14th Dalai Lama

The 14th Dalai Lama[lower-alpha 1] (spiritual name Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, known as Tenzin Gyatso (Tibetan: བསྟན་འཛིན་རྒྱ་མཚོ་, Wylie: bsTan-'dzin rgya-mtsho); Lhamo Thondup),[lower-alpha 2] known as Gyalwa Rinpoche to the Tibetan people, is the current Dalai Lama. He is the highest spiritual leader and former head of state of Tibet.[6] He was born on 6 July 1935, or in the Tibetan calendar, in the Wood-Pig Year, 5th month, 5th day.[7] He is considered a living Bodhisattva, specifically, an emanation of Avalokiteśvara in Sanskrit and Chenrezig in Tibetan. He is also the leader and a monk of the Gelug school, the newest school of Tibetan Buddhism,[8] formally headed by the Ganden Tripa. The central government of Tibet, the Ganden Phodrang, invested the Dalai Lama with temporal duties until his exile in 1959.[9][10]

Tenzin Gyatso
Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama in 2012
14th Dalai Lama
Reign22 February 1940 – present
PredecessorThubten Gyatso
Regent
Head of the Tibetan Administration for Tibetans-in-exile[1]
In office14 June 1991–2011
PredecessorPosition established
Head of State of Tibet[2]
In office10 March 1963 – 13 June 1991
PredecessorPosition established
Director of the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region
In office1956–1959
PredecessorOffice established
Successor10th Panchen Lama (acting)
1st, 2nd Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China
In office15 September 1954 – 17 December 1964[3]
Exile to India in March 1959
BornLhamo Thondup
(1935-07-06) 6 July 1935 (age 87)
Taktser, Amdo, Tibet[4][5]
FatherChoekyong Tsering
MotherDiki Tsering
ReligionTibetan Buddhism (Gelug school)
Signature

On 29 April 1959, the Dalai Lama established the independent Tibetan government in exile in the north Indian hill station of Mussoorie, which then moved in May 1960 to Dharamshala, where he resides. He retired as political head in 2011 to make way for a democratic government, the Central Tibetan Administration.[11][12][13]

The 14th Dalai Lama was born to a farming family in Taktser (Hongya Village), in the traditional Tibetan region of Amdo (administratively Qinghai Province, Republic of China).[4][5] He was selected as the tulku of the 13th Dalai Lama in 1937 and formally recognized as the 14th Dalai Lama in a public declaration near the town of Bumchen in 1939.[14] As with the recognition process for his predecessor, a Golden Urn selection process was not used.[15][16][17][18] His enthronement ceremony was held in Lhasa on 22 February 1940 and he eventually assumed full temporal (political) duties on 17 November 1950, at the age of 15, after the People's Republic of China's occupation of Tibet.[14] The Tibetan government administered the historic Tibetan regions of Ü-Tsang, Kham and Amdo.[19]

Subsequent to the Annexation of Tibet by the People's Republic of China, during the 1959 Tibetan uprising, the Dalai Lama escaped to India, where he currently lives in exile while remaining the most important spiritual leader of Tibet. The Dalai Lama advocates for the welfare of Tibetans while continuing to call for the Middle Way Approach with China to peacefully resolve the issue of Tibet:

"The Tibetan people do not accept the present status of Tibet under the People's Republic of China. At the same time, they do not seek independence for Tibet, which is a historical fact. Treading a middle path in between these two lies the policy and means to achieve a genuine autonomy for all Tibetans living in the three traditional provinces of Tibet within the framework of the People's Republic of China. This is called the Middle-Way Approach, a non-partisan and moderate position that safeguards the vital interests of all concerned parties-for Tibetans: the protection and preservation of their culture, religion and national identity; for the Chinese: the security and territorial integrity of the motherland; and for neighbours and other third parties: peaceful borders and international relations."[20]

The Dalai Lama travels worldwide to give Tibetan Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism teachings, and his Kalachakra teachings and initiations are international events. He also attends conferences on a wide range of subjects, including the relationship between religion and science, meets with other world leaders, religious leaders, philosophers and scientists, online and in person. His work includes focus on the environment, economics, women's rights, nonviolence, interfaith dialogue, physics, astronomy, Buddhism and science, cognitive neuroscience,[21][22][23] reproductive health and sexuality.

The Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, and the US Congressional Gold Medal in 2006. Time magazine named the Dalai Lama one of the "Children of Mahatma Gandhi" and Gandhi's spiritual heir to nonviolence.[24][25]


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