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The term ‘Dalai Lama’ is generally a title given to enlightened beings who must personify the very essence of compassion, peace, and wisdom. They are primarily monks from the Gelug or ‘Yellow Hat’ school of Tibetan Buddhism. The Dalai Lama serves an important role in that he is a symbol of unification of the state of Tibet, as well as a representation of Buddhist values and traditions.
The word ‘Dalai’ means ‘ocean’ in Mongolian, while ‘Lama’ is comparable to the Sanskrit word ‘guru’ or spiritual teacher. Thus, the term Dalai Lama in general means a ‘teacher spiritually as deep as the ocean’. The current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso.
Dalai Lama: Early Years
Lhamo Thondup was born on July 6, 1935 in the remote Taktser village of Amdo, Tibet, which is politically part of the Chinese province of Qinghai. Little Lhamo was selected as a reincarnation of 13th Dalai Lama when he was only two years old. This was done by searching and following many significant spiritual signs for several months.
It was through the guidance of a vision that Lhamo Thondup was found. He was also subjected to a couple of tests. One of the tests consisted of showing various pairs of objects by the religious officials. One belonged to the late 13th Dalai Lama – the other did not. Without hesitation, little Lhamo would pick the right object every time. From then on, Lhamo was renamed as Tenzin Gyatso and proclaimed the 14th Dalai Lama.
At age six he began his religious education. He studied Tibetan art and culture, Sanskrit, logic, medicine, and Buddhist philosophy. At age 11, Tenzin had a fateful encounter with Austrian mountaineer, Heinrich Harrer. The two became friends as Harrer taught the 14th Dalai Lama about the outside world.
When he turned 15 in 1950, Tenzin held full political power. However, the People’s Republic of China invaded Tibet on October of the same year, cutting his leadership short. Despite peace talks with Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders, their suppression of Tibetan people made matters more complex.
In 1959 during an uprising, the 14th Dalai Lama along with some of his followers fled to Dharamshala in northern India to avoid a supposedly assassination plot. There they established an alternative government, where they can also continue teaching the world about compassion, peace, and contentment. Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama resides there as of this day.
Dalai Lama: Works and Teachings
As an important spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama has committed his life in the service of humanity. Occasionally, he would meet with political leaders to discuss topics on peace, environmental sustainability, and to share his wisdom. This is something that his predecessors were not able to do. The 14th Dalai Lama also talks on conferences and universities, as well as holds lectures and seminars at various institutions worldwide. The Dalai Lama wrote numerous books as well.
His message is always clear: that people should practice compassion and respect towards one another. As a public speaker, those who have had the chance to be his audience described him as charismatic and an effective narrator.
Aside from political leaders, the Dalai Lama has also met with religious leaders such as: Pope John Paul II; Dr. Robert Runcie, the Archbishop of Canterbury; Gordon B. Hinckley, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and Patriarch Alexius II, of the Russian Orthodox Church
The 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his peaceful efforts for the liberation of Tibet, as well as his works to educate people regarding global environmental problems.
Truly, Tenzin Gyatso is an inspiration to us all to lead more self-disciplined, peaceful lives. For those seeking his wisdom, here are a couple of the best Dalai Lama quotes and sayings.
30 Dalai Lama Quotes on Compassion, Peace, and Life
“A good friend who points out mistakes and imperfections and rebukes evil is to be respected as if he reveals the secret of some hidden treasure.” – Dalai Lama
“Compassion naturally creates a positive atmosphere, and as a result you feel peaceful and content.” – Dalai Lama
“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” – Dalai Lama
“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.” – Dalai Lama
“To remain indifferent to the challenges we face is indefensible. If the goal is noble, whether or not it is realized within our lifetime is largely irrelevant. What we must do therefore is to strive and persevere and never give up.” – Dalai Lama
“Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.” – Dalai Lama
“It is very rare or almost impossible that an event can be negative from all points of view.” – Dalai Lama
“People take different roads seeking fulfilment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.” – Dalai Lama
“If you can cultivate the right attitude, your enemies are your best spiritual teachers because their presence provides you with the opportunity to enhance and develop tolerance, patience and understanding.” – Dalai Lama
“Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.” – Dalai Lama
“Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.” – Dalai Lama
“A spoon cannot taste of the food it carries. Likewise, a foolish man cannot understand the wise man´s wisdom even if he associates with a sage.” – Dalai Lama
“Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.” – Dalai Lama
“The true hero is one who conquers his own anger and hatred.” – Dalai Lama
“Let us try to recognize the precious nature of each day.” – Dalai Lama
“All suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their own happiness or satisfaction” – Dalai Lama
“A truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change even if they behave negatively or hurt you.” – Dalai Lama
“Human potential is the same for all. Your feeling, “I am of no value”, is wrong. Absolutely wrong. You are deceiving yourself. We all have the power of thought – so what are you lacking? If you have willpower, then you can change anything. It is usually said that you are your own master.” – Dalai Lama
“Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.” – Dalai Lama
“To conquer oneself is a greater victory than to conquer thousands in a battle.” – Dalai Lama
“I will not propose to you that my way is best. The decision is up to you. If you find some point which may be suitable to you, then you can carry out experiments for yourself. If you find that it is of no use, then you can discard it.” – Dalai Lama
“Instead of wondering WHY this is happening to you, consider why this is happening to YOU.” – Dalai Lama
“A disciplined mind leads to happiness, and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering.” – Dalai Lama
“Because we all share this planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. This is not just a dream, but a necessity.” – Dalai Lama
“When we are motivated by compassion and wisdom, the results of our actions benefit everyone, not just our individual selves or some immediate convenience. When we are able to recognize and forgive ignorant actions of the past, we gain strength to constructively solve the problems of the present.” – Dalai Lama
“Happiness doesn’t always come from a pursuit. Sometimes it comes when we least expect it.” – Dalai Lama
“Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.” – Dalai Lama
“You must not hate those who do wrong or harmful things; but with compassion, you must do what you can to stop them — for they are harming themselves, as well as those who suffer from their actions.” – Dalai Lama
“Our ancient experience confirms at every point that everything is linked together, everything is inseparable.” – Dalai Lama
“Someone else’s action should not determine your response.” – Dalai Lama