14th Dalai Lama

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Tenzin Gyatso
The 14th Dalai Lama
Dalailama1 20121014 4639.jpg
Reign 17 November 1950 – present
Predecessor Thubten Gyatso
Prime Ministers
Tibetan བསྟན་འཛིན་རྒྱ་མཚོ་
Wylie bstan 'dzin rgya mtsho
Pronunciation [tɛ̃ ́tsĩ càtsʰo]
THDL Tendzin Gyatso
Father Choekyong Tsering the 9th
Mother Diki Tsering
Born (1935-07-06) 6 July 1935 (age 80)
Taktser, Qinghai
Signature 14th Dalai Lama's signature

The 14th Dalai Lama /ˌdæl.aɪˈlɑː.mə/ (religious name: Tenzin Gyatso, shortened from Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, born Lhamo Dondrub,[1] 6 July 1935) is the current Dalai Lama[2] and is the longest-lived incumbent. Dalai Lamas are important monks of the Gelug school, the newest school of Tibetan Buddhism[3] which is nominally headed by the Ganden Tripas. The 14th Dalai Lama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, and is known for his heartfelt advocacy for Tibetans worldwide and his lifelong interest in modern science.

The 14th Dalai Lama was born in Amdo, Tibet (known in China as Taktser, Qinghai),[4] and was selected as the tulku of the 13th Dalai Lama in 1937 and formally recognized as the 14th Dalai Lama at a public declaration near the town of Bumchen in 1939.[5] His enthronement ceremony as the Dalai Lama was held in Lhasa on February 22, 1940 and he eventually assumed full temporal (political) power over Tibet on 17 November 1950, at the age of 15, after China's invasion of Tibet.[5] The Gelug school's government administered an area roughly corresponding to the Tibet Autonomous Region just as the nascent People's Republic of China wished to assert central control over it.

During the 1959 Tibetan uprising, the Dalai Lama fled to India, where he currently lives as a refugee. He has since traveled the world, advocating for the welfare of Tibetans, teaching Tibetan Buddhism, investigating the interface between Buddhism and science and talking about the importance of compassion as the source of a happy life. Around the world, institutions face pressure from China not to accept him.

The policy of the Dalai Lama until he retired from the Central Tibetan Administration[6] was that he did not seek sovereignty for Tibet, but would accept Tibet as a genuine autonomous region within the People's Republic of China.[7] He has spoken about the environment, economics, women's rights, non-violence, interfaith dialogue, physics, astronomy, Buddhism and science, cognitive neuroscience, reproductive health, and sexuality, along with various Mahayana and Vajrayana topics.

Early life and background[edit]

Lhamo Döndrub (or Thondup) was born on 6 July 1935 to a farming and horse trading family in the small hamlet of Taktser,[8] at the edges of the traditional Tibetan region of Amdo, which was politically part of the Chinese province of Qinghai.[9][10] His family was of Monguor extraction.[11] He was one of seven siblings to survive childhood. The eldest was his sister Tsering Dolma, eighteen years older. His eldest brother, Thupten Jigme Norbu, had been recognised at the age of eight as the reincarnation of the high Lama Taktser Rinpoche. His sister, Jetsun Pema, spent most of her adult life on the Tibetan Children's Villages project. The Dalai Lama's first language was, in his own words, "a broken Xining language which was (a dialect of) the Chinese language" as his family did not speak the Tibetan language.[12][13]

The Dalai Lama as a boy

A search party was sent to locate the new incarnation when the boy who was to become the 14th was about two years old.[14] It is said that, amongst other omens, the head of the embalmed body of the thirteenth Dalai Lama, at first facing south-east, had mysteriously turned to face the northeast—indicating the direction in which his successor would be found. The Regent, Reting Rinpoche, shortly afterwards had a vision at the sacred lake of Lhamo La-tso indicating Amdo as the region to search—specifically a one-story house with distinctive guttering and tiling. After extensive searching, the Thondup house, with its features resembling those in Reting's vision, was finally found.

Thondup was presented with various relics, including toys, some of which had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama and some of which had not. It was reported that he had correctly identified all the items owned by the previous Dalai Lama, exclaiming, "It's mine! It's mine!"[15][16]

The Chinese General Ma Bufang did not want the 14th Dalai Lama to succeed his predecessor. Ma Bufang stationed his men to place the Dalai Lama under effective house arrest, saying it was needed for "protection", refusing to permit his leaving to Tibet.[17] He did all he could to delay the transport of the Dalai Lama from Qinghai to Tibet, by demanding massive sums of money in silver.[18] The demanded payment by Ma Bufang was 100,000 Chinese silver dollars.[19]

House where the 14th Dalai Lama was born

Lhamo Thondup was recognised formally as the reincarnated Dalai Lama and renamed Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso (Holy Lord, Gentle Glory, Compassionate, Defender of the Faith, Ocean of Wisdom) although he was not formally enthroned as the Dalai Lama until the age of 15; instead, the regent acted as the head of the Kashag until that time. Tibetan Buddhists normally refer to him as Yishin Norbu (Wish-Fulfilling Gem), Kyabgon (Saviour), or just Kundun (Presence). His devotees, as well as much of the Western world, often call him His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the style employed on the Dalai Lama's website.

