The 14th Dalai Lama

Everything About Dalai Lama & His Role In Buddhism 

Ankita Awasthi Ankita Awasthi posted on Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

Born on 6th July 1935, Tenzin Gyatso is Tibetan Buddhism’s 14th Dalai Lama. A lot of us might not be aware of this but his holiness comes from a farming family of Taktser, Amdo, Northeastern Tibet region. Tenzin Gyatso is most fondly also addressed as Jamphal Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, Bstan-’dzin-rgya-mtsho, and Lhamo Thondup. 

Dalai Lama’s Details

Full NameLhamo Thondup
Date of Birth6 July 1935
Age86 years
ResidenceMcLeod Ganj, Dharamshala
Awards & HonoursTempleton Prize (2012), Nobel Prize (1989)

What is the role of the Dalai Lama in Buddhism?

At some point or other, one has ended up wondering, “Is the Dalai lama the leader of Buddhism?” Many confuse his holiness to be a Buddhism leader, while he’s just the world’s leading Buddhist voice. So, who is the leader of Buddhism, then? Basically, since there are umpteen traditions in Buddhism, each of them comprises its own leader of Buddhism. But, one can never deny the fact that the 14th Dalai Lama has been a worldwide famous Buddhist guru. 

Traditionally, each Dalai Lama (one after the other) was responsible for governing Tibet. But in 1959, the Chinese government took over all the governance charges and responsibilities on its shoulders. Ever since their existence, all the 14 Dalai Lamas and the revered kings have been believed to be the personified form of Avalokiteshvara- the Bodhisattva of compassion and Tibet’s protector. 

With their consistent humanitarian activities and Buddhist spiritual leadership qualities, the Dalai Lama religion has single-handedly branded out the Buddhist community, their teachings, and beliefs in the international space. With their notion, they strive to work for the Tibetan’s welfare. And that pretty much sums up their existence and the thought of what does the Dalai Lama do?

What is the Dalai Lama?

Well, the question must be framed to “who is Dalai Lama?”, since all the Dalai Lamas have been the human embodiment of Avalokiteshvara. Keeping the Dalai Lama definition aside, the reason that the 14th Dalai Lama could gather this worldwide fame as a Tibet famous person comprises several levels- his captivating personality, his supreme leadership qualities, his deep understanding of the meaning of life, and how he enlightened his followers with a better perspective towards life in all spheres. Even with the worldwide fame that the Dalai Lama could manage to gather, he believed and claimed himself to be a “ simple Buddhist monk.”

Dalai Lama Meaning:

In the Mongolian language, the term “Dalai” refers to the ocean whereas if we see the Tibetan meaning of the word “lama” it implies the spiritual guru. However, the office of Tibet has announced their translated version of the “Dalai Lama” term as the “ocean of wisdom”. 

About Dalai Lamas

In comparison to other creeds in the world, the Dalai Lama religion is one of those institutions that has been formed recently. The fact that there have been only 14 official Dalai Lamas, supports the given statement itself.

The principles and beliefs shared were so empowering that by the time the 14th Dalai Lama came into form, he got worldwide recognition and reverence. Interestingly, the first two Dalai Lamas were honored with the title of “Dalai Lama” posthumously. 

The 14th Dalai Lama

Born to a peasant family, the 14th Dalai Lama, Lhamo Thondup was registered in the local monastery to commence his training at the tender age of 5 years. Howbeit, according to Tibetan traditional beliefs, Lhamo Thondup was realized as the ‘Dalai Lama’ even before he was enrolled. He is believed to be realized as the Dalai Lama at the age of 2 years.

During his learning period, he was even trained by the highest level of monks in Tibet’s capital, Lhasa. As he grew older and was enlightened with all the knowledge and training. Consequently, In 1950, he was enthroned as the “14th Dalai Lama” to hold on to all the governance responsibilities and political powers at the age of 15 years. However, despite his leading charges, Lhamo Thondup chose to continue studying till he was 25. 

He completed his doctorate in philosophy while fulfilling all his responsibilities towards Tibet. A lesser-known fact but the 14th Dalai Lama had cleared all his honors examinations in front of a huge audience of monk scholars. 

When did Dalai Lama go into exile?  

With China’s vision to take over Tibet’s political authorities, the political tensions and prospects had begun to shape differently. All the changes and political tensions had begun to take form in the 1950s. The plans of action were ready for their execution to acquire all the independent authoritative charges from Tibet. The circumstances got bitter with each passing day and by 1959 the rage from both ends led 1000s of people to lose their lives. 

Basically, in order to end all the suppressing pressures, the Tibetans decided to be vocal about their concerns. In 1959, they took their protests on the streets insisting to end Chinese harsh attempts of ruling over Tibet. Realizing this brought no welfare but a heavy amount of life losses to Tibetans, the Dalai Lama religion decided to storm out of the state. So, along with his thousand followers, he dashed out from Tibet to India. Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru on the other hand, welcomed the whole lot with open hands. The shelter seekers were duly accommodated in Dharamshala and were even permitted to form their “Tibetan Government in Exile” there.

