14th Dalai Lama
Spiritual leader of Tibet
Top 10 14th Dalai Lama related articles
- 1 Early life and background
- 2 Life as the Dalai Lama
- 3 Social instances
- 4 Retirement and succession plans
- 5 CIA Tibetan program
- 6 Chinese criticisms
- 7 Public image
- 8 Publications
- 9 Discography
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
- 13 External links
|The 14th Dalai Lama|
Gyatso in 2012
|14th Dalai Lama|
|Reign||22 February 1940 – present|
|Regent||Lobsang Sangay as Sikyong (political functions)|
|Head of state of the Central Tibetan Administration|
|Successor||Lobsang Sangay (as Sikyong)|
|Director of the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region|
|Successor||10th Panchen Lama (acting)|
|1st, 2nd Vice Chairman of the National People's Congress|
|In office||15 September 1954–21 December 1964|
Exile to India in March 1959
6 July 1935
Taktser, Amdo, Tibet
|Religion||Tibetan Buddhism (Gelug school)|
|Part of a series on|
The 14th Dalai Lama[note 1] (religious name: Tenzin Gyatso, shortened from Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso; born Lhamo Dhondup,[note 2] 6 July 1935) is the current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are important monks of the Gelug school, the newest school of Tibetan Buddhism, which was formally headed by the Ganden Tripas. From the time of the 5th Dalai Lama to 1959, the central government of Tibet, the Ganden Phodrang, invested the position of Dalai Lama with temporal duties.
The 14th Dalai Lama was born in Taktser, Tibet. He was selected as the tulku of the 13th Dalai Lama in 1937 and formally recognized as the 14th Dalai Lama in a public declaration near the town of Bumchen in 1939. On 26 January 1940, the Regent Reting Rinpoche requested the Central Government to exempt Tenzin Gyatso from the lot-drawing process of the Golden Urn to become the 14th Dalai Lama. The request was approved by the Central Government. His enthronement ceremony as the Dalai Lama was held in Lhasa on 22 February 1940 and he eventually assumed full temporal (political) duties on 17 November 1950, at the age of 15, after the People's Republic of China's occupation of Tibet. The Gelug school's government administered an area roughly corresponding to the Tibet Autonomous Region, just as the nascent PRC wished to assert control over it.
During the 1959 Tibetan uprising, the Dalai Lama fled to India, where he currently lives as a refugee. He has traveled the world and has spoken about the welfare of Tibetans, environment, economics, women's rights, nonviolence, interfaith dialogue, physics, astronomy, Buddhism and science, cognitive neuroscience, reproductive health and sexuality, along with various topics of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist teachings. A recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and the US Congressional Gold Medal in 2006, Time magazine named him one of the "Children of Mahatma Gandhi" and Gandhi's spiritual heir to nonviolence.
14th Dalai Lama Intro articles: 113
Early life and background
Lhamo Thondup was born on 6 July 1935 to a farming and horse trading family in the small hamlet of Taktser,[note 3] or Chija Tagtser (Chinese: 红崖村; pinyin: Hóngyá Cūn; lit.: 'Redcliff Village'), at the edge of the traditional Tibetan region of Amdo in Qinghai Province. His family was of Monguor extraction. He was one of seven siblings to survive childhood. The eldest was his sister Tsering Dolma, eighteen years his senior. His eldest brother, Thupten Jigme Norbu, had been recognised at the age of eight as the reincarnation of the high Lama Taktser Rinpoche. His sister, Jetsun Pema, spent most of her adult life on the Tibetan Children's Villages project. The Dalai Lama has said that his first language was "a broken Xining language which was (a dialect of) the Chinese language", a form of Central Plains Mandarin, and his family did not speak the Tibetan language.