According to the Dalai Lama, he had a succession of tutors in Tibet including Reting Rinpoche, Tathag Rinpoche, Ling Rinpoche and lastly Trijang Rinpoche, who became junior tutor when he was nineteen.[20] At the age of 11 he met the Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer, who became his videographer and tutor about the world outside Lhasa. The two remained friends until Harrer's death in 2006.[21]

In 1959, at the age of 23, he took his final examination at Lhasa's Jokhang Temple during the annual Monlam or Prayer Festival. He passed with honours and was awarded the Lharampa degree, the highest-level geshe degree, roughly equivalent to a doctorate in Buddhist philosophy.[14][22]

Life as the Dalai Lama[edit]

See also: Dalai Lama

Historically the Dalai Lamas had political and religious influence in the Western Tibetan area of Ü-Tsang around Lhasa, where the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism was popular, and the Dalai Lamas held land under their jurisdiction. In 1939, at the age of four, the present Dalai Lama was taken in a procession of lamas to Lhasa. The Dalai Lama's childhood was spent between the Potala Palace and Norbulingka, his summer residence, both of which are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Lhasa's Potala Palace, today a UNESCO world heritage site, pictured in 2006

China asserts that the Kuomintang government ratified the 14th Dalai Lama and that a Kuomintang representative, General Wu Zhongxin, presided over the ceremony. It cites a ratification order dated February 1940 and a documentary film of the ceremony.[23] According to Tsering Shakya, Wu Zhongxin along with other foreign representatives was present at the ceremony, but there is no evidence that he presided over it.[24] He also wrote:

On 8 July 1949, the Kashag [Tibetan Parliament] called Chen Xizhang, the acting director of the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission office in Lhasa. He was informed that the Tibetan Government had decided to expel all Chinese connected with the Nationalist Government. Fearing that the Chinese might organize protests in the streets of Lhasa, the Kashag imposed a curfew until all the Chinese had left. This they did on 14, 17 and 20 July 1949. At the same time the Tibetan Government sent a telegram to General Chiang Kai-shek and to President Li Zongren informing them of the decision.[25]

During his reign, a border crisis erupted with the Republic of China in 1942. Under orders from the Kuomintang government of Chiang Kai-shek, Ma Bufang repaired Yushu airport to prevent Tibetan separatists from seeking independence.[citation needed] Chiang also ordered Ma Bufang to put his Muslim soldiers on alert for an invasion of Tibet in 1942.[26] Ma Bufang complied, and moved several thousand troops to the border with Tibet.[27] Chiang also threatened the Tibetans with aerial bombardment if they worked with the Japanese. Ma Bufang attacked the Tibetan Buddhist Tsang monastery in 1941.[28] He also constantly attacked the Labrang monastery.[29]

In October 1950 the army of the People's Republic of China marched to the edge of the Dalai Lama's territory and sent a delegation after defeating a legion of the Tibetan army in warlord-controlled Kham. On 17 November 1950, at the age of 15, the 14th Dalai Lama was enthroned formally as the temporal ruler of Tibet.

Cooperation and conflicts with the People's Republic of China[edit]

The Dalai Lama in Beijing, 1954

The Dalai Lama's formal rule was brief. He sent a delegation to Beijing, which ratified the Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet.[30][31] He worked with the Chinese government: in September 1954, together with the 10th Panchen Lama he went to the Chinese capital to meet Mao Zedong and attend the first session of the National People's Congress as a delegate, primarily discussing China's constitution.[32][33] On 27 September 1954, the Dalai Lama was selected as a Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress,[34][35] a post he officially held until 1964.[36]

In 1956, on a trip to India to celebrate the Buddha's Birthday, the Dalai Lama asked the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, if he would allow him political asylum should he choose to stay. Nehru discouraged this as a provocation against peace, and reminded him of the Indian Government's non-interventionist stance agreed upon with its 1954 treaty with China.[22] The CIA, with the Korean War only recently over, offered the Dalai Lama assistance. In 1956, a large rebellion broke out in eastern Kham, an ethnically Tibetan region in Sichuan province. To support the rebels, the CIA launched a covert action campaign against the Communist Chinese. A secret military training camp for the Khampa guerrillas was established at Camp Hale near Leadville, Colorado, in the U.S.[37] The guerrillas attacked Communist forces in Amdo and Kham but were gradually pushed into Central Tibet.

Exile to India[edit]

Abandoned former quarters of the Dalai Lama at the Potala. The empty vestment placed on the throne symbolises his absence

At the outset of the 1959 Tibetan uprising, fearing for his life, the Dalai Lama and his retinue fled Tibet with the help of the CIA's Special Activities Division,[38] crossing into India on 30 March 1959, reaching Tezpur in Assam on 18 April.[39] Some time later he set up the Government of Tibet in Exile in Dharamshala, India,[40] which is often referred to as "Little Lhasa". After the founding of the government in exile he re-established the approximately 80,000 Tibetan refugees who followed him into exile in agricultural settlements.[14] He created a Tibetan educational system in order to teach the Tibetan children the language, history, religion, and culture. The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts was established[14] in 1959 and the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies[14] became the primary university for Tibetans in India in 1967. He supported the refounding of 200 monasteries and nunneries in an attempt to preserve Tibetan Buddhist teachings and the Tibetan way of life.

The Dalai Lama appealed to the United Nations on the rights of Tibetans. This appeal resulted in three resolutions adopted by the General Assembly in 1959, 1961, and 1965,[14] all before the People's Republic was allowed representation at the United Nations.[41] The resolutions called on China to respect the human rights of Tibetans.[14] In 1963, he promulgated a democratic constitution which is based upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, creating an elected parliament and an administration to champion his cause. In 1970, he opened the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamshala which houses over 80,000 manuscripts and important knowledge resources related to Tibetan history, politics and culture. It is considered one of the most important institutions for Tibetology in the world.[42]

International advocacy[edit]

The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

At the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in 1987 in Washington, D.C., the Dalai Lama gave a speech outlining his ideas for the future status of Tibet. The plan called for Tibet to become a democratic "zone of peace" without nuclear weapons, and with support for human rights, that barred the entry of Han Chinese. The plan would come to be known as the "Strasbourg proposal", because the Dalai Lama expanded on the plan at Strasbourg on 15 June 1988. There, he proposed the creation of a self-governing Tibet "in association with the People's Republic of China." This would have been pursued by negotiations with the PRC government, but the plan was rejected by the Tibetan Government-in-Exile in 1991. The Dalai Lama has indicated that he wishes to return to Tibet only if the People's Republic of China agrees not to make any precondition for his return.[43] In the 1970s, the then-Paramount leader Deng Xiaoping set China's sole return requirement to the Dalai Lama as that he "must [come back] as a Chinese citizen... that is, patriotism".[44]

