|14th Dalai Lama|
|Reign||22 February 1940 – present|
|Head of the Tibetan Administration for Tibetans-in-exile|
|In office||14 June 1991–2011|
|Head of State of Central Tibetan Administration[a]|
|In office||10 March 1963 – 13 June 1991|
|Director of the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region|
|Successor||10th Panchen Lama (acting)|
|1st, 2nd Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China|
|In office||15 September 1954 – 17 December 1964|
Exile to India in March 1959
6 July 1935
Taktser, Amdo, Tibet
|Religion||Tibetan Buddhism (Gelug school)|
|Part of a series on|
The 14th Dalai Lama[b] (spiritual name Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, also known as Tenzin Gyatso;[c] né Lhamo Thondup[d]), and known to the Tibetan people as Gyalwa Rinpoche, is the current Dalai Lama, also the highest spiritual leader and head of Tibet. He is considered a living Bodhisattva; specifically, an emanation of Avalokiteśvara in Sanskrit and Chenrezig in Tibetan. He is also the leader and a monk of the Gelug school, the newest school of Tibetan Buddhism, formally headed by the Ganden Tripa. The central government of Tibet, the Ganden Phodrang, invested the Dalai Lama with temporal duties until his exile in 1959.
The 14th Dalai Lama was born to a farming family in Taktser (Hongya Village), in the traditional Tibetan region of Amdo (administratively Qinghai Province, Republic of China). He was selected as the tulku of the 13th Dalai Lama in 1937 and formally recognised as the 14th Dalai Lama in a public declaration near the town of Bumchen in 1939. As with the recognition process for his predecessor, a Golden Urn selection process was not used. His enthronement ceremony was held in Lhasa on 22 February 1940 and he eventually assumed full temporal (political) duties on 17 November 1950, at the age of 15, after the People's Republic of China's occupation of Tibet. The Tibetan government administered the historic Tibetan regions of Ü-Tsang, Kham and Amdo.
Subsequent to the annexation of Tibet by the People's Republic of China, during the 1959 Tibetan uprising, the Dalai Lama escaped to India, where he currently lives in exile while remaining the most important spiritual leader of Tibet. On 29 April 1959, the Dalai Lama established the independent Tibetan government in exile in the north Indian hill station of Mussoorie, which then moved in May 1960 to Dharamshala, where he resides. He retired as political head in 2011 to make way for a democratic government, the Central Tibetan Administration.
The Dalai Lama advocates for the welfare of Tibetans and since the early 1970s has called for the Middle Way Approach with China to peacefully resolve the issue of Tibet. The Dalai Lama travels worldwide to give Tibetan Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism teachings, and his Kalachakra teachings and initiations are international events. He also attends conferences on a wide range of subjects, including the relationship between religion and science, meets with other world leaders, religious leaders, philosophers and scientists, online and in person. His work includes focus on the environment, economics, women's rights, nonviolence, interfaith dialogue, physics, astronomy, Buddhism and science, cognitive neuroscience, reproductive health and sexuality.
The Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, and the US Congressional Gold Medal in 2006. Time magazine named the Dalai Lama one of the "Children of Mahatma Gandhi" and Gandhi's spiritual heir to nonviolence.
Lhamo Thondup was born on 6 July 1935 to a farming and horse trading family in the small hamlet of Taktser,[e] or Chija Tagtser,[f] at the edge of the traditional Tibetan region of Amdo in Qinghai Province.
He was one of seven siblings to survive childhood and one of the three supposed reincarnated Rinpoches in the same family. His eldest sister Tsering Dolma, was sixteen years his senior and was midwife to his mother at his birth. She would accompany him into exile and found Tibetan Children's Villages. His eldest brother, Thupten Jigme Norbu, had been recognised at the age of three by the 13th Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the high Lama, the 6th Taktser Rinpoche. His fifth brother, Tendzin Choegyal, had been recognised as the 16th Ngari Rinpoche. His sister, Jetsun Pema, spent most of her adult life on the Tibetan Children's Villages project. The Dalai Lama has said that his first language was "a broken Xining language which was (a dialect of) the Chinese language", a form of Central Plains Mandarin, and his family speak neither Amdo Tibetan nor Lhasa Tibetan.
After the demise of the 13th Dalai Lama, in 1935, the Ordinance of Lama Temple Management[g] was published by the Central Government. In 1936, the Method of Reincarnation of Lamas[h] was published by the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission of the Central Government. Article 3 states that death of lamas, including the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama, should be reported to the commission, soul boys should be located and checked by the commission, and a lot-drawing ceremony with the Golden Urn system should be held. Article 6 states that local governments should invite officials from the Central Government to take care of the sitting-in-the-bed ceremony. Article 7 states that soul boys should not be sought from current lama families. This article echoes what the Qianlong Emperor described in The Discourse of Lama to eliminate greedy families with multiple reincarnated rinpoches, lamas. Based on custom and regulation, the regent was actively involved in the search for the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama.
Following reported signs and visions, three search teams were sent out to the north-east, the east, and the south-east to locate the new incarnation when the boy who was to become the 14th Dalai Lama was about two years old. Sir Basil Gould, British delegate to Lhasa in 1936, related his account of the north-eastern team to Sir Charles Alfred Bell, former British resident in Lhasa and friend of the 13th Dalai Lama. Amongst other omens, the head of the embalmed body of the thirteenth Dalai Lama, at first facing south-east, had turned to face the north-east, indicating, it was interpreted, 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 which he interpreted as Amdo being the region to search. This vision was also interpreted to refer to a large monastery with a gilded roof and turquoise tiles, and a twisting path from there to a hill to the east, opposite which stood a small house with distinctive eaves. The team, led by Kewtsang Rinpoche, went first to meet the Panchen Lama, who had been stuck in Jyekundo, in northern Kham.
The Panchen Lama had been investigating births of unusual children in the area ever since the death of the 13th Dalai Lama. He gave Kewtsang the names of three boys whom he had discovered and identified as candidates. Within a year the Panchen Lama had died. Two of his three candidates were crossed off the list but the third, a "fearless" child, the most promising, was from Taktser village, which, as in the vision, was on a hill, at the end of a trail leading to Taktser from the great Kumbum Monastery with its gilded, turquoise roof. There they found a house, as interpreted from the vision—the house where Lhamo Dhondup lived.
