Tenzin Gyatso: The 14th Dalai Lama’s Journey
14th Dalai Lama biography
The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the head of the Tibetan government-in-exile as well as the country’s spiritual leader. Born in Taktser, Amdo, in northeastern Tibet on July 6, 1935, he was acknowledged at the age of two as the 13th Dalai Lama’s reincarnation. He began his monastic training at the age of six, and at the age of twenty-three, he passed his final exam and obtained the highest doctorate in Buddhist philosophy, the Geshe Lharampa degree, at Lhasa’s Jokhang Temple.
He seized total governmental authority when China invaded Tibet in 1950 and fled into exile in 1959 when Chinese troops brutally put down the Tibetan national movement in Lhasa. He has lived in Dharamsala, northern India, ever since.
The Dalai Lama gives public lectures and teachings all year round. These events are usually free and accessible to the public in India, however tickets are frequently needed to enter overseas events in order to pay for the venue and related costs.
The following are some well-known statements credited to the Dalai Lama:
- “Happiness is not a prefabricated state. It results from your own deeds.”
- “Compassion and love are not luxury; they are needs. Humanity cannot exist without them.”
- “My faith is really basic. Kindness is my faith.”
- “The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”
- “Show compassion to people if you want them to be happy. Practice compassion if you want to be happy.”
difference between dalai lama and panchen lama
In Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama are important figures with specific duties. In addition to leading Tibet’s spiritual community, the Dalai Lama is also the head of the exiled Tibetan government. The Panchen Lama, on the other hand, is a key person in the Gelug lineage and the second most powerful spiritual figure after the Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama is recognized as the Buddha of Compassion’s reincarnation, Avalokiteshvara, whose Tibetan name is Chenrezig. Conversely, the Panchen Lama is thought to be the Buddha of Boundless Light, Amithaba, in a new form. The Panchen Lama and the Dalai Lama have historically served as teachers to one another and been essential in helping each other realize that they are each other’s reincarnations.
process of recognizing a new Dalai Lama
The ‘Golden Urn’ procedure is one of the many processes involved in selecting the next Dalai Lama. A council of high lamas is called upon at the death of a Dalai Lama in order to begin the process of finding his reincarnation. To find the true reincarnation, a number of possible candidates are first identified and put through a battery of tests and assessments. Political and spiritual factors are taken into account during the decision-making process, and the Dalai Lama or, in the event of his death, a group of high lamas make the final call.
It is important to recognize that the Chinese government has attempted to obstruct the process of recognizing a new Dalai Lama by claiming that it has the authority to choose the leader. The Dalai Lama has, however, made it clear that he will not be reincarnated in a nation that does not enjoy freedom. Furthermore, he reiterates that the Tibetan people will decide who will be the next Dalai Lama.
important figures in tibetan buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism has a long and illustrious history, marked by significant personalities who influenced its evolution. These are a handful of the most noteworthy ones:
Known as Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava is regarded as the second Buddha and is credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet in the eighth century.
Songtsen Gampo: He was the first king of a united Tibet and is credited with founding the country’s first Buddhist temples.
Respected as one of the most distinguished academics in the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism, Sakya Pandita’s contributions have had a long-lasting influence.
Taranatha: A prominent figure in the history of Tibetan Buddhism, Taranatha was a renowned scholar from the Jonang school.
Trisong Detsen: As a king of Tibet, Trisong Detsen is recognized for having invited Padmasambhava to the area and for having played a crucial part in the spread of Buddhism throughout Tibet.
Originating in Tibet, Tibetan Buddhism is a subset of Mahayana Buddhism that has spread to neighboring Himalayan regions. Known for its complex symbolism, mythology, and the practice of identifying the reincarnations of spiritual leaders who have passed away, Tibetan Buddhism provides a wealth of information about its distinctive customs.
Several resources can be helpful guides for individuals who want to learn more about Tibetan Buddhism:
Books: A wide range of books are available to suit varying degrees of knowledge about Tibetan Buddhism. Highly regarded books include “The Words of My Perfect Teacher” by Patrul Rinpoche, “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching” by Thich Nhat Hanh, and “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” by Sogyal Rinpoche.
Online Courses: Learning platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, and edX offer a variety of online courses that cater to different skill levels and cover various facets of Tibetan Buddhism.
Meditation Centers: Tibetan Buddhism-focused courses and retreats are provided by a plethora of meditation centers across the globe. The Insight Meditation Society, the Shambhala Meditation Center, and the Tushita Meditation Center are a few well-known centers.
Documentaries: Watch films like “The Yogis of Tibet” and “The Dalai Lama: Scientist” to learn more about the Tibetan Buddhist community.
Together, these resources offer a thorough understanding of Tibetan Buddhism that accommodates varying learning styles and degrees of experience.
difference between tibetan buddhism and other forms of buddhism
Buddhism is a diverse religion with various beliefs and traditions, leading to the development of different sects. Tibetan Buddhism, situated predominantly in Tibet, certain Himalayan regions, India, Bhutan, and Northern Nepal, is one such sect¹.
Distinctive in its incorporation of Vajrayana practices, Tibetan Buddhism differs from other sects that predominantly adhere to Theravada or Mahayana traditions². The emphasis in Tibetan Buddhism on the significance of the guru and engagement in esoteric rituals sets it apart, contrasting with the meditation and mindfulness focus found in other forms of Buddhism³. Additionally, Tibetan Buddhism encompasses some shamanistic and animistic elements¹.
tibetan buddhism worldwide
A subset of Buddhism known as Tibetan Buddhism is practiced in places like Tibet, Bhutan, Mongolia, and parts of Nepal and India that are above the Himalayas. It also enjoys a sizable fan base in the Himalayan regions that surround it, such as Ladakh, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh in India. It is difficult to estimate the exact number of Tibetan Buddhists worldwide. Although 488 million Buddhists are thought to be worldwide, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center study, precise numbers for Tibetan Buddhists were not provided.
famous westerners who have become buddhists
Several well-known Westerners have become Buddhists. Among the noteworthy instances are:
Actor and humanitarian Richard Gere is a well-known American who has been a practicing Buddhist since the 1970s.
– Steve Jobs: The late American businessman and Apple Inc. co-founder acknowledged his interest in Zen Buddhism.
– Tina Turner: Since the 1970s, the renowned American singer and actress has been a committed Buddhist.
– Leonard Cohen: The late Canadian poet and singer-songwriter who in the 1990s underwent monastic ordination as a Buddhist.
– George Lucas: well-known American director and mastermind behind the Star Wars films; has been a practicing Buddhist since the 1970s.