We Are All Brothers & Sisters
On Planet Earth
August 6, 2010
The Nobel Lecture
On December 11, 1989, the day after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, His
Holiness the Dalai Lama delivered this lecture at Osloís University Aula.
Brothers and Sisters, it is an honor and pleasure to be among you today. I am
really happy to see so many old friends who have come from different corners
of the world, and to make new friends, whom I hope to meet again in the
future. When I meet people in different parts of the world, I am always
reminded that we are all basically alike: we are all human beings. Maybe we
have different clothes, our skin is of a different color, or we speak
different languages. That is on the surface. But basically, we are the same
human beings. That is what binds us to each other. That is what makes it
possible for us to understand each other and to develop friendship and
Thinking over what I might say today, I decided to share with you some of my
thoughts concerning the common problems all of us face as members of the human
family. Because we all share this small planet earth, we have to learn to live
in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. That is not just a
dream, but a necessity. We are dependent on each other in so many ways that we
can no longer live in isolated communities and ignore what is happening
outside those communities. We need to help each other when we have
difficulties, and we must share the good fortune that we enjoy. I speak to you
as just another human being; as a simple monk. If you find what I say useful,
then I hope you will try to practice it.
I also wish to share with you today my feelings concerning the plight and
aspirations of the people of Tibet. The Nobel Prize is a prize they well
deserve for their courage and unfailing determination during the last forty
years of foreign occupation. As a free spokesman for my captive countrymen and
women, I feel it is my duty to speak out on their behalf. I speak without a
feeling of anger or hatred towards those who are responsible for the immense
suffering of our people and the destruction of our land, home and culture.
They too are human beings who struggle to find happiness and deserve our
compassion. I speak to inform you of the sad situation in my country today and
of the aspirations of my people, because in our struggle for freedom, truth is
the only weapon we possess.
The realization that we are all basically the same human beings, who seek
happiness and try to avoid suffering is very helpful in developing a sense of
brotherhood and sisterhood; a warm feeling of love and compassion for others.
This, in turn, is essential if we are to survive in the ever-shrinking world
we live in. For if we each selfishly pursue only what we believe to be in our
own interest, without caring about the needs of others, we not only may end up
harming others but also ourselves. This fact has become very clear during the
course of this century. We know that to wage a nuclear war today, for example,
would be a form of suicide; or that by polluting the air or the oceans, in
order to achieve some short-term benefit, we are destroying the very basis for
our survival. As individuals and nations becoming increasingly interdependent,
therefore, we have no other choice than to develop what I call a sense of
Today, we are truly a global family. What happens in one part of the world may
affect us all. This, of course, is not only true of the negative things that
happen, but is equally valid for the positive developments. We not only know
what happens elsewhere, thanks to the extraordinary modern communications
technology, we are also directly affected by events that occur far away. We
feel a sense of sadness when children are starving in Eastern Africa.
Similarly, we feel a sense of joy when a family is reunited after decades of
separation by the Berlin Wall. Our crops and livestock are contaminated and
our health and livelihood threatened when a nuclear accident happens miles
away in another country. Our own security is enhanced when peace breaks out
between warring parties in other continents.
But war or peace; the destruction or the protection of nature; the violation
or promotion of human rights and democratic freedoms; poverty or material
well-being; the lack of moral and spiritual values or their existence and
development; and the breakdown or development of human understanding, are not
isolated phenomena that can be analyzed and tackled independently of one
another. In fact, they are very much interrelated at all levels and need to be
approached with that understanding.
Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who
is dying of hunger or cold. It will not remove the pain of torture inflicted
on a prisoner of conscience. It does not comfort those who have lost their
loved ones in floods caused by senseless deforestation in a neighboring
country. Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the
people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free. True peace with
oneself and with the world around us can only be achieved through the
development of mental peace. The other phenomena mentioned above are similarly
interrelated. Thus, for example, we see that a clean environment, wealth or
democracy mean little in the face of war, especially nuclear war, and that
material development is not sufficient to ensure human happiness.