The 14th Dalai Lama claims that at the time, the village of Taktser stood right on the "real border" between the region of Amdo and China. According to the search lore, when the team visited, posing as pilgrims, its leader, a Sera Lama, pretended to be the servant and sat separately in the kitchen. He held an old mala that had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama, and the boy Lhamo Dhondup, aged two, approached and asked for it. The monk said "if you know who I am, you can have it." The child said "Sera Lama, Sera Lama" and spoke with him in a Lhasa accent, in a dialect the boy's mother could not understand. The next time the party returned to the house, they revealed their real purpose and asked permission to subject the boy to certain tests. One test consisted of showing him various pairs of objects, one of which had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama and one which had not. In every case, he chose the Dalai Lama's own objects and rejected the others.
From 1936 the Hui 'Ma Clique' Muslim warlord Ma Bufang ruled Qinghai as its governor under the nominal authority of the Republic of China central government. According to an interview with the 14th Dalai Lama, in the 1930s, Ma Bufang had seized this north-east corner of Amdo in the name of Chiang Kai-shek's weak government and incorporated it into the Chinese province of Qinghai. Before going to Taktser, Kewtsang had gone to Ma Bufang to pay his respects. When Ma Bufang heard a candidate had been found in Taktser, he had the family brought to him in Xining. He first demanded proof that the boy was the Dalai Lama, but the Lhasa government, though informed by Kewtsang that this was the one, told Kewtsang to say he had to go to Lhasa for further tests with other candidates. They knew that if he was declared to be the Dalai Lama, the Chinese government would insist on sending a large army escort with him, which would then stay in Lhasa and refuse to budge.
Ma Bufang, together with Kumbum Monastery, then refused to allow him to depart unless he was declared to be the Dalai Lama, but withdrew this demand in return for 100,000 Chinese dollars ransom in silver to be shared amongst them, to let them go to Lhasa. Kewtsang managed to raise this, but the family was only allowed to move from Xining to Kumbum when a further demand was made for another 330,000 dollars ransom: one hundred thousand each for government officials, the commander-in-chief, and the Kumbum Monastery; twenty thousand for the escort; and only ten thousand for Ma Bufang himself, he said.
Two years of diplomatic wrangling followed before it was accepted by Lhasa that the ransom had to be paid to avoid the Chinese getting involved and escorting him to Lhasa with a large army. Meanwhile, the boy was kept at Kumbum where two of his brothers were already studying as monks and recognised incarnate lamas. The payment of 300,000 silver dollars was then advanced by Muslim traders en route to Mecca in a large caravan via Lhasa. They paid Ma Bufang on behalf of the Tibetan government against promissory notes to be redeemed, with interest, in Lhasa. The 20,000-dollar fee for an escort was dropped, since the Muslim merchants invited them to join their caravan for protection; Ma Bufang sent 20 of his soldiers with them and was paid from both sides since the Chinese government granted him another 50,000 dollars for the expenses of the journey. Furthermore, the Indian government helped the Tibetans raise the ransom funds by affording them import concessions.
On 22 September 1938, representatives of Tibet Office in Beijing informed Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission that 3 candidates were found and ceremony of Golden Urn would be held in Tibet.
Released from Kumbum, on 21 July 1939 the party travelled across Tibet on a journey to Lhasa in the large Muslim caravan with Lhamo Dhondup, now 4 years old, riding with his brother Lobsang in a special palanquin carried by two mules, two years after being discovered. As soon as they were out of Ma Bufang's area, he was officially declared to be the 14th Dalai Lama by the Kashag, and after ten weeks of travel he arrived in Lhasa on 8 October 1939. The ordination (pabbajja) and giving of the monastic name of Tenzin Gyatso were arranged by Reting Rinpoche and according to the Dalai Lama "I received my ordination from Kyabjé Ling Rinpoché in the Jokhang in Lhasa." There was very limited Chinese involvement at this time. The family of the 14th Dalai Lama was elevated to the highest stratum of the Tibetan aristocracy and acquired land and serf holdings, as with the families of previous Dalai Lamas.
In 1959, at the age of 23, he took his final examination at Lhasa's Jokhang Temple during the annual Monlam Prayer Festival.[i] He passed with honours and was awarded the Lharampa degree, the highest-level geshe degree, roughly equivalent to a doctorate in Buddhist philosophy.
The Dalai Lama, whose name means "Ocean of Wisdom," is known to Tibetans as Gyalwa Rinpoche, "The Precious Jewel-like Buddha-Master;" Kundun, "The Presence;" and Yizhin Norbu, "The Wish-Fulfilling Gem." 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. 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.
Historically the Dalai Lamas or their regents held political and religious leadership over Tibet from Lhasa with varying degrees of influence depending on the regions of Tibet and periods of history. This began with the 5th Dalai Lama's rule in 1642 and lasted until the 1950s (except for 1705–1750), during which period the Dalai Lamas headed the Tibetan government or Ganden Phodrang. Until 1912 however, when the 13th Dalai Lama declared the complete independence of Tibet, their rule was generally subject to patronage and protection of firstly Mongol kings (1642–1720) and then the Manchu-led Qing dynasty (1720–1912).
During the Dalai Lama's recognition process, the cultural Anthropologist Goldstein writes:
everything the Tibetans did during the selection process was designed to prevent China from playing any role.
Afterwards in 1939, at the age of four, the Dalai Lama was taken in a procession of lamas to Lhasa. The traditional ceremony enthroning the 14th Dalai Lama was attended by observing Chinese and foreign dignitaries after a traditional Tibetan recognition processes.
Sir Basil Gould, the British representative of the Government of India, has left a highly detailed account of the ceremonies surrounding the enthronement of the 14th Dalai Lama in Chapter 16 of his memoir, The Jewel in the Lotus. Gould disputes the Chinese claim to have presided over it. He criticised the Chinese account as follows:
The report was issued in the Chinese Press that Mr Wu had escorted the Dalai Lama to his throne and announced his installation, that the Dalai Lama had returned thanks, and prostrated himself in token of his gratitude. Every one of these Chinese claims was false. Mr Wu was merely a passive spectator. He did no more than present a ceremonial scarf, as was done by the others, including the British Representative. But the Chinese have the ear of the world, and can later refer to their press records and present an account of historical events that is wholly untrue. Tibet has no newspapers, either in English or Tibetan, and has therefore no means of exposing these falsehoods.
