steven seagal
He is an actor and recently was recognised by a Tibetan lama as a reincarnation of the 17th century High Lama Chungdrag Dorje of Palyul Monastery.

q:  What is behind the young people here in the West embracing Tibetan Buddhism? What is going on?

seagal:  I think we're living in a world where society is very difficult. We're living in a system where the economy is failing; the judicial system is failing. It's very, very hard for people to do well, it's hard for many of them to even survive. When you're living in a world where people's lives are consumed with how they can survive and stay alive, in many instances, this is not a good environment to have spiritual flourish. Even so, it seems as though more and more, people rather than turning to crime or drugs, or whatever it takes to survive, are turning to spiritualism. And whether it is Catholicism, or Judaism, or Buddhism, any one of the isms, you know, are right for somebody out there.

It happens that in Buddhism there're many baskets of teachings, that are anecdotes to the poisons of our mind. Most of us have unhealthy thoughts and emotions that have either developed as a result of trauma or hardships in their childhood, or the way they were raised. And in finding the spiritual path, with the right teacher, often times these poisons -- and I call them poisons only because they seem to affect our lives in a way that are . . . are very destructive. In Buddhism, with the right teacher, there seem to be many different baskets of teachings that are anecdotes for these poisons. Ahh, there are many religions, for example, where they say: "Okay, these are the rules of . . . of Hinduism, these are . . . these are the rules as in Muslim, these are the laws. These are the laws of Judaism. For me, in Buddhism there is a plethora of specific teachings that one can seek out and find for the individual dilemmas you may have. And I think that that seems to be something that is very attractive to Westerners who in general have a history of two or three hundred years. Whereas Buddhism goes back almost two thousand five hundred years.

q:  Why should we care about Tibet?

a:  My philosophy is that the most important aspect of any religion should be human kindness. And to try to ease the suffering of others. To try to bring light and love into the lives of mankind. Now, not everyone thinks like I do, but the fact of the matter is that whether it's Bosnia or Tibet or . . there are, as you know, many, many times and places throughout history where people have . . . have met cultural genocide, religious persecution, torture, unspeakable cruelties. And it seems as though the saddest thing about this is that the world doesn't know what has happened. The world doesn't know that over a million Tibetans have been assassinated. The world doesn't know that ninety percent of the temples in Tibet when the Chinese invaded, were blown to the ground and that nuns and women and children were raped, tortured, mutilated and murdered. And I don't like to talk like this because it's not nice to even come out of my mouth. Certainly the saddest thing that . . . about this is that it's happened. But what's almost as bad is that the world doesn't know.

q:  Many people who aren't aware of Tibet or Tibet's history are going to learn about it in the coming months from movies released in 1997. What impact do you think those films are going to have?

a:  There're two diabolically opposed answers. I think the affect will be slightly above zero. My hope would be, of course, that we could illuminate the entire world with the knowledge of what has happened -- what I was just previously spoke of. But my experience is, you know, having done two major motion pictures on environmental issues, for example. I don't know that I've reached anybody, and if I have, I don't know if those people have stood up and changed their life and their lifestyle to try to make a difference. And my feeling is that whether I can change the world or not, I don't know. But I have to try.

q:  I'm a little surprised at your answer. That you are not more hopeful about what these films can do if . . . if . . . if you separate your experience and maybe that piece of realism, which I understand, from your hope for what these films could do, what would your hope be?

a:  Well, obviously my hope is that along with leading these people into contemplation and giving them a lot of insight as to what's really happening, that people can stand up and try to change their lives to make a difference. That is to say, that they may have to, in fact, put themselves at great sacrifice -- make life more difficult for them . Put others before them, to make these changes. And there is a way to move people to that degree. And. . my hope and my daily action is to be able to plant that seed of compassion, of what we call (inaudible), into the hearts and the minds of . . . of anyone we can. Not just to care about the Tibetans who are suffering, but anyone who is suffering.

And certainly my great desire's that these films will not only lead people into contemplation, but move them so much that it will change their lives. In my small world, it seems as though people are moved for an hour or two hours, or two days, and after that they generally go back to their normal way of life. And, ahh, the experience is almost over. And I'm not saying that that's right or that I think that's definitely going to happen, I'm just saying it happens too often.

q:  In a month's time, President Clinton is going to sit down with Jiang Zemin, President of China. What should . . .where will Tibet be on that agenda, do you think?

a:  Tibet will probably not be on the agenda. And I've heard it said many, many times: "We'll talk about anything but Tibet."

q:  Why?

