The XIV Dalai Lama
|"When we have inner peace, we can be at peace
with those around us. When our community is in a state
of peace, it can share that peace with neighboring communities."
On December 10, 1989, the XIV Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, received the Nobel Peace Prize for his promotion of non-violence, a prize that he obviously deserved for his continuous efforts to preserve his religion and the culture of his people in a peaceful manner. To this day, he is still fighting for his former home and he will always continue to fight. But, he will never use violence.
The Dalai Lama was born on June 6, 1935 to a poor family of farmers in a small settlement in Tibet known as Taktser. Three years later, he was recognized to be the incarnation of the Dalai Lama by a group of monks commissioned by the Tibetan government. It was amusing how they were able to determine this. They brought several items that belonged to the former Dalai Lama and the three year old said that they were his. The monks also saw several symbols in dreams that led them to the location of the next incarnation. In 1939, Gyatso travelled to the bustling city of Lhasa, the domain of the Dalai Lama, with his family and the monks who discovered him and one year later, he was installed as the XIV Dalai Lama.
Life for the Dalai Lama was generally peaceful until 1950. In the summer of 1950, the Dalai Lama felt the earth move beneath him and he knew that this was more than a simple earthquake: it was an omen. Two days later, one of the regents received a telegram that Chinese soldiers were raiding a Tibetan post. At this period in time, the Communists had taken over the government of China after defeating the Nationalists in the civil war. The Communists were not firm believers in religion because they believed that if religion existed, they would not have complete control of the people. Therefore, they tried to extinguish Buddhism from China. They also tried to have the Dalai Lama yield to them through the burning of Buddhist monasteries and by killing innocent Tibetans through raids.
Although the Dalai Lama saw the village that he was born in go down in flames due to the Chinese, he did not turn to violent means. However, Lhasa was beginning to fall. The people of Tibet became desperate and they thought that they could possibly block off the Chinese if they named the Dalai Lama as the full temporal leader at the tender age of fifteen. But, this made situations even worse. The Dalai Lama felt like a virtual prisoner in his monastery and he knew that the plundering wouldnt stop unless he became Communist but he would never do this. He could not reject his beliefs in peace and freedom.
The Dalai Lama sought help from many foreign nations like the United States, Great Britain, and Nepal but they were reluctant to help. It could have been that they feared that another war like World War II would break out. He even tried to send a representative to China in order to negotiate a withdrawal but that didnt happen either. It seemed, to the Dalai Lama, that all of these foreign nations believed that China had a claim to some authority in Tibet. The Dalai Lama felt great sorrow when he saw that Tibet would have to fight on its own. The Dalai Lama had only one more idea which was to try to open a dialogue with the Chinese but the Chinese tricked the representatives and forced them to sign an agreement that basically gave Tibet to the Chinese government. They had the representatives at gun-point and Tibet couldnt do anything about it.
Nine years later, in 1959, the Dalai Lama, dressed as a common soldier, fled to India and currently lives in the town of Dharmasala. To this day, he is trying to free his people from Chinese rule and is using whatever peaceful means possible. He has done all that he can and he has won many supporters through the lectures that he makes all over the world. In fact, on August 15, 1999, he made a speech in Central Park, preaching his message of peace and he has gained even more supporters than before. More people are aware of the Tibetan struggle than ever before and the Dalai Lama has been able to do this, not by gun-point but by peaceful gatherings.
Nobody was more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize than the Dalai Lama. Although he is in exile, he is still trying to make peace with the people who destroyed his birthplace and drove him away from his homeland. This is true strength which comes from having a sense of inner peace. According to his holiness, the Dalai Lama, if we all have a sense of inner peace, we will be able to make peace with our neighbors.
Cynthia Abraham is a student at Stuyvesant High School in New York City.