...By Muyiwa Aderinto for TDPel Media.
A Closer Look at the Dalai Lama’s Most Controversial Statements and Actions
A Review of the Dalai Lama’s Public Controversies
The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, has faced several controversies throughout his life. Recently, a viral video surfaced showing him kissing a young child and asking the child to ‘suck’ his tongue, resulting in widespread criticism and an apology from the Dalai Lama.
This incident brings to light other instances in which the spiritual leader has come under fire for his comments and actions. In this article, we explore some of the most notable controversies surrounding the Dalai Lama.
- Viral Video and Apology In a recent viral video, the Dalai Lama is seen kissing a young child and asking him to ‘suck’ his tongue during a public gathering at a temple. The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, a US-based organization supporting survivors of spiritual and religious abuse, expressed their disgust and concern for the young boy involved. The Dalai Lama’s office issued an apology for the incident, acknowledging the hurt it may have caused and explaining that sticking out one’s tongue was once a common greeting in ancient Tibetan culture.
- Comments on a Female Successor The Dalai Lama has faced backlash for his comments on the possibility of his successor being a woman. In interviews with the BBC in 2015 and 2019, he suggested that a female Dalai Lama would need to be “very, very attractive” or else she would be “not much use.” Although his office later apologized for his remarks, many people found them offensive and inappropriate.
- Criticisms of Donald Trump During a 2019 BBC interview, the Dalai Lama criticized then-US President Donald Trump for his “lack of moral principle” and policies, such as withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement and the treatment of migrants at the US-Mexico border. These comments drew the ire of Trump supporters and created tension between the spiritual leader and the former president’s administration.
- Views on Refugees and Europe The Dalai Lama has also generated controversy with his comments on refugees in Europe, stating in 2019 that “Europe is for Europeans” and suggesting that refugees should ultimately return to their own countries. Critics called him hypocritical, considering his own status as a refugee.
- Involvement with NXIVM In 2018, it was revealed that the Dalai Lama was paid $1 million to attend and endorse an event hosted by NXIVM, a controversial organization later exposed as a sex cult. The connection to NXIVM tarnished the spiritual leader’s reputation, although he was not directly involved in any illegal activities within the group.
- Remarks on India and Pakistan In 2018, the Dalai Lama apologized for his comments suggesting that India and Pakistan would have remained united if not for the “self-centered attitude” of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. His remarks drew criticism from both countries, with some considering them divisive and disrespectful.
The Dalai Lama, as a revered spiritual leader, is expected to exemplify wisdom and compassion. However, these controversies reveal that even he can make mistakes and face backlash for his words and actions. It is essential for public figures to be aware of their influence and the potential impact of their statements on their followers and the wider community.