His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the head of state and the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He was born on 6 July 1935, to a yeoman family, at the hamlet of Takster in north-eastern Tibet. At the age of two the child named Lhamo Dhondup was
recognised as the incarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso.
Dalai Lama is a Mongolian title meaning "Ocean of Wisdom" and
the lineage of the Dalai Lamas are manifestations of the Bodhisattva
of Compassion, Chenrezig. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings
who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth to serve humanity.
EDUCATION IN TIBET
His Holiness began his monastic education at the age of six. At 23 he took his final examination in the Jokhang Temple, Lhasa, during the annual Monlam (Prayer) Festival in 1959. He passed with honours and was awarded the Lharampa degree, the highest Geshe degree
(a doctorate of Buddhist philosophy).
In 1950 His Holiness the Dalai Lama was called upon to assume full political power after China's invasion of Tibet in 1949. In 1954 he went to Beijing for peace talks with Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders, including Deng Xiaoping. But finally, in 1959, with the
brutal suppression of the Tibetan national uprising in Lhasa by
Chinese troops, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was forced to escape into exile. Since then, he has been living in Dharamsala, North India, the seat of the Central Tibetan Administration.
Since the Chinese invasion, His Holiness has appealed to the United Nations on the question of Tibet. Three resolutions were adopted by the General Assembly in 1959, 1961 and 1965.
In 1963 His Holiness the Dalai Lama presented a draft democratic constitution for Tibet. Over the years His Holiness has introduced various reforms. However, in May 1990, the radical reforms called for by His Holiness saw the realisation of a truly democratic administration for Tibet. The Kashag (Tibetan Cabinet), which had been
appointed by His Holiness until then, and the tenth parliament were dissolved and fresh elections were held.
Members of the expanded eleventh Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE) were elected on a "one man one vote" basis by Tibetans living on the Indian subcontinent and in more than 33 other countries. The
TPiE, based in Dharamsala, is composed of 46 members, including the Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
In 1992 His Holiness the Dalai Lama announced that when Tibet becomes free, the immediate task would be to set up an interim
government whose first responsibility would be to elect a constitutional assembly to frame and adopt Tibet's democratic constitution. Thereafter, the Tibetan people will elect their own government and His Holiness would transfer all his political powers to the newly elected Interim President.
In 2001 the Tibetan parliament, on the advice of His Holiness, amended the exile Tibetan constitution and provided for the direct election of Kalon Tripa, the Tibetan executive chief. The elected Kalon Tripa nominates his cabinet colleagues and seeks approval for their
appointment from the parliament. The first directly-elected Kalon Tripa, Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, assumed office in September 2001.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama proposed the Five-Point Peace Plan for Tibet as the first step towards a peaceful solution to the worsening situation in Tibet. He envisaged that Tibet would become a sanctuary - a zone of peace at the heart of Asia where all sentient beings could exist in harmony and where the environment could be protected.
While addressing the members of the United States Congress' Human Rights Caucus on 21 September 1987, His Holiness announced the following peace plan:
1) Transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of peace;
2) Abandonment of China's population transfer policy which threatens the very existence of the Tibetan people;
3) Respect for the Tibetan people's fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms;
4) Restoration and protection of Tibet's natural environment and the abandonment of China's use of Tibet for the production of nuclear weapons and dumping of nuclear waste;
5) Commencement of earnest negotiations on the future status of Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and Chinese people.
Elaborating on the fifth point of the plan at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 15 June 1988, His Holiness proposed that "the whole of Tibet known as Cholka-Sum (U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo) should become a self-governing democratic political entity .... in
association with the People's Republic of China". Known popularly as the Strasbourg Proposal, it constitutes the essence of his Middle-Way Approach for resolving the issue of Tibet.
China has so far failed to respond positively to the various peace
proposals put forward by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
REVERENCE BY TIBETANS
Every Tibetan has a deep and inexpressible connection with His
Holiness. To the Tibetans, His Holiness symbolises Tibet in its entirety: the beauty of the land, the purity of its rivers and lakes, the sanctity of its skies, the solidity of its mountains and the strength of its people.
In 1989 His Holiness was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his
non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet. He has consistently advocated policies of non-violence, even in the face of extreme
aggression. Peace, non-violence and service for the happiness of
sentient beings are the basic principles of His Holiness' life. He is also known for his concern for global environmental problems. In recognition of all these noble efforts, the United States conferred on His Holiness the Congressional Gold Medal on 17 October 2007.
His Holiness says that his mission in life is threefold: as a citizen of the world, to serve humanity; as a Buddhist monk, to work towards
inter-religious harmony; and as a Tibetan, to serve the cause of Tibet and the Tibetan people.
His Holiness has travelled to more than 52 countries and met with presidents, prime ministers and crowned rulers of major nations. He has held dialogues with the heads of different religions and many
From 1959 to now His Holiness has received over 60 honourary
doctorates, awards, prizes, etc., in recognition of his message of peace, non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion. His Holiness has also authored more than 50 books.
His Holiness describes himself as a "simple Buddhist monk". In his lectures and tours around the world, his simplicity and compassionate nature visibly touches everyone who meets him. His messages are of love, compassion and forgiveness.
THE DALAI LAMA'S MESSAGES
"To meet the challenge of our times, human beings will have to
develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not just for his or her own self, family or nation, but for the benefit of all mankind. Universal responsibility is the real key to human survival. It is the best foundation for world peace, the
equitable use of natural resources and, through concern for future generations, the proper care of the environment".
"My religion is simple, my religion is kindness".
"Taking care of our planet is like taking care of our houses. Since we human beings come from Nature, there is no point in our going against Nature, which is why I say that environment is not a matter of religion or ethics or morality. These are luxuries, since we can survive without them. But we will not survive if we continue to go against Nature".
"We Tibetans as refugees will always feel grateful to the people of India, not only for giving help and shelter to this generation, but for many generations we Tibetans have received light and wisdom from this country. So, we will always feel indebted. From a cultural
viewpoint, we are the followers of Indian culture".
"We are not against the Chinese and we are not even against the Chinese leaders - they are also our human brothers and sisters. If they have a freedom to choose, they themselves may not indulge in such destructive activities because these activities or acts bring a bad name for them. I have compassion for them".