Tibet: Dalai Lama Sees Hopeful Signs in China of Interest in Tibetan Culture
"This is not only in Tibetan interests but also in the interests of our Chinese brothers and sisters," he said during a panel discussion at Columbia University.
The two-hour forum was moderated by Robert Thurman, a professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist studies at Columbia, and touched on issues ranging from religious pluralism to the effective of Buddhist meditation on emotional well-being.
The Dalai Lama said Tibetan Buddhist practice is not incompatible with Western science and that both traditions can learn from each other.
"We've already introduced modern science into our monastery in India," he said.
The 70-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner fled Tibet following an aborted uprising against Chinese rule in the territory and now keeps an office in exile in the Himalayan town of Dharmsala, India.
His appearance at Columbia, where he previously received an honorary doctorate, was one of several in New York and New Jersey this week. On Sunday he addressed a crowd of 36,000 at Rutgers University and then received a key to New York City from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
About 300 people attended Monday's panel discussion, including Tibetan immigrants in traditional dress as well as actor Richard Gere, model Christy Turlington and the moderator's daughter, actress Uma Thurman.
Joseph Hough, the president of Columbia's Union Theological Seminary, deplored the state of religion in the United States, where he said an exclusionary brand of Christianity dominates.
"The majority of Americans still believe that salvation is possible only through Jesus Christ," he said.
The Dalai Lama did not address Hough's remarks directly but said, "If you look at the life of the Buddha, he evolved in an atmosphere of religious plurality."