He smiles. This is not a snapshot because he always smiles, probably even while sleeping. The world loves his smile, so she loves him too. If there was a choice for the most personable person in the world – the smiling Dalai Lama would be the big favorite. His smile makes him seem ageless. Actually, it always looked like it does today, and it looks like it hasn't aged a bit in ten years' time. Today he turns 85 on Monday.
Dalai Lama is the official title of the spiritual head of Tibet. He was also the secular ruler until the late 1950s, when the communist Chinese people under Mao Zedong (1893-1976) gained final control over the Himalayas, and the Dalai Lama fled into exile and founded a Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala in northern India .
Who is the Dalai Lama?
The 14th Dalai Lama (since 1474) was born on July 6, 1935 in a small village in northeastern Tibet under the name Lhamo Döndrub as the second son of a total of 16 children from a farming family. He was not even two years old when a delegation of four Buddhist monks, based on mystical visions and oracle sayings, found him as the rebirth of the 13th Dalai Lama, who died in 1933.
The child was bought free by his family and the provincial governor. They took it to the capital Lhasa, where he received the name Jetsün Jampel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tendzin Gyatso – "Holy Lord, Kind Lord, Compassionate Defender of Faith, Ocean of Wisdom" – as a four-year-old monk – and was born on February 22, 1940 in Potala Palace enthroned as the 14th Dalai Lama. Ten years later, Tendzin Gyatso was also declared the secular ruler of Tibet. So much for the historical data.
After the escape, the young man with his smile conquered the world outside the sphere of influence of the People's Republic of China, which, even after more than six decades, has been hostile to spiders. The question of whether the Dalai Lama was politically naive or witty was quickly answered – in his own words: "If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping if there is a mosquito in the room is. "
When he finally renounced all political power in 2011, he had finally reached a god-like level as the highest authority for non-violence, peace and tolerance. And he gives himself, of course smiling, as everyone's friend. "I am for you what you want, that I am for you", he is said to have said according to "Spiegel". People do not hear such sayings from politicians or from other religious leaders. In the meantime, the friendship with the Dalai Lama, the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, means an incomparable reputation and high moral honor. Who wouldn't like to be his friend?
His friend Richard Gere
Hollywood star Richard Gere (70) has been friends with him for a long time. In 2018, the converted Buddhist and his pregnant third wife Alejandra Silva had their unborn child blessed by Tendzin Gyatso. Gere lives temporarily in a house in Dharamsala, he founded the Tibet House in New York and supports the exile government of the Free Tibet. When he criticized China's Tibet policy at the 1993 Academy Awards, the unforgiving Chinese declared the Dalai Lama friend persona non grata.
The friendship with an Austrian
The Dalai Lama maintains particularly friendly relationships with German-speaking countries. This bond is primarily due to the Austrian Heinrich Harrer (1912-2006). The climber, research traveler and author from Carinthia was on a German Himalayan expedition from 1939 when the British interned him in India after the outbreak of World War II. After escaping from the camp, he made his way to Tibet and finally met the young, just eleven-year-old Dalai Lama, who was worshiped like a god, in the then forbidden city of Lhasa in 1946.
Harrer became his teacher and taught Tendzin Gyatso in English, geography and math. He even set up a private cinema for the childish monk. A friendship developed that was to last a lifetime.
Heinrich Harrer returned to his homeland in 1952 and wrote the book "Seven Years in Tibet. My Life at the Court of the Dalai Lama." It was translated into 53 languages and filmed in 1997 with Brad Pitt (56) in the leading role. Contact with Tendzin Gyatso never broke off. In 1992 the Dalai Lama visited his friend Harrer on his 80th birthday in the Carinthian hometown of Hüttenberg, in 2002 he came on his 90th birthday, and in 2006, four months after Harrer's death, he laid the foundation stone for the Hüttenberg Tibet Center.
The Dalai Lama is also friends with a former German top politician who was not considered to be particularly squeamish and who campaigned with a signature campaign against foreigners and dual citizenship. With the former Hessian Prime Minister Roland Koch (62), a rather robust person encounters the gentleness of the Buddhist. Amazingly, this has been harmonizing for almost 40 years.
Koch celebrated his 70th birthday with 20,000 people in the spa gardens of Wiesbaden with Tendzin Gyatso. The motto: "Friends for a friend." Koch also visited the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. Then the convinced Catholic wore the white Tibetan prayer shawl that Tendzin Gyatso had given him years ago over his dark suit.