His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama


“For as long as space endures
And for as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I too abide
To dispel the misery of the world.”

From Shantideva’s Way of the Bodhisattva

Although he describes himself as a “simple Buddhist monk”, to millions of people, he is Chenrezig, the embodiment of enlightened compassion. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people. His Holiness is referred to as “Kund√ľn” by Tibetans, meaning “The Presence”. If you are lucky enough to meet him, it becomes obvious from his aura of gentle power why he is given this title.

A Dalai Lama is not appointed or elected, but born to the position, each successor a reincarnation of the previous one. Before each Dalai Lama dies, he leaves certain indications regarding where he will take his next rebirth. The present Dalai Lama was born into a peasant family on 6 July 1935, in Taktser, a small village in north-eastern Tibet. He was recognized as the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama at the age of two, and enthroned on February 22, 1940, assuming full political power in November 1950. He began his education at the age of six and completed the Geshe Lharampa degree, a qualification awarded only to the most outstanding students of Buddhist philosophy, when he was twenty-five in 1959.

On 10 March 1959, Chinese troops fired on Lhasa in an effort to quell a demonstration against China’s occupation of Tibet. His Holiness, disguised as a soldier, made the long and hazardous journey to India where he was given political asylum. Some eighty thousand Tibetan refugees followed him. Since 1960, he has resided in Dharamsala, India, now the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-exile.

On coming into exile, His Holiness saw that his immediate task was to save the Tibetan people and their culture. In 1963 he announced a democratic constitution, based on Buddhist principles and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as a model for a future free Tibet. In Washington DC in 1987, he proposed a Five-Point Peace Plan as a first step toward resolving the future status of Tibet.

The Nobel Prize for Peace was awarded to His Holiness in 1989. Perhaps the citation from the prize committee tells us most about His Holiness’ struggle for peace with China: “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.”

“Whatever we say, let us speak clearly and to the point, in a voice that is calm and pleasant, unaffected by attachment or hatred…When you engage in fulfilling the needs of others, your own needs are fulfilled as a by-product.”

These days His Holiness travels the world promoting his message of compassion and universal responsibility. When he is not travelling, he follows a busy schedule of administrative meetings, private audiences, religious teachings and ceremonies. He begins and concludes each day with several hours of prayers and meditation.

“With truth, courage and determination as our weapons,
Tibet will be liberated. Our struggle must remain
non-violent and free of hatred.”

Thanks to Sonam Tenzin and the Office of Tibet, London,
for this information.

Official website of HH the Dalai Lama :

Dalai Lama's visit of New Zealand: