The 14th Dalai Lama, a prominent Buddhist leader and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is one of the most inspiring and religious personalities in the world. He is not just a spiritual leader but also a freedom fighter and political leader of the people of Tibet. His Buddhist teachings and life story are an inspiration to the international community. Did you know that Lhamo Dhondup, the current Buddhist leader, was recognised as a reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama at the mere age of 2? Or, that he has been in exile for the past 60 years in Dharamshala, India? In this blog, let’s honour the fierce leader on his 86th birthday and learn from the timeless teachings of the Dalai Lama.
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This Blog Includes:
- Early Life of the 14th Dalai Lama
- How is the Dalai Lama Chosen?
- Teachings of the His Holiness Dalai Lama
- Dalai Lama’s 60 Years in India
- The List of Dalai Lamas
- Who Will Succeed the Spiritual Leader?
Early Life of the 14th Dalai Lama
“It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.“
Lhamo Thondup, the Dalai Lama, was born on July 6, 1935, in Taktser, China to a family of farmers. Lhamo Thondup was the fifth of sixteen children, seven of whom died while they were very little. Religious officials discovered Lhamo Thondup, at the age of two, and identified him as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso, after searching for a successor to the 13th Dalai Lama for several months and following several significant spiritual signals. Young Lhamo, the 14th Dalai Lama, was renamed Tenzin Gyatso and proclaimed the 14th Dalai Lama. He became the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s political leader when he was 15 years old. In the same year, the People’s Republic of China attacked.
In 1959, after a series of failed diplomatic dialogue with the Chinese government and the consequent invasion of Tibet. Dalai Lama, fearing assassination along with his thousands of supporters fled to Dharamshala, India, where they founded an alternative democratic government. Today, the spiritual leader is the Tibetan government-in-head and spiritual leader, situated in Dharamshala, India. Tibetans believe he is the reincarnation of his forefathers and mothers. The political leader has worked tirelessly for over 50 years to establish Tibet as a self-governing, democratic state and end the Chinese oppression in his home country.
The Dalai Lama has taken a number of steps since with the aim to establish an autonomous Tibetan state within the People’s Republic of China. The teachings of Dalai Lama, his humanitarian efforts, participation in conferences and lectures around the world are all in an effort to spread Buddhism and spread happiness to the rest of the people. In 1989, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Dalai Lama announced his semi-retirement in December 2008, following gallstone surgery.
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.“
How is the Dalai Lama Chosen?
Rather than being chosen, the Dalai Lama is discovered. Tibetian Buddhists believe Dalai Lamas are enlightened beings and personifications of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and the patron saint of Tibet. The spirit of the Dalai Lama is passed on as the manifested body of the previous leader dies. The Dalai has the ability to pick the body into which he is reincarnated, based on the Buddhist concept of reincarnation. When that individual is found, he or she will succeed the Dalai Lama. The High Lamas of the Gelugpa school and the Tibetan government are in charge of finding the true reincarnation of the Dalai Lama.
This process can take several years: Tensin Gyatso, the 14th (current) Dalai Lama, was discovered over a span of 4 years. The search is mostly focused on Tibet, yet the current Dalai Lama has stated that there’s a chance he won’t be reborn, and if he is, it won’t be in a Chinese-controlled territory.
“The world doesn’t belong to leaders. The world belongs to all humanity”.
Teachings of the His Holiness Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan refugees who followed him established a society that promotes Tibetan language, culture, arts, and religion. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for maintaining a nonviolent relationship with the Chinese government. The benevolent leader is a true advocate of Tibetan welfare, environment, economy, women’s rights, reproductive health, nonviolence, physics, astronomy, interfaith dialogue, Buddhism and science, cognitive neuroscience, and sexuality, as well as Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist teachings.
Here are some of the timeless teachings from the Holiness Dalai Lama:
Learn to See Humanity as a Whole
Dalai Lama has always promoted the idea of communal harmony and collaboration rather than the divide of ‘us’ or ‘them’. His belief in looking at humanity as a whole comes from Buddhism which also focuses on seeing oneself as part of the community and focusing on the value of ‘sameness’ not differences that tear us apart.
Take Actions to Bring the Change You Want
Taking initiative is the best way to bring the change we aspire to see in the world around us. Dalai Lama believes in the power of our actions, especially those that can power key changes in the world and make it a better place to live.
There’s Always Hope!
Buddhism has always believed in the power of hope and how it can help you deal with difficult circumstances. Dalai Lama emphasises this idea of the persistent presence of hope in our lives and believing in it can help you see difficulties in a different light. So, no matter who you are or where you are, there is always hope for better things and circumstances and a better you!
Be Wisely Selfish
Dalai Lama knows that human nature is selfish but we can turn it around by being wisely selfish. This can be done by educating others about how important it is to align our interests with the welfare of others.
Buddhism is rooted in compassion and loving-kindness and the idea of how these two qualities can provide us with the inner strength we need in life. That’s why it’s essential that we look at the bigger picture during difficult times and become kinder and compassionate towards each other to cultivate loving-kindness in the world.
Dalai Lama’s 60 Years in India
“My body is Tibetan but spiritually I’m an Indian.”
China’s political landscape began to shift in the 1950s. There were also plans in the works to formally merge Tibet with China. Tibetans, on the other hand, came to the streets in March 1959, demanding an end to the Chinese invasion. Thousands were killed when troops from the Chinese People’s Republic suppressed the revolt.
During the 1959 Tibetan rebellion, the Dalai Lama escaped to India with thousands of followers, where he was welcomed by former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who gave him permission to organize the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala. The teachings of Dalai Lama and his philosophy found their true calling and international appeal needed to free the people of Tibet.
“A disciplined mind leads to happiness, and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering.“
The List of Dalai Lamas
|Dalai Lama||Name||Lived (years)|
|Fifth||Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso||1617–1682|
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Who Will Succeed the Spiritual Leader?
“The goal is not to be better than the other man, but your previous self.“
The 14th Dalai Lama has made a series of statements in response to China’s threat, making it difficult for a Chinese-appointed 15th Dalai Lama to be viewed as legitimate. According to him, the Dalai Lama’s institution may no longer be required. He has also stated that it is up to the people to decide whether or not they wish to preserve this aspect of Tibetan Buddhism and the Dalai Lama lineage.
Another possibility suggested by the Dalai Lama is for him to choose his reincarnation before he dies. The Dalai Lama would then pass on his spiritual realization to the successor in this scenario. The Dalai Lama has also claimed that if he dies outside of Tibet, he would be reincarnated somewhere else, most likely in India. He also referred to the potential of rebirth as a woman.
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The 14th Dalai Lama acquired a level of exposure and celebrity that his predecessors could never have imagined. The teachings of Dalai Lama, his philosophy and his persona are truly timeless. He rose to become the world’s most recognized Buddhist teacher and is internationally admired for his commitment to nonviolence and the cause of Tibetan independence. If you take inspiration from fearless personalities and world leaders then follow Leverage Edu on Facebook, Youtube, Instagram to get riveting articles on thought-leaders!