|Tibetan Buddhism Dalai Lama quote Nobel Peace Prize
Dalai Lama biography, Tibetan Buddhism
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| Dalai Lamas personify the most senior
religious authority recognised by Tibetan Buddhism. They are
considered to be re-incarnations of Avalokitesvara - the
Bodhisattva of Compassion.
Although the title "Dalai Lama" came into use in later times the person who is retrospectively recognised as having been the first, Gendun Drub, lived 1391-1474.
The actual title, meaning "teacher of wisdom as vast as the ocean", was first associated in 1578 with the third incumbent Sonam Gyatso (1543-1588).
It was in 1642 during the times of the fifth incumbent (1617-1682) that Dalai Lamas came to be recognised as being the spiritual and temporal leaders of Tibet.
The current (Fourteenth) Dalai Lama was born on the 6th July 1935 in Taktser, a farming village, in north eastern Tibet and given the name Lhamo Dhondrub.
When an incumbent Dalai Lama dies his soul is believed to enter the body of a new born male infant. Extensive searches are made to establish which male child is to be recognised as the divinely ordained successor.
On being formally recognised as an incarnation of Avalokitesvara Lhamo Dhondrub, then two years old, was renamed Tenzin Gyatso - a name suggesting holiness, gentleness, compassion and wisdom. In October 1939 the youthful successor was brought to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, and was formally installed as head of state, under a regency during his minority, in February of 1940.
In November 1950 Tibet was taken over by communist China and the following year his Holiness was encouraged, by the Regent and other Tibetan interests, to assume full political authority despite his being, at fifteen years of age, some three years short of the traditional age of full assumption of such authority.
After 1960 his Holiness was based in Dharamsala in northern India and remained as the figurehead of the Tibetan religion, people and state.
As head of the Tibetan government-in-exile his Holiness subsequently continued a peaceful struggle to re-establish Tibetan independence for many years. On 10th December 1989 his Holiness was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The associated Nobel citation quote reads:-
"The Committee wants to emphasise 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."This statement by the Nobel Committee perhaps reflected something of a modification of the Dalai Lama's position away from seeking the re-instatement of full independence.
In more recent times (summer 2004) the Dalai Lama has sounded out the Chinese authorities about his possibly returning to Tibet and has gone on record (October 2004) as saying that it might be better for Tibet to remain within China "provided it respects our culture and environment and gives us some kind of guarantee."
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