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Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso (born Lhamo Döndrub) ( ; ( ) (born 6 July 1935 in Taktsermarker, Amdo, north-eastern Tibet, then recently incorporated into QinghaimarkerAt the time of Tenzin Gyatso's birth, Taktser had been incorporated into the Chinese province of Qinhai since 1928 and was controlled by Ma Lin, a warlord allied with Chiang Kai-shek and appointed governor of Qinhai Province by the Kuomintang. See Thomas Laird, The Story of Tibet. Conversations with the Dalai Lama, Grove Press: New York, 2006 ; Li, T.T. "Historical Status of Tibet", Columbia University Press, p179 ; Bell, Charles, "Portrait of the Dalai Lama", p399; Goldstein, Melvyn C. Goldstein, A history of modern Tibet, pp. 315–317) is the 14th Dalai Lama, a spiritual leader revered among the people of Tibet. He is the head of the government-in-exile based in Dharamshalamarker, India. Tibetans traditionally believe him to be the reincarnation of his predecessors.

The Dalai Lama was born fifth of 16 children to a farming family in the village of Taktsermarker. His first language was, in his own words, "a broken Xiningmarker language which was (a dialect of) the Chinese language" as his family did not speak the regional Amdo dialect. He was proclaimed the tulku or rebirth of the 13th Dalai Lama at the age of two. In 1950 the army of the People's Republic of China invaded the region. One month later, on 17 November 1950, he was enthroned formally as Dalai Lama: at the age of fifteen, he became the region's most important spiritual leader and political ruler.

In 1951 the Chinese military pressured the Dalai Lama to ratify a seventeen-point agreement which permitted the People's Republic of China to take control of Tibet. He fled through the mountains to India soon after the failed 1959 uprising, and the effective collapse of the Tibetan resistance movement. In India he established a government-in-exile.

The most influential member of the Gelugpa or Yellow Hat sect, he has considerable influence over the other sects of Tibetan Buddhism. The Chinese government regards him as the symbol of an outmoded theocratic system. Along with the 80,000 or so exiles that followed him, the Dalai Lama strives to preserve traditional Tibetan education and culture.

Conditions in Tibet have in more recent years caused an international protest movement, including the attempted disruption of the 2008 Olympic Games. In March 2008 the Dalai Lama asked for an international inquiry into China's treatment of Tibet, which he said amounted to cultural genocide.

A noted public speaker worldwide, the Dalai Lama is often described as charismatic. He is the first Dalai Lama to travel to the West, where he seeks to spread Buddhist teachings and to promote ethics and interfaith harmony. In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was given honorary Canadian citizenship in 2006, and was awarded the United States Congressional Gold Medal during October 2007. He has received more than 100 honorary conferments and major awards.

On 17 December 2008, after months of speculation, the Dalai Lama announced his semi-retirement. He said that the future course of the movement he had directed for nearly five decades would now be decided by the elected parliament-in-exile with the prime minister Samdhong Rinpoche.The then 73-year-old Nobel laureate, who had recently undergone surgery, told reporters in Dharamsalamarker, "I have grown old.... It is better if I retire completely and get out of the way of the Tibetan movement."

Early life and background

House where the 14th Dalai Lama was born
Lhamo Döndrub (or Thondup) was born on 6 July 1935 to a farming and horse trading family in the small hamlet of Taktsermarker, in the eastern border of the former Tibetan province of Amdo, then already incorporated into the Chinese province of Qinghai. He was one of nine 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, who is affiliated with the Tibetan Youth Congress and Tibetan Women's Association, portrayed their mother in the 1997 Hollywood film Seven Years in Tibet.

Tibetans traditionally believe Dalai Lamas to be the reincarnation of their predecessors, each of whom is believed to be a human emanation of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. 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-tsomarker 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.

The Dalai Lama as a boy
The little boy 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!"

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). Tibetan Buddhists normally refer to him as Yishin Norbu (Wish-Fulfilling Gem), Kyabgon (Saviour), or just Kundun (Presence). His devotees 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, having spotted him in Lhasa through his telescope. Harrer effectively became one of the young Dalai Lama's tutors, teaching him about the outside world. The two remained friends until Harrer's death in 2006.