Material progress is of course important for human advancement. In Tibet, we
paid much too little attention to technological and economic development, and
today we realize that this was a mistake. At the same time, material
development without spiritual development can also cause serious problems. In
some countries too much attention is paid to external things and very little
importance is given to inner development.
I believe both are important and must be developed side by side so as to
achieve a good balance between them. Tibetans are always described by foreign
visitors as being a happy, jovial people. This is part of our national
character, formed by cultural and religious values that stress the importance
of mental peace through the generation of love and kindness to all other
living sentient beings, both human and animal. Inner peace is the key: if you
have inner peace, the external problems do not affect your deep sense of peace
and tranquillity. In that state of mind you can deal with situations with
calmness and reason, while keeping your inner happiness. This is very
important. Without this inner peace, no matter how comfortable your life is
materially, you may still be worried, disturbed or unhappy because of
Clearly, it is of great importance, therefore, to understand the
interrelationship among these and other phenomena to approach and attempt to
solve problems in a balanced way that takes these different aspects into
consideration. Of course it is not easy. But it is of little benefit to try to
solve one problem if doing so creates an equally serious new one. So really we
have no alternative: we must develop a sense of universal responsibility not
only in the geographic sense, but also in respect to the different issues that
confront our planet.
Responsibility does not only lie with the leaders of our countries or with
those who have been appointed or elected to do a particular job. It lies with
each of us individually. Peace, for example, starts within each one of us.
When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those around us. When our
community is in a state of peace, it can share that peace with neighboring
communities, and so on. When we feel love and kindness towards others, it not
only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop
inner happiness and peace. And there are ways in which we can consciously work
to develop feelings of love and kindness. For some of us, the most effective
way to do so is through religious practice. For others it may be non-religious
practices. What is important is that we each make a sincere effort to take our
responsibility for each other and for the natural environment we live in
seriously. I am very encouraged by the developments which are taking place
After the young people of many countries, particularly in northern Europe,
have repeatedly called for an end to the dangerous destruction of the
environment which was being conducted in the name of economic development, the
world's political leaders are now starting to take meaningful steps to address
this problem. The report to the United Nations Secretary General by the World
Commission on the Environment and Development (the Brundtland report) was an
important step in educating governments on the urgency of the issue. Serious
efforts to bring peace to war-torn zones and to implement the right to
self-determination of some peoples have resulted in the withdrawal of Soviet
troops from Afghanistan and the establishment of independent Namibia. Through
persistent non-violent popular efforts dramatic changes, bringing many
countries closer to real democracy, have occurred in many places, from Manila
in the Philippines to Berlin in East Germany. With the Cold War era apparently
drawing to a close, people everywhere live with renewed hope. Sadly, the
courageous efforts of the Chinese people to bring similar change to their
country was brutally crushed last June. But their efforts, too, are a source of
hope. The military might has not extinguished the desire for freedom and the
determination of the Chinese people to achieve it. I particularly admire the
fact that these young people who have been taught that power flows from the
barrel of the gun, chose, instead, to use non-violence as their weapon.
What these positive changes indicate is that reason, courage, determination,
and the inextinguishable desire for freedom, can ultimately win. In the
struggle between forces of war, violence and oppression on the one hand, and
peace, reason and freedom in the other, the latter are gaining the upper hand.
This realization fills us Tibetans with hope that some day we too will once
again be free.
The awarding of the Nobel Prize to me, a simple monk from far away Tibet, here
in Norway, also fills us Tibetans with hope. It means that, despite the fact
that we have not drawn attention to our plight by means of violence, we have
not been forgotten. It also means that the values we cherish, in particular
our respect for all forms of life and the belief in the power of truth, are
today recognized and encouraged. It is also a tribute to my mentor, Mahatma
Gandhi, whose example is an indication that this sense of universal
responsibility is developing. I am deeply touched by the sincere concern shown
by so many people in this part of the world for the suffering of the people of
Tibet. That is a source of hope not only for us Tibetans, but for all
As you know, Tibet has, for forty years, been under foreign occupation. Today,
more than a quarter of a million Chinese troops are stationed in Tibet. Some
sources estimate the occupation army to be twice this strength. During this
time, Tibetans have been deprived of their most basic human rights, including
the right to life, movement, speech, worship, only to mention a few. More than
one sixth of Tibetís population of six million died as a direct result of the
Chinese invasion and occupation. Even before the Cultural Revolution started,
many of Tibet's monasteries, temples and historic buildings were destroyed.