a:  Because it's a very sore, embarrassing subject for them. How can a little country, with, I . . . I don't know what . . . what they had, ahh, five or six million people, and the time of the invasion, probably less in 1954, whatever -- how could a small country like that warrant the invasion and . . . and the systematic slaughter of over a million people. They do not want the world to know that that happened, and that it's happening right now. That there are monks and nuns in jail being tortured this minute because they have written a pro-Tibetan protest letter, or sang a song about Tibet, or spoken out against the injustice. You see? The Chinese do not want anyone to know that that's happening. I'd be astounded if that gets into any international forum.

q:  And if you could ask President Clinton to say something, or could advise him of what he should say, what would you tell him?

a:  Once again, I think it goes back to being able to meet with their leadership with conviction and strength and telling them that we are human beings that will not tolerate that kind of injustice -- which goes back to Nazi Germany. And that we will -- I mean listen if we've imposed sanctions against other countries that supposedly had to do with something that was humanitarian why can't we do it there?

q:  Why don't we? Is trade -- is it the dollar signs?

a:  Well obviously that's what I'm intimating.

My opinion is that probably trade and the revenue that the United States of America hopes to gain through uinteraction with you know big business in China is so lucrative and valuable to them that they don't want to jeopardize it. That's my humble guess but I'm just a little peon, I don't know much about anything and so you know for me to even guess is probably you know ludicrous.

q:  But you know a lot from your practice about moral and ethics. Is this a situation - Tibet - where we're not able to do the right thing? Why?

a:  You know it's always struck me as we the people are always willing to stand up and do the right thing, it's the people who control the people that aren't. Now the fact of the matter is if you go back to our forefathers, we wanted to build a country where we the people were represented by a government that wants to ensure that we get what we want because we're the people. But those days are long gone. Long gone.

q:  And did you think that you find the days when someone like yourself-- many people here in Los Angeles and Hollywood-- would be joining the same issue with Jesse Helms?

a:  My agenda has no politics. It has no economy. You see. It goes even beyond religion which is also big business and goes into simple human kindness and the way we're supposed to treat each other as human beings.

q:  The Dalai Lama has been received here often with open arms, tell me about the place he has in our view of Tibet. Is he the face of Tibet now for us?

a:  Well one of the dilemmas is that he's the spiritual leader of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism. Therefore, in many people's minds he should be not be a politician, he should be a monk, a simple monk and a spiritual leader. On the same token, this monk has to meet with other political leaders and great economic forces and struggle between two worlds and he has to walk across that bridge between the sacred and the profane and deal with both in the same day, sometimes even the same minute. And that is not easy. To me the Dalai Lama is my teacher, he's a spiritual teacher, to me he's not a political advisor. Or a statesman, he's a leader of state, not a statesman.

q:  Do you see the day when the Dalai Lama will return to Tibet?

a:  Once, again, this is, you know, just a feeling that I have. But I think that light, for example, in all of its qualities, is like life. It can only get so dark before it becomes light again. And I think that that day is approaching in Tibet. And I think that the way the Dalai Lama is handling this is not by saying: "You killed my nuns. You killed my children. You killed my monks. You tortured my people. You destroyed my religion." The Dalai Lama is in fact saying: "Middle path. I just want a chance for open dialogue. I'm not going to talk about the past, I'm sorry that those things happened, but they're over. I just want to be able to talk to this great machine of politics and economy and money and military might. And say: 'I'm one single man and a simple monk.' with millions of people who believe in me and follow me. I have no interest and desire to lead them into revolution. I just want to be able to go back to the Putala and be a simple monk to represent their spiritual belief." And I think there will come a time some day, some how, where that will not pose a threat to them. And they'll have to say: "Hey, what have we have got to lose? We've got so much pressure. We've go so much exposure here, let's do something like that to let the world know we're not as bad as they think." That's just . . . maybe it's wishful thinking, but it's my humble guess.

q:  And your fear? When you think of the Chinese choosing the Panchen Lama,what is your fear?

a:  Everyone knows that the Tibetan government in exile, has a mind of its own. Everyone also knows that the Chinese have tried to use espionage. In my opinion their spies have been involved in highly questionable means to manipulate the mind of the world. The kidnapping of the Panchen Lama after he was recognized by the Dalai Lama was a perfect example of how the Chinese were going to say: "We're not going to let you get away with that."

In my opinion, (inaudible ) did not die of a heart attack. In my opinion, he was killed. And, I'm not going to go into great detail there because it's just not wise, but my opinion, the Panchen Lama right now -- this little four-year-old boy -- he was kidnapped by the Chinese. I really can't say more than that. But, I believe that there will come a time where the exposure, gradually, of the truth, and the impact of that will affect some change. And one of the first things I'm hoping for is the release of ( inaudible) And I am specifically praying for that all the time. And if they do, I'm hoping that I'll be one of the people to go pick him up and take him home.

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Solitary NationApril 22nd