During 1959, at the age of 23, he took his final examination at Lhasa's Jokhang Templemarker 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.

Life as the Dalai Lama

Abandoned former quarters of the Dalai Lama at the Potala.
The empty vestment placed on the throne symbolises his absence
As well as being Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama has traditionally been the country's absolute ruler. 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.

The Dalai Lama's childhood was spent between the Potalamarker and Norbulingkamarker, his summer residence.

"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 Liu Zongren informing them of the decision."

In October 1950 the army of the People's Republic of China entered the country, moving through Tibetan defenses with ease. On 17 November. the 15-year-old 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, and under military pressureratified a Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet. He tried to work 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.

In 1959 there was a major uprising in Tibet. The Dalai Lama's entourage suspected that the Chinese government may have been planning to kill him. On 17 March, he fled for Tawangmarker, India, finally crossing the border on 31 March. It was later established that forces from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's Special Activities Division had assisted the Dalai Lama's escape, and had supported initial resistance to the Chinese.

Exile to India

The Dalai Lama met with the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, to urge India to pressure China into giving Tibet an autonomous government, as relations with China were not proving successful. Nehru did not want to increase tensions between China and India, so he encouraged the Dalai Lama to work on the Seventeen Point Agreement Tibet had with China. Eventually, after the failed uprising in 1959, the Dalai Lama fled Tibet crossing into India on 30th of March, 1959, and spent some days resting at Tawang Monasterymarker before reaching Tezpurmarker in Assammarker on 18 April. Some time later he set up the Government of Tibet in Exile in Dharamsala, India, which is often referred to as "Little Lhasa".

After the founding of the exiled government 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 traditional 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 question of Tibet. This appeal resulted in three resolutions adopted by the General Assembly in 1959, 1961, and 1965. These resolutions required China to respect the human rights of Tibetans and their desire for self-determination. During 1963, he promulgated a democratic constitution which is based upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A Tibetan parliament-in-exile is elected by the Tibetan refugees scattered all over the world, and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile is likewise elected by the Tibetan parliament. During 1970, he opened the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsalamarker 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 during 1987 in Washington, D.C.marker, he proposed a Five-Point Peace Plan regarding the future status of Tibet. The plan called for Tibet to become a "zone of peace" and for the end of movement by ethnic Han Chinese into Tibet. It also called for "respect for fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms" and "the end of China's use of Tibet for nuclear weapons production, testing, and disposal." Finally, it urged "earnest negotiations" on the future of Tibet.

He proposed a similar plan at Strasbourgmarker on 15 June 1988. He expanded on the Five-Point Peace Plan and proposed the creation of a self-governing democratic Tibet, "in association with the People's Republic of China." This plan was rejected by the Tibetan Government-in-Exile during 1991. During October 1991, he expressed his wish to return to Tibet to try to make a mutual assessment on the situation with the Chinese local government. At this time he feared that a violent uprising would occur and wished to avoid it. 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, which they have so far refused to do.

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 said, "I attest that the Russian Orthodox Church highly appreciates the good relations it has with the followers of Buddhism and hopes for their further development." Taiwan's President, Chen Shui-bian, attended an evening celebrating the Dalai Lama's birthday that was entitled "Travelling with Love and Wisdom for 70 Years" at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hallmarker in Taipei. The President invited him to return to Taiwan for a third trip in 2005. His previous trips were during 2001 and 1997.In Tibet there is a popular song calling for his return to Tibet known as Aku Pema.

Teaching activities

The Dalai Lama chief spiritual practice is Dzogchen, a subject he teaches and writes about extensively. He has conducted numerous public initiations in the Kalachakra, and is the author of a great number of books.His teaching activities in the US include:

