The world knows the public face of the fourteenth Dalai Lama.
We have read about his near escape from Tibet after the Chinese invasion, his Nobel Peace Prize, and his friendships with world leaders, Hollywood actors, and scientists around the world. But what are his inner, personal thoughts on his own spiritual life? For the first time and in his own words, the Dalai Lama charts his spiritual journey from his boyhood days in rural Tibet to his years as a monk in the capital city of Dharamsala, to his life in exile as a world leader and symbol of peace.
My Spiritual Journey provides a vivid and moving portrait of the Dalai Lama’s life journey that is personal in tone but universal in scope. He explores three phases or commitments of his spiritual life — as a human being, as a Buddhist monk, and as the Dalai Lama — each of which has made him more dedicated to exploring and teaching human values and inner happiness, promoting harmony among all religions, and advocating for the civil rights and well-being of the Tibetan people.
At the age of two, little Tenzin Gyatso was identified as the fourteenth incarnation of the first Dalai Lama. From then on, his life has been a trajectory few can imagine. Some see him as a living Buddha and moral authority, others identify him as a “god-king,” which still others see him in political terms as either a hero or a counterrevolutionary. In My Spiritual Journey, we see the personal struggles, the courage, the laughter, and the compassion that have defined the remarkable life of one of our world’s greatest living legends.
Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso (born Lhamo Döndrub), the 14th Dalai Lama, is a practicing member of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism and is influential as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the world's most famous Buddhist monk, and the leader of the exiled Tibetan government in India.
Tenzin Gyatso was the fifth of sixteen children born to a farming family. He was proclaimed the tulku (an Enlightened lama who has consciously decided to take rebirth) of the 13th Dalai Lama at the age of two.
On 17 November 1950, at the age of 15, he was enthroned as Tibet's ruler. Thus he became Tibet's most important political ruler just one month after the People's Republic of China's invasion of Tibet on 7 October 1950. In 1954, he went to Beijing to attempt peace talks with Mao Zedong and other leaders of the PRC. These talks ultimately failed.
After a failed uprising and the collapse of the Tibetan resistance movement in 1959, the Dalai Lama left for India, where he was active in establishing the Central Tibetan Administration (the Tibetan Government in Exile) and in seeking to preserve Tibetan culture and education among the thousands of refugees who accompanied him.
Tenzin Gyatso is a charismatic figure and noted public speaker. This Dalai Lama is the first to travel to the West. There, he has helped to spread Buddhism and to promote the concepts of universal responsibility, secular ethics, and religious harmony.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, honorary Canadian citizenship in 2006, and the United States Congressional Gold Medal on 17 October 2007.