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The Dalai Lama is a world figure who has been fighting for the right of his indigenous people in Tibet. This has resulted in him rubbing shoulders with the Chinese authorities in the wrong way and as he travels across the globe he enlightens people about his beliefs, culture and his people while seeking support for the respect of human rights in his native Tibet and the world as a whole. All these among other practices by him are based on his spiritual belief, the Tibetan Buddhism. Through this he has became critically acclaimed and received wide accreditation which has resulted in numerous awards due to the same. He has travelled in many places in the world and this has made him get a lot of support and sympathy for his cause especially from the west who have always backed him although most of the time not portrayed publicly due to the fear of raising animosity with China who have constantly been his strong critic, portraying him as a separatist who wants to make China lose hold of the Tibetan area or trying to overthrow the Chinese rule in the Tibet area.
The Dalai Lama is the leader of the Tibetan Buddhism; he is a world renowned figure due to his continued opposition of the Chinese occupation of the Tibetan territory which they took control of back in the 1950s through an invasion. At this time, the Dalai Lama was just but a teenager and already a leader of his people. He was their leader until an uprising occurred in the Tibet that led him to flee into exile for fear for his life. He has been there since then up to date (Lama, 1997).
The Dalai Lama has today become a world renowned figure due to his continued activism for human rights for everyone, especially his people back in Tibet who are under Chinese occupation. This is clearly seen whenever the Chinese government frowns at any country that plays host to the Dalai Lama and views them as people who support dissidents. Through his many trips there has been a widespread recognition of his work enabling him to win the Nobel peace prize. He has also created a lot of exposure to the Tibetan culture, religion and other practices which is a good thing since the Tibet has always been hidden away from the rest of the world both cultural, religiously and geographically (Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, 2010).
Lama (2009) agrees that this has led to increased conversion of people to Tibetan Buddhism in the world. Many people have converted to Buddhism causing the world as a whole to question about the Tibetan occupation and the legality of the same by the Chinese. As he travels giving lectures, he has come to appreciate other cultures and modern ways of doing things. Through this, he has slowly made himself adaptive to democracy as an exiled person from the government of Tibet. All these have slowly transformed him from a traditional spiritual leader to a global icon admired and appreciated wherever he goes.
Principals, practices and teachings of the Dalai Lama that have the application to the world of human rights
Lama et al (1992), assert that in his teachings, the Dalai Lama argues that the world of today has no peace and compassion between people, he advises people across the world to shun violence and seek alternative ways of conflict resolution other than wars. In his words, the only way to achieve this is through embracing compassion. In his teaching about compassion, Dalai Lama has managed to inspire millions of people across the globe to embrace this principle regardless of their religion. He believes that people have a purpose of being happy in their lives along with fostering the principal of compassion. He cultivates the universal responsibility of fostering compassion through his teachings in dialogues, academic conferences and giving public lectures.
The education system of the Tibetans has been designed in a way that it provides an opportunity for its young people who are trained to adhere to the teachings of compassion. With this knowledge, young people grow knowing the need to feel with other people in the spirit of compassion and help those who are in need so as to alleviate their suffering (Doinga 360 Resource Centre, 2007). According to the teachings of compassion, the more you practice compassion the more you move towards acquiring a state of happiness and peace that will last in the next generations. Dalai Lama believes in the pursuit of happiness and peace; perceived to be the basic human rights. He is against all odds that consist of racism, creed and differences based on religion.
According to Lama et al (1992), teachings of the Dalai Lama about compassion seek a different approach to acquisition of education through the high school and university education systems. He argues that education is not all about degrees and certificates , but the will and ability of scholars to use the education and knowledge acquired as a mirror to reflect on the issues affecting their societies in a compassionate manner. In these teachings he argues that compassion is from the heart whereas knowledge and skills are from the mind. Any learning process or program should ensure that these two are combined in order to reach desired levels of social and economic development. Dalai Lama says that no matter how much one is bright and educated; lack of compassion would lead him into a destructive vessel. He also argues that with compassion, the world will be a peaceful place full of good people. People will be morally upright and prudent at all times.
