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Video: Dalai Lama to US: ‘Keep your spirit’

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    >> tibet's spiritual lead e the dalai lama is in new york. i sat down with him shortly after his meeting with president obama and in our wide-ranging interview, he talked about his conversation with the president, and shared his thoughts about the spirit of american resilience. the dalai lama says he offered president obama comfort.

    >> it's my duty to call him, show my respect. the president has some sort of difficulties. so i want to show an old friend's face, really. a feeling of reunion, old friend.

    >> the president is in a fierce struggle with his political opponents over the future of the nation's finances. what is the best way, your best advice, how to find compromise with those you deeply disagree with?

    >> naturally, you have some different interests regarding your own different party. but when the nation is facing crisis, those different views of political parties is secondary. now, this economic problem is not an interest on this party or that party. it's a national sort of interest. so we must work together.

    >> and to all americans struggling --

    >> so these times of economic difficulties, no reason to discourage americans. you must keep your spirit, your determination, and hard work. that way, you can overcome these kinds of problems. it may take time, but courage. never discourage. in spite of difficulties, you must keep your self-confidence.

    >> his holiness, the dally llama llama. and later, in part two, his thoughts about china, hiand going back to tibet.

TODAY contributor
updated 7/18/2011 11:46:48 AM ET 2011-07-18T15:46:48

The Dalai Lama is not only the worldwide spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism; as TODAY’s Ann Curry pointed out to him in an interview posted exclusively to TODAY.com, he also has some 2 million Twitter followers and 1.7 million fans on Facebook.

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So when Curry asked him if he felt the Internet represented an opportunity for change, the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner was quick to agree: “Oh yes. Because [through it people can] very easily reach new ideas, new information. So, very very helpful.

“Things [are] rapidly changing, but our concept ... still remains the old thinking,” he told Curry. “That creates unnecessary problem. So we must catch up: New ideas, new [out]look according to new reality. This I feel.”

“And so you think the Internet, this way of communicating, is part of the new reality?” Curry asked.

“Oh yes. Very helpful,” the Dalai Lama replied.

Message of hope
The 76-year-old spiritual leader also had a message of hope and encouragement for recession-battered Americans.

“You must keep your spirit, your determination, and hard work, so that way you can overcome these economic problems,’’ he said. “In spite [of] difficulties, you must keep your self-confidence.’’

Story: Dalai Lama: ‘21st century will be much happier’

He also urged Americans to rise above the partisan rancor over the debt ceiling. “Naturally, you have some different interests regarding your own different party,” he said. “But when the nation is facing crisis, those different views of political parties [are] secondary ... This economic problem is not an interest on this party or that party. It’s a national sort of interest. So we must work together.”

Video: Dalai Lama to US: ‘Keep your spirit’ (on this page)

Over the weekend, the Dalai Lama met with President Obama, arousing the ire of China’s government, who warned that the meeting would harm American-Chinese relations. But the Dalai Lama insisted that China will eventually be caught up in the spread of democracy throughout the world.

“China, sooner or later, will learn these things,’’ he told Curry. “[The] world [is] turning one direction. China cannot go against that way. Have to go along [with] that trend. That’s logical.

“The voice of openness, or voice of democracy. Freedom of speech. Now growing. Even, month by month, growing in China.’’

Slideshow: The Dalai Lama (on this page)

The Chinese government objected to the meeting with Obama because it regards the Dalai Lama as a separatist intent on ending China’s rule of Tibet. But the Dalai Lama told Curry that he was simply offering support to Obama.

“It is my duty to call him, show my respect,’’ he said. “The president has some sort of difficulties, so I want to show an old friend’s face ... a feeling of reunion.”

Sleeping better
The spiritual leader, who has been in a 52-year struggle for freedom in Tibet since China’s Communist invasion, said he was glad about the radical decision to end Tibet’s four-century-old system of a religious monarchy. The change allowed for the first democratically elected prime minister-in-exile of Tibet, Dr. Lobsang Sangay.

Slideshow: Images: Ann Curry’s 2009 visit with Dalai Lama in India

But while the 14th Dalai Lama may have relinquished his political power, he remains a spiritual leader to Tibetans. “I deliberately, voluntarily, happy, proudly end,’’ he said about the change. “That night, unusual sleep. So that means I really felt some kind of release.’’

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The soft-spoken 76-year-old also addressed the search for his replacement. In 1995, a 6-year-old Chinese boy was designated by the Dalai Lama as the latest incarnation of the Panchen Lama — the highest-ranking lama after the Dalai Lama himself. Shortly after, the boy was taken into custody by Chinese authorities, and hasn’t been seen since. Meanwhile, the Chinese designated another boy as the Panchen Lama.

Video: Dalai Lama: Humanity is getting better (on this page)

“The several years of some kind of house arrest [are] not his mistake,’’ the Dalai Lama said. “Every week some people [are] arrested and [there is] severe torture in Tibet. Very sad.’’

As for the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, he said that is under his control. China’s government cannot play a role in choosing his successor as the leader of Tibetan Buddhism.

“It is my business, not others’ business,’’ he said. “My next life, ultimately, I will decide. No one else. Recently, they [China] have some kind of policy or certain policy, but that is quite ridiculous.’’

