My admiration for this man, leader of the Buddhist faith system and a Tibetan Monk is due to his incredible energy for living an exemplary life of peace, love and compassion. His entire ethos seems to be built around respect for each human and sentient being on the planet. He seems to make no differentiation based on any other agenda than that we are spiritual beings having an human experience here on earth.
Despite that his life has been mostly in exile from his homeland of Tibet, that is currently being improperly occupied by the Chinese regime, he remains very positive and cheery. His life has been spent making a difference in the world, sharing spiritual values and teachings with as many western societies and people as he can reach. Tibet has seemingly always been an ambassador of this ethic. Spirituality above other concerns. Possibly why they have been targeted by the Chinese. In my humble view, despite never actually having met the Dalai Lama, I am happy to put him here on my list of Peaceful Warriors. I hope that one day we can share many more experiences he has brought with his faith. I would love to meet him and say a big thank you for all of his strength and positive determination to fill the world with love and light of illumination towards a state of Shambhala. Global peace and harmony without end.
Please read the texts and links below for more detailed information about this great man and his attempts to bring peace into the realms of everyone on the planet.
14th Dalai Lama
|The 14th Dalai Lama|
|Reign||17 November 1950 – present|
|Wylie||bstan ‘dzin rgya mtsho|
|Pronunciation||[tɛ̃ ́tsĩ càtsʰo]|
|Born||6 July 1935 (age 77)
Taktser, Tsinghai, China
The 14th Dalai Lama (religious name: Tenzin Gyatso, shortened from Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, born Lhamo Dondrub, 6 July 1935) is the 14th and current Dalai Lama, as well as the longest lived incumbent. Dalai Lamas are the head monks of the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, and is also well known for his lifelong advocacy for Tibetans inside and outside Tibet.
The Dalai Lama was born in Taktser, Qinghai (also known to Tibetans as Amdo), and was selected as the rebirth of the 13th Dalai Lama two years later, although he was only formally recognized as the 14th Dalai Lama on 17 November 1950, at the age of 15. 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. There is a dispute over whether the respective governments reached an agreement for a joint Chinese-Tibetan administration.
During the 1959 Tibetan uprising, which China regards as an uprising of feudal landlords, the Dalai Lama, who regards the uprising as an expression of widespread discontent, fled to India, where he denounced the People’s Republic and established a Tibetan government in exile. He has since traveled the world, advocating for the welfare of Tibetans, teaching Tibetan Buddhism 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. He has spoken about the environment, economics, women’s rights, non-violence, interfaith dialog, physics, astronomy, reproductive health, sexuality along with various Mahayana and Vajrayana topics.
Early life and background
Lhamo Döndrub (or Thondup) was born on 6 July 1935 to a farming and horse trading family in the small hamlet of Taktser, in the eastern border of the former Tibetan region of Amdo, then already assimilated into the Chinese province of Qinghai. 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.
A search party was sent to locate the new incarnation when the boy who was to become the 14th was about two years old. 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, “That’s mine! That’s mine!”
The Chinese Muslim 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. 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. The demanded payment by Ma Bufang was 100,000 Chinese silver dollars.
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.
Monastic education commenced at the age of six years, his principal teachers being Yongdzin Ling Rinpoche (senior tutor) and Yongdzin Trijang Rinpoche (junior tutor). 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.
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.
He is reported to wash his feet every six months in accordance to his beliefs where, “a dirty foot is a pure foot.”
Life as the 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.
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. 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. 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 Guomingdang 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.”
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.[ Ma Bufang complied, and moved several thousand troops to the border with Tibet. Chiang also threatened the Tibetans with aerial bombardment if they worked with the Japanese. Ma Bufang attacked the Tibetan Buddhist Tsang monastery in 1941. He also constantly attacked the Labrang monastery.
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 PRC
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. 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. On 27 September 1954, the Dalai Lama was selected as a deputy chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, a post he officially held until 1964.
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. 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. The guerrillas attacked Communist forces in Amdo and Kham but were gradually pushed into Central Tibet.
Exile to India
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, crossing into India on 30 March 1959, reaching Tezpur in Assam on 18 April. Some time later he set up the Government of Tibet in Exile in Dharamshala, India, 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. 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 in 1959 and the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies became the primary university for Tibetans in India. 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, all before the People’s Republic was allowed representation at the United Nations. The resolutions called on China to respect the human rights of Tibetans. 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.
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. 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”.
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 affirmed positive relations with Buddhists.[Chen Shui-bian, attended an evening celebrating the Dalai Lama’s birthday at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei. 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.
The Dalai Lama has conducted numerous public initiations in the Kalachakra, and is the author of many books, including books on the topic of Dzogchen, a practice in which he is accomplished. His teaching activities in the U.S. include the following:
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. On his April 2008 U.S. tour, he gave lectures at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and at Colgate University (New York) Later in July, the Dalai Lama gave a public lecture and conducted a series of teachings at Lehigh University (Pennsylvania). On May 8, 2011, the University of Minnesota bestowed upon him their highest award, an Honorary Doctor of Letters.
The Dalai Lama met with Pope Paul VI at the Vatican in 1973. He met with Pope John Paul II in 1980, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1990, and 2003. In 1990, he met in Dharamshala with a delegation of Jewish teachers for an extensive interfaith dialogue. He has since visited Israel three times and met during 2006 with the Chief Rabbi of Israel. In 2006, he met privately with Pope Benedict XVI. He has met with 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 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.
On 6 January 2009, at Gujarat‘s Mahuva, the Dalai Lama inaugurated an interfaith “World Religions-Dialogue and Symphony” conference convened by Hindu preacher Morari Bapu. This conference explored “ways and means to deal with the discord among major religions”, according to Morari Bapu. He has stated that modern scientific findings should take precedence where appropriate over disproven religious superstition.
On 12 May 2010, in Bloomington, Indiana (USA) the Dalai Lama, joined by a panel of select scholars, officially launched the Common Ground Project, which he and HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan had planned over the course of several years of personal conversations. The project is based on the book Common Ground between Islam and Buddhism.