Tibetan scholar Nyima Gyaincain wrote that based on Tibetan tradition, there was no such thing as presiding over an event, and wrote that the word "主持 (preside or organize)" was used in many places in communication documents. The meaning of the word was different than what we understand today. He added that Wu Zhongxin spent a lot of time and energy on the event, his effect of presiding over or organising the event was very obvious.[clarification needed]
After his enthronement, the Dalai Lama's childhood was then spent between the Potala Palace and Norbulingka, his summer residence, both of which are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Chiang Kai Shek ordered Ma Bufang to put his Muslim soldiers on alert for an invasion of Tibet in 1942. 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 assumed full temporal (political) power as ruler of Tibet.
The Dalai Lama's formal rule as head of the government in Tibet was brief although he was enthroned as spiritual leader on February 22, 1940. When Chinese cadres entered Tibet in 1950, with a crisis looming, the Dalai Lama was asked to assume the role of head of state at the age of 15, which he did on November 17, 1950. Customarily the Dalai Lama would typically assume control at about the age of 20.
He sent a delegation to Beijing, which ratified the Seventeen Point Agreement without his authorisation in 1951. The Dalai Lama believes the draft agreement was written by China. Tibetan representatives were not allowed to suggest any alterations and China did not allow the Tibetan representatives to communicate with the Tibetan government in Lhasa. The Tibetan delegation was not authorised by Lhasa to sign, but ultimately submitted to pressure from the Chinese to sign anyway, using seals specifically made for the purpose. The Seventeen Point Agreement recognised Chinese sovereignty over Tibet, but China allowed the Dalai Lama to continue to rule Tibet internally, and it allowed the system of feudal peasantry to persist.
"So even if it were agreed that serfdom and feudalism existed in Tibet, this would be little different other than in technicalities from conditions in any other "premodern" peasant society, including most of China at that time. The power of the Chinese argument therefore lies in its implication that serfdom, and with it feudalism, is inseparable from extreme abuse," "based on serfdom, it was not necessarily feudal, and [Goldstein] refutes any automatic link with extreme abuse." "Evidence to support this linkage has not been found by scholars other than those close to Chinese governmental circles."
The nineteen year old Dalai Lama toured China for almost a year from 1954 to 1955, meeting many of the revolutionary leaders and the top echelon of the Chinese communist leadership who created modern China. He learned Chinese and socialist ideals, as explained by his Chinese hosts, on a tour of China showcasing the benefits of socialism and the effective governance provided to turn the large, impoverished nation into a modern and egalitarian society, which impressed him. In September 1954, he went to the Chinese capital to meet Chairman Mao Zedong with the 10th Panchen Lama 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 Vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, a post he officially held until 1964.
Mao Zedong who, "according to the Tibetan leader, treated him as a 'father would treat a son,'" "also showed Tibet’s political leader and its foremost spiritual master its ambivalence to Tibetan Buddhism. The Dalai Lama recounts this episode in his autobiography, My Land and My People,
'A few days later I had a message from Mao Tse-tung to say that he was coming to see me in an hour’s time. When he arrived he said he had merely come to call. Then something made him say that Buddhism was quite a good religion, and Lord Buddha, although he was a prince, had given a good deal of thought to the question of improving the conditions of the people. He also observed that the Goddess Tara was a kind-hearted woman. After a very few minutes, he left. I was quite bewildered by these remarks and did not know what to make of them.'
The comments Mao made during their last meeting shocked the Dalai Lama beyond belief. 'My final interview with this remarkable man was toward the end of my visit to China. I was at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly when I received a message asking me to go to see him at this house. By then, I had been able to complete a tour of the Chinese provinces, and I was able to tell him truthfully that I had been greatly impressed and interested by all the development projects I had seen. Then he started to give me a long lecture about the true form of democracy, and advised me how to become a leader of the people and how to take heed of their suggestions. And then he edged closer to me on his chair and whispered:
'I understand you very well. But of course, religion is poison. It has two great defects: It undermines the race, and secondly it retards the progress of the country. Tibet and Mongolia have both been poisoned by it.'" In his autobiography, Freedom In Exile, the Dalai Lama recalls: "How could he have thought I was not religious to the core of my being?'"
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.
Long called a "splitist" and "traitor" by China, the Dalai Lama has attempted formal talks over Tibet's status in China. In 2019, after the United States passed a law requiring the US to deny visas to Chinese officials in charge of implementing policies that restrict foreign access to Tibet, the US Ambassador to China "encouraged the Chinese government to engage in substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions, to seek a settlement that resolves differences".
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has warned the US and other countries to "shun" the Dalai Lama during visits and often uses trade negotiations and human rights talks as an incentive to do so. China sporadically bans images of the Dalai Lama and arrests citizens for owning photos of him in Tibet. Tibet Autonomous Region government job candidates must strongly denounce the Dalai Lama, as announced on the Tibet Autonomous Region government's online education platform,
"Support the (Communist) Party's leadership, resolutely implement the [Chinese Communist] Party's line, line of approach, policies, and the guiding ideology of Tibet work in the new era; align ideologically, politically, and in action with the Party Central Committee; oppose any splittist tendencies; expose and criticize the Dalai Lama; safeguard the unity of the motherland and ethnic unity and take a firm stand on political issues, taking a clear and distinct stand".
The Dalai Lama is a target of Chinese state sponsored hacking. Security experts claim "targeting Tibetan activists is a strong indicator of official Chinese government involvement" since economic information is the primary goal of private Chinese hackers. In 2009 the personal office of the Dalai Lama asked researchers at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto to check its computers for malicious software. This led to uncovering GhostNet, a large-scale cyber spying operation which infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including embassies, foreign ministries, other government offices, and organisations affiliated with the Dalai Lama in India, Brussels, London and New York, and believed to be focusing on the governments of South and Southeast Asia.
