His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressed Tibetans in Salugara on the devolution of his political responsibilities to the elected Tibetan leadership and efforts to resolve the issue of Tibet.His Holiness explained that it is now almost two years since he devolved his political responsibilities to the elected Tibetan leadership. Not only has he himself retired, but he has also brought an end to the involvement of the Dalai Lamas in the political affairs of Tibet, a role that began with the Fifth Dalai Lama nearly four hundred years ago. However, he said, he remains a Tibetan in whom the Tibetan people continue to place their faith and trust, so he retains a responsibility to speak up for them when he can.He declared that the Middle Way approach that was first mooted in the 1970s continues to attract support, particularly among intellectuals and writers in China. He affirmed that Tibet enjoyed widespread independence in the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries, so Tibetans have a right and a precedent to claim independence. However, it is also necessary to be realistic and the Middle Way approach has strong support as a realistic option. The Chinese leadership apart, many people around the world support it and, most important, it is attracting the support of Chinese people who come to know about it. He concluded with a forthright declaration that he is optimistic that Tibetans will yet be united in Tibet.
As he left the venue he was surrounded by members of the press clamouring with questions. Asked what he expects from Xi Jinping, he replied that it is still early and difficult to say, but he acknowledged that he knew his father. He said that we can view the last 60 years in China in four phases: the ideological period of Mao; the economic developments of Deng Xiaoping; the welcoming of the wealthy into the party under Jiang Zemin; and Hu Jintao’s slogan about harmony and unity. There has been change, he said, and further change will come, but it may not happen soon.His Holiness the Dalai Lama was in Salugara to give a three-day teaching on Longchen Rabjam’s ‘Resting the Mind in its Natural State’ and Je Tsongkhapa’s ‘Concise Stages of the Path to Enlightenment.’ An estimated 25,000 people gathered from Salugara, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Sikkim and Bhutan to hear His Holiness.