Following reported signs and visions, three search teams were sent out to the north-east, the east, and the south-east to locate the new incarnation when the boy who was to become the 14th Dalai Lama was about two years old. Sir Basil Gould, British delegate to Lhasa in 1936, related his account of the north-eastern team to Sir Charles Alfred Bell, former British resident in Lhasa and friend of the 13th Dalai Lama. Amongst other omens, the head of the embalmed body of the thirteenth Dalai Lama, at first facing south-east, had turned to face the north-east, indicating, it was interpreted, the direction in which his successor would be found. The Regent, Reting Rinpoche, shortly afterwards had a vision at the sacred lake of Lhamo La-tso which he interpreted as Amdo being the region to search. This vision was also interpreted to refer to a large monastery with a gilded roof and turquoise tiles, and a twisting path from it to a hill to the east, opposite which stood a small house with distinctive eaves. The team, led by Kewtsang Rinpoche, went first to meet the Panchen Lama, who had been stuck in Jyekundo, in northern Kham. The Panchen Lama had been investigating births of unusual children in the area ever since the death of the 13th Dalai Lama. He gave Kewtsang the names of three boys whom he had discovered and identified as candidates. Within a year the Panchen Lama had died. Two of his three candidates were crossed off the list but the third, a "fearless" child, the most promising, was from Taktser village, which, as in the vision, was on a hill, at the end of a trail leading to Taktser from the great Kumbum Monastery with its gilded, turquoise roof. There they found a house, as interpreted from the vision—the house where Lhamo Dhondup lived.
The 14th Dalai Lama claims that at the time, the village of Taktser stood right on the "real border" between the region of Amdo and China. When the team visited, posing as pilgrims, its leader, a Sera Lama, pretended to be the servant and sat separately in the kitchen. He held an old mala that had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama, and the boy Lhamo Dhondup, aged two, approached and asked for it. The monk said "if you know who I am, you can have it." The child said "Sera Lama, Sera Lama" and spoke with him in a Lhasa accent, in a dialect the boy's mother could not understand. The next time the party returned to the house, they revealed their real purpose and asked permission to subject the boy to certain tests. One test consisted of showing him various pairs of objects, one of which had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama and one which had not. In every case, he chose the Dalai Lama's own objects and rejected the others.
From 1936 the Hui 'Ma Clique' Muslim warlord Ma Bufang ruled Qinghai as its governor under the nominal authority of the Republic of China central government. According to an interview with the 14th Dalai Lama, in the 1930s, Ma Bufang had seized this north-east corner of Amdo in the name of Chiang Kai-shek's weak government and incorporated it into the Chinese province of Qinghai. Before going to Taktser, Kewtsang had gone to Ma Bufang to pay his respects. When Ma Bufang heard a candidate had been found in Taktser, he had the family brought to him in Xining. He first demanded proof that the boy was the Dalai Lama, but the Lhasa government, though informed by Kewtsang that this was the one, told Kewtsang to say he had to go to Lhasa for further tests with other candidates. They knew that if he was declared to be the Dalai Lama, the Chinese government would insist on sending a large army escort with him, which would then stay in Lhasa and refuse to budge. Ma Bufang, together with Kumbum Monastery, then refused to allow him to depart unless he was declared to be the Dalai Lama, but withdrew this demand in return for 100,000 Chinese dollars ransom in silver to be shared amongst them, to let them go to Lhasa. Kewtsang managed to raise this, but the family was only allowed to move from Xining to Kumbum when a further demand was made for another 330,000 dollars ransom: one hundred thousand each for government officials, the commander-in-chief, and the Kumbum Monastery; twenty thousand for the escort; and only ten thousand for Ma Bufang himself, he said.
Two years of diplomatic wrangling followed before it was accepted by Lhasa that the ransom had to be paid to avoid the Chinese getting involved and escorting him to Lhasa with a large army. Meanwhile, the boy was kept at Kumbum where two of his brothers were already studying as monks and recognised incarnate lamas. The payment of 300,000 silver dollars was then advanced by Muslim traders en route to Mecca in a large caravan via Lhasa. They paid Ma Bufang on behalf of the Tibetan government against promissory notes to be redeemed, with interest, in Lhasa. The 20,000-dollar fee for an escort was dropped, since the Muslim merchants invited them to join their caravan for protection; Ma Bufang sent 20 of his soldiers with them and was paid from both sides since the Chinese government granted him another 50,000 dollars for the expenses of the journey. Furthermore, the Indian government helped the Tibetans raise the ransom funds by affording them import concessions.