A second cyberspy network, Shadow Network, was discovered by the same researchers in 2010. Stolen documents included a years worth of the Dalai Lama's personal email, and classified government material relating to India, West Africa, the Russian Federation, the Middle East, and NATO. "Sophisticated" hackers were linked to universities in China, Beijing again denied involvement. Chinese hackers posing as The New York Times, Amnesty International and other organisation's reporters targeted the private office of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Parliament members, and Tibetan nongovernmental organisations, among others, in 2019.
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 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, 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.
In 2016, there were demands from Indian citizens and politicians of different political parties to confer the Dalai Lama the prestigious Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour of India, which has only been awarded to a non-Indian citizen twice in its history.
In 2021, it was revealed that the Dalai Lama's inner circle were listed in the Pegasus project data as having been targeted with spyware on their phones. Analysis strongly indicates potential targets were selected by the Indian government.
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. 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 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 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. The 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. 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.
Thirty Taiwanese indigenous peoples protested against the Dalai Lama during his visit to Taiwan after Typhoon Morakot and denounced it as politically motivated.
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.
The Dalai Lama has voiced his support for the Campaign for the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, an organisation which campaigns for democratic reformation of the United Nations, and the creation of a more accountable international political system.
Despite becoming 80 years old in 2015, he maintains a busy international lecture and teaching schedule. 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.
The Dalai Lama's best known teaching subject is the Kalachakra tantra which, as of 2014, he had conferred a total of 33 times, most often in India's upper Himalayan regions but also in the Western world. 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.
The Dalai Lama is the author of numerous books on Buddhism, many of them on general Buddhist subjects but also including books on particular topics like Dzogchen, a Nyingma practice.
In his essay "The Ethic of Compassion" (1999), the Dalai Lama expresses his belief that if we only reserve compassion for those that we love, we are ignoring the responsibility of sharing these characteristics of respect and empathy with those we do not have relationships with, which cannot allow us to "cultivate love." He elaborates upon this idea by writing that although it takes time to develop a higher level of compassion, eventually we will recognise that the quality of empathy will become a part of life and promote our quality as humans and inner strength.
He frequently accepts requests from students to visit various countries worldwide in order to give teachings to large Buddhist audiences, teachings that are usually based on classical Buddhist texts and commentaries, and most often those written by the 17 pandits or great masters of the Nalanda tradition, such as Nagarjuna, Kamalashila, Shantideva, Atisha, Aryadeva and so on.
The Dalai Lama refers to himself as a follower of these Nalanda masters, in fact he often asserts that 'Tibetan Buddhism' is based on the Buddhist tradition of Nalanda monastery in ancient India, since the texts written by those 17 Nalanda pandits or masters, to whom he has composed a poem of invocation, 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.
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'. 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 different Buddhist organisations of all schools and traditions belonging to the Network of Buddhist Organisations UK.
In India, the Dalai Lama gives religious teachings and talks in Dharamsala and numerous other locations including the monasteries in the Tibetan refugee settlements, in response to specific requests from Tibetan monastic institutions, Indian academic, religious and business associations, groups of students and individual/private/lay devotees. In India, no fees are charged to attend these teachings since costs are covered by requesting sponsors. When he travels abroad to give teachings there is usually a ticket fee calculated by the inviting organisation to cover the costs involved and any surplus is normally to be donated to recognised charities.
He has frequently visited and lectured at colleges and universities, some of which have conferred honorary degrees upon him.
Dozens of videos of recorded webcasts of the Dalai Lama's public talks on general subjects for non-Buddhists like peace, happiness and compassion, modern ethics, the environment, economic and social issues, gender, the empowerment of women and so forth can be viewed in his office's archive.
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. 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, 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.
In 2009, the Dalai Lama inaugurated an interfaith "World Religions-Dialogue and Symphony" conference at Gujarat's Mahuva religions, according to Morari Bapu.
In 2010, the Dalai Lama, joined by a panel of scholars, launched the Common Ground Project, in Bloomington, Indiana (USA), 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.
In 2019, the Dalai Lama fully sponsored the first-ever 'Celebrating Diversity in the Muslim World' conference in New Delhi on behalf of the Muslims of Ladakh.
The Dalai Lama's lifelong interest in science and technology dates from his childhood in Lhasa, Tibet, when he was fascinated by mechanical objects like clocks, watches, telescopes, film projectors, clockwork soldiers and motor cars, and loved to repair, disassemble and reassemble them. 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. He has also said that had he not been brought up as a monk he would probably have been an engineer. 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, 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.
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. Also in 1983, the American social entrepreneur and innovator R. Adam Engle, 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. 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. 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. 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. 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, which was eventually held with the Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamsala in 1987. 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. 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".
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 United States under scientific conditions. Over the following 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. Sponsors and partners in these dialogues have included the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, the Mayo Clinic, and Zurich University.
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. As the institute's Cofounder and the Honorary chairman he has personally presided over and participated in all its dialogues, which continue to expand worldwide.
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. On the Tibetan and Buddhist side, science subjects have been added to the curriculum for Tibetan monastic educational institutions and scholarship. On the Western side, university and research programmes initiated by these dialogues and funded with millions of dollars in grants from the Dalai Lama Trust include the Emory-Tibet Partnership, Stanford School of Medicine's Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARES) and the Centre for Investigating Healthy Minds, amongst others.
In 2019, Emory University's Center for Contemplative Sciences and Compassion-Based Ethics, in partnership with The Dalai Lama Trust and the Vana Foundation of India, launched an international SEE Learning (Social, Emotional and Ethical Learning) program in New Delhi, India, a school curriculum for all classes from kindergarten to Std XII that builds on psychologist Daniel Goleman's work on emotional intelligence in the early 1990s. SEE learning focuses on developing critical thinking, ethical reasoning and compassion and stresses on commonalities rather than on the differences.
In particular, the Mind and Life Education Humanities & Social Sciences initiatives 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.
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." He has also cited examples of archaic Buddhist ideas he has abandoned himself on this basis.
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'.
The Dalai Lama uses various meditation techniques, including analytic meditation and emptiness meditation. He has said that the aim of meditation is
"to maintain a very full state of alertness and mindfulness, and then try to see the natural state of your consciousness." "All human beings have an innate desire to overcome suffering, to find happiness. Training the mind to think differently, through meditation, is one important way to avoid suffering and be happy."
