Who is the Dalai Lama?

By: MRT Desk

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Who is the Dalai Lama?

The Dalai Lama, whose full name is Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual leader of Tibet and the 14th Dalai Lama. He was born on July 6, 1935, in a small village in northeastern Tibet. At the age of two, he was recognized as the reincarnation of the previous 13th Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and the patron saint of Tibet.

Education and Leadership Responsibilities

The Dalai Lama began his monastic education at the age of six, following the Nalanda tradition. He studied subjects such as logic, fine arts, Sanskrit grammar, medicine, and Buddhist philosophy. At the age of 23, he passed his final examination and was awarded the Geshe Lharampa degree, the highest doctorate in Buddhist philosophy.

In 1950, after China’s invasion of Tibet, the Dalai Lama was called upon to assume full political power. He went to Beijing in 1954 to meet with Chinese leaders, including Mao Zedong. However, in 1959, following the brutal suppression of the Tibetan national uprising, he was forced to escape into exile in Dharamsala, India. Since then, he has been living in Dharamsala and leading the Central Tibetan Administration.

Democratization Process and Peace Initiatives

In exile, the Dalai Lama worked towards democratizing the Tibetan administration. In 1963, he presented a draft democratic constitution for Tibet and implemented reforms to promote democracy. The Tibetan administration in exile was fully democratized in 1990, with the direct election of the Kalon Tripa, the Chairman of the Cabinet.

The Dalai Lama has been a strong advocate for peace and has proposed various peace initiatives for Tibet. In 1987, he proposed a Five-Point Peace Plan, which included the transformation of Tibet into a zone of peace, respect for human rights, and negotiations on the future status of Tibet. He has also engaged in dialogue with scientists and promoted inter-religious harmony and understanding.

Political Retirement and the Future

In 2011, the Dalai Lama announced his retirement from political responsibilities and transferred his temporal authority to the democratically elected leadership. He stated that the recognition of a future Dalai Lama should be decided by the Tibetan people and that no recognition should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends.

The Future of the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama has made it clear that when he is about ninety years old, he will consult leading Lamas and the Tibetan public to assess whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue after him. He has published clear guidelines for the recognition of the next Dalai Lama, emphasizing the importance of legitimate methods and warning against political interference.

Controversies and Apologies

The Dalai Lama has faced controversies in recent years. In 2019, he apologized for his comments during an interview with the BBC, where he said that a female Dalai Lama should be more attractive. In a previous statement, he also made remarks about Europe and African refugees, which sparked criticism.

In February 2022, a video emerged showing the Dalai Lama kissing a child on the lips and making an inappropriate comment. The Dalai Lama’s office issued an apology, stating that he often teases people in an innocent and playful way, but he regrets the incident and the hurt it may have caused.

Conclusion

The Dalai Lama is a revered spiritual leader and the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. He has played a significant role in promoting peace, democracy, and inter-religious harmony. His education, leadership responsibilities, and peace initiatives have made him a respected figure worldwide. As he approaches the end of his life, he has made clear his intentions for the future of the Dalai Lama institution and emphasized the importance of legitimate recognition processes.

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