Released from Kumbum, on 21 July 1939 the party travelled across Tibet in an epic journey to Lhasa in the large Muslim caravan with Lhamo Thondup, now 4 years old, riding with his brother Lobsang in a special palanquin carried by two mules, two years after being discovered. As soon as they were out of Ma Bufang's area, he was officially declared to be the 14th Dalai Lama by the Central Government of Tibet, and after ten weeks of travel he arrived in Lhasa on 8 October 1939. The ordination (pabbajja) and giving of the monastic name of Tenzin Gyatso were handled by Reting Rinpoche. There was very limited Chinese involvement at this time.
Tibetan Buddhists normally refer to him as Yishin Norbu (Wish-Fulfilling Gem), Kyabgon (Saviour), or just Kundun (Presence). His devotees, as well as much of the Western world, often call him His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the style employed on the Dalai Lama's website. According to the Dalai Lama, he had a succession of tutors in Tibet including Reting Rinpoche, Tathag Rinpoche, Ling Rinpoche and lastly Trijang Rinpoche, who became junior tutor when he was nineteen. At the age of 11 he met the Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer, who became his videographer and tutor about the world outside Lhasa. The two remained friends until Harrer's death in 2006.
In 1959, at the age of 23, he took his final examination at Lhasa's Jokhang Temple during the annual Monlam or Prayer Festival.[note 4] He passed with honours and was awarded the Lharampa degree, the highest-level geshe degree, roughly equivalent to a doctorate in Buddhist philosophy.
14th Dalai Lama Early life and background articles: 42
Life as the Dalai Lama
Historically the Dalai Lamas or their regents held political and religious leadership over Tibet from Lhasa with varying degrees of influence depending on the regions of Tibet and periods of history. This began with the 5th Dalai Lama's rule in 1642 and lasted until the 1950s (except for 1705–1750), during which period the Dalai Lamas headed the Tibetan government or Ganden Phodrang. Until 1912 however, when the 13th Dalai Lama declared the complete independence of Tibet, their rule was generally subject to patronage and protection of firstly Mongol kings (1642–1720) and then the Manchu-led Qing dynasty (1720–1912). In 1939, at the age of four, the present Dalai Lama was taken in a procession of lamas to Lhasa. The Dalai Lama's childhood was then spent between the Potala Palace and Norbulingka, his summer residence, both of which are now UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The Kuomintang government ratified the 14th Dalai Lama and a Kuomintang representative, General Wu Zhongxin, presided over the ceremony. The British Representative Sir Basil Gould, who was also at the ceremony, disputes the Chinese claim to have presided over it. He criticised the Chinese account as follows:
The report was issued in the Chinese Press that Mr Wu had escorted the Dalai Lama to his throne and announced his installation, that the Dalai Lama had returned thanks, and prostrated himself in token of his gratitude. Every one of these Chinese claims was false. Mr Wu was merely a passive spectator. He did no more than present a ceremonial scarf, as was done by the others, including the British Representative. But the Chinese have the ear of the world, and can later refer to their press records and present an account of historical events that is wholly untrue. Tibet has no newspapers, either in English or Tibetan, and has therefore no means of exposing these falsehoods.
Tibetan scholar Nyima Gyaincain wrote that based on Tibetan tradition, there was no such thing as presiding over an event, but two things are clear, first, the word "主持 (preside or organize)" was used in many places in communication documents. The meaning of the word was different than what we understand today. Second, Wu Zhongxin spent a lot of time and energy on the event, his effect of presiding over or organizing the event was very obvious. However, according to Goldstein:
everything the Tibetans did during the selection process was designed to prevent China from playing any role.
Chiang Kai Shek ordered Ma Bufang to put his Muslim soldiers on alert for an invasion of Tibet in 1942. Ma Bufang complied, and moved several thousand troops to the border with Tibet. Chiang also threatened the Tibetans with aerial bombardment if they worked with the Japanese. Ma Bufang attacked the Tibetan Buddhist Tsang monastery in 1941. He also constantly attacked the Labrang monastery.
In October 1950 the army of the People's Republic of China marched to the edge of the Dalai Lama's territory and sent a delegation after defeating a legion of the Tibetan army in warlord-controlled Kham. On 17 November 1950, at the age of 15, the 14th Dalai Lama was enthroned formally as the temporal ruler of Tibet.