Despite initially advocating for Tibetan independence from 1961 to 1974, the Dalai Lama no longer supports it. Instead he advocates for more meaningful autonomy for Tibetans within the People's Republic of China. This approach is known as the "Middle Way". In a speech at Kolkata in 2017, the Dalai Lama stated that Tibetans wanted to stay with China and they did not desire independence. He said that he believed that China after opening up, had changed 40 to 50 per cent of what it was earlier, and that Tibetans wanted to get more development from China. In October 2020, the Dalai Lama stated that he did not support Tibetan independence and hoped to visit China as a Nobel Prize winner. He said "I prefer the concept of a 'republic' in the People's Republic of China. In the concept of republic, ethnic minorities are like Tibetans, The Mongols, Manchus, and Xinjiang Uyghurs, we can live in harmony".
"The Tibetan people do not accept the present status of Tibet under the People's Republic of China. At the same time, they do not seek independence for Tibet, which is a historical fact. Treading a middle path in between these two lies the policy and means to achieve a genuine autonomy for all Tibetans living in the three traditional provinces of Tibet within the framework of the People's Republic of China. This is called the Middle-Way Approach, a non-partisan and moderate position that safeguards the vital interests of all concerned parties-for Tibetans: the protection and preservation of their culture, religion and national identity; for the Chinese: the security and territorial integrity of the motherland; and for neighbours and other third parties: peaceful borders and international relations."
The Dalai Lama has said that, from the perspective of the Buddhist precepts, abortion is an act of killing. In 1993, he clarified a more nuanced position, stating, "...it depends on the circumstances. If the unborn child will be retarded or if the birth will create serious problems for the parent, these are cases where there can be an exception. I think abortion should be approved or disapproved according to each circumstance."
The Dalai Lama has repeatedly expressed his opposition to the death penalty, saying that it contradicts the Buddhist philosophy of non-violence and that it expresses anger, not compassion. During a 2005 visit to Japan, a country which has the death penalty, the Dalai Lama called for the abolition of the death penalty and said in his address, "Criminals, people who commit crimes, usually society rejects these people. They are also part of society. Give them some form of punishment to say they were wrong, but show them they are part of society and can change. Show them compassion." The Dalai Lama has also praised U.S. states that have abolished the death penalty.
The Dalai Lama says that he is active in spreading India's message of nonviolence 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 went from India to Tibet to teach Buddhism. 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."
The Dalai Lama has also critiqued proselytisation and certain types of conversion, believing the practices to be contrary to the fundamental ideas of religious harmony and spiritual practice. He has stated that "It's very important that our religious traditions live in harmony with one another and I don't think proselytizing contributes to this. Just as fighting and killing in the name of religion are very sad, it's not appropriate to use religion as a ground or a means for defeating others." In particular, he has critiqued Christian approaches to conversion in Asia, stating that he has "come across situations where serving the people is a cover for proselytization." The Dalai Lama has labelled such practices counter to the "message of Christ" and has emphasised that such individuals "practice conversion like a kind of war against peoples and cultures." In a statement with Hindu religious leaders, he expressed that he opposes "conversions by any religious tradition using various methods of enticement."
In 1993, the Dalai Lama attended the World Conference on Human Rights and made a speech titled "Human Rights and Universal Responsibility".
In 2001, in response to a question from a Seattle schoolgirl, the Dalai Lama said that it is permissible to shoot someone in self-defense (if the person was "trying to kill you") and he emphasised that the shot should not be fatal.
In 2013, the Dalai Lama criticised Buddhist monks' attacks on Muslims in Myanmar and rejected violence by Buddhists, saying: "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. ... All problems must be solved through dialogue, through talk. The use of violence is outdated, and never solves problems." In May 2013, he said "Really, killing people in the name of religion is unthinkable, very sad." In May 2015, the Dalai Lama called on Myanmar's Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi to do more to help the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, said that he had urged Suu Kyi to address the Rohingyas' plight in two previous private meetings and had been rebuffed.
In 2017, after Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo died of organ failure while in Chinese government custody, the Dalai Lama said he was "deeply saddened" and that he believed that Liu's "unceasing efforts in the cause of freedom will bear fruit before long."
The Dalai Lama has consistently praised India. In December 2018, he said Muslim countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Syria should learn about religion from India for peace in the world. When asked in 2019 about attacks on the minority community in India including a recent one against a Muslim family in Gurgaon, he said: "There are always a few mischievous people, but that does not mean it a symbol of that nation". He reiterated in December 2021 that India was a role model for religious harmony in the world.
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
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 and vegetarianism is widespread. He spent many years as a vegetarian, but after contracting hepatitis in India and suffering from weakness, his doctors told him to return to eating meat which he now does twice a week. 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". His own home kitchen, however, is completely vegetarian.
In 2009, the English singer Paul McCartney wrote a letter to the Dalai Lama inquiring why he was not a vegetarian. As McCartney later told The Guardian, "He wrote back very kindly, saying, 'my doctors tell me that I must eat meat'. And I wrote back again, saying, you know, I don't think that's right. [...] I think now he's vegetarian most of the time. I think he's now being told, the more he meets doctors from the west, that he can get his protein somewhere else. [...] It just doesn't seem right – the Dalai Lama, on the one hand, saying, 'Hey guys, don't harm sentient beings... Oh, and by the way, I'm having a steak.'"
The Dalai Lama has referred to himself as a Marxist and has articulated criticisms of capitalism.
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.
He reports hearing of communism when he was very young, but only in the context of the destruction of the Mongolian People's Republic. It was only when he went on his trip to Beijing that he learned about Marxist theory from his interpreter Baba Phuntsog Wangyal of the Tibetan Communist Party. At that time, he reports, "I was so attracted to Marxism, I even expressed my wish to become a Communist Party member", citing his favourite concepts of self-sufficiency and equal distribution of wealth. He does not believe that China implemented "true Marxist policy", 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". 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. He finds Marxism superior to capitalism, believing the latter is only concerned with "how to make profits", whereas the former has "moral ethics". 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.
On the relations between India and Pakistan, the Dalai Lama in October 2019 said: "There is a difference between Indian and Pakistani Prime Minister's speech at the UN. Indian prime prime minister talks about peace and you know what his Pakistan counterpart said. Getting China's political support is Pakistan's compulsion. But Pakistan also needs India. Pakistani leaders should calm down and think beyond emotions and should follow a realistic approach".
