On July 6, 1935, a child named Lhamo Thondup was born into a peasant
family in a small hamlet in the mountains of Tibet. In 1933, after the
13th Dalai Lama died, a search party of Buddhist monks embarked on an
intensive search for his successor. Four years later, in 1937, the monks
formally identified the two-year-old child as the 14th reincarnation of a
long line of Tibetan spiritual leaders who are believed to embody the
compassion and wisdom of Buddha. His name was soon changed to Tenzin Gyatso and he began a lengthy and intensive process of being groomed to become the future spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists.
In 1950, a month before he was officially installed as the 14th Dalai
Lama, the Chinese government invaded Tibet (to reclaim ancient Chinese
territory, they said). The following decade was extremely difficult and,
in 1959, the Dalai Lama escaped from Tibet and was given asylum in India
(the Indian government set aside land for Tibetan refugees, and soon
80,000 people fled the country to join their spiritual leader). The Dalai
Lama has spent more than a half century traveling around the globe
preaching the doctrine of nonviolence and advocating the virtues of
compassion, kindness, and tolerance. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. In his speeches and writings, he has offered many memorable quotations:
"If your heart has peace, nothing can disturb you."
"Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer."
"Judge your success by what you had to give up to get it."
"Remember that not getting what you want
is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck."
"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future,
concentrate the mind on the present moment."
"Take into account that great love
and great achievements involve great risk."
"It is the enemy who can truly teach us
to practice the virtues of compassion and tolerance."
"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
"The period of greatest gain in knowledge and experience
is the most difficult period in one's life."
"Reason well from the beginning and then there
will never be any need to look back with confusion and doubt."
"We also often add to our pain and suffering by being
overly sensitive, over-reacting to minor things,
and sometimes taking things too personally."
"This is my simple religion.
There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy.
Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."