Cooperation and conflicts with the People's Republic of China
The Panchen Lama and Dalai Lama had many conflicts throughout Tibetan history. Dalai Lama's formal rule was brief. He sent a delegation to Beijing, which ratified the Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet. He would later claim that the delegation did so without his authorization. He worked with the Chinese government: in September 1954, together with the 10th Panchen Lama he went to the Chinese capital to meet Mao Zedong and attend the first session of the National People's Congress as a delegate, primarily discussing China's constitution. On 27 September 1954, the Dalai Lama was selected as a Vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, a post he officially held until 1964.
In 1956, on a trip to India to celebrate the Buddha's Birthday, the Dalai Lama asked the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, if he would allow him political asylum should he choose to stay. Nehru discouraged this as a provocation against peace, and reminded him of the Indian Government's non-interventionist stance agreed upon with its 1954 treaty with China.
Long called a "splitist" and "traitor" by China, the Dalai Lama has attempted formal talks over Tibet's status in China. In 2019, after the United States passed a law requiring the US to deny visas to Chinese officials in charge of implementing policies that restrict foreigners access to Tibet, the US Ambassador to China "encouraged the Chinese government to engage in substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions, to seek a settlement that resolves differences".
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has warned the US and other countries to "shun" the Dalai Lama during visits and often uses trade negotiations and human rights talks as an incentive to do so. China sporadically bans images of the Dalai Lama and arrests citizens for owning photos of him in Tibet. Tibet Autonomous Region government job candidates must strongly denounce the Dalai Lama, as announced on the Tibet Autonomous Region government's online education platform, "Support the (Communist) Party’s leadership, resolutely implement the [Chinese Communist] Party’s line, line of approach, policies, and the guiding ideology of Tibet work in the new era; align ideologically, politically, and in action with the Party Central Committee; oppose any splittist tendencies; expose and criticize the Dalai Lama; safeguard the unity of the motherland and ethnic unity and take a firm stand on political issues, taking a clear and distinct stand".
The Dalai Lama is a target of Chinese state sponsored hacking. Security experts claim "targeting Tibetan activists is a strong indicator of official Chinese government involvement" since economic information is the primary goal of private Chinese hackers. In 2009 the personal office of the Dalai Lama asked researchers at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto to check its computers for malicious software. This led to uncovering GhostNet, a large-scale cyber spying operation which infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including embassies, foreign ministries, other government offices, and organizations affiliated with the Dalai Lama in India, Brussels, London and New York, and believed to be focusing on the governments of South and Southeast Asia. A second cyberspy network, Shadow Network, was discovered by the same researchers in 2010. Stolen documents included a years worth of the Dalai Lama's personal email, and classified government material relating to Indian, West Africa, the Russian Federation, the Middle East, and NATO. "Sophisticated" hackers were linked to universities in China, Beijing again denied involvement. Chinese hackers posing as The New York Times, Amnesty International and other organization's reporters targeted the private office of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Parliament members, and Tibetan nongovernmental organizations, among others, in 2019.
Exile to India
At the outset of the 1959 Tibetan uprising, fearing for his life, the Dalai Lama and his retinue fled Tibet with the help of the CIA's Special Activities Division, crossing into India on 30 March 1959, reaching Tezpur in Assam on 18 April. Some time later he set up the Government of Tibet in Exile in Dharamshala, India, which is often referred to as "Little Lhasa". After the founding of the government in exile he re-established the approximately 80,000 Tibetan refugees who followed him into exile in agricultural settlements. He created a Tibetan educational system in order to teach the Tibetan children the language, history, religion, and culture. The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts was established in 1959 and the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies became the primary university for Tibetans in India in 1967. He supported the refounding of 200 monasteries and nunneries in an attempt to preserve Tibetan Buddhist teachings and the Tibetan way of life.
The Dalai Lama appealed to the United Nations on the rights of Tibetans. This appeal resulted in three resolutions adopted by the General Assembly in 1959, 1961, and 1965, all before the People's Republic was allowed representation at the United Nations. The resolutions called on China to respect the human rights of Tibetans. In 1963, he promulgated a democratic constitution which is based upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, creating an elected parliament and an administration to champion his cause. In 1970, he opened the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamshala which houses over 80,000 manuscripts and important knowledge resources related to Tibetan history, politics and culture. It is considered one of the most important institutions for Tibetology in the world.
