The Panchen Lama meditates on Shambhala's ideal realm of peace in the Tashilumpo Monastery in central-western Tibet . Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama holds a massive prayer rally for world peace in India. Unrelated events, yet they have much in common. Now more than ever, both spiritual leaders are needed to provide inspiration and direction, not just for China but for a world torn by anger and self-interest. Lamas sitting in monasteries at the top of the world must perceive America's neo-conservative fundamentalism as a catalyst for new cycles of violence and environmental desecration eerily similar to the Kali predictions in Shambhala. It is time for reconciliation, for both sides to rise above the shadows of history. Otherwise Tibetan people within and outside China will remain emotionally at odds and their religion divided. It is now time to seek commonality in the broader interests of both Tibetan people and China in general, where Tibetan Buddhism can provide a new source of spirituality, identity and idealism. While the Dalai Lama has a sincere wish to return to China, the Chinese government also has sincere security concerns. So, solid confidence-building measures are needed by both sides. Issues are complicated by a government in exile in India which must co-ordinate moderate and radical viewpoints, and China's stability concerns, which must be satisfied as a prerequisite to continued economic development. Therefore, it is unrealistic to think all issues can be resolved easily and quickly. However, it is possible and realistic for each side to take a deep breath and begin some concrete steps forward in tandem, to send positive signals and build mutual confidence. Past visits by the Dalai Lama's delegations were too infrequent, which restrained dialogue. More visits are needed - one by the Dalai Lama himself could serve to break the impasse. Past outside interference stoked fears and emotions on both sides. Now, a calm and rational approach is needed in the interests of all - because conditions may be more appropriate for creative solutions than at any time in half a century. The Dalai Lama is clearly aware of China's economic success and the benefits which will spread from coastal areas to the country's interior, including Tibet, as growth continues. Neighbouring India and Nepal - which have been following the Washington consensus models of development and democratic formulas (until recently, in Nepal's case) - remain poverty-stricken and a stark contrast to China. Ironically, Indian communist parties are on the rise, with Maoists on the verge of taking Nepal. The Dalai Lama knows too well how the Washington models have failed, while China has succeeded in systematically rectifying poverty and raising living standards. In contrast, China's new-found economic prosperity leaves the Communist Party groping for a new ideology needed to bring the country to its next stage. Economic strength, hopefully, will evolve the party's political power into a positive force domestically and internationally. But this cannot be achieved without a formula to balance its economic drive with a social moral conscience. In short, a fresh ideology. The party is already aware that capitalism in itself cannot offer the solution. Caught between a socialist history and capitalist future, the party now faces an ideological crisis. Materialistic infatuation has caused endemic corruption, attacking the party's popular base. The party has launched countless campaigns calling for 'spiritual civilisation' to balance materialism, and invoking the Theory of the Three Represents to instil civil service ideals - with little practical effect. New discussions about dusting off Confucianism will come full circle. The party has always functioned in a Confucian manner, and this in itself is part of the problem. Tibetan Buddhism as a religion may not be the answer, but the philosophy embedded within may serve the party's interest. As the Dalai Lama emphasised, this is part of China's history and culture. Tibetan Buddhism describes Shambhala as a future where the gap between rich and poor is closed - an ideal concurrent, not in conflict, with the party's new goals. Part of the party's problem is that the past decade of rapid transition has honed its functions to short-sighted micromanaging of the domestic economy and international relations while neglecting a long-term strategy. Endless meetings and preoccupation with government reform (including current studies of the party's sustainability) are meaningless unless the party can identify what it wants to become. Like an overweight person looking in the mirror, diet and exercise formulas are useless unless a decision is taken to lose weight. Excessive speculation by outside observers and diplomats about when China will adopt democracy miss the point. The current US administration demonstrates democracy in itself cannot assure conscience, rational thinking or fundamental freedoms, all of which are easily buried by political and commercial self-interest. It is time to promote a new ideology which speaks of not just Buddhist compassion but also rational common sense. Democracy should be a tool used in the appropriate and acceptable cultural context to achieve better social equality and shared economic conditions. If, when applied as an ideological end goal in itself, it derails these objectives, then it does not work.