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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Dalai Lama

July 7, 2008

The New York Times
Oct. 16, 2007

"I am a simple Buddhist monk -- no more, no less," His Holiness
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, was quoted as saying in
a New York Times magazine article in 1993. Yet his life, as the
article continued, has been anything but simple.

The man who lays claim as the spiritual and state leader of Tibet was
born in 1935 to a peasant family in northeast Tibet. At age 2, he was
identified after the death of the 13th Dalai Lama as the 14th
reincarnation of the Buddha of Compassion. That recognition brought a
new name; Lhamo Thondup now became Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang
Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso (Holy Lord, Gentle Glory, Eloquent,
Compassionate, Learned Defender of the Faith, Ocean of Wisdom). Taken
to Lhasa to be educated, he grew up in a 1,000-room palace,
surrounded by doting monks who tutored him in subjects like
philosophy, medicine and metaphysics.

The People's Liberation Army of China invaded Tibet in 1950, when the
15-year-old Dalai Lama was called upon to assume full powers as head
of state. Nine years later, after a Tibetan civilian uprising was
brutally suppressed, the Dalai Lama fled to India and set up
Dharamsala, the town in the Himalayan foothills of northern India
that has served as the capital of the Tibetan exile community since 1960.

Still, he is the first leader of Tibet "to become a world leader,
even without a political base -- just on his moral force," says his
close friend Robert Thurman, professor of Indo-Tibetan studies at
Columbia University. As such, pictures of him with Western
celebrities like the actor Richard Gere, who has served as the
chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet, have become commonplace.

The Dalai Lama abjures all violence and considers even hunger strikes
and economic sanctions illegitimate means of political protest, even
as the Tibetan community becomes more vocal in its protest of Chinese
rule. In 1989, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. The Chinese government
has given him another kind of recognition, warning the Bush
administration before a planned White House visit and Congressional
awards ceremony in October 2007 that such honors could seriously
injure diplomatic relations."
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