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. He acknowledged official Chinese laws against deforestation in Tibet, but lamented they can be ignored due to possible corruption. He was quoted as saying "ecology should be part of our daily life"; personally, he takes showers instead of baths, and turns lights off when he leaves a room.
Around 2005, he started campaigning for wildlife conservation, including by issuing a religious ruling against wearing tiger and leopard skins as garments. The Dalai Lama supports the anti-whaling position in the whaling controversy, but has criticised the activities of groups such as the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (which carries out acts of what it calls aggressive nonviolence against property). Before the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, he urged national leaders to put aside domestic concerns and take collective action against climate change.
The Dalai Lama's stances on topics of sexuality have changed over time.
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". He has said that problems arising from conjugal life sometimes even lead to suicide or murder. He has asserted that all religions have the same view about adultery.
In his discussions of the traditional Buddhist view on appropriate sexual behaviour, 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. However, 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 accept and respect people who are gay or transgender from a secular point of view. 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.'" However, when interviewed by Canadian TV news anchor Evan Solomon on CBC News: Sunday about whether homosexuality is acceptable in Buddhism, the Dalai Lama responded that "it is sexual misconduct".
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." He elaborated in 1997, conceding 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".
In 2006, the Dalai Lama has expressed concern at "reports of violence and discrimination against" LGBT people and urged "respect, tolerance and the full recognition of human rights for all".
In a 2014 interview with Larry King, the Dalai Lama expressed his acceptance for same-sex marriage, stating that it is a personal matter and is acceptable in his view.
See also: Women in Buddhism and Criticism of Buddhism § Women in Buddhism
In 2007, he said that the next Dalai Lama could possibly be a woman: "If a woman reveals herself as more useful the lama could very well be reincarnated in this form."
In 2009, on gender equality and sexism, the Dalai Lama proclaimed at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee: "I call myself a feminist. Isn't that what you call someone who fights for women's rights?" 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.
At a 2014 appearance at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, the Dalai Lama said, "Since women have been shown to be more sensitive to others' suffering, their leadership may be more effective."
In 2015, he said in a BBC interview that if a female succeeded him, "that female must be attractive, otherwise it is not much use," and when asked if he was joking, replied, "No. True!" He followed with a joke about his current success being due to his own appearance. His office later released a statement of apology citing the interaction as a translation error.
In 2013, at the Culture of Compassion event in Derry, Northern Ireland, the Dalai Lama said that "Warm-heartedness is a key factor for healthy individuals, healthy families and healthy communities."
In a 2020 statement in Time magazine on the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dalai Lama said that the pandemic must be combated with compassion, empirical science, prayer, and the courage of healthcare workers. He emphasised "emotional disarmament" (seeing things with a clear and realistic perspective, without fear or rage) and wrote: "The outbreak of this terrible coronavirus has shown that what happens to one person can soon affect every other being. But it also reminds us that a compassionate or constructive act – whether working in hospitals or just observing social distancing – has the potential to help many."
In September 2018, speaking at a conference in Malmö, Sweden, home to a large immigrant population, the Dalai Lama said "I think Europe belongs to the Europeans", but also that Europe was "morally responsible" for helping "a refugee really facing danger against their life". He stated that Europe has a responsibility to refugees to "receive them, help them, educate them", but that they should aim to return to their places of origin and that "they ultimately should rebuild their own country".
Speaking to German reporters in 2016, the Dalai Lama said there are "too many" refugees in Europe, adding that "Europe, for example Germany, cannot become an Arab country." He also said that "Germany is Germany".
Main article: Succession of the 14th Dalai Lama
In May 2011, the Dalai Lama retired from the Central Tibetan Administration.
In September 2011, the Dalai Lama issued the following statement concerning his succession and 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.
In 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 has not decided on whether he would reincarnate or be the last Dalai Lama.
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."
Gyatso has also expressed fear that the Chinese government would manipulate any reincarnation selection in order to choose a successor that would go along with their political goals. In response the Chinese government implied that it would select another Dalai Lama regardless of his decision.
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 a Central Intelligence Agency program. 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." As part of the program the Dalai Lama received 180,000 dollars a year from 1959 till 1974 for his own personal use.
His administration's reception of CIA funding has become one of the grounds for some state-run Chinese newspapers to discredit him along with the Tibetan independence movement.
In his autobiography Freedom in Exile, the Dalai Lama criticised 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".
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."
The Chinese Communist Party have criticised the 14th Dalai Lama for his close ties with India. In 2008, the Dalai Lama said that Arunachal Pradesh, partially claimed by China, is part of India, citing the disputed 1914 Simla Accord. In 2010 at the International Buddhist Conference in Gujarat, he described himself as a "son of India" and "Tibetan in appearance, but an Indian in spirituality." The newspaper of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, People's Daily, questioned if the Dalai Lama, by considering himself Indian rather than Chinese, is still entitled to represent Tibetans, alluding to the links between Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism and the Dalai Lama siding with India on southern Tibet. Dhundup Gyalpo, the Dalai Lama's eventual secretary in New Delhi, argued that Tibetan and Chinese peoples have no connections apart from a few culinary dishes and that Chinese Buddhists could also be deemed "Indian in spirituality", because both Tibetan and Chinese Buddhism originated from India.
Main article: Dorje Shugden controversy
Dorje Shugden is an entity in Tibetan Buddhism that, since the 1930s, has become a point of contention over whether to include or exclude certain non-Gelug teachings. After the 1975 publication of the Yellow Book containing stories about Dorje Shugden acting wrathfully against Gelugpas who also practised Nyingma, the 14th Dalai Lama, himself a Gelugpa and advocate of an inclusive approach, publicly renounced the practice of Dorje Shugden. Several groups broke away as a result, notably the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT). According to Tibetologists, the Dalai Lama's disapproval has reduced the prevalence of Shugden sects among Tibetans in China and India.
Shugden devotees have since complained about being ostracized when trying to get jobs or receive services. The Dalai Lama's supporters expressed that any discrimination is neither systematic nor encouraged by him. Some Shugden movements such as the NKT have organised demonstrations as a form of protest. One group, the International Shugden Community (ISC), came under scrutiny from Reuters in 2015. While the journalists found "no independent evidence of direct Chinese financing", they reported that Beijing had "thrown its weight behind Shugden devotees" and the ISC became China's instrument to discredit the Dalai Lama. The group disbanded in 2016. That same year, the Dalai Lama re-stated his position on Dorje Shugden, saying "I've encouraged people not to do the practice, but I haven't said that no one can do it. His office said that there was no ban or discrimination against Shugden worshippers.