  • During July 2008, the Dalai Lama gave a public lecture and conducted a series of teachings at Lehigh Universitymarker in Bethlehem, Pennsylvaniamarker.
  • He visited the U.S. during April 2008, when he gave lectures on engaging wisdom and compassion, and sustainability, at the University of Michiganmarker in Ann Arbor and at Colgate Universitymarker in Hamilton, N.Y.
  • During February 2007, the Dalai Lama was named Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory Universitymarker in Atlanta, Georgiamarker, United States, the first time that the leader of the Tibetan exile community has accepted a university appointment. The appointment is in part an expansion of a program begun during 1998 called the Emory–Tibet Partnership. As Presidential Distinguished Professor, he will:
    • provide opportunities for university community members to attend his annual teachings,
    • make periodic visits to Emory to participate in programmes, and
    • continue the Emory–Tibet Partnership practice of providing private teaching sessions with students and faculty during Emory's study-abroad programme in Dharamsala.
  • The Dalai Lama has strong ties with University of Wisconsin–Madisonmarker in Madison, Wisconsinmarker, United States, and is a frequent visitor there. He visited the university in 1981 and again in 1989, the year in which he won the Nobel Peace Prize. In May 1998, he addressed a large audience at the Kohl Centermarker and received an honorary degree from the university. He visited Madison again during the summers of both 2007 and 2008, making public appearances at The Kohl Center and Alliant Energy Center, as well as more intimate sessions at the nearby Deer Park Buddhist Center, where Geshe Sopa (the first Tibetan tenured in an American university), whom the Dalai Lama sent to America in 1959 to bridge cultures, resides.
  • During May 2001, he met with a group of neuroscientists who conduct research on the effects of meditation on brain function, emotions and physical health.

Foreign relations

Since 1967, the Dalai Lama has initiated a series of tours in 46 nations. He has frequently engaged on religious dialogue. He met with Pope Paul VI at the Vaticanmarker in 1973. He met with Pope John Paul II in 1980 and also later in 1982, 1986, 1988, 1990, and 2003.

During 1990, he met in Dharamsala 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 also met the late Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Robert Runcie, and other leaders of the Anglican Church in London, Gordon B. Hinckley, late 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.

Soon before the Beijing Olympics of 2008, the Dalai Lama visited Japan on 10 April 2008 on his way to the United States, amid protests around the world over China's response to the 2008 Tibetan unrest. The Dalai Lama, whom Beijing claimed fomented the unrest, called for calm, but the protests showed little sign of abating. The Dalai Lama said he did not support a boycott of the 2008 Summer Games outright. Japan's government had been relatively quiet about the violence in Tibet and, by deference to Beijing, does not deal officially with the Dalai Lama. Tokyo does, however, grant visas to the spiritual leader, who has visited Japan fairly frequently.

International children's villages

The Dalai Lama has long been a supporter of SOS Children's Villages organisation. He often visits the villages, and has maintained a friendship with the founder, Hermann Gmeiner.

He has said of SOS's efforts:

Social and political stances

Tibetan independence movement

The Dalai Lama accepted the 1951 Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet with the People's Republic of China. However, he moved to Kalimpongmarker in India and, with the help of American government organised pro-independence literature and the smuggling of weapons into Tibet. Armed struggles broke out in Amdo and Kham during 1956 and later spread to Central Tibet. The movement was a failure and was forced to retreat to Nepalmarker or go underground. Soon after normalisation of relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China, American support was ended during the early 1970s. The Dalai Lama then began to formulate his policy towards a peaceful solution in which a democratic autonomous Tibet would be established.

During October 1998, the Dalai Lama's administration acknowledged that it received US$1.7 million a year in the 1960s from the U.S. Government through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and had also trained an army in Coloradomarker (USA).

The Dalai Lama has on occasion been denounced by the Chinese government as a supporter of Tibetan independence. Over time, he has developed a public position stating that he is not in favour of Tibetan independence and would not object to a status in which Tibet has internal autonomy while the PRC manages some aspects of Tibet's defence and foreign affairs. In his 'Middle Way Approach', he laid down that the Chinese government can take care of foreign affairs and defence, and that Tibet should be managed by an elected body.

The Dalai Lama on 16 March 2008 called for an international inquiry into China's treatment of Tibet, which he said amounted to cultural genocide. He has stated that he will step down as leader of Tibet's government-in-exile if violence by protesters in the region worsens, the exiled spiritual leader said 18 March 2008 after China's premier Wen Jiabao blamed his supporters for the growing unrest. On 20 March 2008, he claimed he was powerless to stop anti-Chinese violence. The Dalai Lama on 28 March 2008 rejected a series of allegations from the Chinese government, saying he did not seek the separation of Tibet and had no desire to "sabotage" the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Critics of the news and entertainment media coverage of the controversy charge that feudal Tibet was not as benevolent as popularly portrayed. The penal code before 1913 included forms of corporal punishment and capital punishment. In response, the Dalai Lama agreed many of old Tibet's practices needed reform. His predecessor had banned extreme punishments and the death penalty. And he had instituted major reforms like removal of debt inheritance before the Chinese invaded during 1951.

