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His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet

The Dalai Lama, religious and temporal leader of Tibet, is recognised internationally as a spiritual leader, peace leader and statesman.

His refusal to use violence in Tibet's struggle for freedom won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and the respect of the world community. He has been invited to New Zealand to share his message of peace.

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since 1959, when he fled Tibet after the failed uprising against the Chinese invasion. Since that time he has devoted himself to the plight of his people and to promoting world peace, winning the respect and affection of world leaders and millions of people throughout the world. His policy of non-violence offers a solution to the most difficult political, environmental and personal problems of our time.

On awarding him the Nobel prize in 1989, the Nobel Committee said:

"The Committee wants to emphasise the fact that 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.

"The Dalai Lama has developed his philosophy of peace from a great reverence for all things living and upon the concept of universal responsibility embracing all mankind as well as nature."

The Dalai Lama has devoted himself to the cause of the six million Tibetans still living in Tibet under Chinese occupation. In India he has established a democratic government-in-exile and set up a variety of schools and institutions to preserve the culture and religion of Tibet and to care for the 100,000 Tibetans who followed him across the Himalayas into exile.*

In recent years the Dalai Lama has travelled extensively, sharing his philosophy of peace based on compassion and personal responsibility. He has spoken out against the nuclear arms race, the destruction of the environment and suppression of political freedom and human rights.

The Dalai Lama, a Buddhist monk and scholar, is also well-known in the West for his keen interest in other faiths and in science, particularly nuclear physics, neurobiology, and ecology.


His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet was born in 1935, soon after the 13th Dalai Lama passed away. He was the fourth son of a poor peasant family in Takster village, Amdo province, eastern Tibet.

The line of Dalai Lamas*, spiritual and temporal rulers of Tibet since the 13th century, is a succession of incarnations. A Dalai Lama is not appointed or elected; he is born to the position. Each Dalai Lama is a reincarnation of the previous one. Tibetans regard the Dalai Lamas as the human embodiment of Avalokiteshvara (in Tibetan, Chenrezig), the deity of compassion, who chooses to return to the world to serve humanity. Before each Dalai Lama dies, he leaves signs to indicate where he will take his next rebirth.

In accordance with tradition, search parties were sent to find the successor to the thirteenth Dalai Lama. Two years later, following the various signs and portents, a government party was led to Takster, where they found the infant Lhamo Thondup. After a series of tests, the child (later named Tenzin Gyatso) was recognized as the 14th incarnation of the Dalai Lama.

But by then the Chinese had control of Amdo. The local leader demanded a huge ransom before he would release the child. After two years of negotiations, the young Dalai Lama and his entourage were allowed to leave Amdo and travel to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, where he was officially installed in the Potala palace.


The Dalai Lama's education as a Buddhist monk began in earnest when he was six. After eighteen years of intense study, he graduated with the equivalent of a Ph.D in Buddhist metaphysics. It was granted after a three-month oral examination in public before thousands of monks and scholars.

In 1958 he took preliminary examinations at each of the three monastic universities, Drepung, Sera and Ganden. The final examination was held in 1959 at the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. That morning, the young scholar was examined by 30 scholars of logic. In the afternoon, he debated Buddhist philosophy with 15 scholars, and in the evening, 35 more scholars tested his knowledge of the canon of monastic discipline and metaphysics.

The Dalai Lama passed with honours, attaining the highest academic degree of Geshe Lharampa, while under intense political pressure from the Chinese to capitulate to their demands to take over Tibet.

* "Dalai" is a Mongolian word meaning "ocean", and "Lama" is a Tibetan term corresponding to the Indian word "guru" or teacher.


A regent was appointed during the Dalai Lama's minority, but in 1950, at just 16 years old, he was forced to assume full political power. The crisis was precipitated by the Chinese communist invasion. Much of the country was occupied and armed Chinese garrisons were established. With the Tibetan army no match for the invading forces, the Dalai Lama's only option was to negotiate.