In 2016, there were demands from Indian citizens and politicians of different political parties to confer the Dalai Lama the prestigious Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour of India, which has only been awarded to a non-Indian citizen twice in its history.
At the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in 1987 in Washington, D.C., the Dalai Lama gave a speech outlining his ideas for the future status of Tibet. The plan called for Tibet to become a democratic "zone of peace" without nuclear weapons, and with support for human rights. The plan would come to be known as the "Strasbourg proposal", because the Dalai Lama expanded on the plan at Strasbourg on 15 June 1988. There, he proposed the creation of a self-governing Tibet "in association with the People's Republic of China." This would have been pursued by negotiations with the PRC government, but the plan was rejected by the Tibetan Government-in-Exile in 1991. The Dalai Lama has indicated that he wishes to return to Tibet only if the People's Republic of China agrees not to make any precondition for his return. In the 1970s, the then-Paramount leader Deng Xiaoping set China's sole return requirement to the Dalai Lama as that he "must [come back] as a Chinese citizen ... that is, patriotism".
The Dalai Lama celebrated his seventieth birthday on 6 July 2005. About 10,000 Tibetan refugees, monks and foreign tourists gathered outside his home. Patriarch Alexius II of the Russian Orthodox Church alleged positive relations with Buddhists. However, later that year, the Russian state prevented the Dalai Lama from fulfilling an invitation to the traditionally Buddhist republic of Kalmykia. Then President of the Republic of China (Taiwan), Chen Shui-bian, attended an evening celebrating the Dalai Lama's birthday at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei. In October 2008 in Japan, the Dalai Lama addressed the 2008 Tibetan violence that had erupted and that the Chinese government accused him of fomenting. He responded that he had "lost faith" in efforts to negotiate with the Chinese government, and that it was "up to the Tibetan people" to decide what to do.
The Dalai Lama is an advocate for a world free of nuclear weapons, and currently serves on the Advisory Council of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
The Dalai Lama has voiced his support for the Campaign for the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, an organisation which campaigns for democratic reformation of the United Nations, and the creation of a more accountable international political system.
Teaching activities, public talks
Giving public talks for non-Buddhist audiences and interviews and teaching Buddhism to large public audiences all over the world, as well as to private groups at his residence in India, appears to be the Dalai Lama's main activity. Despite becoming 80 years old in 2015 he maintains a busy international lectures and teaching schedule. His public talks and teachings are usually webcast live in multiple languages, via an inviting organisation's website, or on the Dalai Lama's own website. Scores of his past teaching videos can be viewed there, as well as public talks, conferences, interviews, dialogues and panel discussions.
The Dalai Lama's best known teaching subject is the Kalachakra tantra which, as of 2014, he had conferred a total of 33 times, most often in India's upper Himalayan regions but also in western venues like Madison Square Garden in New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Barcelona, Graz, Sydney and Toronto. The Kalachakra (Wheel of Time) is one of the most complex teachings of Buddhism, sometimes taking two weeks to confer, and he often confers it on very large audiences, up to 200,000 students and disciples at a time.
In Dalai Lama's essay, "The Ethic of Compassion" (1999), he expresses his belief that if we only reserve compassion for those that we love, we are ignoring the responsibility of sharing these characteristics of respect and empathy with those we do not have relationships with, which cannot allow us to "cultivate love." He elaborates upon this idea by writing that although it takes time to develop a higher level of compassion, eventually we will recognize that the quality of empathy will become a part of life and promote our quality as humans and inner strength.
He frequently accepts requests from students to visit various countries worldwide in order to give teachings to large Buddhist audiences, teachings that are usually based on classical Buddhist texts and commentaries, and most often those written by the 17 pandits or great masters of the Nalanda tradition, such as Nagarjuna, Kamalashila, Shantideva, Atisha, Ayradeva and so on.
The Dalai Lama refers to himself as a follower of these Nalanda masters, in fact he often asserts that 'Tibetan Buddhism' is based on the Buddhist tradition of Nalanda monastery in ancient India, since the texts written by those 17 Nalanda pandits or masters, to whom he has composed a poem of invocation, were brought to Tibet and translated into Tibetan when Buddhism was first established there and have remained central to the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism ever since.