Dalai Lama also teaches to foster the principal of harmony among different religions. According to him, this is the only way to prevent conflicts witnessed today due to lack of tolerance between different religions. Harmony among different religions is key to promotion of the rights of those marginalized along religious lines (Nobel, 1987).
Gyatso (2008) explains that the Dalai Lama through his teachings in different forums has cultured an interest in his religion; Tibetan Buddhism. Buddhism philosophy for many years has sought to find all about the human mind, unlike the western scientists who have strived to study the outer space. The Dalai Lama teaches about meditation and he believes in a core practice of the Buddhism philosophy; mysticism. This is based on meditation as a means of refreshing the brain after fatigue due to stress. The belief is that this makes people to have the spirit of self acceptance, high degree of satisfaction and peace.
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In his teachings, the Dalai Lama teaches that wealth is not what we achieve in our environment. He teaches that wealth is not the tangible property we posses. His idea is that the best form of wealth one can ever have is the wealth of the heart. Here he meant to emphasize the importance of compassion that originates from the heart. Compassion is key to fostering happiness and peace, both of which are key to social and economic development. With the peace and happiness that comes with internal wealth or compassion, the world will be full of peaceful and happy people and without violation of key human rights (Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, 2010).
The principal of selflessness has been embraced by the Buddhism philosophy. The Dalai Lama preaches selflessness among people. He urges people to serve one another unselfishly. He also expresses the need to help alleviate the suffering of people with special needs. For example every person has a basic human right to food; therefore this principal helps people in need to get their human rights by the help of the selfless people.
The Dalai Lama in Conflict Resolution
Doinga 360 Resource Centre (2007) explains that the Dalai Lama has always (according to the teachings of Buddhism) advocated for full human rights for every individual in the world. These include freedom from hunger, access to food and water and another which affect his homeland; freedom from unlawful occupation or oppression of any kind. According to the teachings of Buddha, when a human being is born it is natural that he is born with some feelings like caring, loving and the natural need for human survival like protection from harm. These are in the human value that in his teachings he stresses on. He says that if we could sometimes concentrate on these and avoid other distractions that would make us ignore them, the world would be a better place because we would care for each other instead of neighbors fighting and competing.
The Dalai Lama also teaches on nurturing good habits like good relations with others despite our backgrounds which may be different for various reasons that range from economic to others like racial or even different nationalities or cultures hence we learn to live with one another, since at the end of the day we will all need each other or depend on each other either directly or indirectly depending on the circumstance (Gyatso, 2008). This comes out clearly when he says that when attacked one should fight or shoot back but not in a fatal way hence he believes in non-armed way of solving a crisis or any bloody encounters for the fear of losing lives which are sacred but rather encourages the use of dialogue and any other non confrontational manner. This is portrayed where, despite all the hostility and public ridicule by the Chinese government he is still willing to sit down and negotiate with them in relation to the Tibet conflict.
Other areas where the Dalai Lama has continually advocated for is the alleviation of poverty which is affecting millions in his country of adoption, India, where he has been on refuge for decades. He has called on other continents together with other renowned personalities and world leaders to unite and end this as it is morally wrong for the economic world powers to spent billions on weaponry while people are starving in Africa and Asia. This is indicated by his ever present preaching for the bridging of the gap between the rich and the poor, especially in India and Africa where the gap has kept on widening instead of decreasing. Hence the outcry to governments especially in the affected regions to channel more resources and energy towards striving to eradicate or in the least bridge the gap between the two groups.
This is due to the fact that poverty itself can prevent a person from a dignified way of life. For example it hinders access to basic education, good healthcare, proper clothing or a decent house to call homes. These are some of the basic needs for any person to have a dignified life in this age. This is one of the Dalai Lama's main topics as he lectures all over the world. The lack of these necessities can drive one into vices in a bid to make ends meet. This will probably lead to armed conflict if left to continue as it is a loophole for exploitation. Therefore, if all humans, nations and societies give their all in trying to meet these fundamentals of equality, then, may be chances of these conflicts occurring will be reduced (Lama, 2009).
