and arrest constantly, and we can constantly elect peacefully. Can they arrest everybody? If they think that merely arresting the township leaders is not enough, and want to further arrest the village heads who elected the township leader, then the people in each village will then elect their new village head, and let the new village heads elect a new township leader. Unless they arrest everybody, this kind of election could go on indefinitely. Non-violent movements have a slogan "to fill up the prisons". One should try to act on this slogan then, in order to advance wave upon wave and to never give up. For those who are elected, the danger should not be too great for them, since they were passively elected, and not the "bosses" who control from behind the scene in traditional struggles. For the real "bosses", the authorities could try to arrest "the small few", but since successive multi-tier electoral system is an election from the very bottom, it is the act of the majority, arresting "a small few" would lose its effectiveness. Of course, the reality would not be so simple, and the courage of man would not always be so sufficient. But as long as one perseveres, very soon the oppression of the authorities cannot continue, because it does not have so many prisons. In the grand tide of freedom and democracy and under the gazes of the whole world, it also could not apply the ultimate repression to tens of thousands of people who only participated in an election.
I said to Dalai Lama, there is another advantage to the successive multi-tier electoral system. It non-violently transforms the totalitarian system from the bottom up, and does not need to directly challenge the highest totalitarian authority from the very beginning. Thus the totalitarian powers would have relatively more tolerance for it. In contrast, those top-down methods for advanced self-governance must clash with the totalitarian powers and enter the stage where one must eliminate the other from the very beginning. Therefore, it is hard for totalitarian regimes to tolerate it. In the successive multi-tier electoral system, only in the final stages – when the chiefs from all the regions in
Of course, with this method the process will be quite long. One must bear all of the hardships oneself. No doubt, obtaining permission for self-governance directly from the Chinese government requires only a few words from
I said in the end, perhaps at the moment one does not yet have the conditions to immediately implement the successive multi-tier electoral system within
After hearing me speak, Dalai Lama opened his mouth. But what he said seemed rather irrelevant and far-fetched to me. From his doctrine of the "middle road", he went on to the question of who should rule the future
He only asked one substantial question. He said that right now, Tibetans were imprisoned for merely expressing different opinions, how could they elect officials according to their own wishes? What would happen then if they did not obey the leaders appointed by the communist party? Wouldn\’t the situation be even worse then?
I answered in this way: since in a successive multi-tier electoral system, everyone participates from the bottom up, violent repression will not be able to prevail against so many people, and thus will lose its effect. Moreover, the units that participate in successive multi-tier electoral system only govern themselves internally, but externally they still obey the original system. If the authorities tolerate it, then the old system can still operate. If they insist on repression, the old system would malfunction or even break down. Thus, if one continues with enough patience and the courage to fill up the prisons, the authorities – especially the authorities whose power is declining – would most likely concede. Furthermore,
Dalai Lama thought that free elections based on the "Villagers Self-Governance Legislation" was a good idea. But in the end, he still maintained that it should be accomplished by the people and officials within Tibetan borders. Tibetans overseas could assist them, but one must attach all the hope for the future of
Later I said to WA, how could one attach all the hope to the people within Tibetan borders? They are not organized and do not have sufficient information. By themselves they cannot accomplish anything systematic. The biggest hope to solve the
But at the end of this meeting, Dalai Lama asked me to arrange a time to speak to me again, thus I believed that he really did want to further listen to me. I advocated successive multi-tier electoral system to him, not only for the benefit of
Of course, these are only the thoughts in my head. To influence Dalai Lama, just thirty or forty minutes of conversation is not enough. He has already lived for several decades in the old ideological framework. The fact that his career relies heavily on the west also determines that he cannot stray too far from the western mainstream paradigms and its value system. Right now, the construction of the political system in the exiled Tibetan community is also imitating the congressional model in the west. This kind of politics could perhaps be implemented in the exiled Tibetan communities, but to copy it entirely in the vast Tibetan farms and fields would certainly be problematic.
When we took our leave and came out, there was already a crowd of south Asian looking people waiting outside the resting room. In the front there was a role of gorgeously dressed children. Everybody had bright and colorful flowers and hada in his hands. Before the teaching of scripture in the afternoon, Dalai Lama had to meet more people.