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Photos: The Dalai Lama

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  1. Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, as a young child. He was born into a prosperous farming family in Tibet in 1935. He was enthroned as the leader of Tibet in 1950 at the age of 15 and also assumed the role of Tibetan Buddhism's spiritual leader. After the collapse of the Tibetan resistance movement in 1959, he fled to India. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. The Dalai Lama and Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in New Delhi in 1961, where they discussed the plight of Tibetans who crossed the border into India during the Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule. When the Tibetan resistance collapsed in 1959, the Dalai Lama fled into exile in India. China has ruled Tibet since then. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Pope John Paul II meets with the Dalai Lama at Vatican City in November 2003. He has met with many religious leaders over the years to promote religious dialogue. In 1989, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. The Dalai Lama poses with his wax image at Madame Tussaud's in 1993 in London. He brought a pair of his own glasses for the statue. (Gerry Penny / AFP-Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. The Dalai Lama jokes with New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani before an audience of 3,000 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York in 1997. (Adam Nadel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. The Dalai Lama speaks to an audience 40,000-strong at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington in July 2000. (Khue Bui / AFP-Getty Images ) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. President George W. Bush welcomes the Dalai Lama to the White House in 2001. (The White House via AFP - Getty) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. The Dalai Lama pats a koala held by Bindi Irwin at the Australia Zoo during a tour titled "Open Arms -- Embracing Kindness" in Beerwah in June 2007. (Greg White / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A monk stands in front of Potala Palace in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, in 2004. Before his exile, the palace was the winter home of the Dalai Lama. (Peter Parks / AFP-Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. The Dalai Lama presents actor Richard Gere with a traditional Tibetan ceremonial scarf during the International Campaign for Tibet 2009 Light of Truth Award in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 7, 2009. (Susan Walsh / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Framed by the Tibetan flag, the Dalai Lama speaks to members of the Tibetan community on Oct. 11, 2007, in New York City. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. The Dalai Lama speaks with spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar during the launch ceremony of Global Foundation for Civilizational Harmony in New Delhi on Jan. 22, 2008. The organization aims to build a global civilization of peace, harmony and mutual enrichment. (Vijay Mathur / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. The Dalai Lama addresses a press conference in New Delhi, on March 29, 2008. He discussed the Chinese government policy of "demographic aggression." (Manish Swarup / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Pro-Tibetan protesters hold candles as they stand next to a poster of the Dalai Lama during a rally in San Francisco on April 8, 2008. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. The exiled spiritual leader playfully touches fists with musician Dave Matthews after a panel discussion at Seattle's Key Arena on April 11, 2008. (Marcus Donner / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Devotees watch the Tibetan spiritual leader give religious teachings at the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharmsala, India, on Sept. 30, 2008. (Ashwini Bhatia / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama gives a speech at the EU Parliament in Brussels on December 4, 2008. China warned that day that multi-billion-dollar trade ties with France could be affected by President Nicolas Sarkozy's planned meeting with the Dalai Lama. (Eric Vidal / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Polish President Lech Walesa, right, and fellow laureates the Dalai Lama, left, and Adolfo Perez Esquivel, center, are seen in Gdansk, Poland, on Dec. 5, 2008. Walesa was marking the 25th anniversary of his Nobel Peace Prize win. (Czarek Sokolowski / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. The Dalai Lama receives an honorary doctorate at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, on December 8, 2008. He expressed admiration for the nation's 1980s non-violent struggle against its now defunct communist regime. (Pawel Ulatowski / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. The Dalai Lama prays before inaugurating the installation of a hand-carved 2.5 meter-high stone statue of Lord Buddha in the compound of the Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in the northern Indian city of Sarnath on Jan. 9, 2009. (Abhishek Madhukar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. The Dalai Lama smiles as he is flanked by Rome's Mayor Gianni Alemanno, left, and his wife Isabella, right, after being made an honorary citizen of the Italian city on Feb. 9, 2009. (Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. The Dalai Lama greets reporters as he arrives for a press conference at the main temple in Dharamsala, India, on March 10, 2009. In a speech marking the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising, the Dalai Lama said he would continue to pursue the "middle path" approach despite China's crackdown on Tibetans. (Harish Tyagi / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. The Dalai Lama speaks to reporters outside the White House in Washington on Feb. 18, 2010, following a meeting with President Barack Obama. Every U.S. president for the last two decades has met with the Dailai Lama, including George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. The Dalai Lama announced that he will pass the reins of political power to the elected prime minister of the self-proclaimed on Thursday, March 10, 2011. Tibetan government in exile hoping to prevent a political vacuum after his death and ensure an effective response to Chinese crackdowns and Beijing's increasingly effective use of diplomatic pressure. Dalai Lama made a point of saying he wasn't retiring, and his global status and reputation ensure that he will continue to play a major role in Tibetan affairs. (David Stephenson / Zuma Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. The Dalai Lama holds a forty-nine days memorial service for victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami at the Gokokuji temple in Tokyo on Friday, April 29, 2011. The 75-year-old monk, on his way to the US, offered prayers and messages to a nation in deep sorrow after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami on March 11 that has plunged Japan into its worst post-War crisis. (Kim Kyung-hoon / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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