STORIES
Peacemakers

The 14th Dalaï Lama

by Catherine from Villeurbanne

First of all, I would like to say that I don’t really have any idol or persons that I can consider as a hero or anything like that, as I think that no one is “perfect” enough to claim it. Nevertheless, there are a lot of people that I respect and admire for their important deeds, their strong- will and perseverance, but what impresses me the most is the faith that they have in everything they’re do in order to defend their causes and their fights.

The fourteenth and current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was born in 1935. The fifth of nine children of a farming family in the Tibetan province of Amdo, he was proclaimed the reincarnation of the thirteenth Dalai Lama at the age of three. On November 17, 1950, at the age of fifteen, he was enthroned as Tibet's Head of State and most important political ruler, while Tibet faced occupation by the forces of the People's Republic of China.

After the Tibetan resistance movement in 1959, Tenzin Gyatso fled to India, where he was active in establishing the government of Tibet in exile and preserving Tibetan culture and education among the thousands of refugees who accompanied him.

“His Holiness” is the first Dalai Lama to travel to the West, where he has helped to spread Buddhism and to publicise the cause of Free Tibet. In 1989, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He has also awarded numerous other prizes like the most recent which was on May 28, 2005, when he received the Christmas Humphrey's Award from the Buddhist Society in the United Kingdom.

So I decided to write about The 14th Dalai Lama because -in addition to his exciting mystical aspect, as The Dalai Lamas are considered by the Tibetan as the manifestations of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, who chose to reincarnate to serve the people- I think that we don’t speak or hear of him a lot whereas what he’s doing as I summed in the previous paragraph deserve to be talked about.

Indeed, he has devoted a major part of his life to carry a message of peace and tolerance all around the world for four decades now. And for that, I think he’s as important as any peaceful-icon, if not more! Moreover, it’s also important to note that he represents a universal role model as his commitment has enlisted the support of groups as diverse as Amnesty International and Hollywood celebrities such as Harrison Ford which proves very well the “global” admiration that he inspires.

I also appreciate all the strength and the will that he shows not only in his “peaceful war” (using non-violent ways and noted as a public speaker of peace) but also in his political and social role. To me, the fact that he had to assume all the political power at 16 and at the same time all the responsibilities which had been assigned to him as the “head of the State and Government of Tibet” is very impressive, and especially so since his exile. However what impresses me the most is the number of people who have followed him in his exile after the occupation of Tibet by China, which is an undeniable evidence of his charisma. Furthermore, in addition to his fight for peace, he also travelled all around the world to defend and seek international help in order to end the destruction of Tibet and his culture (more than 6,000 temples and the deaths of at least one million Tibetans are counted) because of the Chinese occupation.

However, The Dalai Lama is sometimes criticized for modifying his message to be as acceptable as possible to his audience, sometimes changing viewpoints according to the situation. He is also sometimes reproached for taking one side of an issue at time and changing it later on, usually in response to criticism. Despite that, most of the contributions he has made to society are positive ones.

So to conclude, I feel that His Holiness is a positive role model because of his involvement in this huge battle for peace (not only for Tibet but also for all the countries within war) and his human qualities (his strong will, faith, hope in human beings and his humility). In my opinion, if we could follow his example in life, we would maybe succeed in decreasing violence and war in the world.

Page created on 6/5/2006 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 6/5/2006 12:00:00 AM

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