5. Listening to Dalai Lama speak in
That night Dalai Lama gave a speech at the
The site of the speech was at the gymnasium in the University. The ticket cost $6. A Tibetan lama lingered in front of the ticket counter. He thought the ticket was too expensive. Since WA did not come, we had one extra ticket to give to the lama. Sometimes I tried to guess how much income Dalai Lama had from this type of events, and how did he use it? With his star power, if he had a good agent, he should have no problem earning huge amounts. Though he himself did not need money, exiled
The gymnasium was very big. The seats within were mostly filled. Many chairs were also placed in the floor in the middle. According to the news, twenty thousand people were coming. Before the speech began, the large screen above the gym played a documentary about the reincarnated Panchen Lama recognized by Dalai Lama – the documentary film called him the youngest political prisoner in the world. Many celebrities appeared in the film. Among them, the Tutu Cardinal said something very wise: "Freedom is cheaper than repression." Indeed, I deeply agree with this point. If
Before Dalai Lama appeared, the lights in the gym dimmed, while bright lights illuminated the stage, as if a drama was about to begin. When he appeared on the stage, everyone gave him a standing ovation. But he was blinded by the light above and had to shield his eyes with his hands to look at and to greet the people welcoming him. His movements were natural and completely without artifice. At this age in which everything was a show, on stage politicians only wanted to show off themselves. But he was charismatic precisely because he was not artificial (of course, one could also say that he had the cleverest artifice, which expressed itself as naturalness). There was a single chair in the middle of the stage, brightly illuminated by lights. It was hard for anyone not to feel awkward, sitting in that chair and knowing that in the darkness tens of thousands of eyes were fixed upon him. But he acted as if he was at home, sitting on the chair and crossing his legs into a lotus position. The audience laughed sympathetically at this gesture. Even with their own celebrities, they could not see someone so free and easy. I was already familiar with this position. Whether in the presidential suite in
Dalai Lama\’s speech was in English. His interpreter sat next to him and only reminded him when he came across a word that he didn\’t know. There were four sides to the large screen above the gymnasium, which broadcasted four giant close-ups of him at the same time. His speech was on some topics about life and wisdom. I no longer remember the specific content. I am interested in the political problem in
Dalai Lama is intelligent. He himself does not talk about the political problem in
That night I did not really listen to the content of Dalai Lama\’s speech, but was mainly watching the reaction of the audience. The Americans around me almost all watched him with admiration. They were completely transfixed, sometimes nodding knowingly, sometimes bursting out with laughter. Faced with them, Dalai Lama was completely within his elements and directed the thoughts and emotions of thousands in the gym with total ease. Watching such a scene, I was very moved. All the more, I realized what a rare leader he is. Such a figure is so wanting in
If Dalai Lama were Han, no one but him would become the leader who controls the future destiny of
I did not come to this idea only that night. In January 2000, in my first article in the new millennium "The Summary of a Fantasy Novel about Dalai Lama and Excerpts from Another Novel", I wrote as a story my visions about the two possible endings of the
In any case, while I listened to Dalai Lama\’s speech in
It occurred to me that night that what I can do is to write a book, and to introduce to my Han compatriots in detail what kind of person Dalai Lama is, what is he about, what benefits he could bring to China, and how he could help the transformation of the Chinese society. There is no such book at the moment, especially no book that is especially written for the Han people. Right now besides the propaganda of the Chinese government, the Han people basically know nothing about Dalai Lama. There are indeed many books in the world about Dalai Lama, but books written by Tibetans or foreigners are hard to accept by the Hans. The Han people have lived in an environment of deliberate propaganda for so many years, it is easy for them to dismiss those books as propaganda material for an ideology, only that the position is the opposite from the position of the Communist Party. In this area, books written by a Han would be better accepted by Han people. This could be seen from my book "Sky Burial". Though before there were already many books about the
However, I only considered this project, but did not yet know when I can start doing it. To start it requires a few conditions. The first is to be able to converse with Dalai Lama many times and in a thorough way, and to observe him from close quarters. I don\’t know whether this is possible, and when I can have such an opportunity
6. Third meeting with Dalai Lama
My third meeting with scheduled at 9:
While we waited, Dalai Lama asked his Tibetan-Chinese interpreter, a 20-something Taiwanese, to first come over and speak with us. I don\’t know why he arranged it in such a way. The young interpreter and I had no specific topics, and just randomly chatted for a while. The interpreter had been sent to the
