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His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing during a dialogue with youth leaders from mostly from conflict zones, at his residence in Dharamshala, HP, India on November 6, 2017, organised by the US Institute of Peace. Photo: TPI/Yeshe Choesang

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Holiness the Dalai Lama said the broad masses of Tibetans inside Tibet are the real masters of Tibet, and that Tibetan people should be proud of unique Tibetan culture, tradition and language.

At a separate audience for difference institutions based in Dharamshala, the spiritual leader of Tibet, said, "I always keep saying that it is the broad masses of Tibetans inside Tibet who are the real owners of Tibet. Their immense courage and pride for their Tibetan identity during times of peril is the main reasons for the survival of Tibetan race over the past 60 years."

"I know that you have gone through hardships and undaunted in the greatest dangers, since recently China has been imposing strong restrictive measures." He added that The spiritual leader also asked them to hold on to the spirit despite the repressive policies imposed by the Chinese government.

"For thousands of years, though the political status of Tibet has flourished and declined, Tibetan people, culture, and language have held strong.

"Scholars from an American university have found that during the time of the three great Buddhist kings of Tibet, from the 7th until the 9th century, it was China, Mongolia, and Tibet that were the three great powers in Asia."

"Tibetans are a unique people, as our Tibetan snow land was tamed and blessed by the Chenresig, Avalokiteshvara, and I believe that Tibet is a land prophesied by the Buddha himself."

The spiritual leader also commented on his personal health, saying "I have been in exile for 58 years now, and have reached 82 years old. Besides tiring easily nowadays, I am in perfect health, none of you should worry."

Touching on the situation inside Tibet, he said, "China will slowly change, that I am sure of. In both India and Paris, Xi Jinping has claimed that Buddhism is integral to China's culture. His mother is Buddhist, his wife is also Buddhist. There are somewhere around 400 million Chinese who practice Buddhism, and that number is growing. That is why I am very hopeful for change to come, so don't give up hope."

While remaining within the PRC, His Holiness says Tibetans want genuine autonomy so people of Tibet can continue to keep our culture, language and traditions alive. Tibetan people must be friendly with the Chinese people. "We cannot help them financially. However, we can through our Tibetan Buddhism and traditions, that would be mutually beneficial for both Chinese and Tibetans."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama says he seeks genuine autonomy for Tibet, not full independence.

The Nobel Laureate also responded to Chinese hardliners' accusations against him being a 'separatist or a devil'. "I have never advocated separatism, yet China calls me a separatist. It is not at all true. Instead we are saying that we are ready to stay within the constitution of China while seeking "genuine autonomy" including the right to protect our culture, religion, language and environment."

His Holiness mentioned several times during his meetings with Tibetans that the 150,000 Tibetans in exile only represent those who remain inside Tibet, spreading the truth of their cause and acting as their free spokespeople and symbolic representatives.

His Holiness concluded by saying that historically Tibet was a free and independent country for centuries, after which it fragmented in to smaller parts. "What has since held us together is our common religion, culture and language. Today, it's very important that Tibetans of the Three Provinces remain united."

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