the most human and controversial face of the Buddhist master

the most human and controversial face of the Buddhist master

Video. In the presence of several people, a child is seen asking an old man if he can give him a hug. In response, the man kisses the little boy on the lips.. The adult then asks the child if he can “suck” his tongue… pointing to his mouth and sticking out his tongue.

The stranger dialogue is replete with ambiguities.but it is controversial if the protagonist is the Dalai Lama. The video has circulated on social networks and the Buddhist leader has had to apologize.

“A video has circulated showing a recent encounter, in which a young boy asks his holiness if he can give him a hug. His Holiness wishes to apologize to the boy and his well as his many friends around the world, for the harm his words have caused,” said Tenzin Gyatso, the real name of the current Dalai Lama (he is the 14th to assume the role).

Because dalai lama is a title; that obtained by the leader of the Central Tibetan Administration. and the spiritual leader of Tibetan Lamaism or Buddhism. And that has been Gyatso since 1940, when he was not yet 5 years old. Today he is 87.

The Dalai Lama sticks out his tongue at a child he has just kissed on the mouth during a public event, April 2023.

Sticking out one’s tongue, a sign of respect

On sticking out one’s tongue, it seems that we non-Buddhists have missed the point. It turns out that in Tibetan culture sticking out one’s tongue is a sign of respect or agreement. and was often done as a greeting, explains a report by the Institute of East Asian Studies at the University of Berkeley (USA).

According to that tradition, a terrible 9th century Tibetan ruler had a black people would stick out their tongues. In that way they showed that they were not like him and that they were not his reincarnation.

In Tibetan culture sticking out one’s tongue is a sign of respect or agreement and was often done as a salutation

The custom has a long history, explains an article from Los Angeles Times. As an example, in the film Seven Years in Tibetthe character played by Brad Pitt crosses paths with a group of Tibetans who stick their tongues out at him at the same time.

Based on true events, Brad Pitt played Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer who, trying to escape the horrors of World War II, ended up finding refuge in the Dalai Lama's home. Brad Pitt also starred in 1997 in <em>The Shadow of the Devil</em>, opposite Harrison Ford. World premiere: September 13, 1997 in Toronto. Spanish premiere: December 5;
Brad Pitt, in ‘Seven Years in Tibet’.

In any case, is the Dalai a sage? So it has always seemed to us rational inhabitants of the West. Many consider him a master -that always seems the right word- comparable to Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King. But scenes like the one described above cast doubt on that. And it is not the first.

A successor, attractive and made-up

In 2015, the Dalai Lama displayed a macho attitude unknown to many. He said that a successor would have to be “very, very attractive.” otherwise, she would be “of little use.”

Four years later, during an interview with the BBCcorrespondent Rajini Vaidyanatha asked him about those words. Instead of apologizing, the Buddhist leader reiterated his point of view: “If a Dalai Lama comes she should be more attractive.” he asserted. He added, “People would rather not see that face.”

“If a Dalai Lama comes she should be more attractive (…) and that she can spend some money on makeup.”

To the journalist’s surprise, the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate continued, “I think there is an opportunity to ask whether (a successor) can spend some money on makeup“. Vaidyanatha disagreed: “A lot of people would say that’s objectifying women…. It’s about who you are as a person, isn’t it?”

The Dalai Lama said he agreed with the reporter. However, showing that his words had been neither a slip of the tongue nor a misunderstanding, he added: “We are human beings I think. appearance is also important“.

Abortion and marijuana

In 2013, during remarks at the Fox Center, he called abortion an “act of killing,” but added that “you have to look at the particular situation, examine well and, in some cases, it is permissible.“. For example, he explained, when the baby “is going to be born with very few opportunities and with many deformities”, or when “the birth of the baby implies the death of the mother”.

Abortion is an act of killing…but you have to look at the particular situation and, in some cases, it is permissible.”

In the same act, the Dalai defended the medicinal use of marijuana. “It has medicinal properties; there is research that supports those properties. In those cases you have to use it,” he said. “But just taking marijuana to go a little bit crazy in your own mind, that’s really something that’s not advisable,” he added.

Refugees, back home

In 2018, he lectured in Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city, which hosts a large immigrant population. The Dalai Lama opined that “Europe belongs to the Europeans” and that in the long run, the refugees should return home “to rebuild their own country.”

The Dalai Lama, in an image taken in New York.
The Dalai Lama, in an image taken in New York.
Shannon Stapleton / REUTERS

“Welcoming immigrants, helping them and educating them is positive, but, in the end, they should contribute to developing their own country,” the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader said. The worst part of the case is that the Dalai made these statements. three days after the far-right Sweden Democrats party came in third place in the election. place in that year’s general election.

“So many immigrants for Europe to become Muslim? Impossible. Or an African one? Also impossible. Keep Europe for the Europeans.”

In the 2019 interview with the BBC also spoke about immigration. He said that while it is good that Europe receives a certain amount of migrants and helps them, “the goal should be to that the migrants return to rebuild their countries.. You have to be practical. It’s impossible for everyone to come.”

Dalai Lama participates in a Buddhist meeting in New Delhi. India opted to maintain its schedule of meetings with China, despite China's cancellation of a round of border talks because of the Dalai Lama's participation in this Buddhist meeting.
Harish Tyagi / EFE

And he repeated about Europe for Europeans. “So many (immigrants) for Europe to become a Muslim country? Impossible. Or an African one? Also impossible. Keep Europe for the Europeans“, he said with laughter.

A man of peace who displeases China

The Dalai Lama defines himself as “a simple monk.” who travels around the world speaking on behalf of the Tibetan people, their autonomy from China and imparting Buddhist teachings.

Tenzin Gyatso is a vegetarian and tries to get others to become vegetarians. Inspired by the message of “great compassion” (mahakaruna), has campaigned to promote a meat- and fish-free diet. He encouraged restaurants in Dharamsala to go vegetarian and asked a fast-food chain with chicken as its base and emblem not to open in Tibet.

There is no guarantee that a stupid Dalai Lama won’t show up…it would be very sad. So better that a centuries-old tradition ends the moment a rather popular Dalai Lama does.”

In October 2001 the U.S. Congress granted him. the Congressional Gold Medalwhich prompted China’s protest. In 2009, at the invitation of the Taiwanese government, he visited that island, mostly Buddhist, and claimed by the Chinese authorities as part of their territory. There he prayed for the victims of the recent hurricanes. Beijing protested considering it a provocation.

In 2010, then U.S. President Barack Obama, received him at the White House. This also provoked China’s anger.

U.S. President Barack Obama talks with the Dalai Lama at the White House.
U.S. President Barack Obama talks with the Dalai Lama at the White House.

A stupid Dalai Lama?

In March 2011, Gyatso announced that. he was resigning from all positions political of the Tibetan government in exile. He thus remained only as a spiritual and religious leader.

Perhaps that is why, in 2014, again in front of the microphones of the BBC, questioned the continuation of his own “office”. “The institution must end someday….. There is no guarantee that a stupid Dalai Lama will not appear next time, who will fall from grace. That would be very sad. So better that a tradition of centuries should end the moment a rather popular Dalai Lama does.”

Kayleigh Williams