The Dalai Lama celebrated his seventieth birthday on 6 July 2005. About 10,000 Tibetan refugees, monks and foreign tourists gathered outside his home. Patriarch Alexius II of the Russian Orthodox Church alleged positive relations with Buddhists. However, later that year, the Russian state prevented the Dalai Lama from fulfilling an invitation to the traditionally Buddhist republic of Kalmykia.[45] Then President of the Republic of China (Taiwan), Chen Shui-bian, attended an evening celebrating the Dalai Lama's birthday at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei.[46] In October 2008 in Japan, the Dalai Lama addressed the 2008 Tibetan violence that had erupted and that the Chinese government accused him of fomenting. He responded that he had "lost faith" in efforts to negotiate with the Chinese government, and that it was "up to the Tibetan people" to decide what to do.[47]

The Dalai Lama is an advocate for a world free of nuclear weapons, and currently serves on the Advisory Council of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Teaching activities, public talks[edit]

The Dalai Lama's main teaching room at Dharamshala
Dalai Lama conferring Kalachakra initiation at Bodh Gaya, India, December 1985
Overview of teaching venue at Bodh Gaya Kalachakra, Dec. 1985

Giving public talks for non-Buddhist audiences and interviews and teaching Buddhism to large public audiences all over the world, as well as to private groups at his residence in India, appears to be the Dalai Lama's main activity.[48] Despite becoming 80 years old in 2015 he maintains a busy international lectures and teaching schedule.[48] His public talks and teachings are usually webcast live in multiple languages, via an inviting organisation's website, or on the Dalai Lama's own website. Scores of his past teaching videos can be viewed there, as well as public talks, conferences, interviews, dialogues and panel discussions.[49]

The Dalai Lama's best known teaching subject is the Kalachakra tantra which, as of 2014, he had conferred a total of 33 times,[50] most often in India's upper Himalayan regions but also in western venues like Madison Square Garden in New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Barcelona, Graz, Sydney and Toronto.[51] The Kalachakra (Wheel of Time) is one of the most complex teachings of Buddhism, sometimes taking two weeks to confer, and he often confers it on very large audiences, up to 200,000 students and disciples at a time.[51][52]

He is the author of numerous books on Buddhism,[53] many of them on general Buddhist subjects but also including books on particular topics like Dzogchen,[54] a Nyingma practice.

He frequently accepts requests from students to visit various countries world-wide in order to give teachings to large Buddhist audiences, teachings that are usually based on classical Buddhist texts and commentaries,[55] and most often those written by the 17 pandits or great masters of the Nalanda tradition, such as Nagarjuna,[56][57] Kamalashila,[58][59] Shantideva,[60] Atisha,[61] Ayradeva[62] and so on.

The Dalai Lama refers to himself as a follower of these Nalanda masters,[63] in fact he often asserts that 'Tibetan Buddhism' is based on the Buddhist tradition of Nalanda monastery in ancient India,[64] since the texts written by those 17 Nalanda pandits or masters, to whom he has composed a poem of invocation,[65] were brought to Tibet and translated into Tibetan when Buddhism was first established there and have remained central to the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism ever since.[66]

As examples of other teachings, in London in 1984 he was invited to give teachings on the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising, and on Dzogchen, which he gave at Camden Town Hall; in 1988 he was in London once more to give a series of lectures on Tibetan Buddhism in general, called 'A Survey of the Paths of Tibetan Buddhism'.[67] Again in London in 1996 he taught the Four Noble Truths, the basis and foundation of Buddhism accepted by all Buddhists, at the combined invitation of 27 disparate Buddhist organisations of all schools and traditions belonging to the Network of Buddhist Organisations UK.[68]

He also gives numerous teachings in India,[55] especially in Dharamsala,[61] always in response to requests from his students or groups of students.[69] In India there is no charge made to attend his teachings[55] but when he travels to give teachings in other countries there is usually a ticket fee which is calculated to cover the costs involved;[55] if there happens to be a surplus at the end it is normally to be donated to charities nominated or approved by the Dalai Lama.[70]

On his frequent tours of India, Asia and the west he is also often invited to give, alongside his Buddhist teachings, public talks for non-Buddhist audiences.[71] His talks and teaching activities in the U.S., for example, have included the following: on his April 2008 U.S. tour, he gave lectures at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, at Rutgers University (New Jersey) and Colgate University (New York)[72] Later in July, the Dalai Lama gave a public lecture and conducted a series of teachings at Lehigh University (Pennsylvania).[73] On May 8, 2011, the University of Minnesota bestowed upon him their highest award, an Honorary Doctor of Letters.[74] and during a return trip to Minnesota on March 2, 2014, he spoke at Macalester College which awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.[75]

Dozens of videos of recorded webcasts of the Dalai Lama's public talks on general subjects for non-Buddhists like peace, ethics, the power of women, happiness and compassion and so forth can be viewed in his office's archive.[76]

Interfaith dialogue[edit]

The Dalai Lama met Pope Paul VI at the Vatican in 1973. He met Pope John Paul II in 1980, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1990, and 2003. In 1990, he met a delegation of Jewish teachers in Dharamshala for an extensive interfaith dialogue.[77] He has since visited Israel three times, and in 2006 met the Chief Rabbi of Israel. In 2006, he met Pope Benedict XVI privately. He has met the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Robert Runcie, and other leaders of the Anglican Church in London, Gordon B. Hinckley, who at the time was the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), as well as senior Eastern Orthodox Church, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and Sikh officials. The Dalai Lama is also currently a member of the Board of World Religious Leaders as part of The Elijah Interfaith Institute[78] and participated in the Third Meeting of the Board of World Religious Leaders in Amritsar, India, on 26 November 2007 to discuss the topic of Love and Forgiveness.[79]

On 6 January 2009, the Dalai Lama inaugurated an interfaith "World Religions-Dialogue and Symphony" conference at Gujarat's Mahuva which was convened by the Hindu preacher Morari Bapu. This conference explored "ways and means to deal with the discord among major religions", according to Morari Bapu.[80][81]

On 12 May 2010 the Dalai Lama, joined by a panel of select scholars, officially launched the Common Ground Project,[82] in Bloomington, Indiana (USA),[83] which was planned by himself and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan during several years of personal conversations. The project is based on the book Common Ground between Islam and Buddhism.

