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Who is the Dalai Lama?

Dalai Lama audio

Buddhism is the fourth largest of the world’s religions, with about 375 million followers. The religion of Buddhism is made up of several sects, philosophies, or schools. One of these is Tibetan Buddhism, which is a religion-in-exile, forced from its homeland when Tibet was conquered by the Chinese. The leader of Tibetan Buddhism is the Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in India since he fled the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959.

Partly because of the worldwide prominence of the Dalai Lama, most people have heard about Tibetan Buddhism. The Tibetan form of Buddhism is one of the most complicated because it is tied to the ancient spirit-oriented religion of the Tibetan plateau. The essential goal of Tibetan Buddhism, however, is the same as that of other types of Buddhism: to realize enlightenment and enter Nirvana, or the freedom of one’s spiritual self from the attachment to or affection for worldly things.

Tibetan Buddhism focuses on its monks, called “lamas.” Correspondingly, it also recognizes a multitude of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (deities or beings who have attained enlightenment worthy of Nirvana but remain in the world to help others), as well as their consorts. Lamas use different meditation techniques, which include what are called “mandalas” (spiritual diagrams) and prayer wheels. The Dalai Lama is the highest lama. What is interesting is that, whenever the Dalai Lama dies, Tibetan Buddhists believe he is reborn as an infant, and officials of the religion search for the child—who is supposed to bear certain distinguishing marks—and when he is discovered, he then becomes the new Dalai Lama.

The current Dalai Lama is named Tenzin Gyatso and is the 14th Dalai Lama. His real name is Lhamo Thondup. Born in 1935 and “discovered” in 1937, he was given the name he now bears, Tenzin Gyatso. He became the political head of Tibet in 1950. However, he left Tibet to establish a government-in-exile in 1959 when the Chinese took over that country. In 1989, the Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Most Buddhists consider Jesus to be an “enlightened master” but not the Son of God. During an interview with Christianity Today, the Dalai Lama said that Jesus had lived previous lives and His purpose was to teach a message of tolerance and compassion, to help people to become better human beings. And this is the primary problem with the Dalai Lama and all of Buddhism. While some aspects of the Dalai Lama’s message are undeniably positive, and while most Buddhists are indeed kind-hearted, “good” human beings, their denial of the biblical Jesus infinitely outweighs any positive aspects of Buddhism.

The Scriptures reveal that Jesus is God in human form, slain for the sins of the world (John 3:16). Yes, Jesus taught compassion, but that was not the primary reason for His coming. Jesus came to provide salvation for all those who receive Him as Savior. Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus provides salvation for us because we are absolutely incapable of saving ourselves. Due to Buddhism’s explicit rejection of this truth, the Dalai Lama is a false prophet, and Buddhism is a false religion. On the most crucial of issues, the Dalai Lama is, sadly, not enlightened.

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This page last updated: January 4, 2022