Home Discussion Forum Please can you define the Dalai Lama for me and explain how...

Please can you define the Dalai Lama for me and explain how the whole thing is possible, thanks :)?

Basically just what the title says 😀 Thank youu x


  1. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader ( in exile) of Tibet.
    Tibet minus the chinese is/was a spiritually ruled country – all law was the law as defined by the religion/philosophy that is Tibetan Buddhism.
    So basically if Tibet had not been overrun by invading chinese the Dalai Lama would be the ruler of the country.
    He achieved this position by recognising, when he was about 7 or 8 ( I think) precious personal belongings of the previous ruler – thereby showing that he is the same person in a new incarnation (body).
    In this way the rulership of the country had passed down through to the 14th current Dalai Lama.

  2. You should see the movie “kundun” directed by Martin Scorsese it is about the Dalai Lama and how he was recognized. In Tibetan Buddhism he is said to be an emanation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion Chenrezig. A Bodhisattva is someone who is about to enter enlightenment and become a Buddha but chooses not to in order to help the rest of us in samsara. (the cycle of reincarnation)

  3. The Dalai Lama is a very high reincarnated lama in Tibet. A “lama” simply means “[religious] teacher”, like the word “guru” in India, and a reincarnated lama is a lama that is considered so advanced in his wisdom and spiritual realizations as to be able to choose his next rebirth, which means every time a Dalai Lama dies, he gives some clues about how to find his next body, and after a couple of years they find, test and recognize a small child that is then believed to be the continuation of the dead master. There are many different Buddhist masters in Tibet that continue their work from life to life in this way, not only the Dalai Lama, although he is the most famous and also the most important one.
    Spiritually he is also considered a manifestation of the Bodhisattva of compassion (bodhisattva = enlightened being), which is kind of a personification of enlightened compassion. This Bodhisattva of compassion, Chenrezig in Tibetan, is also seen as a protector of Tibet and all the Tibetans, so the Dalai Lama is held in extremely high esteem by most of the Tibetans.
    Formally he is not like a “pope” of Tibetan Buddhism, because his position isn’t formalized in that way, and he also doesn’t have any formal power whatsoever to decide how Buddhism should be interpreted in Tibet or how things should be done. Because he is held in such high esteem, almost everyone still tend to listen to his advice and often act as he suggests (although not like blind obedience).
    Tibetan Buddhism is not centralized, so there are many different “schools” or “traditions”, usually fully respecting each other but using different methods, rituals and philosophical explanations. The Dalai Lama belongs to one of the four main traditions, the Gelug, but formally he isn’t the head even of his own tradition.
    The political position (and the title “Dalai Lama” – “Dalai” is actually a Mongolian word meaning “ocean”) comes from the Mongolians in the 16th century, when the Mongolian ruler, Altan Khan, gave him (the third Dalai Lama – the first and second where recognized posthumously) the title and made him his spiritual guru and protector, in exchange for his own promise to protect Tibet politically.
    The Great Fifth Dalai Lama (17th century) united Tibet with the help of the Mongolian ruler Gushri Khan, and was thereby made the political ruler of the central parts of Tibet. Tibet was still a very decentralized country, with a great part of the population thinly spread out in vast areas as nomads, and with extremely few people involved in the administration of the vast country. From the Great Fifth until the early days of the present Dalai Lama, the Dalai Lamas were formally the political rulers of Tibet. We need to stress the word “formally”, because many Dalai Lamas died young (some say they were murdered, maybe by the Chinese), and other Dalai Lamas were utterly uninterested in power and politics. Actually, only one more Dalai Lama can be said to have wielded considerable political power over the Tibetans, namely the Thirteenth (died 1933). During his years as a ruler he tried to modernize Tibet, make the legal system more humane, start an English school to give Tibetans the opportunity to learn from other cultures, and so on, but some old, conservative lamas made it difficult for him to do all the changes he wanted.
    When the Maoist army invaded Tibet in 1950/51, the present Dalai Lama was only 15 years old, but in a vane attempt to save the country he was still given the political power, which he retained until he was forced to flee into exile in India in 1959. In the exile Tibetan society, the Dalai Lama is still the political leader, although he has initiated numerous reforms to democratize the exile government, which means the Tibetans now in free elections can elect a parliament (since 1961) and nowadays also a prime minister through direct election (since 2001).
    The Dalai Lama is still seen as the symbol and representative of the Tibetans, so he has not been able to retire fully from his political role, although more and more of the legal and executive power now lies with the democratically elected politicians. If he will some day be able to return to Tibet, he has clearly stated he wants to return to a non-political life as a monk, and make sure the Tibetans can choose their own leaders democratically.
    As a spiritual master he is all but unmatched, and he is generally considered one of the most learned and most highly realized Buddhist masters alive today. His books range from the easiest popular advice for non-Buddhists and non-specialist, to profound spiritual teachings on the most subtle and advanced subjects in Buddhist philosophy. Almost everyone who meets him is also struck by his kindness, compassion, wisdom, humour and open heart. The political leader Dalai Lama might be a marginal figure of a small country in the world, but the spiritual master Dalai Lama has the stature of a once-in-a-century master.


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