In 1954 he was invited to Beijing where he and his party met Chairman Mao, Chou En Lai and other Chinese leaders intent on convincing them they would be better off under Chinese rule.

In 1956 His Holiness visited India, where he met Nehru but won little support for the Tibetan cause.

In 1959 the Tibetans rebelled, the Chinese crushed the uprising and the Dalai Lama was forced to flee across the Himalayas to neighbouring India.

His Holiness immediately established a democratic government-in-exile dedicated to work for the freedom of Tibet and the welfare of Tibetan refugees. With the help of the Indian Government, he set up schools, including English, Hindi and western-style education, along with Tibetan language and culture.

Then came handicraft factories, hospitals, orphanages, monasteries and cultural institutions -- the foundation for a new Tibetan society. There are now 53 Tibetan refugee settlements in India.

In the early days of exile the Dalai Lama found it difficult to rally international political support for his people. However three UN General Assembly resolutions were passed in 1959, 1961 and 1965 condemning China for "violations of the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people". Then in August 1991, after the violent repression of political demonstrations in Lhasa, the United Nations again passed a resolution criticising Chinese policies in Tibet and calling on the Chinese "to fully respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Tibetan people." Recently a number of governments, including the United States, Germany and France, have spoken out against continued Chinese repression in Tibet.

In the last decade, at the invitation of groups and governments, the Dalai Lama has travelled the world, seeking support for the Tibetan cause and sharing his belief in kindness and compassion as the ultimate solution to personal and political conflict.

Since his first visit to the West in 1973, he has met many world leaders, among them the Presidents of the United States, France and Germany, the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, members of European royalty, including Prince Charles and the King of Norway, and civic and religious leaders, including His Holiness Pope John Paul II.

The Dalai Lama has addressed the United States Congress, the European Parliament, and innumerable University, inter-faith and civic gatherings. In September this year he will be the keynote speaker at a major environmental conference in Sydney.

The Dalai Lama has received honorary degrees from:

Melbourne University, Melbourne, Australia

Benares Hindu University, Varanasi, India

Carrol College, Waukesha, Wisconsin U.S.A.

The University of Oriental Studies, Los Angeles, USA

Seattle University, Seattle, Washington, USA

Universite de Paris, Nanterre, France

Among the awards received by His Holiness are:

1989 Nobel Peace Prize, Oslo, Norway

1989 Prix de Memoire, Paris, France

Humanitarian Award, World Management Congress, New York

Raoul Wallenberg Congressional Human Rights Award, New York

Dr Leopold Lucas Prize, University of Tubingen, Germany

Bi-annual Award for the Foundation for Freedom and Human Rights, Berne, Switzerland

Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award, Human Behavioural Foundation, New York

Lincoln Award, Research Institute of America

Peace Medal, Asian Buddhist Council for Peace, Ulan Bator, Mongolia

Ramon Magsaysay Award, Manila, the Philippines

Palketta Award, Norway


"My message is the practice of compassion, love and kindness. These things are very useful in our daily life, and also for the whole of human society these practices can be very important.

"Basically, universal responsibility is the feeling for other people's suffering just as we feel our own. It is the realization that even our own enemy is motivated by the quest for happiness. We must recognize that all beings want the same thing we want. This is the way to achieve a true understanding, unfettered by artificial consideration.

"At the heart of Buddhist philosophy is the notion of compassion for others. It should be noted that the compassion encouraged by Mahayana Buddhism is not the usual love one has for friends or family. The love being advocated here is the kind one can have even for another who has done one harm. Developing a kind heart does not always involve any of the sentimental religiosity normally associated with it. It is not just for people who believe in religions; it is for everyone who considers himself or herself to be a member of the human family, and thus sees things in accordingly large terms.

"The rationale for universal compassion is based on the same principle of spiritual democracy. It is the recognition of the fact that every living being has an equal right to and desire for happiness. The true acceptance of the principle of democracy requires that we think and act in terms of the common good. Compassion and universal responsibility require a commitment to personal sacrifice and the neglect of egotistical desires.