Interest in science, and Mind and Life Institute[edit]

The Dalai Lama’s lifelong interest in science[84][85] and technology[86] dates from his childhood in Lhasa, Tibet, when he was fascinated by mechanical objects like clocks, watches, telescopes, film projectors, clockwork soldiers[86] and motor cars,[87] and loved to repair, disassemble and reassemble them.[84] Once, observing the moon through a telescope as a child, he realised it was a crater-pocked lump of rock and not a heavenly body emitting its own light as Tibetan cosmologists had taught him.[84] He has also said that had he not been brought up as a monk he would probably have been an engineer.[88] On his first trip to the west in 1973 he asked to visit Cambridge University’s astrophysics department in the UK and he sought out renowned scientists such as Sir Karl Popper, David Bohm and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker,[87] who taught him the basics of science.

The Dalai Lama sees important common ground between science and Buddhism in having the same approach to challenge dogma on the basis of empirical evidence that comes from observation and analysis of phenomena.[89]

His growing wish to develop meaningful scientific dialogue to explore the Buddhism and science interface led to invitations for him to attend relevant conferences on his visits to the west, including the Alpbach Symposia on Consciousness in 1983 where he met and had discussions with the late Chilean neuroscientist Francisco J. Varela.[87] Also in 1983, the American social entrepreneur and innovator Adam Engle,[90] who had become aware of the Dalai Lama's deep interest in science, was already considering the idea of facilitating for him a serious dialogue with a selection of appropriate scientists.[91] In 1984 Engle formally offered to the Dalai Lama's office to organise a week-long, formal dialogue for him with a suitable team of scientists, provided that the Dalai Lama would wish to fully participate in such a dialogue.[92] Within 48 hours the Dalai Lama confirmed to Engle that he was "truly interested in participating in something substantial about science" so Engle proceeded with launching the project.[92] Francisco Varela, having heard about Engle's proposal, then called him to tell him of his earlier discussions with the Dalai Lama and to offer his scientific collaboration to the project.[92] Engle accepted, and Varela assisted him to assemble his team of six specialist scientists for the first 'Mind and Life' dialogue on the cognitive sciences,[93] which was eventually held with the Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamsala in 1987.[87][92] This five-day event was so successful that at the end the Dalai Lama told Engle he would very much like to repeat it again in the future.[94] Engle then started work on arranging a second dialogue, this time with neuroscientists in California, and the discussions from the first event were edited and published as Mind and Life's first book, “Gentle Bridges: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on the Sciences of Mind”.[95]

As Mind and Life Institute's remit expanded, Engle formalised the organisation as a non-profit foundation after the third dialogue, held in 1990, which initiated the undertaking of neurobiological research programmes in the U.S.A. under scientific conditions.[94] Over the ensuing decades, as of 2014 at least 28 dialogues between the Dalai Lama and panels of various world-renowned scientists have followed, held in various countries and covering diverse themes, from the nature of consciousness to cosmology and from quantum mechanics to the neuroplasticity of the brain.[96] Sponsors and partners in these dialogues have included the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,[97] Johns Hopkins University,[98] the Mayo Clinic[99] and Zurich University.[100]

Apart from time spent teaching Buddhism and fulfilling responsibilities to his Tibetan followers, the Dalai Lama has probably spent, and continues to spend, more of his time and resources investigating the interface between Buddhism and science through the ongoing series of Mind and Life dialogues and its spin-offs than on any other single activity.[86] As the Institute's Cofounder and the Honorary Chairman he has personally presided over and participated in all its dialogues, which continue to expand world-wide.[101]

These activities have given rise to dozens of DVD sets of the dialogues and books he has authored on them such as ‘Ethics for the New Millennium’ and ‘The Universe in a Single Atom’, as well as scientific papers and university research programmes.[102] On the Tibetan and Buddhist side, science subjects have been added to the curriculum for Tibetan monastic educational institutions and scholarship.[103] On the western side, university and research progammes initiated by these dialogues and funded with millions of dollars in grants from the Dalai Lama Trust include the Emory-Tibet Partnership,[104] Stanford School of Medicine’s Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARES)[105] and the Centre for Investigating Healthy Minds,[106] amongst others.

In particular, the Mind and Life Education Humanities & Social Sciences intitiatives have been instrumental in developing the emerging field of Contemplative Science, by researching, for example, the effects of contemplative practice on the human brain, behaviour and biology.[102]

In his 2005 book The Universe in a Single Atom and elsewhere, and to mark his commitment to scientific truth and its ultimate ascendancy over religious belief, unusually for a major religious leader the Dalai Lama advises his Buddhist followers: “If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.”[107] He has also cited examples of archaic Buddhist ideas he has abandoned himself on this basis.[84][108]

These activities have even had an impact in the Chinese capital. In 2013 an 'academic dialogue' with a Chinese scientist, a Tibetan 'living Buddha' and a Professor of Religion took place in Beijing. Entitled "High-end dialogue: ancient Buddhism and modern science" it addressed the same considerations that interest the Dalai Lama, described as 'discussing about the similarities between Buddhism and modern science'.[109]

Social stances[edit]

Abortion[edit]

