London: Recalling his "very good" relations with Chairman Mao Zedong, the Dalai Lama on Sunday said that he considered him "as a father" and that the late Chinese leader considered him "as a son".
The Dalai Lama, who is on a visit to the UK for public talks and appearances, recalled an interesting anecdote of the time when he was living in China and was on good terms with Chairman Mao.
He told the Andrew Marr Show on BBC: "He (Chairman Mao) appears to me as a father and he himself considered me as a son. (We had) very good relations. The only problem was that on many occasions, when official dinners were held, Chairman Mao always used to bring me to his side".
The Dalai Lama added: "So then as per Chinese tradition, Chairman Mao himself would use his chopsticks to put some food in my plate. So in a way it was a great honour, but in a way I feel little fear...He used to cough too much, a chain smoker, so I might get some germs (laughing)".
The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959, said that older Tibetans wanted him to return "as soon as possible before their death", but other politically sensible people believed that under the present circumstances, he should remain outside in a free country.
"Their message is that (by remaining outside Tibet), you can do more for us. If you return you will yourself become like a prisoner", the 76-year-old Nobel laureate told the interviewer.
Terming the incidents of self-immolation in Tibet as "very sad" and a "very, very politically sensitive issue", he said that he preferred not to comment since he had retired, but when the first incident happened, he recalled wanting Chinese leaders to "conduct through investigation into what are the causes of these sad events".
Presenting his analysis of recession and challenging economic condition in Britain, the Dalai Lama said that some of the main reasons were greed and speculation, and the tendency to seek "temporary profit than long term gain".
"When I was in China, I learnt Marxist economy theory, which has an emphasis on equal distribution, rather than just profit. Since we human beings created this (economic) problem, we also have ability to overcome it. In spite of our difficulties, we should not give up our hope...We must keep our self confidence, that is very important", the spiritual leader said.