The Dalai Lama: Wisdom Derived From Suffering Essay, Research Paper
The Dalai Lama: Wisdom Derived from Suffering
In His sixty-three years of the current reincarnation, the Dalai Lama has grown from a simple undiscovered child to a world-reknowned symbol of peace. His philosophies were inspired by the early sufferings that are posed the environmental, cultural, religious, and political suppressions. The wretchednesses and the difficulties that he has encountered lead to his wisdom. Combined with His never-ending desire to learn and communicate, The Dalai Lama’s philosophies have not only touched the hearts of the six million Tibetan people, but also acquired the general acceptance of the entire world in terms of his teachings of spiritual and mental enrichments. It is pretty hard to imagine the woes that he suffered and the profoundity that contains in His old little body. Nonetheless, dressed in His saffron-and-maroon-colored robes, speaking in an often broken English, and peering at the world through eyes that have lost none of their wonder and decency despite the horrors He has witnessed, the Dalai Lama is seemingly out of place in the modern world. Therefore, the phenomenon stired our curiosity to find out His glamour and manetism to people.
Based on His book “My Land and My People”, we follow that the exiled leader has seen all the myriad dangers facing the modern world unleashed upon his own country: wars, ecological destruction, and the trampling of human rights, political justice, and religious freedoms in the name of supposed political, economic, and ideological progress (The Dalai Lama of Tibet 15). According to the autobiography of the Dalai Lama, as early as 1950, He was confronted with China’s desire to peacefully liberate Tibet of its foreign influences. By 1951, this so-called “peaceful liberation” created a previously unseen starvation and heavy inflation in the Tibetan population (His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama 85). Because the Tibetan culture centered on its strong Buddhist heritage, the subsequent burnings of the temples, the banishment and massacre of the monks, and Chairman Mao’s imposed belief that “Religion is poison” all presented a threat to their culture and religious beliefs (His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama 296). In China’s point of vew, the religious faith of the Tibetans, which they saw as backward and antithetical to the spread of communism. The Tibetans resisted the oppression, and China responded with brutal crackdowns, arrests, and imprisonments. Last but not least, while in exile, the Dalai Lama witnessed China’s announcement to dissolve the Tibetan government and relieve His right to rule, thereby destroying the political structure that was established and practiced for centuries (The Dalai Lama of Tibet 172).
It is this first-hand experience with the many faces of suffering that makes the Dalai Lama so authentic a teacher. As the Buddha of Compassion, He held the strong belief that “compassion is not an element of religion, but a basic characteristic of humanity” (His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama 6). He thinks that compassion is fundamentally a human quality; so its development is not restricted to those who practice religion (Bunson 76). From the book “Worlds in harmony: dialogues on compassionate action,” we know that He preached that the ultimate goal of life is the pursuit of contentment and happiness resulting from an inner peace originating from true love of all living things (His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama 7). He also thinks that compassion leads to the inner peace (Bunson 70). Moreover, He holds the idea that as we learn to remain ourselves in peace, then we can demonstrate in society in a way that makes a real statement for world peace (Bunson 150). Furthermore, He believes that “Warfare and hatred are always based on misunderstanding about human happiness and on mistrust between people” (Bunson 150). He elaberates and promotes his ideas by traveling, delivering speeches, and writing books in order to eliminate the gaps and bias among people. This challenge is one that is taken up willingly and with the full acknowledgment of His supporters that His words are of benefit to their lives truly a just one. And yet, the religious leader commands the attention of the world by utilizing its most advanced methods of communication and transportation. He travels on jet aircrafts, writes books and articles, speaks on television, and has even encouraged his embassies (the offices of Tibet) to have their own sites on the World Wide Web (Thurman 1). He first visited the United States in 1979 and now makes an annual trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with American learders (Bunson 14). He also delivers speeches all around the world where He finds welcome (Bunson 18). As a prolific author, He has written extensively on Tibetan Buddhism but is perhaps best known for his two autobiographies, My land and My People (1964) and Freedom in Exile (1990) (Bunson 18). He aslo participated in the editing of the books that are of or about His thinkings and philosophies (Bunson 17). It is this profound depth of His belief that has permitted Him the patience and the compassion to forgive His enemies, to be ceaseless in His optimism for peace, and to bear upon Himself the anguish of the Tibetan people. These efforts, however, are mere tools to present the same challenge to all whom He meets: to join a quest for inner peace and spiritual attainment that defies the ephemeral modern age and focuses the heart and mind on what is real and eternal (Bunson 210).
The Dalai Lama’s continued efforts on behalf of peace earned Him widespread acclaim and were decisive factors in His being honored with the 1989 Nobel peace prize. The Nobel committee declared in its citation: “The Dalai Lama has developed his philosophy of peace from a great reverence for all things living and upon the concept of universal responsibility embracing all mankind as well as nature” (Bunson 247). In Thurman’s point of view, the Dalai Lama has come forward with constructive and forward-looking proposals for the solution of internaional conflicts, human rights issues, and global problems (Thurman 2). In my own opinion, this prize is also recognition to Dalai Lama Himself as well as his efforts of preaching the ideas of love and compassion continuously. Moreover, it indicates that what he has insisted is worthy fighting for. The efforts of him also made the Tibetan leader one of the best known and most respected spiritual figures in the modern era.
Today, the Dalai Lama is still carrying out His missions. He continues to travel to any country where He finds welcome and where His teachings about Buddhism, compassion, and the paths to inner peace will be heard. Applying His learnings and personal experiences, Dalai Lama developed a unique philosophy that has made him, along with Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Pope John Paul II, one of the genuinely transcendent spiritual figures of the twentieth century. Like these three remarkable teachers, the Dalai Lama has been able to reach beyond his Buddhist devotees to find a universal relevance. Although He is a Nobel laureate, a beloved and influential religious leader, and, for Tibetans, the living incarnation of the Buddha of compassion, He remains in all essentials exactly what He describes himself to be: “a simple Buddhist monk, no more, no less,” living in his residence, a small cattage, in Dharamsala (Bunson 248). He has followers from among the Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, agnostic, and even atheist communities. As people all over the world came to know the lama, they realized the richness of His message beyond the appeal for Tibet, such as his teachings concerning peace, compassion and inner peace. Those who revere him do not necessarily adopt Buddhist practices, but virtually all derive spiritual and mental enrichment from his insights on peace, compassion, and justice.
Bunson, Matthew E. The Wisdom Teachings of The Dalai Lama. New York: Penguin, 1997.
His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. Worlds in harmony: dialogues on compassionate action. Taipei: New Century, 1996.
His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. Freedom in Exile: the autobiography of the Dalai Lama. Taipei: Lan-gin, 1997.
The Dalai Lama of Tibet. “My Land and My People.” New York: Warner, 1997.
Thurman, Robert. “A Brief Biography of the Dalai Lama.” MoJo Wire 17-23 March 1998, Mother Jones Online. Online. 20 Mar. 1998.