As examples of other teachings, in London in 1984 he was invited to give teachings on the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising, and on Dzogchen, which he gave at Camden Town Hall; in 1988 he was in London once more to give a series of lectures on Tibetan Buddhism in general, called 'A Survey of the Paths of Tibetan Buddhism'. Again in London in 1996 he taught the Four Noble Truths, the basis and foundation of Buddhism accepted by all Buddhists, at the combined invitation of 27 different Buddhist organisations of all schools and traditions belonging to the Network of Buddhist Organisations UK.
In India, the Dalai Lama gives religious teachings and talks in Dharamsala and numerous other locations including the monasteries in the Tibetan refugee settlements, in response to specific requests from Tibetan monastic institutions, Indian academic, religious and business associations, groups of students and individual/private/lay devotees. In India, no fees are charged to attend these teachings since costs are covered by requesting sponsors. When he travels abroad to give teachings there is usually a ticket fee calculated by the inviting organization to cover the costs involved and any surplus is normally to be donated to recognised charities.
On his frequent tours of India, Asia and the west he is also often invited to give, alongside his Buddhist teachings, public talks for non-Buddhist audiences. His talks and teaching activities in the U.S., for example, have included the following: on his April 2008 U.S. tour, he gave lectures at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, at Rutgers University (New Jersey) and Colgate University (New York) Later in July, the Dalai Lama gave a public lecture and conducted a series of teachings at Lehigh University (Pennsylvania). On 8 May 2011, the University of Minnesota bestowed upon him their highest award, an Honorary Doctor of Letters. and during a return trip to Minnesota on 2 March 2014, he spoke at Macalester College which awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
Dozens of videos of recorded webcasts of the Dalai Lama's public talks on general subjects for non-Buddhists like peace, happiness and compassion, modern ethics, the environment, economic and social issues, gender, the empowerment of women and so forth can be viewed in his office's archive.
The Dalai Lama met Pope Paul VI at the Vatican in 1973. He met Pope John Paul II in 1980, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1990, and 2003. In 1990, he met a delegation of Jewish teachers in Dharamshala for an extensive interfaith dialogue. He has since visited Israel three times, and in 2006 met the Chief Rabbi of Israel. In 2006, he met Pope Benedict XVI privately. He has met the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Robert Runcie, and other leaders of the Anglican Church in London, Gordon B. Hinckley, who at the time was the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), as well as senior Eastern Orthodox Church, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and Sikh officials. The Dalai Lama is also currently a member of the Board of World Religious Leaders as part of The Elijah Interfaith Institute and participated in the Third Meeting of the Board of World Religious Leaders in Amritsar, India, on 26 November 2007 to discuss the topic of Love and Forgiveness.
On 12 May 2010, the Dalai Lama, joined by a panel of select scholars, officially launched the Common Ground Project, in Bloomington, Indiana (USA), which was planned by himself and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan during several years of personal conversations. The project is based on the book Common Ground between Islam and Buddhism.
Interest in science, and Mind and Life Institute
The Dalai Lama's lifelong interest in science and technology dates from his childhood in Lhasa, Tibet, when he was fascinated by mechanical objects like clocks, watches, telescopes, film projectors, clockwork soldiers and motor cars, and loved to repair, disassemble and reassemble them. Once, observing the Moon through a telescope as a child, he realised it was a crater-pocked lump of rock and not a heavenly body emitting its own light as Tibetan cosmologists had taught him. He has also said that had he not been brought up as a monk he would probably have been an engineer. On his first trip to the west in 1973 he asked to visit Cambridge University's astrophysics department in the UK and he sought out renowned scientists such as Sir Karl Popper, David Bohm and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, who taught him the basics of science.
The Dalai Lama sees important common ground between science and Buddhism in having the same approach to challenge dogma on the basis of empirical evidence that comes from observation and analysis of phenomena.
