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The Dalai Lama speaks at the American Enterprise Institute during a panel discussion on "Happiness, free enterprise, and human flourishing." (Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images) The Dalai Lama speaks at the American Enterprise Institute during a panel discussion on "Happiness, free enterprise, and human flourishing." (Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)  

Self-described Marxist Dalai Lama says he’s ‘developed more respect’ for capitalism

The Dalai Lama spoke of his newfound “respect about capitalism” while emphasizing faith, family, community and work at a American Enterprise Institute panel held on Wednesday.

“Now after listen yesterday and also today, but really today, I develop more respect about capitalism,” said the Dalai Lama about the panel presentations.

One of the world’s most important religious figures, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, Tenzin Gyatso, spoke about developing happiness in light of free enterprise and U.S. capitalism, among top business, mind and health scholars.

“The very purpose of such meetings is to try to seek a directment [sic] to bring happy life. Happy individual. Ultimately happy family. Happy community, happy nation. Then ultimately, happy world. We are far from the world. So happy world. From where start? From government? No. From the United Nations? No. From individuals. Humanity is a combination of seven billion individuals,” said the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama spoke about the importance of education for prosperity around the world starting with individuals.

“I think we can teach, we can educate people for the best way for fulfillment of self interest, is taking care of the rest of humanity,” he continued. “I think modern education, modern day education is so important. Through education I think we can promote the conviction about these values. It takes time…Whether realistic or not, you can judge.”

He emphasized that interdependence between community, nation and humanity is nothing without a collective “we” that results from an established peace quelling the world’s violence.

“Peace only comes through our actions, not through wishful thinking or prayer,” the Dalai Lama said.

The Dalai Lama, called to power in Tibet after the Chinese invasion, faced opposition after peace talks with Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders. He currently resides in India, where he advocates nonviolence, solutions for environmental issues, universal responsibility and compassion. He also proposed a democratic constitution for Tibet, despite his self-labeling as a Marxist.

In responding to the idea of capitalism and democratic socialism in India, the Dalai Lama spoke in general terms of the strengths and weakness of both, and the solution being resolve through change of economics for prosperity.

He joked that he would need to take an economics class and “become student of you” speaking to the educators on the panel. He also said that education needs to be developed to “nurture equality” and restoration of trust is necessary to ensure others’ well being.

Arthur Brooks, moderator and president of AEI, facilitated this ‘Moral free enterprise: economic perspective in business and politics’ panel.

This first panel included four speakers: Glenn Hubbard, dean of ColumbiaBusiness School; Daniel S. Loeb, founder of Third Point LLC; and Jonathan Haidt, Thomas Cooley professor of ethical leadership at New YorkUniversity’s Stern School of Business.

The Dalai Lama responded to Loeb’s statements about government protection of property rights to keep people out of poverty by looking at the wider goal.

“The reality is everything is interrelated. The proper way to pursue that is we have to look holistically, from a larger picture,” said the Dalai Lama.

Haidt expressed his excitement in a panel that addresses the issue of capitalism in a free market and its ethical considerations from various backgrounds on politics and business.

“[T]his is scrambling all of the categories, this makes me so excited that we might finally break out of the rut we’ve been in for so many years about the role of business and government,” Haidt said.

Ultimately, Brooks keyed in on four concepts from the panel and from the Dalai Lama: consideration of the seven billion people on earth, moral living, shared humanity, and practice and teaching others in order to fulfill self interest and the needs of humanity.

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