The 14th Dalai Lama was born Lhamo Döndrub, the 5th child of a large family in the farming village of Qinghai, China. At the age of 2, he was picked out as the rebirth of the thirteenth Dalai Lama and sent for formal monastic training to become a Buddist monk and eventually become the spiritual head of the Tibetan people.
He was formally enthroned as the Dalai Lama in 1950, shortly after the Chinese invasion of Tibet. He was thrust into a position of immense significance becoming both spiritual and political leader to a country under invasion and occupation.
After several years of Chinese occupation, the Dalai Lama escaped the country into India. He feared capture by the Chinese so reluctantly decided to leave, setting up a government in exile. After meeting with the prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, Nehru allowed the Dalai Lama and upto 80,000 Tibetan exiles to set up a government in exile in Dharamshala, India.
The Dalai Lama has followed a long campaign of non-violent resistence to the Chinese occupation. He has frequently called on the Chinese to respect the basic human rights of the indigenous Tibetans and end the migration of the ethnic Han Chinese into Tibet. In 1987 he proposed a five point peace plan about the future of Tibet and called Tibet to be made into a zone of peace. He also secured United Nations resolutions to support the right for Tibetan self-determination.
As well as being the leader of the political struggle for Tibet, he has taught extensively on Buddhist philosophy, and in particular his teachings of loving kindness and the spiritual practise of Dzogchen.
The Dalai Lama has met with many representatives of different religions. The Dalai Lama has been keen to stress the underlying unity of different religions; he has even said he is not keen to convert people to Buddhism
“All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness … the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.” – As quoted in Especially for Christians: Powerful Thought-provoking Words from the Past (2005) by Mark Alton Rose, p. 19
“I am convinced that everyone can develop a good heart and a sense of universal responsibility with or without religion.”
“I don’t want to convert people to Buddhism — all major religions, when understood properly, have the same potential for good.” – from Nobel prize acceptance speech 1989
He said Pope John Paul II was sympathetic to his plight, even though he was reluctant to antagonise the Chinese because of the plight of Catholics in China.
The Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace in 1989.
The Dalai Lama wrote frequently about the way to inner peace and happiness. He said
* Human happiness and human satisfaction must ultimately come from within oneself. It is wrong to expect some final satisfaction to come from money or from a computer. -The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom (1998) edited by Renuka Singh”
“I feel that the essence of spiritual practice is your attitude toward others. When you have a pure, sincere motivation, then you have right attitude toward others based on kindness, compassion, love and respect. Practice brings the clear realisation of the oneness of all human beings and the importance of others benefiting by your actions. “