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Tenzin Gyatso Could Possibly Be The Last Dalai Lama

Updated: May 29, 2021

Author: Aina Safuan

Editor: Izzati Azali

In conjunction with Wesak Day that’s going on all over the world on May 26, there is one significant figure of Buddhism, His Holiness, the 14 Dalai Lama. His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, identifies as a simple Buddhist monk. He is Tibet's spiritual leader and the country's most powerful individual. In a small hamlet in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet, he was born on July 6, 1935 to a farming family. When he was a child, he was known as Lhamo Dhondup and was identified as the reincarnation of Thubten Gyatso, the previous 13th Dalai Lama, when he was two years old. Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and Tibet's patron saint, is said to be manifested in the Dalai Lamas. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have promised to reincarnate in the universe to aid mankind. They are motivated by a desire to achieve Buddhahood for the sake of all living beings.

His Holiness is a saint and a peacemaker. He was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his nonviolent campaign for Tibet's independence. Even in the face of overwhelming antagonism, he has persistently pushed for nonviolent policies. He was also the first Nobel Laureate to be honoured for his efforts to address global environmental issues. His Holiness has visited over 67 countries across six continents. In acknowledgment of his message of peace, nonviolence, interfaith understanding, global responsibility, and compassion, he has won over 150 accolades, honorary doctorates, prizes, and other honours. He's also the author or co-author of over 110 novels.

There may never be another Dalai Lama after Tenzin Gyatso who has maintained the Tibetan movement's torch burning bright for six decades after fleeing to India on foot. As mentioned in India Today, His Holliness raised the possibility of being the last of the nearly 600-year-old Tibetan Buddhist lineage again last week. He answered, "Very possible." "I will be extremely glad if I am the last Dalai Lama."

Childhood education

At the age of six, His Holiness started his monastic education. Five major and minor subjects were included in the curriculum, which was based on the Nalanda tradition. Logic, fine arts, Sanskrit grammar, and medicine were among the major topics, but Buddhist philosophy, which was divided into five groups, received the most attention. Prajnaparamita, the perfection of wisdom; Madhyamika, the philosophy of the Middle Way; Vinaya, the canon of monastic discipline; Abidharma, metaphysics; and Pramana, logic and epistemology. The five minor subjects included poetry, drama, astrology, composition and synonyms. During the annual Great Prayer Festival (Monlam Chenmo) in 1959, His Holiness sat for his final test at the age of 23 in Lhasa's Jokhang Temple and earned the Geshe Lharampa degree, which is equivalent to the highest doctorate in Buddhist philosophy, after passing with honours.

Process of Democratization

His Holiness proposed a draught democratic constitution for Tibet in 1963, which was followed by a series of changes aimed at democratising the Tibetan government. "The Charter of Tibetans in Exile" is the name of the current democratic constitution. The freedoms of voice, opinion, assembly, and expression are also enshrined in the charter. It also provides detailed guidelines on the functioning of the Tibetan Administration with respect to Tibetans living in exile. The Central Tibetan Administration issued recommendations for the eventual constitution of a free Tibet in 1992. It was suggested that when Tibet gained independence, the first mission would be to establish a provisional government whose immediate duty would be to elect a constitutional assembly to draught and enact a democratic constitution for Tibet.

The Tibetan voters directly chose Kalon Tripa, the Chairman of the Cabinet, in September 2001, in a further step towards democratisation. The Tibetan Assembly had to ratify Kalon Tripa's government when he selected it. The Tibetan people had elected their political leaders for the first time in Tibet's lengthy history.

His Holiness initiatives for peace

In a speech to members of the United States Congress in Washington, DC on September 21, 1987, His Holiness suggested a Five-Point Peace Plan for Tibet as a first step toward a peaceful solution to Tibet's deteriorating condition. His Holiness commented on the last point of the Five-Point Peace Plan in His address to members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on June 15, 1988. He advocated Chinese-Tibetan discussions that would result in a self-governing democratic political entity for Tibet's three provinces. This organisation would be affiliated with the People's Republic of China, and Tibet's foreign policy and defence would remain under the control of the Chinese government. His Holiness has stated that when he reaches the age of ninety, he would meet with prominent Lamas from Tibet's Buddhist traditions, the Tibetan populace, and other concerned Tibetan Buddhists to determine if the Dalai Lama's institution should be continued after him. He further warned that apart from a reincarnation recognized through such legitimate methods, no recognition or acceptance should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends by anyone, including agents of the People’s Republic of China.

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