His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was born on July 6, 1935 to a peasant family in the small village of Taktser in northeastern Tibet and was recognized at the age of two as the reincarnation of His predecessor, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lamas are the manifestations of the Buddha of Compassion, who chose to take rebirth to serve humanity. Dalai Lama means Ocean of Wisdom; Tibetans normally refer to His Holiness as Yizhin Norbu, the Wish-Fulfilling Gem, or simply Kundun, the Presence.
When the Thirteenth Dalai Lama died in 1935, the Tibetan Government had not simply to appoint a successor, but to discover the child in whom the Buddha of Compassion would incarnate: the child need not have been born just at the death of His predecessor, or even very soon thereafter. As before, there would be signs of where to search. For example, when the Thirteenth Dalai Lama's body was laid in a shrine facing south, His head turned to the east twice, and to the east of his shrine a great fungus appeared on the east side of a pillar of well-seasoned wood. The Regent of Tibet went to the sacred lake of Lhamoe Lhatso, where Tibetans have seen visions of the future. There he saw, among other things, a monastery with roofs of green jade and gold and a house with turquoise tiles. A detailed description of the entire vision was written down and kept a strict secret.
In 1937 high lamas and dignitaries were sent throughout Tibet to search for the place seen in the vision. Those heading east were led by Lama Kewtsang Rinpoche of Sera Monastery. In Takster they found such a place and went to the house, with Kewtsang Rinpoche disguised as a servant and a junior monk posing as the leader. The Rinpoche was wearing a rosary of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and the little boy, recognizing it, demanded that it be given to him. This was promised, if the child could guess who the wearer was. The reply was Sera aga (in the local dialect, a monk of Sera). The boy was also able to tell who the real leader and servant were. After many further tests, the Dalai Lama was enthroned in 1940.
In 1950, at the age of sixteen and still facing nine more years of intensive religious education, His Holiness had to assume full political power when China invaded Tibet. In March of 1959, during the national uprising of the Tibetan people against Chinese military occupation, He went into exile. Since then He has lived in the Himalayan foothills in Dharamsala, India, the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-exile, a constitutional democracy since 1963. Dharamsala, aptly known as Little Lhasa, also has cultural and educational institutions and serves as a "capital-in-exile" for 130,000 Tibetan refugees living mainly in India; others are in Nepal, Switzerland, the UK, the United States, Canada and thirty other countries. In the past decade, the Dalai Lama has tried to open dialogue with the Chinese. He proposed a Five-Point Peace Plan in 1987-88, which would also stabilize the entire Asian region and which has drawn widespread praise from statesmen and legislative bodies around the world, but the Chinese have yet to enter into negotiations.
Meanwhile, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, unlike His predecessors who never came to the West, continues His world-wide travels, eloquently speaking in favor of ecumenical understanding, kindness and compassion, respect for the environment and, above all, world peace.
Dr. Allan Molloy
KERRY O'BRIEN: As the spiritual leader of a remote Asian nation, the Dalai Lama certainly casts a long shadow.
In just two public events in Australia so far, some 30,000 people have flocked to hear the word of the revered head of the Tibetan Buddhist faith.
And while controversy surrounds his role as an activist for Tibet's political future, his advice on how to cope with the pressures of modern life certainly has broad appeal.
The advice is given with humility and humour, and if the question's too hard, a candid acknowledgment that he doesn't have an answer for everything.
Mick Bunworth reports.
How do people manage spiritual practice with a busy working life? This was one of the questions that were put to Dr. Alan Molloy, long-time resident of Tara Institute in Melbourne, Australia. Alan has witnessed the growth of Buddhism in Australia from the late 1970s to the present and, during the interview, shared some of the highlights of his 17 years as a Buddhist.
Born in England in 1949, Steve migrated to Australia with his parents and two brothers in 1963. Four years later he joined the Australian Army in 1967, serving in Viet Nam from 1969 to 1971. It was there he met his wife of 44 years, Tuyet. Steve has four children and six grand children.
He served 26 years in the Army and 8 more years out of the Army, until he retired in 2001 due to ill-health. Steve continued his voluntary work with Vietnam Veterans (Australian & Vietnamese) and with the Vietnamese community in Melbourne.
In 2002, Steve and Tuyet (Buddhist name: Nguyên Thiện Hạnh) made their first visit to Quang Duc Monastery and took refuge in Buddhism (with Snr. Ven. Thich Tam Phuong) in 2003.
Nguyện đem công đức này, trang nghiêm Phật Tịnh Độ, trên đền bốn ơn nặng, dưới cứu khổ ba đường, nếu có người thấy nghe, đều phát lòng Bồ Đề, hết một báo thân này, sinh qua cõi Cực Lạc.
May the Merit and virtue,accrued from this work, adorn the Buddhas pureland, Repay the four great kindnesses above, andrelieve the suffering of those on the three paths below, may those who see or hear of these efforts generates Bodhi Mind, spend their lives devoted to the Buddha Dharma, the Land of Ultimate Bliss.