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Press Release from the Office of the President

President Lee Teng-hui praised the Dalai Lama as a genuine pacifist who embraced compassion and devoted his life to advocating love and non-violence. The President made the remarks today during his meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader in Taipei.


The President said that history of humanity is now at a crucial juncture for development as the twentieth century is drawing to an end. He expressed his approval of what the Dalai Lama said: "It requires both rational thinking and extraordinary spirituality to tackle issues of global importance, that is, showing great compassion for all."


According to the Dalai Lama, a new way of thinking has become the prerequisite for rational life and behavior today. President Lee said he totally agrees with and is supportive of the Tibetan spiritual leader's observations and viewpoints of the world situation and humanity, "We will continue to stagnate in obsolete goals and behavior if we choose to clutch outmoded values and beliefs, one-sided and false knowledge, and self-centered motivations. Such attitudes will hamper us in moving toward the goal of a world community which is characterized by interdependence, peace and mutual aid."


The headline-making meeting between President Lee and the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate took place this morning at 9:30 in the Taipei Guest House. To his visitor, the President extended his sincere welcome and presented an exquisite crystal sculpture of the Dalai Lama himself. Mrs. Lee gave the Dalai Lama orchids, his favorite flower, to show her respect for the Tibetan spiritual leader. The Dalai Lama expressed his appreciation to President and Mrs. Lee and in return, giving them a "tanka," a traditional token of honor and dignity.


President Lee attached great importance to his meeting with the Tibetan visitor, an event dubbed by the local press as "meeting between two great philosophers." Immediately after receiving U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, President and Mrs. Lee left for the Taipei Guest House to greet his Tibetan guest who is respected throughout the world. Wearing a benign smile and in a plain vestment, the Dalai Lama arrived at the Guest House at the scheduled time. The two leaders met in a warmhearted mood as if they were good old friends. Among those present in the meeting were Secretary-General to the President Huang Kun-huei and Master Ching Hsin, Chairman of the ROC Buddhist Association.


With their distinguished erudition in philosophy and religion and common commitment to peace, democracy and human rights, the two leaders focused their talks on such spiritual topics as religion, compassion, love, and forgiveness. The President briefed his guest on the essence of spiritual reformation which he has been promoting in the Republic of China and consulted the Tibetan spiritual leader on the reform.


Over the past forty-odd years, the President said, Taiwan has successfully striven to create an economic miracle, but it has comparatively overlooked development of humanity and spirituality. Never have the people on Taiwan been more prosperous, but what deserves more concern is that people have become increasingly utilitarian and materialistic and are losing their ideals in life and care for society. Therefore, the President pointed out, he has been pushing forward spiritual reformation as the foundation for reforms in other areas in order to establish a society characterized with humanity and well-balanced between tradition and modernity, spirituality and materialism.


In speaking about the essence of spiritual reformation, President Lee said that he was much inspired by the account in the Bible about Jesus washing his disciples' feet. People should rekindle the spirit of respecting, helping and serving each other, and should not be too egoistic because more tolerance leads to harmony in society, he added.


President Lee agreed with the Dalai Lama's opinion that all religions are aimed at encouraging good behavior, nurturing more happiness for people and creating more harmony in society. In fact, he said, he also experienced psychological twists and turns in his quest of religious belief. Religion induces peace of mind and better philosophy, and that is the significance of religion to man.


The President said that, since boyhood, he has been interested in the question of life and death. He made in-depth self-analyses on the issue of death at the age of 16, and these mental exercises brought him different views of life as he grew up and gained more life experience, he recalled. Now he feels at ease regarding the issue of death. When facing it, the President said, "I will tell my wife, 'Thank you for taking care of me and enabling me to lead a rewarding life. Thank you, my dear.'"The Dalai Lama highly approved of President Lee's viewpoints of spiritual reformation and expressed his admiration for the President's far-sightedness. He said that during his staying here, he can see that Taiwan has made striking progress materially, but that this progress has also caused negative impacts on people's spirit. Material and spiritual developments have to be well-balanced, the Tibetan spiritual leader added.


During his visit, the Dalai Lama said, he found the people here very friendly and happy, making him feel warm. He said that for many years, he has promoted a world full of love, where people care for and get along with each other, moving toward a more harmonious state.


In the wake of democratization, the Dalai Lama continued, if the 21.3 million people of Taiwan can accommodate themselves to the President's spiritual reformation program and acquire inner peace, it will benefit not only their self-cultivation but the well-being of humanity as well.


The leader of Tibetan Buddhism agreed with the President's comments on religion. He said that different religions may vary in creed but their fundamental goals are alike. For example, all religions encourage love and compassion, yet they may differ with each other in approach, he added.


The Tibetan visitor congratulated President Lee on the President's election as the first popularly-elected president in the five thousand years of Chinese history. Meanwhile, he spoke highly of the President's attempt to reform people from deep within their hearts by improving their inner quality.


The Dalai Lama was very delighted to meet and converse with President Lee. In addition to a "tanka," he presented his autobiography and another book of his, The Power of Compassion, to President and Mrs. Lee.


At the end of the meeting, the President stressed that the Dalai Lama's visit has contributed greatly to the President's spiritual reformation movement, and extended his appreciation to the Tibetan spiritual leader. President Lee also expressed his concern over the religious and cultural exchanges between Taiwan and Tibet.

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