His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama is known to the world for his efforts to preserve Tibetan culture and for his inspiring spiritual teachings. Often unnoticed, however, is the long, colorful history from which this most beloved of holy men has emerged. In Secret Lives of the Dalai Lama, Alexander Norman tells this story in full for the first time, from Tibetan Buddhism’s foundational narratives to the present-day crisis faced by Tibet.
And what a story it is. Along with dedicated monks selflessly serving the Tibetan people, among His Holiness’s spiritual forebears there are a Dalai Lama who waged wars, a womanizing and inebriated poet, and several who wound up dead following disputes over temporal power. Also, while Western practitioners focus on Tibetan Buddhism’s liberating vision of enlightenment, it simultaneously contains ritual practices of prophecy and magic, as well as a vivid pantheon of deities and demons.
In the end, although Tibet falls short of the Western myths of a Himalayan utopia, by illuminating the historical struggle toward compassion and selflessness embodied in the Dalai Lama lineage, Secret Lives of the Dalai Lama ultimately reveals a reality that is vastly more compelling than any romance of “Shangri-La” and provides deeper reasons for admiring Tibetan tradition.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
In analyzing Shakya Chokden’s ideas, Komarovski explores some of the most important issues of both traditional and modern Buddhist scholarship, including contested approaches to the nature of reality, the relationship between philosophy and contemplative practice, inter- and intrasectarian Buddhist polemics, and the nature of consciousness and mental processes.
Rinchen Sadutshang was born in 1928 near the Tibet-China border to a well-off trading family, educated in a Jesuit school in the Himalayan foothills of British India, and served in the Dalai Lama’s government both before and after the 1959 Communist takeover of Lhasa. A refugee alongside tens of thousands of his countrymen, he played a crucial role in bringing the plight of the Tibetan people to the world’s attention.
In this memoir, published just months after his passing in July of 2015, the author recounts his long, fascinating career in service to the Tibetan cause. From meeting British viceroy Lord Waverly in India and General Chiang Kai-shek in China in 1946 to being part of the delegation that successfully pled Tibet’s case before the United Nations in the 1960s, he offers a first-hand perspective on a number of memorable historical events.
Gyalo Thondup has long lived out of the spotlight and hidden from view, but his whole life has been dedicated to the cause of his younger brother and Tibet. He served for decades as the Dalai Lama's special envoy, the trusted interlocutor between Tibet and foreign leaders from Chiang Kai-shek to Jawaharlal Nehru, Zhou Enlai to Deng Xiaoping. Traveling the globe and meeting behind closed doors, Thondup has been an important witness to some of the epochal events of the 20th century. No one has a better grasp of the ongoing great game as the divergent interests of China, India, Russia and the United States continue to play themselves out over the Tibetan plateau. Only the Dalai Lama himself has played a more important role in the political history of modern, tragedy-ridden Tibet. Indeed, the Dalai Lama's dramatic escape from Lhasa to exile in India would not have been possible without his brother's behind-the-scenes help.
Now, together with Anne F. Thurston, who co-wrote the international best seller The Private Life of Chairman Mao, Gyalo Thondup is finally telling his story.
The settings are exotic—the Tibetan province of Amdo where the two brothers spent their early childhood; Tibet's legendary capital of Lhasa; Nanjing, where Thondup received a Chinese education; Taiwan, where he fled when he could not return to Tibet; Calcutta, Delhi, and the Himalayan hill towns of India, where he finally made his home; Hong Kong, which served as his listening post for China, and the American Rockies, where he sent young Tibetan resistance fighters to be trained clandestinely by the CIA.
But Thondup's story does not reiterate the otherworldly, Shangri-La vision of the Land of Snows so often portrayed in the West. Instead, it is an intimate, personal look at the Dalai Lama and his immediate family and an inside view of vicious and sometimes deadly power struggles within the Potala Palace--that immensely imposing architectural wonder that looms over Lhasa and is home to both the spiritual and secular seats of Tibetan power.
The Dalai Lama's story is revealed from his early family life to his experiences in the world, his education as the 14th incarnation of the Lama, his exile in India, and his current struggles to help Tibet regain its independence from China. Especially helpful is the clear historical overview of the Tibetan crisis after the Chinese invasion. A timeline and glossary also supplement the text. Though the book is written especially for high school students doing reports, it will also be of immense interest to general readers.
Raimondo Bultrini, an investigative journalist, decides to open a new trail by reconstructing the mystical aspect of the events. The Dalai Lama himself, determined to combat the sectarian outlook fostered in the name of the “king demon” by a group within the clergy of the Gelukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, reveals to Bultrini hitherto secret religious and historical details regarding the impact of the cult. Recent events and developments seem to bear out his perspective, since many Gyalpo Shugden followers have found common ground with the Chinese authorities. The links between these renegade lamas and the Communist regime are becoming stronger, creating an alliance aimed at removing all traces of the Dalai Lama’s lineage from Tibet’s future. This is the first major exposé of this intriguing struggle at the heart of the mysticism and politics surrounding the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan quest for freedom.