Fortunately, WA interpreted for Dalai Lama and me. With him, I could hardly feel the language barrier. Often I did not even need to finish what I said, and he could already translate according to my intentions. There were many words about which even I could not be sure, but he could always prompt me appropriately. To ensure the quality of our talk, WA interrupted his own work and flew across
Since Dalai Lama arranged this meeting himself, and we did not have to save every seconds for speaking and to forget anything else, I, like many other people who saw Dalai Lama, began to ponder how to get a little souvenir. After all, seeing Dalai Lama was not easy. Thus I brought a book written by Dalai Lama. It was a Taiwanese translation, titled "Living More Happily". Originally, I had only wanted Dalai Lama to sign his name on the book. Just the words "Dalai Lama" would have been enough. I planned to give the book to the family member of the photographer who took those photos during the Cultural Revolution, as a thank-you gift for the photos I gave to Dalai Lama. But holding the book and pen, Dalai Lama thought seriously for a while before he wrote. It was not just an autograph, but quite a lengthy passage in Tibetan, addressed to me. WA later translated it for me. It meant: "For scholar Mr. Wang Lixiong. I pray that you may use your wisdom to find the truth of things, in order to make a large and beneficial contribution to yourself and to humanity." The signature was "Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso", dated "May 27th, 2001". Of course, I would not give the book to someone else now. But since I was afraid that when I returned home it would be confiscated at the custom, I had to give it to WA to keep for me, and did not bring the book back to
I began the conversation by speaking about the speech Dalai Lama gave at the University of California, and went on to the success exiled Tibet has had internationally. I then spoke about my belief that he was first and foremost a spiritual leader, and then a political leader. I said, as a political leader, he is only Tibetan. But as a spiritual leader, he can transcend races and ethnicities. His influence among the western audience is due to the fact that he is a spiritual leader. But for the Han people, he has not been successful in this respect. I had said the same things to LD. The majority of Han people have the same opinion with
While listening to these opinions, Dalai Lama continually nodded. Furthermore, I said, even in terms of politics, there are also areas that need to be improved. For instance, there is the "middle road" advocated by Dalai Lama, which does not demand independence but only self-governance. Just him saying that is not enough, since without a detailed plan and thoughtful research, as well as the specification of technicalities, it is just an abstract concept, or could even be seen as just a slogan. No doubt, Dalai Lama himself cannot do this research. But looking around him, other people are not doing it either.
I gave Dalai Lama some examples. For instance, once
Also, Dalai Lama has suggested that the future system in
Also, there is the legacy that the Communist Party has left in
My final conclusion was: one must avoid such a situation – within exiled
Here, Dalai Lama said that he agreed with me one hundred percent. But I knew better than to be too self-satisfied with his "one hundred percent", because this was a pet phrase of his. I heard several people describing their conversations with Dalai Lama, which all received "one hundred percent" agreement or approval from Dalai Lama. After that, Dalai Lama began to explain to me some specific contents of the "middle road" policy. I felt that perhaps I was not clear. I mentioned those problems, not to aim at the problems themselves, but mainly to illustrate how the "middle road" policy has not yet been concretized. But he seemed to have thought that I wanted specific answers for those questions, and thus changed the topic to this. He first talked about the relationship between
Dalai Lama went on to talk about the economic system for future
There was an interlude in between. In the first two meetings, I had not taken a picture with Dalai Lama. This time I gave BQ a digital camera in advance and asked him to take a few pictures during the conversation. It was not necessary to take those kinds of pictures where the two of us stand together. The camera was new and never had a problem. But during the conversation, I saw BQ raising the camera and trying several times, but couldn\’t press down on the shutter. He looked really exasperated. There were many legends among the Chinese people about how one cannot take photos of people with supernatural powers. At the time, I wondered secretly, did Dalai Lama really have this kind of supernatural powers, which made the camera malfunction? Dalai Lama had to leave for a short while during our conversation. Taking this opportunity, I checked the camera. The shutter button indeed could not be pushed down, and the other buttons also did not react, either. The screen and the various functions all did not work. Only when I took out the battery inside the camera and put it back in again did the camera start working again. BQ was afraid that the camera would malfunction again, so as soon as Dalai Lama came back, he took two pictures of us.