The Dalai Lama has shown a nuanced position on abortion. He explained that, from the perspective of the Buddhist precepts, abortion is an act of killing.[110] He has also clarified that in certain cases abortion could be considered ethically acceptable "if the unborn child will be retarded or if the birth will create serious problems for the parent", which could only be determined on a case-by-case basis.[111]

Democracy, non-violence, religious harmony, and Tibet's relationship with India[edit]

Tenzin Gyatso in Vienna, Austria, in 2012

The Dalai Lama says that he is active in spreading India's message of non-violence and religious harmony throughout the world. "I am the messenger of India's ancient thoughts the world over." He has said that democracy has deep roots in India. He says he considers India the master and Tibet its disciple, as great scholars like Nagarjuna went from Nalanda to Tibet to preach Buddhism in the eighth century. He has noted that millions of people lost their lives in violence and the economies of many countries were ruined due to conflicts in the 20th century. "Let the 21st century be a century of tolerance and dialogue."[112]

In 1993, the Dalai Lama attended the World Conference on Human Rights and made a speech titled "Human Rights and Universal Responsibility".[113]

In 2001, he answered the question of a girl in a Seattle school by saying that it is permissible to shoot someone with a gun in self-defense if that person was "trying to kill you," and he emphasized that the shot should not be fatal.[114]

In April 2013, the Dalai Lama openly criticised Buddhist monks' attacks on Muslims in Myanmar "Buddha always teaches us about forgiveness, tolerance, compassion. If from one corner of your mind, some emotion makes you want to hit, or want to kill, then please remember Buddha's faith. We are followers of Buddha." He said that "All problems must be solved through dialogue, through talk. The use of violence is outdated, and never solves problems."[115] In May 2013, He said "Really, killing people in the name of religion is unthinkable, very sad."[116]

Diet and animal welfare[edit]

“People think of animals as if they were vegetables, and that is not right. We have to change the way people think about animals. I encourage the Tibetan people and all people to move toward a vegetarian diet that doesn’t cause suffering.”

—Dalai Lama[117]

The Dalai Lama advocates compassion for animals and frequently urges people to try vegetarianism or at least reduce their consumption of meat. In Tibet, where historically meat was the most common food, most monks historically have been omnivores, including the Dalai Lamas. The Fourteenth Dalai Lama was raised in a meat-eating family but converted to vegetarianism after arriving in India, where vegetables are much more easily available. He spent many years as a vegetarian, but after contracting hepatitis in India and suffering from weakness, his doctors ordered him to eat meat on alternating days, which he did for several years. He tried switching back to a vegetarian diet, but once again returned to limited consumption of meat. This attracted public attention when, during a visit to the White House, he was offered a vegetarian menu but declined by replying, as he is known to do on occasion when dining in the company of non-vegetarians, "I'm a Tibetan monk, not a vegetarian".[118] His own home kitchen, however, is completely vegetarian.[119]

Economics[edit]

The Dalai Lama has referred to himself as a Marxist and has articulated criticisms of capitalism.[120][121][122]

"I am not only a socialist but also a bit leftist, a communist. In terms of social economy theory, I am a Marxist. I think I am farther to the left than the Chinese leaders. [Bursts out laughing.] They are capitalists."[120]

He reports hearing of communism when he was very young, but only in the context of the destruction of Communist Mongolia. It was only when he went on his trip to Beijing that he learned about Marxist theory from his interpreter Baba Phuntsog Wangyal.[123] At that time, he reports, "I was so attracted to Marxism, I even expressed my wish to become a Communist Party member", citing his favorite concepts of self-sufficiency and equal distribution of wealth. He does not believe that China implemented "true Marxist policy",[124] and thinks the historical communist states such as the Soviet Union "were far more concerned with their narrow national interests than with the Workers' International".[125] Moreover, he believes one flaw of historically "Marxist regimes" is that they place too much emphasis on destroying the ruling class, and not enough on compassion.[125] Despite this, he finds Marxism superior to capitalism, believing the latter is only concerned with "how to make profits", whereas the former has "moral ethics".[126] Stating in 1993:

"Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability. Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis and the equitable utilisation of the means of production. It is also concerned with the fate of the working classes—that is, the majority—as well as with the fate of those who are underprivileged and in need, and Marxism cares about the victims of minority-imposed exploitation. For those reasons the system appeals to me, and it seems fair. I just recently read an article in a paper where His Holiness the Pope also pointed out some positive aspects of Marxism."[121][125]

Environment[edit]

The Dalai Lama is outspoken in his concerns about environmental problems, frequently giving public talks on themes related to the environment. He has pointed out that many rivers in Asia originate in Tibet, and that the melting of Himalayan glaciers could affect the countries in which the rivers flow.[127] He acknowledged official Chinese laws against deforestation in Tibet, but lamented they can be ignored due to possible corruption.[128] He was quoted as saying "ecology should be part of our daily life";[129] personally, he takes showers instead of baths, and turns lights off when he leaves a room.[127] Around 2005, he started campaigning for wildlife conservation, including by issuing a religious ruling against wearing tiger and leopard skins as garments.[130][131] The Dalai Lama supports the anti-whaling position in the whaling controversy, but has criticized the activities of groups such as the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (which carries out acts of what it calls aggressive non-violence against property).[132] Before the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, he urged national leaders to put aside domestic concerns and take collective action against climate change.[133]

Sexuality[edit]

A monk since childhood, the Dalai Lama has said that sex offers fleeting satisfaction and leads to trouble later, while chastity offers a better life and "more independence, more freedom".[134] He has observed that problems arising from conjugal life sometimes even lead to suicide or murder.[135] He has asserted that all religions have the same view about adultery.[136]

