The Dalai Lama has said that last summer’s riots were the fault of a generation brought up to believe life would be easy.
Speaking in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral on Monday, where he was presented with the £1.1m Templeton prize for spiritual progress, he said: “I have the idea of Englishmen as mature, sensible, law-abiding people, If [riots] happen in England, it is a shock.
“I sent a letter to the prime minister in which I expressed sadness and urged to him to think about the causes of the riots.”
He said that the root cause was young people “being brought up to believe that life was just easy. Life is not easy. If you take for granted that life will be easy, then anger develops, frustration, and riots.”
Asked about the Occupy protest outside St Paul’s, he said: “If their reasons and motivations are sincere, then I will join with them.” He thought the protests were justified as a way of bringing to light grievances which would otherwise have been ignored.
But he refused to talk about Tibetan politics on the grounds that he stepped down last year as the political leader of the Tibetan people in exile.
Invited to discuss the wave of suicides across the country in the last year, when monks have set themselves on fire in protest against the Chinese occupation, he said he would say “zero”.
The Templeton prize “honours a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension”, according to its website.
The award makes him the only person apart from Mother Teresa to have won both the Templeton prize and a Nobel peace prize – which is worth rather less in monetary terms.
He will give the money to charity, he said. The bulk will go to the Save the Children fund in India, with smaller bequests to a science and religion group that is studying the effects of Buddhist practice and to a project to train Buddhist monks as scientists.
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