Dalai Lama donates £1.1m Templeton Prize money to charity

Dalai Lama gives away prize money but remains silent on self-immolations

Given that he has spent much of the past six decades preaching against the follies of material wealth it was perhaps only natural that the Dalai Lama today gave away the single largest annual monetary award given to an individual.

The Tibetan spiritual leader flew into London to receive the £1.1m Templeton Prize but even before the ink was dry on the cheque he announced he would donate it all to charity.

The bulk of the prize money – more than £934,000 – will go to Save the Children in India where the 14th Dalai Lama has led a Tibetan government in exile for the past five decades.

The remainder, he said, would be given to the Mind and Life institute – a body which promotes collaboration between science and spirituality – and to a fund providing Tibetan monks with funding for science degrees.

Speaking at a press conference in the crypt of St Paul’s, the diminutive 76-year-old monk was characteristically modest as he announced that he would give the money away. “I always say I am nothing special,” he said. “Simply one of the seven billion human beings.”

The Templeton Prize was set up forty years ago by the American born British stock investor Sir John Templeton who felt that the Nobel awards honoured the contribution of science to humanity but failed to recognise religion.

He created the annual award to be given to someone who made and “exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension”, stipulating that the cash should always be more than the Nobel prizes. It has been criticised by some scientists with the campaigning atheist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins once dismissing it as an award “usually [given] to a scientist who is prepared to say something nice about religion.”

Tibet’s spiritual leader had much to say yesterday about economic greed and the need for religions to embrace scientific study.

He called on nations to tackle the ongoing global econimuic crisis with “optimism and hard work” stating that “any problem which is created [by man], we must have the ability to solve.”

He revealed that he wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron after learning of last summer’s riots and said the root cause of such violence was young people "being brought up to believe that life was just easy.”

“Life is not easy,” he added. “If you take for granted that life will be easy, then anger develops, frustration, and riots."

But when it came to the fortunes of his own people he was remarkably reticent.

Yesterday’s visit was the first time the Dalai Lama has travelled to Britain since stepping down last year as the political leader of Tibetan in place of a democratically elected new generation of leaders. Organisers for the prize called on the press to refrain from asking questions about Tibet’s ongoing struggle for independence from China but given the current turmoil inside the Dalai Lama’s homeland the subject inevitably surfaced.

In recent months Tibetans have taken to setting themselves alight in increasing numbers to protest against Beijing’s ongoing occupation of their homeland and policies which are seen to favour ethnic Han Chinese at the expense of Tibetans. Since February 2009 more than 35 Tibetans are known to have self-immolated with four people setting themselves alight in the past three weeks alone.

Asked whether such self-immolations should continue the Dalai Lama replied: “This is a sensitive political issue and I think my answer should be zero.”

Self-immolations are often portrayed by Chinese officials as part of a plot by the Dalai Lama to destabilise his homeland, which has been under an increasingly repressive crackdown since riots broke out in predominantly Tibetan areas in 2008. However many analysts say the immolations – which are forbidden in Tibetan Buddhism and were virtually unheard of until the late 1990s – are in fact an expression of frustration against the Dalai Lama’s policy of “middle way” which calls on Tibetans to be patient while its exiled leadership negotiates with Beijing for a settlement.

Many younger Tibetan leaders have begun speaking out against the Dalai Lama’s insistence of non-violence and there are fears that unless Beijing takes a more sensitive stance towards Tibet they will see more and more examples of civil unrest.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam