Dalai Lama

The role of the Dalai Lama

Who is Dalai Lama?

The spiritual leader of the Tibetan form of Buddhism, known as Gelug, the term Dalai Lama is an honorific title. In Tibetan, Dalai means oceanic or expansive, and Lama means master or guru. The Tibetan way of writing Dalai Lama is ཏཱ་ལའི་བླ་མ་. In the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the Dalai Lamas who were spiritual leaders also headed the Tibetan government as regents. Various degrees of Chinese control, notably under the Qing dynasty, have been established over Tibet since then. The Dalai Lama continues to advocate for Tibetan people and Buddhists more generally since the People's Republic of China took over Tibet in 1951. However, he wields no direct political power. In terms of his spirituality, the Dalai Lama teaches Lamrim, the stages towards Enlightenment, and Sunyata, a word that relates to meditation, meaning openness or emptiness.

 How is the Dalai Lama chosen?

 Famously, the Dalai Lama is not chosen or appointed. Rather his spirit is reincarnated in another body after death. This means that he must be found according to the spiritual beliefs in Gelug. The current Dalai Lama, who is the fourteenth person to have that title, was only found after a four-year search. His name is Tensin Gyatso. A series of tests were given to him as a boy that he successfully passed, which then verified his status.

Where does the Dalai Lama live?

The spiritual home of the various Dalai Lamas of the past is in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. However, it is impossible for him to live there due to the sensitive nature of his status within a communist state. As such, Tensin Gyatso operates from just over the border of Tibet in the foothills of the Indian Himalayan mountains. A suburb of Dharamshala, known as 'Little Lhasa' is where he now holds court.

What are the Dalai Lama's beliefs?

The Dalai Lama espouses the spiritual teaching of Je Tsongkhapa (1357 – 1419), a philosopher who founded the Gelug version of Buddhism. Je Tsongkhapa established his first monastery in Lhasa in 1409. Soon after, the first Dalai Lamas took over the running of his monastery and others that had built up. In fact, this branch of Buddhism is a revivalist movement, bringing back the ideas of Atiśa, a Bengali Buddhist who taught in the eleventh century. Much focus is placed on ethics and monastic discipline within the Gelug school. The Guhyasamāja tantra is another central aspect of the Dalai Lama's teaching, which focusses on 'oneness' whether that is in study or in meditation.

Is the Dalai Lama vegan?

The current Dalai Lama is not vegan. In fact, unlike many of his predecessors, he is not a vegetarian. Although he does not consume meat when he is at home, Tensin Gyatso eats meat dishes if he is offered them by hosts when he is on his travels around the world.

Members who are looking for Dalai Lama

Similar interests to Dalai Lama

Meditation refers to a variety of mental exercises which have their origin in ancient times and became increasingly popular in the western world over the last decades. While meditating, we practice different kinds of focus to achieve a more mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Meditative practices were developed as part of the path towards enlightenment, self-realisation and the end of suffering. There are various types of meditation, such as focused attention, or mindfulness meditation, which is the most widely studied form of meditation in modern science. Metta or loving-kindness meditation is another example of focused attention. Other forms of meditation are the chanting of mantras or transcendental meditation.
In the past, any definition of spirituality would have been very tightly correlated with certain religious beliefs that focus on the godliness or spirit within people. In other words, spiritual people would have been seen as devout, pious and concentrated more on sacred or metaphysical matters than earthly ones. These days, however, a more extensive definition of spirituality is accepted, which includes broader traditions that lead to personal growth. Examples of this could be, the sort of inner journey that many people take from meditative practices and non-religious activities like transcendentalism and perennial philosophy.
For some Western philosophers, notably Kant, enlightenment is a greater understanding of humanity derived from observations rather than superstitions. The Age of Enlightenment is often referred to as a flowering of scientific understanding in 17th and 18th-century Europe. That said, spiritual enlightenment has its roots in Buddhism and the teachings of established religions, especially, Hinduism, Jainism and Zoroastrianism. Although related concepts – because they both really mean a deeper knowledge – the Western and Eastern versions should not be conflated with one another. Spiritual enlightenment is known as bodhi by Buddhists and moksha in Hinduism. These words roughly translate as either awakening or liberation. As such, spiritually enlightened thought should be considered to be as something akin to a revelation - what Christians might call an epiphany by way of comparison.
By continuing to browse, you accept the use of Cookies to enhance and personalise your experience.