‘Persist to the end,’ the Dalai Lama tells the ‘change-makers of the future’

During his official Stanford events on Thursday, the Dalai Lama constantly stressed the importance of dialogue in resolving conflict – and he meant what he said.

At a late-afternoon private gathering at the Stanford Park Hotel, he spoke to nearly 100 Chinese university students from Stanford and Berkeley, as well as faculty, artists and a dozen Tibetan students from around the Bay Area.

Unlike his public talk at Maples Pavilion or the address to students in Memorial Church, this event was not sponsored by Stanford. The private event was organized by TENZIN SELDON, president of Stanford Friends of Tibet and the university’s first student from Dharamsala, where the spiritual leader’s government-in-exile is based. Seldon said of the Chinese students gathered in the courtyard, “These are the change-makers of the future.”

Perhaps the most moving query was by Fang Zheng, a wheelchair-bound young man who lost both his legs when he was crushed by tanks in Tiananmen Square. In a Chinese exchange that evoked applause and laughter, he asked the Tibetan leader where he anticipated meeting this year’s imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner, the writer Liu Xiaobo. Tibet’s Nobel Peace laureate answered, to more laughter, that it was hard to anticipate the future, but the likeliest spot was Beijing.

His advice to those fighting for more freedom in China showed less levity and more steel: “Resolution, resolution – persist to the end.”

—Cynthia Haven