Subject: LOBBY: The Dalai Lama and MEFESZ
Date: Sun, 29 Oct 2000 10:00:51 EST

When we formed the American equivalent of MEFESZ in 1957, one of
the first visitors in our office in Boston, MA was the Dalai Lama. He
came by himself, no fanfare, nothing and he told us to "Never give up!"

Béla Lipták

BUDAPEST, Oct 25, 2000 -- (Budapest Sun) According to the Dalai Lama,
Hungary is the nation from the former Eastern Bloc which is most in touch
with Tibet, its history and its religion.

Speaking exclusively to The Budapest Sun at the Central European
University's conference and residential center on Kerepesi út, the Dalai
Lama drew certain parallels between his country and Hungary, particularly in
terms of language.

"Tibetan is the only living language through which you can fully appreciate
Buddhism," he said, pointing out that different traditions had come from
Tibet and China, and in turn spread through the world.

"Hungarians too, have a very unusual language, which Hungarians are very
proud of," he said.

Although he has officially visited Hungary only four times, he has passed
through en route elsewhere a further two times.

Hungary, he said, had not only always been more aware of Tibet, but had also
seemed different to much of the rest of the Socialist bloc.

The first drive through visit was in 1979. His Holiness said the comparison
with Mongolia, with its massive Marxist slogans and pictures, was startling.

"When I reached here there were no such slogans. I had the feeling this
place was different from the rest of the Communist bloc."

The Dalai Lama said his history lessons as a boy had made him familiar with
this region of Europe, of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the two world
wars. And then, of course, there was the uprising in 1956.

The Dalai Lama was himself forced to flee Tibet in March 1959, but even in
'56 the Chinese were using the crushing of the Hungarian revolt as an

In the autumn of '56 His Holiness had traveled to India to join in a
religious celebration. Even here he could not escape the politics of his

"A Chinese representative warned me, 'If you carry on with these reactionary
activities...look at what happened in Hungary. You should remember'."

Hungarian interest in Tibet is traced to the scholar Sándor Körösi Csoma
(1784-1842), better known as Alexander Csoma de Körös in the West.

Born in the Hungarian village of Csomakörös, called Chiurus in today's
Romania, he is still Hungary's most famous oriental expert, traveler and
linguist who laid the foundation for the formal study of Tibetan during his
travels between 1822 and 1826.

Every time the Dalai Lama visited Hungary, he said he was reminded of this
by proud Hungarian academics. He seems genuinely pleased that this place, at
least, has thrown off its Communist yoke.

"In spite of many difficulties, the people have, I think, high spirits and
confidence. They have been able to utilize the new situation." It does not
seem that the same will be said of Tibet any time soon.

His Holiness is a slight man, and is now 66-years-old. You expect him to be
calm and content, but his voice is surprisingly deep, seemingly bigger than
his body.

Generally he maintains a serene outlook, but he became noticeably more
passionate when talking about the Tibetan language and its Buddhist
traditions. He is also given to giggling fits.

It is easy to forget, talking to him, that Chinese troops invaded his
country in 1949-50, that the search for greater religious and political
tolerance led him to flee his homeland.

But all of that is, of course, true.

Like any leader, exiled or not, there are those, and not just the Chinese,
who attack his style, indeed his very right to lead his people.

The Dalai Lama is very clear on this. Much is made of his assuming temporal
and spiritual leadership after the Chinese invasion.

His Holiness points out that the role has actually been taken by the Dalai
Lama for the past 400 years, and adds that it was something he felt he
needed to do, and that he felt his people wanted him to do.

He has also said that, should a tolerance accord be struck with China, he
will stand down as political leader.

He has even told the government-in-exile they should prepare to
democratically elect a leader to replace him.

Tours such as his current one (which will also take in Slovakia and the
Czech Republic) are about promoting his ideas, although he accepts that,
because of who he is, they also take on a political dimension.

"There are some people who would say everything I do is political," he

"I consider I am firstly a human being. I try to promote human values, a
sense of caring for one another."

Environmental care and tolerance of religion, race and regional differences
are what he preaches.

"I feel this subject is very relevant in today's world...As a Buddhist monk
I always try to make a contribution towards tolerance, especially religious
tolerance, pluralism."

The political facet of the Dalai Lama's life comes third. His Holiness's
mantra is man, monk and then leader, although that does not diminish the
enormity of leading his country.

"Those people, mainly inside but also those outside (Tibet) as well, trusted
me, believe in me, so therefore I have a moral responsibility."

He also feels that the reality of Tibet's situation has to be publicized,
that the world has to be made aware.

"As a person who believes in truth, I feel it is important to make a
truthful presentation about Tibet."

That is something he will continue to do, even if he stands down as leader.

"I am now 66 years old. In a few years' time I think it is better to resign
as head of the Government in exile...Still, I am alive, so I can help at
whatever level I can," he said.

(C) 2000 Budapest Sun