In his discussions of the traditional Buddhist view on appropriate sexual behavior, he explains the concept of "right organ in the right object at the right time," which historically has been interpreted as indicating that oral, manual and anal sex (both homosexual and heterosexual) are not appropriate in Buddhism or for Buddhists, yet he also says that in modern times all common, consensual sexual practices that do not cause harm to others are ethically acceptable and that society should not discriminate against lesbians and gay men and should accept and respect them from a secular point of view.[137] In a 1994 interview with OUT Magazine, the Dalai Lama clarified his personal opinion on the matter by saying, "If someone comes to me and asks whether homosexuality is okay or not, I will ask 'What is your companion's opinion?' If you both agree, then I think I would say, 'If two males or two females voluntarily agree to have mutual satisfaction without further implication of harming others, then it is okay.'"[138] However, when interviewed by Canadian TV news anchor Evan Solomon on CBC News: Sunday about whether or not homosexuality is acceptable in Buddhism, the Dalai Lama responded that "it is sexual misconduct".[139] This was an echo of an earlier response in a 2004 Vancouver Sun interview when asked about homosexuality in Buddhism, where the Dalai Lama replied "for a Buddhist, the same sex, that is sexual misconduct."[140]

In his 1996 book Beyond Dogma, he described a traditional Buddhist definition of an appropriate sexual act as follows: "A sexual act is deemed proper when the couples use the organs intended for sexual intercourse and nothing else... Homosexuality, whether it is between men or between women, is not improper in itself. What is improper is the use of organs already defined as inappropriate for sexual contact."[141] He elaborated in 1997, explaining that the basis of that teaching was unknown to him. He also conveyed his own "willingness to consider the possibility that some of the teachings may be specific to a particular cultural and historic context".[142]

The Dalai Lama has expressed concern at “reports of violence and discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people” and “urges respect, tolerance and the full recognition of human rights for all.”[143]

Women's rights[edit]

On gender equality and sexism, the Dalai Lama proclaimed at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2009: "I call myself a feminist. Isn't that what you call someone who fights for women's rights?"[144]

He also said that by nature, women are more compassionate "based on their biology and ability to nurture and birth children." He called on women to "lead and create a more compassionate world," citing the good works of nurses and mothers.[145]

Health[edit]

In April 2013, at the Culture of Compassion event in Ebrington Square in Derry, Ireland, the Dalai Lama asserted, stressing the importance of peace of mind: "Warm-heartedness is a key factor for healthy individuals, healthy families and healthy communities...Scientists say that a healthy mind is a major factor for a healthy body. If you're serious about your health, think and take most concern for your peace of mind. That's very, very important."[146]

Retirement and succession plans[edit]

On 29 May 2011, the Dalai Lama retired from the Central Tibetan Administration.[147]

On 24 September 2011, the Dalai Lama issued the following statement concerning his reincarnation:

When I am about ninety I will consult the high Lamas of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, the Tibetan public, and other concerned people who follow Tibetan Buddhism, and re-evaluate whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or not. On that basis we will take a decision. If it is decided that the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama should continue and there is a need for the Fifteenth Dalai Lama to be recognized, responsibility for doing so will primarily rest on the concerned officers of the Dalai Lama’s Gaden Phodrang Trust. They should consult the various heads of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions and the reliable oath-bound Dharma Protectors who are linked inseparably to the lineage of the Dalai Lamas. They should seek advice and direction from these concerned beings and carry out the procedures of search and recognition in accordance with past tradition. I shall leave clear written instructions about this. Bear in mind that, apart from the reincarnation recognized through such legitimate methods, no recognition or acceptance should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends by anyone, including those in the People’s Republic of China.[148]

On 3 October 2011, the Dalai Lama repeated his statement in an interview with Canadian CTV News. He added that Chinese laws banning the selection of successors based on reincarnation will not impact his decisions. "Naturally my next life is entirely up to me. No one else. And also this is not a political matter," he said in the interview. The Dalai Lama also added that he was not decided on whether he would reincarnate or if he would be the last Dalai Lama.[149]

In an interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag published on 7 September 2014 the Dalai Lama stated "the institution of the Dalai Lama has served its purpose", and that "We had a Dalai Lama for almost five centuries. The 14th Dalai Lama now is very popular. Let us then finish with a popular Dalai Lama."[150]

In response the Chinese government said they would select their own Dalai Lama regardless of his decision.[151]

Controversies[edit]

Shugden controversy[edit]

The Dorje Shugden Controversy re-appeared in the Gelug school by the publication of the Yellow Book in 1976, containing stories about wrathful acts of Dorje Shugden against Gelugpas who also practiced Nyingma teachings. In response, the 14th Dalai Lama, a Gelugpa himself and advocate of an "inclusive" approach to the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism,[152][153] started to speak out against the practice of Dorje Shugden in 1978.[154]

The controversy has attracted attention in the West because of demonstrations held in 2008 and 2014 by Dorje Shugden practitioners,[155][156] especially Kelsang Gyatso's New Kadampa Tradition which broke away from the Gelugpa school in 1991.

CIA Tibetan program[edit]

Main article: CIA Tibetan program

In October 1998, the Dalai Lama's administration acknowledged that it received $1.7 million a year in the 1960s from the U.S. government through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).[157] When asked by CIA officer John Kenneth Knaus in 1995 to comment on the CIA Tibetan program, the Dalai Lama replied that though it helped the morale of those resisting the Chinese, "thousands of lives were lost in the resistance" and further, that "the U.S. Government had involved itself in his country's affairs not to help Tibet but only as a Cold War tactic to challenge the Chinese."[158]

In his autobiography Freedom in Exile, the Dalai Lama criticized the CIA again for supporting the Tibetan independence movement "not because they (the CIA) cared about Tibetan independence, but as part of their worldwide efforts to destabilize all communist governments".[159]

In 1999, the Dalai Lama said that the CIA Tibetan program had been harmful for Tibet because it was primarily aimed at serving American interests, and "once the American policy toward China changed, they stopped their help."[160]

Ties to India[edit]

