A Conversation With the Dalai Lama

Melissa Mathison, screenwriter of Martin Scorcese’s ‘Kundun’, talks to the Dalai Lama about his retirement from politics, his impressions of Mao Zedong and the death of Osama bin Laden. From Rolling Stone:

So you feel good about your decision [to retire]?

Oh, yes …. Now we are completely changed from the theocracy of the past. Also, our decision is a real answer to the Chinese Communist accusation that the whole aim of our struggle is the restoration of the old system [in feudal Tibet]. Now they can’t make that accusation. I am often saying that the Chinese Communist Party should retire. Now I can tell them, “Do like me. Retire with grace.”

You have said that Tibet’s survival will depend on China changing from within. Are you optimistic that will happen?

… The first important thing is transparency. I am saying that 1.3 billion Chinese people have the right to know the reality. Then 1.3 billion Chinese people also have the ability to judge what is right or what is wrong.

On several occasions, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has expressed that China needs political change. On some occasions, he even mentioned democracy. And around Chinese intellectuals and artists, more and more say they want political change, more freedom. So therefore, it is bound to change. How long it will take, nobody knows. Five years, 10 years, 15 years. It’s been now 52 years. In the next 50 years, I think it is almost certain things will change. Whether I live the next 50 years, or whether I don’t.

If you had President Hu Jintao’s ear and could suggest how to deal with Tibet, what would you ask him to do?

I don’t know. I think it’s not much use to discuss such things [laughs].