Who is the real Dalai Lama?

Who, after all, is the Dalai Lama, the mythical ‘God-King of Shangri- la’? In the 1920s after her fifteen-year sojourn in Tibet, the writer and explorer Alexandra David-Néel wrote:

‘… these writers, men who not only had never set foot on Tibetan soil but who possessed no reliable information as to its inhabitants, have indulged in fables utterly without foundation. Some represented the Dalai Lama as one who understood and spoke every language on earth. Others peremptorily asserted that he was the ‘‘pope’’ of all Buddhists. Others again, spoke of him as a magician usually engaged in working miracles of the most fantastic nature, while some imagined his palace of Potala to be a kind of ‘‘holy of holies’’, inaccessible to the profane and peopled with supermen, hierophants, guardians of dreaded mysteries. All of this is pure fancy. The Dalai Lama is pre-eminently a temporal sovereign: the autocrat-monarch of Tibet.’363

And as a journalist recently reported, the same fantastic notions of the Dalai Lama still exist:

‘The state of denial in the West about some of the Dalai Lama’s alleged power-tripping, or at least the unquestioning attitude towards the Dalai Lama and everything that he does, highlights the role that he plays for many Western celebs, commentators and politicians today: he’s a cartoon ‘‘good guy’’, giggling, pure and righteous, who apparently should be unconditionally applauded for standing up to the ‘‘Evil Chinese’’. All of the Dalai Lama’s bad points – his origins in the stifling medievalism of 1930s Tibet; his archaic practices; his disregard for ‘‘concepts like democracy and freedom of religion’’; his backing from the CIA in its Cold War with the Chinese – are simply ignored, as His Holiness is invited to guest-edit French Vogue, attend charity auctions with Sharon Stone, and rub shoulders with Richard Gere. Pema shows me the Independent on Sunday, published the day before we met, which has a feature about the Dalai Lama ‘‘charming the West’’. There are around 12 photos showing him meeting celebrities and other do-gooders. Yet in two of the photos, it isn’t the Dalai Lama at all; it’s a different Lama. Maybe these Tibetans all look the same to British picture editors.

‘ “He’s just a photograph and a symbol to many people in the West”, says Pema.’364

For over 360 years, it has not been really certain which or for that matter whether any of the occupants of the Potala, was a real Dalai Lama, a real reincarnation of Gendun Drub, including the present Dalai Lama. But whether or not the present Dalai Lama is the real Dalai Lama – a true embodiment of Buddha’s compassion – should be judged not on the Dalai Lama’s words or on the mystique surrounding his position, but by his actions. And on the evidence presented in this book the Dalai Lama’s actions have fallen short of even ordinary standards of decent behaviour let alone the enlightened actions of a Buddha.

Broadly speaking, this book has considered three kinds of actions of the current Dalai Lama: (1) deceptive actions; (2) unethical or non-virtuous actions; and (3) actions of violence and persecution.

Many of these actions constitute major or minor transgressions of the Dalai Lama’s three sets of Buddhist vows (Pratimoksha, Bodhisattva and Tantric). Because he has incurred root downfalls in all three sets, he has lost all three levels of ordination. As he has broken his monastic vows, the Dalai Lama is actually no longer a monk, although he continues to dress like one.

Examples of some of the Dalai Lama’s direct and indirect actions are summarised below to illustrate each of the categories and sub-categories.

Deceptive actions:

1. Advocating human rights and religious freedom, while engaged in systematic violation and abuse of human rights and religious freedom.

2. Advocating democratic government, values and principles, while operating a repressive autocratic theocracy in Dharamsala and holding a Marxist-communist ideology.

3. Deceiving Tibetan communities into thinking that he is working for a return to a free, independent Tibet, and collecting an ‘independence-tax’ from every Tibetan for decades for the purpose, having already unilaterally abandoned the idea of Tibetan independence over fifteen years ago.

4. Deceiving the West into thinking that he is working for Tibetan independence, and collecting vast sums of money through ‘Free Tibet’ concerts, banquets and other fund-raising sources for this purpose.

5. Including deceptions and lies within his writings such as his autobiography and the biographical film on his life, Kundun (in which he played a major role in directing), specifically concerning:

i. The nature of the Tibetan Rebellion as a popular reaction of the masses against atrocities of the Chinese;

ii. His commitment to working with the Chinese in the development of Tibet under communism, and the extent of his support and advocacy of Chinese communism;

iii. The extent of the killing of Tibetans by the Chinese, and of their destruction of the Norbulingka Palace, Potala and city of Lhasa at the time of his escape;

iv. The nature and organization of the escape to India, including which oracle was consulted before his escape to India.

6. Lying and deceiving others as to the reasons for banning the practice of Dorje Shugden, through numerous Tibetan exile government statements, and for orchestrating a campaign of propaganda and slander against Dorje Shugden practitioners.

7. Denying having imposed a ban on Dorje Shugden practice, while at the same time ruthlessly implementing such a ban in the lay and monastic Tibetan communities worldwide.

8. Claiming to be creating harmony, unity and non-sectarianism within the four Tibetan Buddhist traditions, while actually dividing Tibetan society, creating deep schisms within the four traditions and systematically trying to destroy them.

9. Claiming to be the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and to be within the lineage of the Fifth and Thirteen Dalai Lamas when actually he is not.

Unethical or non-virtuous actions:

1. Complicity in actions of violence, slander, coercion and intimidation.

2. Complicity in illegal arms trading; and in a conspiracy to overthrow the government of Bhutan, that would have involved assassination.

Actions of violence and persecution

The Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s activities of physical, verbal, social and religious violence and persecution, carried out directly and indirectly, by edict, threat, coercion and blackmail, by slander and propaganda, by excommunication and banishment, have been well documented above. Many of these actions, in addition to being the most serious transgressions of the moral discipline of an ordained person, also involve civil and constitutional illegalities. Most of them are also gross abuses of human rights and religious freedom.

In these and many other ways, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama has been deceiving the world, and causing suffering and problems.

In democratic countries, Presidents and Prime Ministers are held accountable for the actions of their ministers, their governments and the politicians and political parties that support them. In the same way the Dalai Lama bears direct or indirect responsibility for all of these actions because they were carried out by him personally or on his behalf. He, and he alone, should be held to account for these actions and for their consequences.