On 4 June 2008, Dalai Lama said that Tawangmarker in Arunachal Pradeshmarker, a territory that is called Southern Tibet in mainland China and still claimed by the People's Republic of China, is part of India, acknowledging the validity of the McMahon Line per the 1914 Simla Agreement signed by Tibetan and British representatives.

On 25 October 2008, the Dalai Lama announced he had given up negotiating for increased autonomy for Tibet within the People's Republic of China. He stated that from now on Tibetans themselves should decide how to continue a dialogue with the Chinese government.

Interfaith dialogue

On 6 January 2009, at Gujaratmarker’s Mahuvamarker, 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.

Many other meetings and dialogues have been held with other religious, spiritual, philosophical and scientific leaders throughout the life of the 14th Dalai Lama. He was presented Shambhala Buddhism's Living Peace Award at the The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya Which Liberates Upon Seeing in 2006 with representatives of all Abrahamic religions in attendance. He has also helped many authors including Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj by writing the forewords to books such as Inner and Outer Peace Through Meditation.

Social stances

The Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamsala, India in 1993
The Dalai Lama endorsed the founding of the Dalai Lama Foundation in order to promote peace and ethics worldwide. The Dalai Lama is not involved operationally with this foundation, though he suggests some general direction and his office is routinely briefed on its activities. He has also stated his belief that modern scientific findings take precedence over ancient religions.

Democracy, Non-violence, Religious harmony and Tibet's relationship with India

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


The Dalai Lama reminds that according to Buddhist precepts abortion is an act of killing, although he has taken a nuanced position, as he explained to the New York Times:



He has also expressed his concern for environmental problems:

In recent years, he has been campaigning for wildlife conservation, including a religious ruling against wearing tiger and leopard skins as garments.


In 2001, he discussed firearms and self-defence, and Hal Bernton, a staff reporter of The Seattle Times, reports that:


In his view, oral, manual and anal sex (both homosexual and heterosexual) is not acceptable in Buddhism or for Buddhists, but society should tolerate gays and lesbians from a secular point of view. In 1997 he explained that the basis of that teaching was unknown to him and that he at least had some "willingness to consider the possibility that some of the teachings may be specific to a particular cultural and historic context" while reiterating the unacceptable nature saying, "Buddhist sexual proscriptions ban homosexual activity and heterosexual sex through orifices other than the vagina, including masturbation or other sexual activity with the hand... From a Buddhist point of view, lesbian and gay sex is generally considered sexual misconduct". In a 1994 interview with OUT Magazine, the Dalai Lama explained "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, in his 1996 book Beyond Dogma, he clearly states, "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 has said that sex spelled fleeting satisfaction and trouble later, while chastity offered a better life and "more independence, more freedom." He says that problems arising from conjugal life could even lead to suicide or murder.

Buddhist vegetarianism

In Tibet, meat being the most common food, most monks have historically been omnivores, including the Dalai Lamas. After leaving Tibet the Dalai Lama attempted vegetarianism after seeing his cook kill a chicken for his meal . However, after getting jaundice, his doctors advised him to return to eating meat. Since then, he abstains from meat every other day.


British journalist Christopher Hitchens criticised the Dalai Lama in 1998, questioned his alleged support for India's nuclear weapons testing, his statements about sexual misconduct, his suppression of Shugden worship, as well as his meeting Shoko Asahara, whose cult Aum Shinrikyo released sarin nerve gas in the Tokyo subway system. Hitchens proclaims that he "makes absurd pronouncements about sex and diet and, when on his trips to Hollywood fund-raisers, anoints major donors like Steven Segal and Richard Gere as holy."

Despite protest from China, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the Dalai Lama in the Berlin Chancellerymarker on 25 September 2007. The meeting was characterised as "private and informal talks" in order to avert potential retaliation by China such as the severance of trade ties. In response to the meeting, China cancelled meetings with German officials including Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries.

