What has the Dalai Lama achieved?
The Fourteenth Dalai Lama moves with impunity through his many roles as politician and religious leader. When he does something wrong as a politician, he is excused as a religious leader; and when he does something wrong as a religious leader, he is excused as needing to act as a politician. It seems that no one can ‘pin him down’; no one can blame him for anything and he is able to get away with whatever he likes.
With a role for every occasion – holy man, politician, international statesman, simple monk, pop icon, Buddhist Pope, socialist, movie star, autocrat, democrat, Marxist, humanitarian, environmentalist, Nobel Peace prize winner, nationalist, Buddha of Compassion, communist, God-King – the Dalai Lama weaves a complex web of religion and politics that entraps his audiences wherever he goes. Nobody has ever seen anything like it. People are easily swayed by the historical mystique of Tibet and its ‘God-King’, and feel captivated and convinced by his charm.
Wearing the robes of a monk and using the Buddha’s profound words, the Dalai Lama has presumed to teach the world how to accomplish all of the things that he has in fact failed to achieve himself. Through words alone, and a vast and very expensive publicity machine, the Dalai Lama has established for himself the position of a ‘God-King’ in the minds of most people of the world.
But behind the rhetoric, the public image and the charisma that has dazzled the world is someone who has failed repeatedly.
‘It’s not clear what practical benefit Tibetans in Tibet have received from the Dalai Lama’s activities abroad, though. Arguably, they have made their plight worse. The Dalai Lama’s main achievement has been to turn himself into an international celebrity, a status that ironically is dependent on the continued subjugation of Tibet.’352
If we look behind the charisma, the antics and charm of the Dalai Lama, behind the illusion and the calculated deception that he has been working all these years for an independent Tibet, and we ask, ‘What has the Dalai Lama actually done for Tibet?’, the answer is ‘Nothing’. Actually it is worse than nothing, because he has given up Tibet, he has lost Tibet totally.
If we ask, ‘What has the Dalai Lama done for world peace, for the environment, for human rights and religious freedom?’, the things he constantly talks about, the answer is again ‘Nothing’. We cannot point to an acre of earth anywhere in the world that the Dalai Lama has rescued from deforestation, strip-mining, exhaustive agriculture or contamination. The Dalai Lama talks about world peace, human rights and religious freedom, but except for the prizes and awards he personally has received, we cannot point to a single achievement in any of these areas that has been accomplished through his own efforts. In fact, through his violation and abuse of human rights and religious freedom he contributes directly to conflict and disharmony in the world.
If we look behind the Dalai Lama’s attacks against so-called ‘fundamentalists’ and ‘sectarians’ we find to the contrary that he himself is in fact destroying the peace, harmony and happiness of his own faithful community, and of other Buddhist practitioners around the world. If we look behind the Dalai Lama’s call for harmony and unity among the four Tibetan Buddhist traditions, we find a plan through which he is actually destroying the four traditions, thus securing for himself a position of prime power and influence in the event of his return to Tibet.
After so many years in exile, the Dalai Lama stands in the wake of a series of international and domestic political failures that has produced deep crisis and division within the Tibetan exile community and now threatens the Buddhist community worldwide. He has created nothing but problems for the Tibetan people he claims to represent including vicious discrimination against innocent religious practitioners. In the international sphere, we see a political leader who has been overwhelmed and marginalised, not so much by the course of history but as a result of his own political views, misjudgements and mistakes.
The Dalai Lama has not been able to do anything to reverse Beijing’s integrationist policy in Tibet, the prospects for the exiled Tibetans’ return to Tibet are as remote as ever, negotiations with the Chinese are in deadlock, and there is no inclination amongst the world’s governments to recognise Tibet as an independent state. The Dalai Lama has become a world-famous figure, but has failed to gain anything concrete for his people.
The Dalai Lama’s endorsement of Marxist ideas and praise of Mao Zedong’s activities clearly shows that he does not like democracy or wish to share his power with other people. On the other hand he does not like the present Chinese government. In his own newspaper Sheja he is always criticising the Chinese government, calling them ‘ten-dra China’, or ‘China, enemy of Buddha’s doctrine’.
The main reason why he continually criticises the Chinese is that at present Tibet is controlled by the Chinese, and he wants to take back the power and control for himself. For this reason he devised a scheme: to regain his power and position he told the Chinese that though he accepted the loss of Tibetan independence he nevertheless wanted autonomy, which would give him alone sole control of Tibet.
He applied effort to achieve this for many years, but when he finally realized that his scheme was not working and that the Chinese would not fulfil his wishes he became frustrated and began organising international demonstrations whose violent nature disturbed people in many countries. Through this we can see the Dalai Lama’s hypocritical behaviour and selfish nature: he is not concerned with the future of Tibet but only with his own position and power. He received the Nobel Peace Prize, apparently indicating that he is a peacemaker, but in truth he is a troublemaker who has destroyed the hitherto unquestioned trust, peace and harmony within Tibetan communities throughout the world.
As a direct result of the Dalai Lama’s disastrous domestic policies and inflammatory speech, the Tibetan community is deeply and even violently divided against itself on an increasing number of critical issues. These include: (1) the Dalai Lama’s unilateral decision to drop the aim of Tibetan independence, without consultation with government or the Tibetan people; (2) his failure to fulfil his avowed commitment to democratise the Tibetan government; (3) his acquiescence in, or even instigation of, press censorship and the repression of freedom of expression; (4) his ruthless suppression of freedom of religion through banning the practice of Dorje Shugden; and (5) his sanctioning or instigation of many violations and abuses of human rights, including threats, coercion, intimidation, excommunication, physical violence and even murder.
There are many causes of the Dalai Lama’s failures to achieve anything substantial for the Tibetan people, including his own political-ideological views and attitudes, his incompetence as ‘head of state’, the dubious role played by the Nechung oracle and the participation of the Dalai Lama’s immediate family in the generation and execution of government policy.
But the fundamental factor underlying the present crisis lies within the very nature and function of the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan government as a feudal theocratic system – with its endemic mixing of religion and politics, its translation of religious ideas into govern- ment policy, its deep confusion over the roles of religious leader and head of state, and its retrogressive view of the position of the Dalai Lama as the ‘God-King’ of Tibet.
After fifty years, we do not see in this Dalai Lama a ‘God-King’, a saviour, or even a wise statesman skilfully shaping the destiny of his country and its people through a difficult time. What we see instead is a desperate and cynically self-seeking man who has precipitated the greatest catastrophe in Tibetan history.
With these points in mind, we should note John Goetz’s remark in the conclusion of his article, ‘On the Outs with the Dalai Lama’:
‘The tragedy of Tibet is not only the brutal Chinese occupation but also the desperation that has led so many to believe that return to the Dalai Lama is the only alternative.’353