The 14Th Dalai Lama Essay Research Paper

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The 14Th Dalai Lama Essay, Research Paper Research Paper November 12, 1999 The 14th Dalai Lama ?Dalai Lama? literally means ocean priest. His vast followers, awestruck by his presence, cast their eyes downward, fall to the ground and weep. They cannot look directly in his eyes out of respect. The Dalai Lama realizes the magnitude of his position, but dismisses the idolatry. His people call him ?His Holiness.? He calls himself a Tibetan who chooses to be a Buddhist monk. He also was leader of a country that Tibetans say is occupied and that Beijing says has always been part of China. He is considered the reincarnation of the previous 13 Dalai Lamas of Tibet, the first born more than 640 years ago. This Dalai Lama is different from his predecessors, though. For instance, the

13th Dalai Lama was strict and formal, and most Tibetans couldn?t get close to him except during public blessing ceremonies. The 14th Dalai Lama meets often with Tibetans and foreigners and never keeps people at a distance. He is among 600 Tibetan Buddhist monks living in Dharamsala, in northern India. About 7,000 of the 24,000 who live in this city are Tibetans, with the greatest concentration in the village of McLeod Ganj?the seat of Tibet?s government-in- exile. The Chinese occupied Tibet in 1950. For nine years, the Dalai Lama tried to negotiate peaceful coexistence with his people and the Chinese. When that failed, he fled in 1959 to India, where he set up Tibet?s government-in-exile. Lhamo Thondup was born July 6, 1935, to peasant farmers in Taktser, a poor settlement on a

hill overlooking a broad valley in northeastern Tibet. Buddhist priests from Lhasa, Tibet?s capital, came for the boy when he was 2. Omens led them to him: from the way the head of the 13th Dalai Lama had turned in his coffin toward the child?s village, to the vision of the house seen in a lake by a high priest. The boy was renamed Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso and raised by monks in Lhasa in the 1,000-room Potala palace, where the fifth through the present Dalai Lamas resided. As a boy, he had no idea what it meant to be the 14th Dalai Lama?the ruler of the land hidden behind the Himalayas. He was tutored in Buddhist teachings. At 15, with his country under threat from the newly communist China, he formally became head of Tibet, which is about three times the size

of California. At that time in 1950, peace in Tibet was shattered when 84,000 Chinese soldiers launched an attack at six points along Tibet?s border. Chinese officials say communism liberated the downtrodden Tibetan people from a feudal theocracy harshly ruled by a succession of Dalai Lamas. But many Tibetans say communism never was attractive for them, and they always considered the rule of the Dalai Lama benevolent. Fearful of being captured by the Chinese and believing he would be more effective outside Tibet, the Dalai Lama fled at age 24 across 17,000-foot Himalayan passes into India. Together with the 70-man remnant of the Tibetan government, he was given political asylum. He chose India for its proximity to his homeland, and Tibetans felt a spiritual kinship with their

neighbors because Buddhism originated in India. Buddhism teaches people to eliminate suffering caused by ignorance, egotism and self- centeredness. Buddhists cultivate morality, generosity, patience, energy, wisdom and meditation. They believe good actions lead to a promising rebirth. Tibet was the only place where Buddhist monks solely ruled the country. Leaders were thought to be incarnations of enlightened beings, and they taught others how to calm their minds and cultivate altruism. Tibetans say they lived peacefully until the Chinese invaded their country. Since then, 1.2 million people — 20 percent of the Tibetan population?have died in combat and through massive famines from collectivized farming and diversion of Tibetan grain to China. The Chinese gutted all but 10 of