"I believe our every-day experience confirms that a self-centred attitude towards problems can be destructive not only towards society, but to the individual as well. Selfishness does not solve problems for us, it multiplies them. Accepting responsibility and maintaining respect for other will leave all concerned at peace. This is the essence of Mahayana Buddhism."


"Peace and the survival of life on earth as we know it are threatened by human activities that lack a commitment to humanitarian values. Destruction of nature and natural resources results from ignorance, greed and lack of respect for the earth's living things.

"Our ancestors viewed the earth as rich and bountiful, which it is. Many people in the past also saw nature as inexhaustibly sustainable, which we know is the case only if we care for it. It is not difficult to forgive destruction in the past that resulted from ignorance. Today, however, we have access to more information, and it is essential that we re-examine ethically what we have inherited, what we are responsible for, and what we will pass on to coming generations."

"As people alive today, we must consider future generations: a clean environment is a human right like any other. It is therefore part of our responsibility towards others to ensure that the world we pass on is as healthy, if not healthier, than we found it."


Peace and the survival of life on earth as we know it are threatened by human activities that lack a commitment to humanitarian values. Destruction of nature and natural resources results from ignorance, greed and lack of respect for the earth's living things.

This lack of respect extends even to the earth's human descendants, the future generations who will inherit a vastly degraded planet if world peace does not become a reality, and if destruction of the natural environment continues at the present rate.

Our ancestors viewed the earth as rich and bountiful,

which it is. Many people in the past also saw nature as inexhaustibly sustainable, which we know is the case only if we care for it.

It is not difficult to forgive destruction in the past which resulted from ignorance. Today, however, we have access to more information; it is essential that we re-examine ethically what we have inherited, what we are responsible for, and what we will pass on to coming generations.

Many of the earth's habitats, animals, plants, insects and even micro-organisms that we know to be rare may not be known at all by future generations. We have the capability and the responsibility to ace; we must do so before it is too late.

Just as we should cultivate gentle and peaceful relations with our fellow human beings, we should also extend that same kind of attitude towards the natural environment. Morally speaking, we should be concerned for our whole environment.

This, however, is not just a question of morality or ethics, but a question of our own survival. For this generation and for future generations, the environment is very important. If we exploit the environment in extreme ways, we will suffer, as will our future generations. When the environment changes, the climatic condition also changes. When the climate changes dramatically, the economy and many other things change. Our physical health will be greatly affected. Again, conservation is not merely a question of morality, but a question of our own survival.

Therefore, in order to achieve more effective environmental protection and conservation, internal balance within the human being himself or herself is essential. The negligence of the environment, which has resulted in great harm to the human community, resulted from our ignorance of the very special importance of the environment. We must now help people to understand the need for environmental protection. We must teach people to understand the need for environmental protection. We must teach people that conservation directly aids our survival.

If you must be selfish, then be wise and not narrow-minded in your selfishness. The key point lies in the sense of universal responsibility. That is the real source of strength, the real source of happiness. If we exploit everything available, such as trees, water and minerals, and if we don't plan for our next generation, for the future, then we're at fault, aren't we? However, if we have a genuine sense of universal responsibility as our central motivation, then our relations with the environment, and with all our neighbours, will be well balanced.

Ultimately, the decision to save the environment must come from the human heart. The key point is a call for a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.

(From "Humanity and Ecology" , © 1988, The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

Thangka Catalog
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28 x 18.5 Karmapa Thangka Painting
The Eighth Karmapa Mikyo Dorje.
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27 x 19.25 White Tara Thangka Painting
White Tara represents the enlightened and liberating activity of all the Buddhas. She embodies the motherly aspect of universal compassion.
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12"x12" Kalachakra Mandala Thangka
Kalachakra is a Sanskrit word for "Wheel of Time" and "Mandala" is a Tantric meditation device.
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15 x 12 Green Tara Thangka
The Goddess Green Tara is a gentle female embodiment of universal compassion. Green Tara is the embodiment of the activity of all Buddha.
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