Today is the birthday of best selling author and leader of Tibet (or is it the other way around?) the Dalai Lama. This post was not as difficult as my other “fun facts” posts as the Dalai Lama had an interesting life and the difficulty presented itself by trying to find “only” 10 interesting facts.
1 ) Tenzin Gyatso was born in the northeastern Tibetan village of Taktser in 1935. His parents had 16 children but only 7 survived past infancy.
2 ) The two year old boy was marked as the reincarnated Dalai Lama when monks, dressed as traders, showed up in his village. The boy asked for a rosary which belonged to the previous Dalai Lama and identified the man wearing it as “Sera aga” (a lama from the Sera monastery). Later the boy also identified possessions of the previous lama.
3 ) Ma Bufang, a Chinese Muslim General ( who knew?), placed his men around the Dalai Lama’s house for “protection” effectively placing him under house arrest. It took 100,000 Chinese silver dollars to transport the Dalai Lama to Tibet so he could succeed his predecessor.
4 ) The Dalai Lama started his monastic education at age 6. At age 11 he met Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer. Mr. Harrer spent seven years in Tibet teaching the Dalai Lama about the outside world. The two remained friends until Harrar’s deatih in 2006.
5) The residence of the Dalai Lama residence, Potala Palace and Norbulingka, are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
6) Rock star Patti Smith studied Tibet for a year in school at age 12. She prayed that Tibet would become newsworthy and felt guilty when, in 1959, the Dalai Lama was forced to flee due to harsh Chinese oppression.
7 ) in 2007 the Dalai Lama was named Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.
8 ) The Dalai Lama has stated that if he had not become a monk, he would have become an engineer.
9 ) When the Dalai Lama was asked on his website what is the purpose of life, he answered “to be happy”.
Zohar – Man of la Book