By Mayank Chhaya
The subtitle of Dalai Lama is Man Monk Mystic, and these three concepts form the content of the book.
Some Tibetan history and the politics surrounding Tibet’s future and its position within the Chinese republic are also discussed.
We are given a detailed description of how this 14th reincarnated Dalai Lama was found and chosen at the age of three, and what his life was like in Tibet until he fled in 1959 ahead of the Chinese invasion. He has never been back.
He describes himself as just a simple Tibetan Buddhist monk in search of enlightenment and the re-establishment of Tibet’s autonomy from China.
He realises how impossible full political separation is now for Tibet under China’s domination, but yearns nevertheless for the preservation of its history, beliefs, religion, culture, language and way of life.
He does not want these things consumed by Chinese rule, as is already happening, and hopes to return one day before he dies.
It is impossible to really understand the man’s mysticism from a Western perspective, and particularly if one is not a Buddhist, but it makes fascinating, sometimes difficult, reading.
The fact the Dalai Lama was awarded the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize goes to show the esteem in which he is held.
Incidentally, the man he holds in greatest regard is Gandhi, who was never awarded the prize.
The book ends with some interesting theories about the politics and the future of Tibet, the role of the Dalai Lama, and whether he will be the last of such a fascinating succession.
— Lee Stephenson