Dalai Lama continued with the topic before. According to the original time arrangement, our meeting should have been already over. He was supposed to go to the scripture lesson at 9:30. But the time of the scripture lesson was flexible. Normally, in the beginning they sang and prayed, and helped the followers to get into the mood. The duration of this could be extended or shortened as needed, so it was all right even if he was a little late. That day he extended his meeting time with me for at least twenty minutes. Though I felt that his topic had departed a little from our main conversation, I think he probably thought that I was a writer and must want an interview, so he answered my questions. Actually I had rather that he did not say those things, because he answered me with views that he had repeated on many occasions, most of which I had already read.
A hada lay on the coffee table. It was supposed to be given to me at the end of the conversation, which would signify a final farewell. But at the end of this conversation, Dalai Lama said that he wanted to see me again at noon, and asked BQ and his secretary to arrange it. So he did not give the hada to me. After that, he put on a yellow aromatic bag and left to attend the scripture meeting, and we stayed behind and waited until he was out of the door to leave. He was still wearing his slippers barefoot. I saw that as soon as he was out of the door, two Americans who were waiting there came and shook his hands, and then walked on with him at his side. They were arranged to speak to him on the way to the scripture meeting. It seems as if every single moment of his life had already been fully scheduled.
I really admire Dalai Lama\’s uncommon energy. For an old man of sixty-six years, the fact that he can endure such a strenuous schedule is enough to prove that he is very healthy; otherwise he would have never been able to bear it. WA said that when he visited
WA seemed very happy leaving the meeting. He said that there were many "firsts" at this meeting: He saw for the first time Dalai Lama writing down so many things for an autograph for someone; he saw for the first time the almost terrifyingly serious expression that Dalai Lama had when he was translating; moreover, Dalai Lama had never seen someone four times in a row during such a strenuous visiting schedule. I was also happy. WA did all the specific arrangements for my meeting with Dalai Lama. He put a lot of painstaking effort into this, and to succeed was the best reward for him. WA had worried that since LD did not come to
7. Fourth meeting with Dalai Lama
At noon I had a box lunch supplied by the scripture meeting with WA and BQ. It was free, probably the alms given by some Chinese restaurant owner to the scripture meeting. A funny thing happened there. BQ was a vegetarian, and had especially asked for a vegetarian meal. But when we found a place to sit down and opened the box, there was a chicken leg in every box. BQ was astonished, and hurried to exchange his box. The people told him that the chicken leg was fake. It was actually made from tofu. But BQ was still not reassured, since the chicken leg looked very genuine. Not only could one not tell by looking at it, after I carefully tasted it, I still could not judge whether or not it was chicken meat. Only when the wooden stick "bone" appeared in the middle, could I tell that it was a fake, and immediately assured BQ. BQ asked me a question. If one is vegetarian, then why expend so much effort to make it exactly like meat? What kind of mentality do the Han people have? I did not have an answer for this.
My fourth meeting with Dalai Lama was just like the previous day. It was arranged at the resting time between the lessons. After eating, we went to the auditorium and first waited on stage next to the holy seat and holy vessels. Soon, Dalai Lama\’s accompanying officials led us inside. It was still the same small resting room as last time. Dalai Lama was not yet there, so we waited inside the room. No one sat down. This time I also learned my lesson, and stood there politely. In a while someone came and said that Dalai Lama was here, then Dalai Lama appeared in the doorway. He first bowed to me slightly. The scene is still clear before me even today, but at that time I was surprised, and hurried to return the bow. I found that one of the reason for his charisma was the fact that he was modest and unassuming. He was not one of those people who were convinced of their own importance. These people consciously or unconsciously distance and exclude others. But whenever he met people, he always tried to pull them closer, and make them feel very intimate with him. They would not think that he wasn\’t an important figure because of it. He was still an important figure, but at the same time so friendly with you. One can imagine how he could win over many people just because of this.