Several Tulkus or "reincarnate Lamas" have criticised Tenzin Gyatso. Two months after the 2008 Tibetan unrest and before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, news carried by Xinhuamarker, the Chinese official government news agency, said that the twelfth Samding Dorje Phagmo (considered to be Tibet's "only female living Buddha,") who is also the vice-chairwoman of the standing committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Regional People's Congress, was quoted saying that "The sins of the Dalai Lama and his followers seriously violate the basic teachings and precepts of Buddhism and seriously damage traditional Tibetan Buddhism's normal order and good reputation." She told Xinhua that "Old Tibet was dark and cruel, the serfs lived worse than horses and cattle."

The Dalai Lama's talks in the UK, May, 2008, were attended by Chinese protesters who oppose Tibetan independence.

Dorje Shugden

During a teaching tour of the UK in May, 2008, there were demonstrations by the Western Shugden Society and Chinese students. The Western Shugden Society say they are protesting against the ban of a prayer to Dorje Shugden, which they protest constitutes religious persecution. Similar protests occurred in Sydney when the Dalai Lama arrived in Australia in June 2008. The Dalai Lama says he had not banned the practice, but strongly discourages it as he feels it promotes a spirit as being more important than Buddha, and that it may encourage cult-like practices and sectarianism within Tibetan Buddhism. The Shugden worshipers in India protest they are denied admission to hospitals, stores, and other social services provided by the local Tibetan community.

Recognition of the 17th Karmapa

Another controversy associated with the Dalai Lama is the recognition of the seventeenth Karmapa. Two factions of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism have chosen two different Karmapas, leading to a deep division within the Kagyu school. The Dalai Lama has given his support to Urgyen Trinley Dorje, while supporters of Trinley Thaye Dorje claim that the Dalai Lama has no authority in the matter, nor is there a historical precedent for a Dalai Lama involving himself in an internal Kagyu dispute. In his 2001 address at the International Karma Kagyu Conference, Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche – one of the four Karma Kagyu regents – accused the Dalai Lama of adopting a "divide and conquer" policy to eliminate any potential political rivalry arising from within the Kagyu school. For his side, the Dalai Lama accepted the prediction letter presented by Tai Situ Rinpoche (another Karma Kagyu regent) as authentic, and therefore Tai Situ Rinpoche's recognition of Urgyen Trinley Dorje, also as correct. Tibet observer Julian Gearing suggests that there might be political motives to the Dalai Lama's decision: "The Dalai Lama gave his blessing to the recognition of [Urgyen] Trinley, eager to win over the formerly troublesome sect [the Kagyu school], and with the hope that the new Karmapa could play a role in a political solution of the 'Tibet Question.' ...If the allegations are to be believed, a simple nomad boy was turned into a political and religious pawn." However, according to Tsurphu Labrang, articles by Julian Gearing on this subject are biased, unverified and without crosschecking of basic facts.

CIA backing

In October 1998, The Dalai Lama's administration acknowledged that it received $1.7 million a year in the 1960s from the US Government through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and also trained a resistance movement in Coloradomarker (USA). When asked by CIA officer John Kenneth Knaus in 1995 whether the organisation did a good or bad thing in providing its support, 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 US Government had involved itself in his country's affairs not to help Tibet but only as a Cold War tactic to challenge the Chinese."

Refusal of visa to enter South Africa

In March 2009, the Dalai Lama was denied a visa to enter South Africa in order to attend an international peace conference. The South African government initially stated that it denied his visa to avoid distracting attention from South Africa and its hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, although the visa-refusal precipitated precisely such a distraction. South African government officials later acknowledged that his visa had been denied to maintain close relations with China.Chinese officials had urged the South African government to not admit him.

Two other Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Arch Bishop-emeritus Desmond Tutu and former South African President FW de Klerk, criticised the denial and pulled out of the conference. Current Minister of Health Barbara Hogan was critical of the decision, accusing the Government of "being dismissive of human rights". Opposition parties to the ruling African National Congress, including the Democratic Alliance, Inkatha Freedom Party and Congress of the People, also expressed disgust. "The recent shameful denial of entry to South Africa to a peace icon and Nobel laureate, the Dalai Lama, is a demonstration of the ANC government's willingness to sacrifice the standing of South Africa on the altar of political expediency," said Mvume Dandala, leader of the last-mentioned, as well as former presiding bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa and former head of the All Africa Council of Churches. "This is especially so if the rumours are true that this was because of the funding arrangements between the ANC and the Communist Party of China."