Almost everything that remained was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.
I do not wish to dwell on this point, which is well documented. What is
important to realize, however, is that despite the limited freedom granted
after 1979 to rebuild parts of some monasteries, and other such tokens of
liberalization, the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people are still
today being systematically violated. In recent months this bad situation has
become even worse.
If it were not for our community in exile, so generously sheltered and
supported by the Government and people of India, and helped by organizations
and individuals from many parts of the world, our nation would today be little
more than a shattered remnant of a people. Our culture, religion and national
identity would have been effectively eliminated. As it is, we have built
schools and monasteries in exile and have created democratic institutions to
serve our people and preserve the seeds of our civilization. With this
experience, we intend to implement full democracy in a future free Tibet.
Thus, as we develop our community in exile on modern lines, we also cherish
and preserve our own identity and culture and bring hope to millions of our
countrymen and women in Tibet.
The issue of most urgent concern at this time is the massive influx of Chinese
settlers into Tibet. Although in the first decades of occupation a
considerable number of Chinese were transferred into the eastern parts of
Tibet in the Tibetan provinces of Amdo (Chinghai) and Kham (most of which has
been annexed by neighboring Chinese provinces) since 1983 an unprecedented
number of Chinese have been encouraged by their government to migrate to all
parts of Tibet, including central and western Tibet (which the PRC refers to
as the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region). Tibetans are rapidly being reduced
to an insignificant minority in their own country. This development, which
threatens the very survival of the Tibetan nation, its culture and spiritual
heritage, can still be stopped and reversed. But this must be done now, before
it is too late.
The new cycle of protest and violent repression, which started in Tibet in
September of 1987 and culminated in the imposition of martial law in the
capital, Lhasa, in March of this year, was in large part a reaction to this
tremendous Chinese influx. Information reaching us in exile indicates that the
protest marches and other peaceful forms of protest are continuing in Lhasa
and a number of other places in Tibet, despite the severe punishment and
inhumane treatment given to Tibetans detained for expressing their grievances.
The number of Tibetans killed by security forces during the protests in March,
and of those who dies in detention afterwards, is not known but is believed to
me more than two hundred. Thousands have been detained or arrested and
imprisoned, and torture is commonplace.
It was against this background of this worsening situation, and in order to
prevent further bloodshed, that I proposed what is generally referred to as
the Five Point Peace Plan for the restoration of peace and human rights in
Tibet. I elaborated on the plan in a speech in Strasbourg last year. I believe
the plan provides a reasonable and realistic framework for negotiations with
the People's Republic of China. So far, however, China's leaders have been
unwilling to respond constructively. The brutal suppression of the Chinese
democracy movement in June of this year, however, reinforced my view that any
settlement of the Tibetan question will only be meaningful if it is supported
by adequate international guarantees.
The Five Point Peace Plan addresses the principal and interrelated issues
which I referred to in the first part of this lecture. It calls for
- Transformation of the whole of Tibet, including the eastern provinces of
Kham and Amdo, into a Zone of Ahimsa (non-violence);
- Abandonment of China's population transfer policy;
- Respect for the Tibetan people's fundamental human rights and democratic
- Restoration and protection of Tibet's natural environment; and
- Commencement of earnest negotiations on the future status of Tibet and of
relations between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. In the Strasbourg address I
proposed that Tibet become a fully self-governing democratic political entity.
I would like to take this opportunity to explain the Zone of Ahimsa or peace
sanctuary concept, which is the central element of the Five Point Peace Plan.
I am convinced that it is of great importance not only for Tibet, but for
peace and stability in Asia. It is my dream that the entire Tibetan plateau
should become a free refuge where humanity and nature can live in peace and in
harmonious balance. It would be a place where people from all over the world
could come to seek the true meaning of peace within themselves, away from the
tensions and pressures of much of the rest of the world. Tibet could indeed
become a creative centre for the promotion and development of peace.