If all the above needs can be met then chances of conflicts arising will be minimal hence the world as a whole can easily be at peace and with peace there comes happiness; which are all basic principals of being human that we are born with but tend to shun them aside due to selfish reasons. To ensure that peace is maintained, then all people's interests have to be considered and the opinion of the majority sought and put forward first. This in brief is basically democracy, which the Dalai Lama stresses that for the peace in the society to be maintained, democracy has to be practiced.
Human rights in the world
The Dalai Lama is always fighting for his people and the human race as a whole, this has led to his sometimes outspoken approach when it comes to human right s across his native homeland of Tibet and the whole of China as a nation (Gyatso, 2008). The Chinese government has in a number of times found itself in murky waters when the issue of human rights is raised specifically because it is accused of committing atrocities that violate these rights both in Tibet and against the indigenous people in its mainland, China, where most of its population which is way over a billion lack access to uncensored information from the internet and other sources. This is because the government tries to protect its interests whereas the media is either censored or is state-run or sponsored hence resulting in giving of false or biased information depending on who stands to benefit.
Despite rubbing the governments in the wrong way this has never dissuaded him from continuing with the campaign for the respect of at least the basic human rights of any individual. These include the right of expression, movement and sovereignty of a state (Buckley, 2004). Unlike in the western world whose track record in human rights is good, in Asia and Africa things are tougher. Leaders sometimes curtail the enjoyment of these rights for their countrymen in order to either remain in power or cover up corruption and underhand dealings that sometimes occur. The Dalai Lama emphasizes that these can be improved through establishment of human rights groups that are independent of any external interference to help in ensuring that the same are protected for every citizen in any country all over the world.
Critics of the Dalai Lama practices and teachings
McCarthy (2001), points out that the teachings offered have earned him many fans and critics at the same time. Critics argue that as far as his approach is non- violent, it is impractical in the modern day world as it may not work in many situations. Today the world as we know is driven by capitalism which is mainly characterized by individual hard work, thus you get returns but also sometimes creates a sense of not being fair. It may not be easy to try and create equality as there are those people who work harder than others hence deserving more than their counterparts. This has resulted in the poor rich gap (Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, 1997).
Another point of contention is when dealing with certain conflicts whereby, trying to negotiate through dialogue may take a long time, in the process leaving many to suffer and lives to be lost hence forcing a more acute and drastic measure in curbing some situations. For example when dealing with terrorists, you can't negotiate with them hence the need to use a lot of force to stop them from creating harm that would otherwise create danger or cause a lot more destruction.
In some other cases people argue that the Dalai Lama is not really a Tibetan in nature, especially as portrayed by the Chinese who say he is more Indian than Tibetan and as long as he is not in Tibet then he cant really know what the people there are experiencing and by this the world's perception of him being the leader of the Tibet people should be disqualified (Doinga 360 Resource Centre, 2007).
There are other arguments especially of a teacher-student relationship where many claim that with teachings given by him whereby for one to qualify as a teacher he/she needs to have students first but in the modern day for one to be a teacher one has to be enlightened first on the topic to be taught. In other instances, for example yoga in which one needs too much time to reach a state of complete rest and free from thought and yet one has to think of fending for his or her family (Gyatso, 2008).
The Dalai Lama is an icon in the modern world who should be embraced for grabbing both the traditional aspects and value of his native Tibet while combining it with modern day aspects and approach to life. This has enabled him to tackle many issues and at the same time fight for human rights for his people in Tibet and other parts of the world. This is even more remarkable as he has opened the world to his culture and by this enabling people to understand his perspective on things and its basis. So despite the time to time controversies on the practicability of some of these practices, it is safe to say he has done a lot of remarkable things to assist the human race as a whole and all this should be heavily commended.