Conference organisers, including the grandson of Nelson Mandela, also expressed outrage over the refusal to issue the Dalai Lama a visa. The conference was subsequently cancelled.

The South African government defended its decision as a matter of sovereignty. One South African official publicly criticised the Dalai Lama and lamented a taboo on criticism of him, while another publicly criticised the government for denying his visa.

Withdrawal of Honorary Degree

He was to be offered an honorary doctorate by the University of Tasmania when he would be visiting that Australian state in December 2009 but that offer has since been withdrawn. The University of Tasmania collects $30 million a year from Chinese students and Australian Senator Brown is questioning whether the Dalai Lama's fight for Tibetan independence affected the decision.

The University of Tasmania says the issue was raised in a meeting with Chinese officials but it had already decided to withdraw its offer to the Dalai Lama.

International Supports

The Dalai Lama has been successful in gaining Western sympathy for Tibetan self-determination, including vocal support from numerous Hollywood celebrities, most notably the actors Richard Gere and Steven Seagal, as well as lawmakers from several major countries.

In 2005 and 2008Time placed the Dalai Lama on its list of the world's 100 most influential people.

On 22 June 2006, the Parliament of Canadamarker voted unanimously to make The Dalai Lama an honorary citizen of Canada. This marks the third of four times in history that the Government of Canada has bestowed this honour, the others being Raoul Wallenberg posthumously in 1985, Nelson Mandela in 2001 and Aung San Suu Kyi in 2007.

In September 2006, the United States Congress voted to award the Dalai Lama the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award which may be bestowed by the Legislative Branch of the United States government. The actual ceremony and awarding of the medal took place on 17 October 2007. The Chinese Government has reacted angrily to the award, which it merely refers to as "the extremely wrong arrangements". Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said: "It seriously violates the norm of international relations and seriously wounded the feelings of the Chinese people and interfered with China's internal affairs".

In June 2007, during an Australian tour, the Dalai Lama made public appearances in Perth, Bendigo, Melbourne, Geelong, Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane.

On 6 December 2008, Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France and current Chairman of the European Union met the Dalai Lama in Poland and appeased the situation after China postponed a China-EU summit.

In March 2009 a peace conference for Nobel laureates in South Africa was postponed indefinitely after Pretoriamarker refused the Dalai Lama a visa, sparking a storm of controversy, the government being accused of bowing to Chinese pressure. Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former South African President FW de Klerk pulled out of the meeting in protest.

In May 2009, the Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Løkke met the Dalai Lama after having faced several appeals form China not to do so. After the meeting, the spokesman from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qin Gang, stated that "China is very dissatisfied with - and is protesting about the meeting".

Songs for Tibet is an album supportive of the Dalai Lama and a peaceful solution for the Tibetan issue. Several rock bands contributed with their music for the album.


The Dalai Lama during his visit to Italy in 2007

After suffering abdominal pain in the October 2008, the Dalai Lama was hospitalized in New Delhi. He had routine surgery on 10 October to remove a gallstone.Four marks on the Dalai Lama's right arm are the consequence of a childhood smallpox vaccination and do not have any special significance. His right arm is uncovered in accordance with Buddhist tradition.

Possibility of retirement

In May 2007, Chhime Rigzing, a senior spokesman for the Tibetan spiritual leader's office, stated that the Dalai Lama wants to reduce his political burden as he moves into "retirement". However, in 2008 the Dalai Lama himself ruled out such a move, saying "There is no point, or question of retirement."

Rigzing stated "The political leadership will be transferred over a period of time but he will inevitably continue to be the spiritual leader because as the Dalai Lama, the issue of relinquishing the post does not arise".

The Dalai Lama announced he would like the elected Tibetan Parliament in Exile to have more responsibility over administration.