How old is Dalai Lama?

Living as a refugee in India, 14th Dalai Lama – Tenzin Gyatso is currently 86years old. Since Tenzin Gyatso AKA Lhamo Thondup had acquired so much so early in his life span, he got a chance to enlighten the masses with his wisdom and vision. Interestingly, he is the only Dalai Lama of all who got a chance to become a global face of this cause and Tibetan beliefs. 

Dalai Lama Age: 86 Years old

How is the Dalai Lama chosen?

In a more literal sense, a Dalai Lama is never chosen but is rather found. Giving support to their concrete belief in reincarnation theory, a Dalai Lama (Buddhism) is found. Actually, a Dalai Lama is believed to be a reincarnated form of Buddhist who is then chosen as the Buddhist’s human form each time. No two Dalai Lama exists at one time and when realized, they’re then declared to become the next Dalai Lama (Buddhism). The responsibility to search for the next Dalai Lama is given partially to the high-level Lamas who follows the Gelugpa traditions and principle. The remaining approval and research responsibility are in the hands of the Tibetan government.

Many might not know but it took them 4 long years to find the 14th Dalai Lama. Hence, it’s safe to mention, that the procedure may take a few years to find the true Dalai Lama each time. 

Peace Initiatives

In September 1987, everybody was introduced to Dalai Lama’s five-part peace plan that was curated especially keeping Tibet in mind. The plan was made for the welfare of people facing adverse situations back in Tibet. Although China has previously rejected on all the peace proposals, this one seems promising to potentially stand up to everyone’s expectations. 

The Five-Point Peace Plan

On 21st September 1987, Dalai Lama proposed the below-mentioned peace plan. The plan, basically, is divided into five simple parts, which once accomplished shall benefit the lifestyle quality of the people living in Tibet.

These five constituents of the peace plan are: 

  1. Transforming Tibet into a peace zone
  2. Withdrawal of allowance for China’s population to shift and re-accommodate in Tibet. These transfers of Chinese people within the Tibetan boundaries have led the natives to face an existential crisis and external pressures. 
  3. Protect and regard the fundamental human/legal rights and democratic freedom of Tibetans. 
  4. Ban China’s attempt to use Tibetan land for producing nuclear weapons or dumping nuclear wastes. Preserve the environment in its most natural form.  
  5.  Begin with the plan of steady negotiation and settlement on the future of Tibet as a state. The plan must include a clear picture of the relations between the people of Tibet with the people of China. 

Dalai Lama’s note on Universal Responsibility

While traveling to various places internationally, his holiness has always emphasized on the importance of empathy in life. It means that while a person is going through something or believes something, they must not undermine other people’s state of worry or their beliefs. Everyone needs to understand and respect each faith and belief even if they have their beliefs confined to just one.

He said “The need for simple human-to-human relationships is becoming increasingly urgent . . . Today the world is smaller and more interdependent. One nation’s problems can no longer be solved by itself completely. Thus, without a sense of universal responsibility, our very survival becomes threatened. Basically, universal responsibility is feeling for other people’s suffering just as we feel our own. It is the realization that even our enemy is entirely motivated by the quest for happiness. We must recognize that all beings want the same thing that we want. This is the way to achieve a true understanding, unfettered by artificial consideration.”

Achievements

Ever since the 14th Dalai Lama had been enthroned, he managed to grow better with each passing day. The man has embarked on a prestigious journey with 84 separate awards, honorary Ph.D. degrees, and umpteen public honors. All these were presented in the wake of his message of peace, non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility, and compassion. Interestingly, the man has authored 72+ books in his lifespan that, again, aspires to share a word regarding the qualities and human emotions as mentioned above.

Who will succeed the 14th Dalai Lama?

China and Tibet’s viewpoints have barely aligned in history. Naturally, China’s forceful attempt to takeover Tibet’s political independence has led the state to withdraw its faith in China. Hence, In most probability, China’s opinion on deciding on the 15th Dalai Lama would not be welcomed very much. Keeping that in mind, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso has shared several statements regarding the same.

One of his statements that caused chaos amongst all the Tibet Buddism followers was when he shared the opinion to end this institution. He believed that the holy institution of the Dalai Lama might not be as useful for its followers as it was previously. Howbeit, later he clarified that the final decision shall depend on its followers for whether or not they wish to give up on this institution and Dalai Lama lineage. 

Another significant alternative that was brought to light by Dalai Lama was his contribution to selecting the 15th Dalai Lama. He shared that he would announce his reincarnation which shall eventually be appointed as the 15th Dalai Lama before he dies. This implies, that the whole process shall require Dalai Lama to channel his transcendental realization into the appointed heir. 

Dalai Lama even shared his instincts that if he dies outside Tibet, his reincarnation could be found abroad. He further added that in most probability, the existence of the reincarnated soul, in that case, shall be found in India.

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