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A Biography of His Holiness the Dalai Lama – Tenzin Gyatso


His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the incarnation of the Buddha of Compassion, is the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people. He was born to a peasant family in North Eastern Tibet in a small village Taktser on July 6th, 1935.

In 1950, at the age of 15, he assumed full political responsibility while continuing his education. At 25, he completed the Geshe Lharampa Degree (Doctorate in Buddhist Philosophy). In addition to Buddhist subjects, he studied English, Sciences, Geography and Mathematics.

In 1959, despite all efforts, Chinese policy in eastern Tibet ignited an uprising which spread to other parts of the country leading to the uprising on March 10th. Shortly after, His Holiness escaped to India where he was given political asylum along with thousands of Tibetans who followed him into exile. He set up a Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala, a small town in Northern India.

Cultural preservation was identified as the immediate task of the exiled government schools were set up and institutes for the arts, monastic centers and various centers for higher learning along with large scale agricultural settlements for the exiled community for economic development. A constitution was adopted in 1963, as a model for a future free Tibet.

At the Human Rights Caucus of the US Congress in 1987, he proposed a Five Point Peace Plan as a first step toward resolving the future status of Tibet. This plan calls for the designation of Tibet as a zone of non-violence, and end to the massive transfer of Chinese into Tibet, restoration of fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms, and the abandonment of China's use of Tibet for nuclear weapons production and the dumping of nuclear waste, as well as urging earnest negotiations" on the future of Tibet.

The Dalai Lama stresses on "the oneness of the human family and the need for each individual to develop a sense of universal responsibility." His Holiness said, "We are living today in an interdependent world. One nation's problems can no longer be solved by itself. Without a sense of universal responsibility, our very survival is in danger. Basically universal responsibility is feeling for other people's suffering just as we feel our own. I have always believed in the need for better understanding, closer cooperation and greater respect among the various nations of the world. Besides, I feel that love and compassion are the moral fabric of world peace."

In 1989, the Norwegian Nobel Committee's decided to award the 1989 Peace Prize to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In its citation, "the committee wants to emphasize the fact that the Dalai Lama in his struggle for the liberation of Tibet has consistently 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. In the opinion of the Committee the Dalai Lama has come forward with constructive and forward-looking proposals for the solution of international conflicts, human rights issues and global environmental problems."
“I am just a simple Buddhist monk- no more, no less."

His Holiness accepted the prize on behalf of the oppressed everywhere and all those who struggle for freedom and work for world peace and the people of Tibet. In his remarks, he said, "The prize reaffirms our conviction that with truth, courage and determination as our weapons, Tibet will be liberated. Our struggle must remain nonviolent and free of hatred." His Holiness often says, "I am just a simple Buddhist monk no more, no less." His Holiness follows the life of a Buddhist monk. Living in a small cottage in Dharamsala, he rises at 4 A.M. to meditate and pursues a busy schedule of administrative meetings, private audiences and religious teachings and ceremonies. He concludes each day with further prayer before retiring. In explaining his greatest sources of inspiration, he often cites a favorite verse, found in the writings of the renowned eight century Buddhist saint Shantideva:

"For as long as space endure. And for as long as living beings remain, until then may I too abide to dispel the misery of the world."

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