The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and has travelled extensively around the world offering the message of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Dalai Lama was born in the small Tibetan village of Takster in Northern Tibet. His original name being Tenzin Gyatso. At the age of 2 Tenzin was recognized as the reincarnation of his predecessor, the 13th Dalai Lama. Thus from an early age the Dalai Lama spent many years studying Tibetan scriptures and he completed a doctorate in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy by the age of 25.
The Dalai Lama means Ocean of Wisdom. Lama also means ‘Guru’ or teacher. The Dalai Lama’s are believed to be reincarnations of the Bodhisattva of compassion. These are beings who choose to reincarnate to serve humanity. As the Dalai Lama says himself.
“The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes.”
Despite being a man of peace the Dalai Lama has had to face the consequences of the Chinese occupation of Tibet. In 1950 the Chinese army entered into Tibet and began to degenerate the Tibetan culture and religion. Despite many attempted negotiations and non-violent protests the Dalai Lama was finally forced into exile in 1959. With many followers the Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala in India. Since 1960 the Dalai Lama has maintained a Tibetan government in exile from this base in Dharamsala. Despite the turbulent and difficult times the Dalai Lama has lived through he has sought to maintain a spiritual outlook and learn to deal with life’s challenges, even his “enemies”
“Feelings of anger, bitterness, and hate are negative. If I kept those inside me they would spoil my body and my health. They are of no use.”
“Infinite altruism is the basis of peace and happiness. If you want altruism, you must control hate and you must practice patience. The main teachers of patience are our enemies.”
The Dalai Lama has sought to preserve parts of the Tibetan culture through educational and cultural institutions. He has also sought to raise awareness of the plight of Tibet to the wider world.
The Dalai Lama has travelled extensively in the West meeting with many religious and political leaders. The Dalai Lama has said that there is a need for a variety of faiths and religions so that it can suit the different temperaments of people. He advises people to think very carefully before changing their religion. He has often said there is an underlying unity between the different world religions.
” All religions are essentially the same in their goal of developing a good human heart so that we may become better human beings.”
– Dalai Lama
In 1989 the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel citation read:
“The Committee wants to emphasize the fact that the Dalai Lama in his struggle for the liberation of Tibet consistently has opposed the use of violence. He has instead advocated peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect in order to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of his people.”
The Dalai Lama himself has often described himself as being a simple Tibetan Monk. He rises at 4am to meditate and prayer. The Dalai Lama has also written many books on Buddhism and ways to inner peace.
Books by the Dalai Lama
His Holiness the Dalai Lama- Site of the Tibetan Government in exile