In 2010, the Dalai Lama told a reporter that the first time someone asked him about the possibility of a female Dalai Lama, he said "if she is an ugly female, she won't be very effective, will she?" In 2015 he said at one occasion, "more than 50 years ago" in Paris, he said the line to a reporter of a women's magazine, that "if female Dalai Lama comes, the face should be very, very attractive." In 2019, when he was asked about the comment, he repeated it with a laugh, saying that although the real beauty is inner beauty, for human beings, the appearance is also very important. In response to the controversy sparked by the interview, his office released a statement to clarify his remarks and put them into context, expressing that the Dalai Lama "is deeply sorry that people have been hurt by what he said and offers his sincere apologies." The statement explains, the original context of the Dalai Lama's referring to the physical appearance of a female successor was a conversation with the then Paris editor of Vogue magazine, who had invited His Holiness in 1992 to guest-edit the next edition. She asked if a future Dalai Lama could be a woman. His Holiness replied, 'Certainly, if that would be more helpful,' adding, as a joke, that she should be attractive. The statement also noted, the Dalai Lama "consistently emphasizes the need for people to connect with each other on a deeper human level, rather than getting caught up in preconceptions based on superficial appearances."
In April 2018, the Dalai Lama confirmed Chinese government claims about Gedhun Choekyi Nyima by saying that he knew from "reliable sources" that the Panchen Lama he had recognised was alive and receiving normal education. He said he hoped that the Chinese-recognised Panchen Lama (Gyaincain Norbu) studied well under the guidance of a good teacher, adding that there were instances in Tibetan Buddhist tradition, of a reincarnated lama taking more than one manifestation.
In a February 2023 video, the Dalai Lama was recorded kissing a young boy on the lips and asking the child to suck his tongue. The meeting took place at his temple in Dharamshala, India. Nearly 100 students were in attendance, as well as the boy's mother, a trustee of the event's organiser. Her son had asked for and received a hug from the Dalai Lama. He then pointed to his own cheek and lips, requesting and receiving two kisses at those locations from the boy, pulling the child's chin closer during the second one. He then gestured at and said "suck my tongue", stretching it out and moved closer. The boy had been pulling away, and the two ended up pressing their heads together. The video resurfaced in April 2023, and the Dalai Lama's conduct was condemned by many who called it "inappropriate", "scandalous" and "disgusting". His office issued a statement saying that the Dalai Lama often teases "in an innocent and playful way", adding that he wants to apologise to those involved "for the hurt his words may have caused" and "regrets the incident".
Victim groups and media commentators have raised concerns of "child abuse". The HAQ Centre for Child Rights in New Delhi said the video was "certainly not any cultural expression" and such expressions should not be acceptable anyway. Indian journalist Nilanjana Bhowmick said that sticking out one's tongue is different from "asking a minor to suck it." Child rights activist Shola Mos-Shogbamimu said that child molestation should not be normalised under the guise of playful behavior.
Tibetan activists argued that the interaction was an overblown joke, misinterpreted and unfairly attacked. They mentioned that sticking out one's tongue is a form of traditional Tibetan greeting, to show respect or agreement and that the performer of the gesture is not reincarnated from the malevolent king Lang Dharma. The practice is not known to involve "sucking", however. In an interview clip released by Voice of Tibet, the boy said it had been a "good experience" meeting the Dalai Lama, from whom he received a lot of "positive energy". Penpa Tsering, the political leader of the Central Tibetan Administration, called the gesture an "innocent grandfatherly affectionate demeanour" followed by a "jovial prank" with a tongue. He and other Tibetans accused "pro-Chinese sources" of being behind the video.[j] Vice News reported that according to Tibetans, "eat my tongue", roughly translated, is a common expression for teasing children. Kaysang, a Tibetan feminist educator in India, said "suck my tongue" is also a game for elders to "deter kids from pestering them". An international group of Tibetan leaders and activists expressed anguish that attempts to understand Tibetan cultural context have been, in their view, insufficiently covered by the media. Pema Rigzin, president of the Tibetan Cultural Society of Vancouver, added that it is "very normal" in Tibetan culture for grandparents to kiss or chew food for their children.
Following the temple child incident in 2023, video footage from 2016 showing the Dalai Lama touching Lady Gaga's leg caused further controversy. The event occurred during a compassion conference in Indiana about individuals experiencing physical and psychological difficulties and how to support them. In the video, the religious leader is seen hardly paying any attention to the speaker. He looked down at Lady Gaga's leg, where the skin is exposed from her torn trousers, and touched it with his fingers. Lady Gaga looked back at the Dalai Lama, shook her head, and smiled awkwardly. When he attempted the same action on her other leg, she grabbed his hand and stopped him from following through.
The Dalai Lama places highly in global surveys of the world's most admired men, ranking with Pope Francis as among the world's religious leaders cited as the most admired.
The Dalai Lama's appeal is variously ascribed to his charismatic personality, international fascination with Buddhism, his universalist values, and international sympathy for the Tibetans. 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.
The Dalai Lama has his own pages on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
The Dalai Lama has tried to mobilise international support for Tibetan activities. The Dalai Lama has been successful in gaining Western support for himself and the cause of greater Tibetan autonomy, including vocal support from numerous Hollywood celebrities, most notably the actors Richard Gere and Steven Seagal, as well as lawmakers from several major countries. Photos of the Dalai Lama were banned after March 1959 Lhasa protests until after the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976. In 1996 the Chinese Communist Party once again reinstated the total prohibition of any photo of the 14th Dalai Lama. According to the Tibet Information Network, "authorities in Tibet have begun banning photographs of the exiled Dalai Lama in monasteries and public places, according to reports from a monitoring group and a Tibetan newspaper. Plainclothes police went to hotels and restaurants in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, on 22 and 23 April and ordered Tibetans to remove pictures of the Dalai Lama ..." The ban continues in many locations throughout Tibet today.