On 1 September 2007, China issued new rules controlling the selection of the next Dalai Lama, declaring that any reincarnation must bear the seal of approval by China's cabinet. These regulations could potentially result in one Dalai Lama approved by the Chinese government, and another chosen outside of Tibet. This would be similar to the present situation with the Panchen Lamas and Karmapas. In November 2007, Tashi Wangdi said the new rules mean nothing. "It will have no effect" said Wangdi. "You can't impose a Pope. You can't impose an imam, an archbishop, saints, any religion... you can't politically impose these things on people. It has to be a decision of the followers of that tradition. The Chinese can use their political power: force. Again, it's meaningless".

During the 2008 unrest in Tibet, the Dalai Lama called for calm and concurrently condemned Chinese violence. His call was met with Tibetan frustration at his methodology and goals and Chinese allegations that he himself incited the violence in order to ruin the 2008 Summer Olympics. In response to the continued violence perpetrated by Chinese as well as Tibetans, on 18 March 2008, the Dalai Lama threatened to step down, a move unprecedented in the history of the office of the Dalai Lama. Aides later clarified that this threat was predicated on a further escalation of violence, and that he did not presently have the intention of leaving his political or spiritual offices. Many Tibetan exiles expressed their support for the Dalai Lama, and the People's Republic of China intensified their campaign of attacks against him.

In the ensuing months, he held meetings aimed at discussing the future institution of the Dalai Lama, including:
[A] conclave, like in the Catholic Church, a woman as my successor, no Dalai Lama anymore, or perhaps even two, since the Communist Party has, astonishingly enough, given itself the right to be responsible for reincarnations.

He has clarified that his goal is to relinquish all temporal power and to no longer play a "pronounced spiritual role" and have a simpler monastic life.

Awards and honours

The Congressional Gold Medal awarded to the Dalai Lama in 2006
The Dalai Lama has received numerous awards over his spiritual and political career. On 22 June 2006, he became one of only five people ever to be recognised with Honorary Citizenship by the Governor General of Canada. On 28 May 2005, he received the Christmas Humphreys Award from the Buddhist Society in the United Kingdom. Most notable was the Nobel Peace Prize, presented in Oslo on 10 December 1989 (see below).

Other notable awards and honours include:

Nobel Peace Prize

On 10 December 1989 the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The committee recognized his efforts in "the struggle of the liberation of Tibet and the efforts for a peaceful resolution instead of using violence." The chairman of the Nobel committee said that the award was "in part a tribute to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi."In his acceptance speech the Dalai Lama criticised China for using force against student protesters during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989marker. He said the victims efforts were not in vain. His speech focused on the importance of the continued use of non-violence and his desire to maintain a dialogue with China to try and resolve the situation.

Support for Uyghur Spokesperson Rebiya Kadeer

During the Melbourne International Film Festival, the controversial film The 10 Conditions of Love, which documents the life of exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer, was screened on 8 August, 2009 in spite of attempts by the Chinese government (which labels her a terrorist), to block screening of the film. The Dalai Lama sent a message of support:

Australian Federal Labor Member of Parliament, Michael Danby, says he discussed Ms Kadeer with the Dalai Lama recently: "He asked me to convey to you in Melbourne that she is another one of the national leaders who is a paradigm of non-violence," he said.

"He wanted to make it very clear to people that the claims of this woman being a violent person or instigating violence, is from his point of view, and with all of his authority, wrong."


Examples of films recently made about Tenzin Gyatso:

See also



  • Iyer, Pico. The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama (2008) Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. ISBN 978-307-26760-3
  • Knaus, Robert Kenneth. Orphans of the Cold War: America and the Tibetan Struggle for Survival (1999) PublicAffairs . ISBN 978-1891620188
  • Richardson, Hugh E. (1984). Tibet & Its History. 1st edition 1962. 2nd edition, Revised and Updated. Shambhala Publications, Boston. ISBN 0-87773-376-7 (pbk).
  • Shakya, Tsering. The Dragon In The Land Of Snows (1999) Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-11814-7


