Al> How did you, the brother of the Dalai Lama, wind up in Bloomington, IN?

Dr. Norbu> I have been asking myself the same thing. Some years back, I was asked to teach here at IU. During this time, we opened the Tibetan Cultural Center. I was away from Tibet because of the Chinese invasion. So, I wanted to do something for my country and my people. I think the best thing is to try to introduce other people to Tibet. What is Tibet, who the Tibetans and their religion and history are. So that is why I started the Tibetan Cultural Center. This place is for keeping the Tibetan culture alive, and a place to introduce people to our culture.

Al> This Cultural Center is a very lovely complex.

Dr. Norbu> On November 18th , we are having a ground breaking for our new temple. My purpose isn't to try and convert people to Buddhism. No, I'm not here to do that. I think all religions are the same. What kind of religion you believe, that is your business. It is perfectly all right with me what you believe. I'm not saying of your religion that any religion is better than others. It is going to be a place where all religions can pray for peace, understanding, and tranquility.

Al> Dr. Norbu, I teach at the University of St. Francis. One of the classes that I teach is world religions, and my students study Tibetan Buddhism. They often have a problem with understanding karma. Can you define karma for them?

Dr. Norbu> Sometimes, people say karma is fate, but it is not fate. You create your own; it isn't something that is given to you. The way you think and act creates your own karma. Your fate is in your hands-it is your responsibility. You do good, then good karma. You do bad then bad.

Al> Another Tibetan concept is that of non-violence. Hasn't the non-violence allowed the Chinese to do violence against your people?

Dr. Norbu> No, not created violence, no. Anger created violence. Anger and jealousy create the violence. Desire and attachment cause violence.

Al> I understand that the Tibetans were so outnumbered. However, doesn't non-violence produce violence?

Dr. Norbu> Outnumbered or not, violence is bad.

Al> And besides, a year from now or ten years things will change in Tibet. Look at the former Soviet Union. It is quite possible that you might be able to go back to Tibet.

Dr. Norbu> My lifetime? No, I definitely will not be going back to Tibet. But, I think in about fifty or one hundred years, younger Tibetans will go back-if Tibetans work hard. It is not necessary to try violence to go back.

Al> Isn't it true that the Chinese are repopulating Tibet with Chinese?

Dr. Norbu> Yes, that's true. If Tibetans don't work hard at preserving their culture and religion, there won't be a Tibet. It will be all Chinese. That's possible, very possible. So, that is why Tibetans need to work hard. That is why there is a Tibetan Cultural Center. I want everybody to know there was a Tibet.

Al> Regarding your brother: can you tell me how he became the Dalai Lama?

Dr. Norbu> Yes, when a Dalai Lama dies, he is reincarnated. Then the Lamas met. They are the Tibetan government's national assembly. They go throughout the country and also to India and China and Mongolia looking for the new Dalai Lama. They show a small child items that belonged to the previous Dalai Lama. If that boy recognizes the items, and that is what happened to my brother, then he is recognized as the reincarnation and becomes the new Dalai Lama.

Al> You are also a Lama, aren't you?

Dr. Norbu> Some Tibetans believe that I am the reincarnation of the teacher from a monastery-that is their belief. But who knows? I don't know anything-nothing. I don't talk about my last previous life. Sometimes, what I did yesterday, I don't remember.

Al> If I had the power to say, "Come with me, we'll go back to Tibet. You and I will go to Tibet together. What would you want to show me? Give me five places that you would want to see and experience again?

Dr. Norbu> Tibet doesn't exist. Because of the Chinese invasion, Tibet is completely different.

Al> That is really tragic, a whole culture, a whole society changed forever. I can wax poetic what the Chinese have done against the Tibetan, but we have done the same thing to Native Americans. I admire the way that have you handled this. If I were in your shoes, I would be crying, sad, and angry.

Dr. Norbu> If I try to cry, there is no more water inside now. No more tears.

You may read Dr. Norbu's interview in its entirety by going to Also, if you would like to read more about the Tibetan Cultural Center, you can access TCC at

This article appeared in the Dixon Telegraph on 11/9/00.