The Chinese press has criticized the Dalai Lama for his close ties with India. His 2010 remarks at the International Buddhist Conference in Gujarat saying that he was "Tibetan in appearance, but an Indian in spirituality" and referral to himself as a "son of India" in particular led the People's Daily to opine, "Since the Dalai Lama deems himself an Indian rather than Chinese, then why is he entitled to represent the voice of the Tibetan people?"[161] Dhundup Gyalpo of the Tibet Sun shot back that Tibetan religion could be traced back to Nalanda in India, and that Tibetans have no connection to Chinese "apart... from a handful of culinary dishes".[162] The People's Daily stressed the links between Chinese Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism and accused the Dalai Lama of "betraying southern Tibet to India".[161] Two years earlier in 2008, the Dalai Lama said for the first time that the territory India claims as part of Arunachal Pradesh is part of India, citing the disputed 1914 Simla Accord.[163]

Public image[edit]

The Dalai Lama meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in 2014

In a May, 2013 a Harris Poll of 7,245 adults across the five largest European countries and the United States, the Dalai Lama was tied with President Barack Obama with the highest levels of popularity, 78%, of all world leaders.[164] Pope Francis was the only leader that came close to the two of them, and in the USA alone the Dalai Lama topped the poll over Obama by 13 percentage points.

The Dalai Lama's appeal is variously ascribed to his charismatic personality, international fascination with Buddhism, his universalist values, international sympathy for the Tibetans, and western sinophobia.[165] In the 1990s, many films were released by the American film industry about Tibet, including biopics of the Dalai Lama. This is attributed to both the Dalai Lama's 1989 Nobel Peace Prize as well as to the euphoria following the Fall of Communism. The most notable films, Kundun and Seven Years in Tibet (both released in 1997), portrayed "an idyllic pre-1950 Tibet, with a smiling, soft-spoken Dalai Lama at the helm – a Dalai Lama sworn to non-violence": portrayals the Chinese government decried as ahistorical.[166] Trevor Manuel, a South African official, publicly criticised the Dalai Lama's politics and lamented a taboo on criticism of him, saying "To say anything against the Dalai Lama is, in some quarters, equivalent to trying to shoot Bambi".[167]

Critics of the news and entertainment media coverage of the controversy charge that feudal Tibet was not as benevolent as popularly portrayed. The penal code before 1913 included forms of judicial mutilation and capital punishment to enforce a social system controversially described as both slavery and serfdom.[168] In response, the Dalai Lama agreed many of old Tibet's practices needed reform. His predecessor had banned extreme punishments and the death penalty.[169] And he had started some reforms like removal of debt inheritance during the early years of his government under the People's Republic of China in 1951.[170]

The Dalai Lama has his own pages on Twitter,[171] Facebook,[172] Instagram,[173] and Google Plus.[174]

International reception[edit]

The Dalai Lama has tried to mobilize international support for Tibetan’s activities.[175] The Dalai Lama has been successful in gaining Western support for himself and the cause of greater Tibetan autonomy or independence, including vocal support from numerous Hollywood celebrities, most notably the actors Richard Gere and Steven Seagal, as well as lawmakers from several major countries.[176]

In the media[edit]

The 14th Dalai Lama has appeared in several non-fiction films including:

He has been depicted as a character in various other movies and television programs including:

Awards and honors[edit]

The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to Tenzin Gyatso in 2007
The Dalai Lama receiving a Congressional Gold Medal in 2007. From left: Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate President pro tempore Robert Byrd and U.S. President George W. Bush

The Dalai Lama has received numerous awards over his spiritual and political career.[178] In 1959, he received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership.[179]

After the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Dalai Lama the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize.[180] The Committee officially gave the prize to the Dalai Lama for "the struggle of the liberation of Tibet and the efforts for a peaceful resolution"[181] and "in part a tribute to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi"[182] although the President of the Committee also said that the prize was intended to put pressure on China,[183] which was reportedly infuriated that the award was given to a separatist.[180]

In 1994 he received the Freedom Medal from the Roosevelt Institute[184]

On 28 May 2005, the Dalai Lama received the Christmas Humphreys Award from the Buddhist Society in the United Kingdom. On 22 June 2006, he became one of only six people ever to be recognised with Honorary Citizenship by the Governor General of Canada. In February 2007, the Dalai Lama was named Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia; it was the first time that he accepted a university appointment.[185]

The Dalai Lama was a 2007 recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by American lawmakers.[186] In 2012, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Templeton Prize.[187] He later donated the entire prize money to an Indian charity, Save the Children.[188]

