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Dalai Lama: World belongs to 'humanity,' not leaders

By Catherine Shoichet, CNN
updated 1:07 PM EDT, Thu April 26, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: He says the string of self-immolations by Tibetans is "extremely sad"
  • The exiled Tibetan leader calls for an end to censorship in China
  • "Each country belongs essentially to their own people," the Dalai Lama says
  • He says he doesn't listen to music, watch movies, drink or take drugs

(CNN) -- The Dalai Lama says he supports the principles behind Arab Spring protests.

"The world belongs to humanity, not this leader, that leader, kings or religious leaders. The world belongs to humanity. Each country belongs essentially to their own people," he said in an interview Wednesday on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."

Politicians at times forget that, even in democratic countries like the United States, he said.

"Sometimes they are short-sighted," he said. "They are mainly looking for the next vote."

Dalai Lama: I support the Arab Spring
Dalai Lama: Bush 'very nice person'

When asked about the Arab Spring, the exiled Tibetan leader said he thought it was "in principle, very good."

"Now they achieved the basic goal, now time come they must be united, all forces, no matter what their political thinking or something, now they must work together, that is very important," he said.

In a wide-ranging interview, the Dalai Lama discussed his thoughts about topics ranging from China's changing political landscape to whether he is tempted by women.

The Dalai Lama is the traditional religious and temporal head of Tibetan Buddhists. He was made head of state at age 15 in 1950, the same year that Chinese troops occupied Tibet, enforcing what Beijing says is a centuries-old claim over the region.

The Dalai Lama held negotiations with Chinese officials on Tibetan self-rule with little success. In 1959, he fled Tibet for exile in India after a failed uprising against Beijing's rule.

As China has deepened its economic, political and cultural influence in Tibet, the Dalai Lama has acknowledged that full independence is no longer realistic. But he has continued to advocate greater rights for Tibetans.

In Wednesday's interview, he said that the dozens of reported self-immolations by Tibetans living under Chinese rule in recent months are "extremely sad."

The Dalai Lama, who last year stepped down from his political responsibilities with the Tibetan exile movement, said Chinese leaders needed to think "more realistically" in order to resolve the problems in Tibet and other restive parts of the country.

And he called for an end to censorship in China.

Chinese people also have the ability to judge what's right or what's wrong. ... Chinese people should know the reality.
Dalai Lama

"Chinese people also have the ability to judge what's right or what's wrong. ... Chinese people should know the reality," he said.

But the spiritual leader also showed a lighter side.

Even though he's taken a vow of celibacy, the Dalai Lama said he still feels temptation when he sees women.

"Oh yes, sometimes (I) see people (and think) oh, this is very nice," he said.

But even in his dreams, he said, he reminds himself of his spiritual role.

"I'm Dalai Lama. I always remember, I am monk, I am always monk," he said.

He said he doesn't watch movies or listen to music, has never taken drugs and doesn't drink. But he recalled one time when he tasted wine.

"I was very young, I think 7, 8 years, very young. One evening, late evening, I'm just playing. Then one person I see carrying two bottles, and I immediately run to him. And then, my finger, (I) put (it) in the bottle. Very sweet," he said, laughing.

When asked what world leaders he admired, he mentioned former South African President Nelson Mandela. He also praised former U.S. President George W. Bush, even though he didn't always agree with his policies.

"Not as a president of America. Some of his policies may not be very successful," the Dalai Lama said. "But as a person, as a human being, very nice person. I love him."

CNN's Paul Armstrong contributed to this report.

Watch Piers Morgan Live weeknights 9 p.m. ET. For the latest from Piers Morgan click here.

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