The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet has over 8 million Twitter followers, but he confesses he has never personally tweeted, explaining with his characteristic laugh that his fingers aren’t well-equipped for such modern technology. But he has no problem summing up the answer to happiness in 140 characters or less.
“More compassionate mind, more sense of concern for other's well-being, is source of happiness,” he said during a rare interview with “Politics Confidential” when asked how to sum up his philosophy for happiness in the form of a tweet.
Self-centered attitudes, he said, are at the root of unhappiness and human suffering.
“Too much self-centered attitude, you see, brings, you see, isolation,” he said. “Result: loneliness, fear, anger. The extreme self-centered attitude is the source of suffering.”
It’s been 54 years since the Dalai Lama – escaping persecution by the Chinese government—fled from his native country of Tibet for India, where he still lives today in exile. There is still no sign that the Chinese government will grant a level of autonomy to Tibet, let alone independence. And President Obama reiterated in a statement following a meeting with the Dalai Lama on Friday that “the United States does not support Tibet independence” and recognizes Tibet as part of China. Still, the Dalai Lama remains eternally optimistic on the topic.
Some officials in the Chinese government have characterized the Dalai Lama as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” and one even called him a “demon.” But he merely laughs off such remarks: “Let them say whatever they like; the reality is reality.”
“Sometime a few years ago, some Chinese official described me as a demon. Then, you see, some reporter ask me, ‘what's my comment?’ Then I usually respond, ‘yes, I'm a demon with horns,” he said, moving his hands to look like horns on top of his head and laughing.
The Chinese government has also claimed that they will determine who will be the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, a process which is traditionally determined by certain religious leaders within the Buddhist religion.
The Dalai Lama, who is now 78 years old and still appears to be in good health, has a different plan for succession.
“The Tibetan people will need to determine who the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama is,” he said and added that it’s possible that the Tibetan people could decide that he is the last Dalai Lama and determine that the institution is “no longer relevant.” So long as it is the Tibetan people’s decision, he said, “I’m happy.”
“Sometimes I, jokingly, say … ‘I think, at least, six centuries, the history of Dalai Lama institution, ended with present Dalai Lama -- quite popular!’” he said with laugh.
He also said that it’s “very possible” that the next Dalai Lama, if there is another reincarnation, could be a woman. He notes that women, biologically, are more sensitive to other’s suffering; and for that reason, it may be more useful under some circumstances to have a female Dalai Lama.
On the topic of stress and frustration, he said he’s “always relaxed” but admitted that “sometimes, little irritation comes” during delayed flights of his extensive international travel.
He recalled one occasion when he lost his temper with a reporter.
“One lady [in] our interview, and she ask me, ‘what you want legacy?’ And then I told, no, I'm Buddhist monk, Buddhist practitioner, should not think about my name, these things,” he recalled, and explained that the reporter went on to ask the same question again three times.
“Then, I lost my temper,” he said with another laugh.
To find out if the Dalai Lama actually golfs as is portrayed in the popular movie “Caddyshack,” check out this episode of “Politics Confidential.”
ABC News’ Alexandra Dukakis, Tom Thornton, Hank Disselkamp, and Gale Marcus contributed to this episode.