The following are key elements of the proposed Zone of Ahimsa:
Tibet's altitude and size (the size of the European Community), as well as its
unique history and profound spiritual heritage make it ideally suited to
fulfill the role of a sanctuary of peace in the strategic heart of Asia. It
would also be in keeping with Tibet's historical role as a peaceful Buddhist
nation and buffer region separating the Asian continent's great and often
- The entire Tibetan plateau would be demilitarized;
- The manufacture, testing, and stockpiling of nuclear weapons and other
armaments on the Tibetan plateau would be prohibited;
- The Tibetan plateau would be transformed into the world's largest natural park
or biosphere. Strict laws would be enforced to protect wildlife and plant
life; the exploitation of natural resources would be carefully regulated so as
not to damage relevant ecosystems; and a policy of sustainable development
would be adopted in populated areas;
- The manufacture and use of nuclear power and other technologies which produce
hazardous waste would be prohibited;
- National resources and policy would be directed towards the active promotion
of peace and environmental protection. Organizations dedicated to the
furtherance of peace and to the protection of all forms of life would find a
hospitable home in Tibet;
- The establishment of international and regional organizations for the
promotion and protection of human rights would be encouraged in Tibet.
In order to reduce existing tensions in Asia, the President of the Soviet
Union, Mr. Gorbachev, proposed the demilitarization of Soviet-Chinese borders
and their transformation into Ďa frontier of peace and good-neighborliness.
The Nepal government had earlier proposed that the Himalayan country of Nepal,
bordering on Tibet, should become a zone of peace, although that proposal did
not include demilitarization of the country.
For the stability and peace of Asia, it is essential to create peace zones to
separate the continent's biggest powers and potential adversaries. President
Gorbachev's proposal, which also included a complete Soviet troop withdrawal
from Mongolia, would help to reduce tension and the potential for
confrontation between the Soviet Union and China. A true peace zone must,
clearly, also be created to separate the world's two most populous states,
China and India.
The establishment of the Zone of Ahimsa would require the withdrawal of troops
and military installations from Tibet, which would enable India and Nepal also
to withdraw troops and military installations from the Himalayan regions
bordering Tibet. This would have to be achieved by international agreements.
It would be in the best interest of all states of Asia, particularly China and
India, as it would enhance their security, while reducing the economic burden
of maintaining high troop concentrations in remote areas.
Tibet would not be the first strategic area to be demilitarized. Parts of the
Sinai Peninsula, the Egyptian territory separating Israel and Egypt, have been
demilitarized for some time. Of course, Costa Rica is the best example of an
entirely demilitarized country.
Tibet would also not be the first area to be turned into a natural preserve or
biosphere. Many parks have been created throughout the world. Some very
strategic areas have been turned into natural peace parks. Two examples are
the La Amistad Park, on the Costa Rica-Panama border and the SiAPaZ project on
the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border.
When I visited Costa Rica earlier this year, I saw how a country can develop
successfully without an army, to become a stable democracy committed to peace
and the protection of the natural environment. This confirmed my belief that
my vision of Tibet in the future is a realistic plan, not merely a dream.
Let me end with a personal note of thanks to all of you and our friends who
are not here today. The concern and support which you have expressed for the
plight of the Tibetans has touched us all greatly, and continues to give us
courage to struggle for freedom and justice; not through the use of arms, but
with the powerful weapons of truth and determination. I know that I speak on
behalf of all the people of Tibet when I thank you and ask you not to forget
Tibet at this critical time in our country's history. We too hope to
contribute to the development of a more peaceful, more humane and more
beautiful world. A future free Tibet will seek to help those in need
throughout the world, to protect nature, and to promote peace. I believe that
our Tibetan ability to combine spiritual qualities with a realistic and
practical attitude enables us to make a special contribution, in however
modest a way. This is my hope and prayer.
In conclusion, let me share with you a short prayer which gives me great
inspiration and determination:
For as long as space endure,
And for as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I, too, abide
To dispel the misery of the world.
--- His Holiness the Dalai Lama
--- Submitted by Mike Scullin --- New York
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