We started talking again. I tried to clarify what I said in the morning. I said that exiled Tibet probably has its own reasons for not working on the concretization of the "middle road" principle-since the Chinese government completely rejects "middle road", why is it necessary to concretize it? Since one can see no hope for self-governance, what is the point of preparing for self-governance at all? But one must look at this from all sides. Concretizing the "middle road" policy is not only useful after the "middle road" policy comes true, but is necessary in the process of changing it from idea to reality. Only when the "middle road" policy is concretized, can all sides understand what it is, and have pertinent considerations and judgments. This also involves a question of means: one must separate the
I then gave Dalai Lama a suggestion. If it is inappropriate for exiled
I emphasized that the independence of the magazine does not mean it should cast away all ties with exiled
Of course, right now the magazine can only be published overseas. Though the news block in
To this, Dalai Lama immediately said: "Good! You people should do it! It\’s very good! If it can be successful, I support it." He immediately asked BQ and others to think about this idea. Actually, I had already discussed this suggestion last time with LD. I thought of this idea when LD asked me to make suggestions. At first they were very serious about it, and had discussed with me extensively. I had already designed rather meticulously the structure of the magazine. But then there was no more word on the magazine. Now I mentioned the magazine again to Dalai Lama, because I had remembered this matter all along. Indeed, I still believe that founding such a magazine would be effective for solving the
This meeting was rather short, only about half an hour. It was a pity that I do not remember more of what Dalai Lama said. All throughout the few meetings, I focused on speaking to him. My mind had been concentrated on how best to speak, and therefore found it very hard to also take down what he said. Moreover, since I didn\’t know whether recording was appropriate, I never asked to record him. Now as I try to recall everything, there was only a vague idea left to the content of Dalai Lama\’s talk. Especially this last meeting, I could hardly remember his words. I only remember at the moment when we said our last farewell. He put the hada on me and gave me his blessings. I also used this last time to say to him that for me, he is needed not only to save
At the last moment, when we shook our hands and said good-bye, Dalai Lama clasped my arms and pulled me to him, and touched my forehead with his forehead. I also held his shoulders. Neither of us spoke. We stood like this for a while. The time seemed very long, but also very brief. That same night he was flying back to
After leaving Dalai Lama, we returned to the restaurant. Some Tibetans living in
WA was rushing back to
On the trip across the Pacific Ocean back to
Actually, while seeing Dalai Lama, there was something that I almost said, but did not. If one uses successive multi-tier electoral system, one can achieve even the independence of
While thinking about this, a thought seriously crossed my mind. After returning to the country, if I go of my own accord and "report" the circumstances of my meetings with Dalai, could it attract the attention of those in high places, and communicate to them the idea of using successive multi-tier electoral system to solve the
But as I began to consider how to express these things, and to think about specific details, problems arose. First, who should I talk to? Of course not the security departments. I neither wanted to "report" to those places, nor did I want to foolishly look for trouble. Then there was only one other place that took care of these things: Department of Military Unification. But the Department of Military Unification is very exasperating. For many years, it has been nothing but an obstacle to the solution of the
If I could not talk about big and general problems, could I settle for less again and only talk about the "middle road" magazine as a specific problem? Indeed, as BQ said, if the magazine could win the acquiescence of China and receive the space to survive in China, or at least, if China would not forbid people within China to write for it, then the magazine could have the assurance of having influence and effect. Then could I try to council the Chinese government and to argue for the benefit of such a magazine? Acquiescence does not require someone being responsible for it, but it can open a window. It could be useful even just for the purpose of acquiring information. In communicating with Dalai\’s side, it is not enough to only rely on representatives and middlemen. Those methods are the roots of much wrong interpretations and misunderstandings. If such a magazine exists, every article would be written with careful thought and clearly explained. It would clearly be very beneficial to accurately understanding the real views of every side. Moreover, this window would not be only one-sided.
But, even if one shrank it to such a specific problem, one still could not talk to the Department of Military Unification. This kind of bureaucratic organization could do much more harm than good. Entering into its system is like falling into a black hole; one cannot not hope to see the light again. After thinking for a long time, the only way I could think of is Mr. PJ. He is familiar with the Chinese regime, has connections to high places, and also wants to urge the solving of the
After coming back to
Coming out of PJ\’s home, I once again felt the powerlessness. Walking on the crowded street of
July 2001, recorded in
November 2001, arranged in
December 2001, revised in