His growing wish to develop meaningful scientific dialogue to explore the Buddhism and science interface led to invitations for him to attend relevant conferences on his visits to the west, including the Alpbach Symposia on Consciousness in 1983 where he met and had discussions with the late Chilean neuroscientist Francisco J. Varela. Also in 1983, the American social entrepreneur and innovator R. Adam Engle, who had become aware of the Dalai Lama's deep interest in science, was already considering the idea of facilitating for him a serious dialogue with a selection of appropriate scientists. In 1984 Engle formally offered to the Dalai Lama's office to organise a week-long, formal dialogue for him with a suitable team of scientists, provided that the Dalai Lama would wish to fully participate in such a dialogue. Within 48 hours the Dalai Lama confirmed to Engle that he was "truly interested in participating in something substantial about science" so Engle proceeded with launching the project. Francisco Varela, having heard about Engle's proposal, then called him to tell him of his earlier discussions with the Dalai Lama and to offer his scientific collaboration to the project. Engle accepted, and Varela assisted him to assemble his team of six specialist scientists for the first 'Mind and Life' dialogue on the cognitive sciences, which was eventually held with the Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamsala in 1987. This five-day event was so successful that at the end the Dalai Lama told Engle he would very much like to repeat it again in the future. Engle then started work on arranging a second dialogue, this time with neuroscientists in California, and the discussions from the first event were edited and published as Mind and Life's first book, "Gentle Bridges: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on the Sciences of Mind".
As Mind and Life Institute's remit expanded, Engle formalised the organisation as a non-profit foundation after the third dialogue, held in 1990, which initiated the undertaking of neurobiological research programmes in the United States under scientific conditions. Over the ensuing decades, as of 2014 at least 28 dialogues between the Dalai Lama and panels of various world-renowned scientists have followed, held in various countries and covering diverse themes, from the nature of consciousness to cosmology and from quantum mechanics to the neuroplasticity of the brain. Sponsors and partners in these dialogues have included the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, the Mayo Clinic, and Zurich University.
Apart from time spent teaching Buddhism and fulfilling responsibilities to his Tibetan followers, the Dalai Lama has probably spent, and continues to spend, more of his time and resources investigating the interface between Buddhism and science through the ongoing series of Mind and Life dialogues and its spin-offs than on any other single activity. As the Institute's Cofounder and the Honorary chairman he has personally presided over and participated in all its dialogues, which continue to expand worldwide.
These activities have given rise to dozens of DVD sets of the dialogues and books he has authored on them such as Ethics for the New Millennium and The Universe in a Single Atom, as well as scientific papers and university research programmes. On the Tibetan and Buddhist side, science subjects have been added to the curriculum for Tibetan monastic educational institutions and scholarship. On the Western side, university and research programmes initiated by these dialogues and funded with millions of dollars in grants from the Dalai Lama Trust include the Emory-Tibet Partnership, Stanford School of Medicine's Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARES) and the Centre for Investigating Healthy Minds, amongst others.
Emory University, in partnership with The Dalai Lama Trust and the Vana Foundation of India, launched the Emory's international SEE Learning (Social, Emotional and Ethical Learning) program in New Delhi, India, 4–6 April. The SEE learning (social, emotional and ethical learning) — described as an education of the heart and mind – is a school curriculum for all classes from kindergarten to Std XII, developed by Emory University's Center for Contemplative Sciences and Compassion-Based Ethics in the US, in association with the Dalai Lama Trust. Building on psychologist Daniel Goleman's work on emotional intelligence in the early 1990s, SEE learning focuses on developing critical thinking, ethical reasoning and compassion and stresses on commonalities rather than on the differences.
In particular, the Mind and Life Education Humanities & Social Sciences initiatives have been instrumental in developing the emerging field of Contemplative Science, by researching, for example, the effects of contemplative practice on the human brain, behaviour and biology.
In his 2005 book The Universe in a Single Atom and elsewhere, and to mark his commitment to scientific truth and its ultimate ascendancy over religious belief, unusually for a major religious leader the Dalai Lama advises his Buddhist followers: "If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims." He has also cited examples of archaic Buddhist ideas he has abandoned himself on this basis.
These activities have even had an impact in the Chinese capital. In 2013 an 'academic dialogue' with a Chinese scientist, a Tibetan 'living Buddha' and a Professor of Religion took place in Beijing. Entitled "High-end dialogue: ancient Buddhism and modern science" it addressed the same considerations that interest the Dalai Lama, described as 'discussing about the similarities between Buddhism and modern science'.
Personal meditation practice
The Dalai Lama uses various meditation techniques, including analytic meditation. He has said that the aim of meditation is "to maintain a very full state of alertness and mindfulness, and then try to see the natural state of your consciousness."