  • The Leader's Way', co-authored with Laurens van den Muyzenberg, ISBN 978-1-85788-511-8
  • The Art of Happiness, co-authored with Howard C. Cutler, M.D. ISBN 0-9656682-9-0
  • The Art of Happiness at Work, co-authored with Howard C. Cutler, M.D. ISBN 1-59448-054-0
  • Mind in Comfort and Ease, Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-493-8
  • The World of Tibetan Buddhism, translated by Geshe Thupten Jinpa, foreword by Richard Gere, Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-097-5
  • The Compassionate Life,Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-378-8
  • Ethics for the New Millennium, Riverhead Books, 1999, ISBN 1-57322-883-4
  • A Simple Path, ISBN 0-00-713887-3
  • Essence of the Heart Sutra, edited by Geshe Thupten Jinpa, Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-284-6
  • The Meaning of Life: Buddhist Perspectives on Cause and Effect, Translated by Jeffrey Hopkins, Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-173-4
  • How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life, Transl. and ed. by Jeffrey Hopkins, ISBN 0-7434-5336-0
  • Kalachakra Tantra: Rite of Initiation, Edited by Jeffrey Hopkins, Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-151-3
  • A Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus, Translated by Geshe Thupten Jinpa, Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-138-6
  • Opening the Eye of New Awareness, Translated by Donald S. Lopez, Jr., Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-155-6
  • Freedom in Exile: The Autobiography of the Dalai Lama, London: Little, Brown and Co, 1990 ISBN 0-349-10462-X
  • Imagine All the People: A Conversation with the Dalai Lama on Money, Politics, and Life as it Could Be, Coauthored with Fabien Ouaki, Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-150-5
  • An Open Heart, edited by Nicholas Vreeland. ISBN 0-316-98979-7
  • The Gelug/Kagyü Tradition of Mahamud, co-authored with Alexander Berzin. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 1997, ISBN 1-55939-072-7
  • Practicing Wisdom: The Perfection of Shantideva's Bodhisattva Way, translated by Geshe Thupten Jinpa, Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-182-3
  • The Wisdom of Forgiveness: Intimate Conversations and Journeys, coauthored with Victor Chan, Riverbed Books, 2004, ISBN 1-57322-277-1
  • Tibetan Portrait: The Power of Compassion, photographs by Phil Borges with sayings by Tenzin Gyatso. ISBN 0-8478-1957-4
  • The Heart of Compassion: A Practical Approach to a Meaningful Life, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin: Lotus Press, ISBN 0-940985-36-5
  • Ancient Wisdom, Modern World: Ethics for the new millennium, Abacus Press, 2000, ISBN 0-349-11443-9
  • My Tibet, co-authored with Galen Rowell, ISBN 0-520-08948-0
  • Sleeping, Dreaming, and Dying, edited by Francisco Varela, Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-123-8
  • The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality, Morgan Road Books, 2005, ISBN 0-7679-2066-X
  • How to Expand Love: Widening the Circle of Loving Relationships, translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins, Ph.D., Atria Books, 2005, ISBN 0-7432-6968-3
  • Der Weg des Herzens. Gewaltlosigkeit und Dialog zwischen den Religionen (The Path of the Heart: Non-violence and the Dialogue among Religions), co-authored with Eugen Drewermann, Ph.D., Patmos Verlag, 2003, ISBN 3-4916-9078-1
  • How to See Yourself As You Really Are, Translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins, Ph.D. ISBN 0-7432-9045-3
  • MindScience: An East-West Dialogue, with contributions by Herbert Benson, Daniel Goleman, Robert Thurman, and Howard Gardner, Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-066-5
  • The New Physics and Cosmology: Dialogues with the Dalai Lama, edited by Arthur Zajonc, with contributions by David Finkelstein, George Greenstein, Piet Hut, Tu Wei-ming, Anton Zeilinger, B. Alan Wallace and Thupten Jinpa, Oxford University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-195-15994-2
  • The Power of Buddhism, co-authored with Jean-Claude Carriere ISBN 0717128032
  • Dzogchen: Heart Essence of the Great Perfection, translated by Geshe Thupten Jinpa and Richard Barron, Snow Lion Publications, 2000, ISBN 1559392193
  • Violence and Compassion: Dialogues on Life Today (With Jean-Claude Carriere), Doubleday, 2001. ISBN 978-0385-50144-6

Further reading

  • Mullin, Glenn H. (2001). The Fourteen Dalai Lamas: A Sacred Legacy of Reincarnation, pp. 452–515. Clear Light Publishers. Santa Fe, New Mexico. ISBN 1-57416-092-3.

External links

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