Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Dalai Lama Visits Washington

President Barack Obama personally welcomed the Dalai Lama to the White House Thursday and lauded his goals for the Tibetan people, but he kept their get-together off-camera and low-key in an attempt to avoid inflaming tensions with China. China has objected to the meeting between Obama and the Dalai Lama, who has been in exile from his homeland since 1959. China invaded Tibet in 1950 and has occupied it since. Thousands of Buddhist monasteries and shrines were destroyed in the 1950s and 1960s. Tibetan exiles say thousands of monks and nuns were killed.

The Dalai Lama, however, encouraged the US to seek friendly relations with China. "It is wrong when some say, contain China. It is wrong," the Dalai Lama said, adding that China must be encouraged to open up further to the world, to become a nation "which brings happiness, satisfaction, calm."

So how exactly did the Dalai Lama we know today become the 14th Dalai Lama?
After the death of the 13th Dalai Lama in 1933, the Tibetan government began searching for his reincarnation. Because the head of the 13th Dalai Lama's embalmed body had rotated while it lay in state, turning from the south to the northeast, it was suspected that the future ruler would be found in the northeast region of Tibet.

Soon afterward, the Regent Reting Rinpoche had a vision of the sacred lake, Lhamo Lhatso, reflecting the Tibetan letters Ah, Ka and Ma. He interpreted "Ah" as a sign for Amdo, a northeastern province of Tibet. The Regent also experienced a vision of a three-story monastery with a roof of turquoise and gold. Near the monastery was a tiny house with unusually elaborate gutters.

A search party departed for Amdo, and decided that the letter "Ka" likely referred to the monastery at Kumbum -- a turquoise and gold-roofed structure. When they came across a house with gutters made from juniper, they suspected they were close to their future ruler. They disguised themselves as travelers and stayed the night with the family to observe their 3-year-old son, Lhamo Thondup
Lhamo had been born July. 6, 1935, to poor farmers in a struggling town, and upon Lhamo's birth, his father made a sudden recovery from a severe illness. His infancy was normal, but he did exhibit some unusual behavior. As a toddler, Lhamo demanded that he take his father's seat at the head of the table and would allow only his mother to handle his bowl. And the young Lhamo seemed obsessed with Lhasa, Tibet's traditional and spiritual capital. He would pack bags, pretend to travel on horseback and exclaim, "I'm going to Lhasa" For the most part, Lhamo's family took no notice of the child's eccentricities; an older son had already been recognized as the manifestation of a high lama.

But when the disguised search party arrived at the house, its leader, Kewtsang Rinpoche, was confident that this was the right child. The child immediately recognized Kewtsang Rinpoche as a monk and knew from which monastery he came. When the members of the search party returned for a formal visit some days later, they brought several of the 13th Dalai Lama's possessions along with a set of decoy items. Lhamo correctly identified every item belonging to his predecessor with the proprietary statement "It's mine."

The toddler was sent to the Kumbum monastery and eventually to Lhasa, where he was reunited with his parents.

In 1940, Lhamo became Tibet's spiritual leader and took the vows of a novice monk. Lhamo Thondup was now Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama is recognized worldwide for his message of compassion and tolerance, his promotion of human rights and inter-religious understanding, his focus on peace through non-violent conflict resolution and his advocacy for the environment. He is also winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize.


Joanne Cage! said...

I didn't know all his names, just knew Tenzin Gyatso. I love the man.

Susan Ramey Cleveland said...

Oh Hello Dali, well Hello Dali, it's so nice to have you here, it's been so long.

オテモヤン said...
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Ramey Channell said...

Hi オテモヤン

I can only post comments that I am able to read. Thanks for visiting The Painted Possum