In his recent meeting with the press, Dalai Lama claimed that Tibet will control China through Buddhism. He claimed that there 400 million Chinese Buddhists and many millions will follow Buddhism. He seeks the material advancement of Tibetans through Chinese. Long time back he dropped the idea of Tibetan independence and talked about one nation two systems concept which the Chinese are not even ready to pay heed to. However, without going into the political discussion, we can limit the discussion to Dalai Lama’s statement that Tibet will control China through Buddhism.
In the history of the world, religion has always been used to further the political goals, but Buddhism to a larger extent did not pursue the political interest. It supported egalitarian and enlightened politics but did not seek to acquire political power for furthering itself. That is why the idea of “control” through Buddhism of one class of people over another is draconian. Afterall, there are many logical flaws in the statement of Dalai Lama. One of the biggest flaws in the statement of Dalai Lama is the idea that China does not have Buddhism.
Chinese Buddhism is a very rich tradition and Buddhism has deep roots in Chinese culture. Many Chinese who are practising Buddhists and have a strong love for the Dhamma have a strong commitment to Buddhism as a force for good for all. Compared to Tibetan Buddhism, the Chinese Buddhism is older in their access to the teachings of the Buddha and practice of Buddhism.
The plateau of Tibet received Buddhism later than the Chinese received it through silk route. Dividing Buddhism politically as Chinese and Tibetan, or into any other national form, will defeat the purpose of Shakyamuni Buddha. If at all Dalai Lama wants to “use” Buddhism, he should talk about Buddhism as a force that will destroy the barriers between people of any nationality, of any race, of any discriminatory regime.
Buddhism can play an important role in uniting people throughout the east, but there are nations and powerful elites who would like to use Buddhism to further their power or malicious agendas. This is the reason why Buddhism must be spread for its own sake without making it the tool at the hands of a powerful few. The people to people and the community to community is far more useful and lasting than state-to-state negotiations and contacts. We hope that Buddhism in China and Tibet will forge them into one humanity irrespective of their places of birth and races in which the individuals are born. It is a difficult goal, but perhaps the only way to resolve the conflict in the longer run.
Author – Mangesh Dahiwale