Publications[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tibetan: ལྷ་མོ་དོན་འགྲུབ་Wylie: Lha-mo Don-'grub, ZYPY: Lhamo Tönzhub, Lhasa dialect IPA: [l̥ámo tʰø̃ ̀ɖup]; simplified Chinese: 拉莫顿珠; traditional Chinese: 拉莫頓珠; pinyin: Lāmò Dùnzhū
  2. ^ "Definition of Dalai Lama in English". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 2 May 2015. The spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism and, until the establishment of Chinese communist rule, the spiritual and temporal ruler of Tibet 
  3. ^ Van Schaik, Sam (2011). Tibet: A History. Yale University Press. p. 129. ISBN 978-0300154047. 
  4. ^ "From Birth to Exile | The Office of His Holiness The Dalai Lama". Dalailama.com. Retrieved 27 November 2011. 
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  6. ^ Eric Follath (Aug 25, 2011). "A Deity Goes into Retirement: Tibetans Face Uncertainty in Post-Dalai Lama Era". Spiegel online. Dharamsala, India: Der Spiegel. 
  7. ^ Speech of the Dalai Lama to the European Parliament, Strasbourg, October 14, 2001.
  8. ^ At the time of Tenzin Gyatso's birth, Taktser was a town located in the Chinese province of Tsinghai (Qinghai) and was controlled by Ma Lin, a warlord allied with Chiang Kai-shek and appointed as governor of Qinghai Province by the Kuomintang. See Thomas Laird, The Story of Tibet. Conversations with the Dalai Lama, Grove Press: New York, 2006 ; Li, T.T. "Historical Status of Tibet", Columbia University Press, p. 179; Bell, Charles, "Portrait of the Dalai Lama", p. 399; Goldstein, Melvyn C. Goldstein, A history of modern Tibet, pp. 315–317.
  9. ^ Thomas Laird, The Story of Tibet. Conversations with the Dalai Lama, Grove Press: New York, 2006.
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  11. ^ Hill, Nathan. 'Review of Sam van Schaik. Tibet: A History. London and New York: Yale University Press, 2011.' http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/13173/1/Hill_rv_2012_van_Schaik_review.pdf "Finally, the remark that 'Yonten Gyatso . . . remains the only non-Tibetan to have held the role of Dalai Lama' (p. 177) presents a Monpa (sixth Dalai lama), and a Monguor (fourteenth Dalai Lama) as Tibetan although neither spoke Tibetan natively."
  12. ^ Thomas Laird, The Story of Tibet: Conversations With the Dalai Lama, p. 262 (2007) "At that time in my village", he said, "we spoke a broken Chinese. As a child, I spoke Chinese first, but it was a broken Xining language which was (a dialect of) the Chinese language." "So your first language", I responded, "was a broken Chinese regional dialect, which we might call Xining Chinese. It was not Tibetan. You learned Tibetan when you came to Lhasa." "Yes", he answered, "that is correct (...)."
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  19. ^ Parshotam Mehra (2004). From conflict to conciliation: Tibetan polity revisited : a brief historical conspectus of the Dalai Lama-Panchen Lama Standoff, ca. 1904-1989. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 84. ISBN 3-447-04914-6. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
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  52. ^ Antonia Blumberg (July 7, 2014). "Dalai Lama Delivers Kalachakra Buddhist Teaching To Thousands Of Devotees". Huffington Post. Roughly 150,000 devotees reportedly converged for the event 
  53. ^ The Dalai Lama. "Books (on Buddhism) by the Dalai Lama". Various. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
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  56. ^ "His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Brisbane". January 5, 2015. The Dalai Lama’s Brisbane teaching will be based on the classic text, Nagarjuna’s 'Precious Garland' 
  57. ^ Donald S Lopez Jr. (April 24, 2014). "Nagarjuna". Encyclopedia Britannica. 
  58. ^ Jamyang Dorjee Chakrishar. "When Indian Pandit Kamalashila defeated China’s Hashang in Tibet". Sherpa World. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  59. ^ "Dalai Lama teaching Kamalashila text in Australia, 2008". Dalai Lama in Australia. June 11, 2008. by reference to Kamalashila's text, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will demonstrate how the nature of awareness, developed through meditative practices can be transformed into the direct perceptual wisdom necessary to achieve enlightenment itself 
  60. ^ "Compassion in Emptiness: Dalai Lama Teaches Shantideva" (DVD set). Oscilloscope. May 7, 2011. In 2010, His Holiness traveled to New York City to teach A Commentary on Bodhicitta by Nagarjuna and A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life by Shantideva. 
  61. ^ a b Phuntsok Yangchen (Oct 1, 2012). "Disciples from over 60 countries attend the Dalai Lama’s teachings". Phayul.com. The Dalai Lama today began his four-day teachings on Atisha’s [text] 'Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment' 
  62. ^ "The Dalai Lama's Boston teachings". Shambala Publications. Oct 17, 2012. Texts mentioned by His Holiness in his talk ... Aryadeva's 400 Stanzas of the Middle Way 
  63. ^ James Blumenthal, Ph.D (July 2012). "The Seventeen Pandits of Nalanda Monastery" (Online Magazine). FPMT. Retrieved 19 May 2015. he Dalai Lama frequently refers to himself as a follower of the lineage of the seventeen Nalanda masters today 
  64. ^ "About the Seventeen Paṇḍitas of Nālandā". Bodhimarga. Retrieved 19 May 2015. they came to shape the very meaning of Buddhist philosophy and religious practice, both in India and Tibet 
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  66. ^ HT Correspondent (March 7, 2015). "Tibetan language must to keep Nalanda tradition alive: Dalai Lama". Dharamsala: Hindustan Times. The unique quality of Tibetan Buddhism is that it is based on ancient India's Nalanda Buddhist tradition 
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  70. ^ "ONLINE DONATION FACILITY IS AVAILABLE". Dalai Lama in Australia. Retrieved 3 May 2015. Should there be any surplus funds from His Holiness' events, that surplus will be disbursed to charitable organizations under the advisement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama 
  71. ^ Michael Caddell (September 9, 2014). "His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to give public talk at Princeton University". Princeton University. The Dalai Lama will give a public talk, "Develop the Heart," at 9:30 a.m. at Jadwin Gymnasium. As a scholar and a monk, the Dalai Lama will highlight the importance of developing compassion and kindness, alongside the intellect, in an academic environment 
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  89. ^ Curt Newton (February 1, 2004). "Meditation and the Brain". technologyreview.com. MIT Technology Review. The Dalai Lama notes that both traditions encourage challenging dogma based on observation and analysis, and a willingness to revise views based on empirical evidence. 
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Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

14th Dalai Lama
Born: 6 July 1935
Buddhist titles
Preceded by
Thubten Gyatso
Dalai Lama
1935–present
Recognised in 1937; enthroned in 1940
Incumbent
Heir:
15th Dalai Lama
Political offices
Preceded by
Ngawang Sungrab Thutob
Regent
Ruler of Tibet
1950–1959
Part of the People's Republic of China from 1951
Position abolished
New office Head of State of the Central Tibetan Administration
1959–2012
Succeeded by
Lobsang Sangay
as Sikyong