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:
The Dalai Lama was featured on 5 March 2017, episode of the HBO late-night talk show Last Week Tonight, in which host John Oliver conducted a comedic interview with the Dalai Lama, focusing on the topics of Tibetan sovereignty, Tibetan self-immolations, and his succession plans.[relevant?]
A biographical graphic novel, Man of Peace, also envisaging the Dalai Lama's return to Tibet, was published by Tibet House US. The Extraordinary Life of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama: An Illuminated Journey, illustrations and text by artist Rima Fujita, narrated by the Dalai Lama, was published by Simon and Schuster in 2021.
The Dalai Lama has received numerous awards and honours worldwide over his spiritual and political career. For a more complete list see Awards and honours presented to the 14th Dalai Lama.
After the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded him the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize. 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" and "in part a tribute to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi".
He has also been awarded the:
In 2006, he became one of only six people ever to be granted Honorary Citizenship of Canada. In 2007 he was named Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, the first time he accepted a university appointment. He is the chief Patron of the Maha Bodhi Society of India, conferred upon him at the 2008 Annual General Meeting of the Maha Bodhi Society of India.
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
The spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism and, until the establishment of Chinese communist rule, the spiritual and temporal ruler of Tibet
Lama Thubten named my new brother Lhamo Thondup.
The corporations of the regents were not the only ones to acquire numerous estates and serfs. So too did the families of the Dalai Lamas. The (natal) family of the Dalai Lama was "ennobled" and became a part of the highest stratum of the Tibetan aristocracy. Each such family received estates sufficient to match, on an economic scale, their newly found social status...Certainly [the family of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama] acquired huge land and serf holdings.
Tibet, it said, had the right to exercise regional autonomy under leadership of the central PRC government. This meant that the CCP allowed the feudal system, with its serflike peasantry, to persist, and it allowed the Dalai Lama's government to continue to rule Tibet internally in accordance with its own language and traditional laws.
Roughly 150,000 devotees reportedly converged for the event
The Dalai Lama's Brisbane teaching will be based on the classic text, Nagarjuna's 'Precious Garland'
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
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.
The Dalai Lama today began his four-day teachings on Atisha's [text] 'Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment'
Texts mentioned by His Holiness in his talk ... Aryadeva's 400 Stanzas of the Middle Way
he Dalai Lama frequently refers to himself as a follower of the lineage of the seventeen Nalanda masters today
they came to shape the very meaning of Buddhist philosophy and religious practice, both in India and Tibet
The unique quality of Tibetan Buddhism is that it is based on ancient India's Nalanda Buddhist tradition
For the first time in the West, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will give two exclusive days of teaching on 17 and 18 July 1996 on the Four Noble Truths – the heart of the Buddha's teachings. This has been requested by The Network of Buddhist Organisations – a forum for dialogue and co-operation between Buddhist organisations in the UK.
His Holiness has also been giving teachings in India at the request of various Buddhist devotees from Taiwan and Korea
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
Science has always fascinated me
The Dalai Lama, who has had a lifelong interest in science
Asked how his interest in science originally developed he said he'd been fascinated by technology since childhood, recalling a clockwork toy British soldier with a gun that he played with for a few days before taking apart to see how it worked. He described how as a young man visiting China he was excited to be shown around hydroelectric dams and metal smelting works
The Dalai Lama has an interest in machines, which he developed as a young boy. As a teenager he repaired a movie projector by himself, without its guide or any instructions. He has been known to say that he would have become an engineer if he hadn't been a monk
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.
This week, Adam Engle, the business mastermind behind the Mind and Life Institute, joins us to discuss both the evolution of the project as well as its larger impact
Mind and Life emerged in 1987 from a meeting of three visionaries: Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama – the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and a global advocate for compassion; Adam Engle, a lawyer and entrepreneur; and Francisco Varela, a neuroscientist
a historic meeting that took place between several prominent Western scientists and the Dalai Lama
The Center focuses on the development of interdisciplinary research and programs in varied fields of knowledge, from science and technology to education and international relations
Johns Hopkins is one of the world's premier centers for scholarship, research and patient care
I am also grateful to the numerous eminent scientists with whom I have had the privilege of engaging in conversations through the auspices of the Mind and Life Institute which initiated the Mind and Life conferences that began in 1987 at my residence in Dharamsala, India. These dialogues have continued over the years and in fact the latest Mind and Life dialogue concluded here in Washington just this week.
These Dialogues will expand as Mind and Life grows to include Europe, Asia, and beyond
he has led a campaign to introduce basic science education in Tibetan Buddhist monastic colleges and academic centers, and has encouraged Tibetan scholars to engage with science as a way of revitalizing the Tibetan philosophical tradition
For more than 30 years I have been engaged in an ongoing exchange with scientists, exploring what modern scientific knowledge and time-honored science of mind embodied by the Tibetan tradition can bring to each other's understanding of reality
He has been a strong supporter of the neurosciences for over two decades. His Holiness is a benefactor of CCARE having personally provided the largest sum he has ever given to scientific research
In 1992, the Dalai Lama personally challenged Dr. Davidson to investigate how well-being could be nurtured through the insights from neuroscience. His Holiness believes that "All humans have an innate desire to overcome suffering and find happiness." This launched a robust series of research studies and new discoveries have emerged about how the mind works and how well-being can be cultivated.
He ... had long since abandoned Buddhist ideas about cosmology after reading about the findings of modern astronomers
crossover between Buddhism and science has become a hot topic in the academic and cultural circles over the recent decades
In his 1990 autobiography, 'Freedom in Exile', the Dalai Lama explained that his two brothers made contact with the CIA during a trip to India in 1956. The CIA agreed to help, 'not because they cared about Tibetan independence, but as part of their worldwide efforts to destabilize all Communist governments', the Dalai Lama wrote.
The Buddhist group leading a global campaign of harassment against the Dalai Lama has called off its demonstrations and disbanded, according to a statement on its website. The announcement comes after a Reuters investigation revealed in December that China's ruling Communist Party backs the Buddhist religious sect behind the protests that have confronted the Dalai Lama in almost every country he visits. Reuters found that the sect had become a key instrument in China's campaign to discredit the Tibetan spiritual leader.
Payal Kanodia, mother of the child and worker of the M3M foundation, which built the compound