Crisis of confidence in Tibetan leadership

In the Tibetan settlements, there is a question on everyone’s lips but no one wants to discuss – what will happen when the Dalai Lama is gone?

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Life without the Dalai Lama?

By: Ringzin Tsomo

October 2, 2017

DHARAMSALA, INDIA – high in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains, something strange is afoot. For the first time in six decades, Tibetans are starting to consider the possibility of life without His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Concerns have been growing about His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s behavior in recent years. The slow decline in his reputation began early in 2015 when in an interview about his successor, the Dalai Lama told the media that he would be the last Dalai Lama. He then further claimed that if the institution were to continue, he would come back as an “mischievous blonde female” and “her face must be very attractive” or “nobody pay much attention”.

Globally, the Dalai Lama was swiftly condemned as sexist, with some accusing him of holding misogynistic views towards women. Members of the Tibetan leadership, including Sikyong Lobsang Sengge, scrambled to clarify the Dalai Lama’s statements but the damage control came perhaps too little, too late.

At 82 years old, most people would be happily retired but this has not been the case for the Dalai Lama. But as the Tibetan leadership fails to find a qualified successor for the public relations juggernaut that is the Dalai Lama, concerns are growing for the future of the Tibetan people.

Later, in October of that same year, the Dalai Lama was accused of exploring relationships with women, with the reporter even providing a photograph she claimed was the Dalai Lama on a date with her mother. Her report was subsequently met by widespread skepticism and later retracted by the online publication Broadly, who apologized for their failure to fact-check. Nevertheless, observers of the Tibet situation were keen to note that in years gone past, such reports about the consummate media darling would have been unthinkable. The fact they are becoming more frequent has not been lost on the Tibetan government.

Buoyed by public sympathy for his health conditions, the Dalai Lama nearly made it through 2016 without further gaffes. That is to say, until September when he infamously closed the year off by mocking then-President hopeful Donald Trump, going so far as to imitate the President’s infamous hairstyle. It appears however, that his disarming giggle was not enough to charm the White House who were decidedly unamused. To this day, the US President has not indicated any interest in meeting with the Dalai Lama, a sure sign of his disinterest in the Tibetan cause.

This interview was followed by a 2017 televised appearance on the host John Oliver’s show, during which he claimed that he was not in the position to criticize self-immolations. The Dalai Lama was heavily criticized for his remarks in this interview, by an incredulous audience who found it difficult to believe that the leader of the Tibetan people was not able to offer any comment on or was powerless to stop any of these violent suicides.

The Dalai Lama’s beleaguered reputation has not been helped by Dorje Shugden practitioners who continue to shadow his worldwide appearances, protesting for the freedom to practise their religion free from persecution. Given such a series of public relations missteps, there is little surprise that the Tibetan leadership have seen it fit to scale back His Holiness’s public engagements. In the last few months of 2017, the 82-year old Tibetan leader has called off a series of international visits and meetings, with his team citing exhaustion.

In an interview in 2016, the Dalai Lama mocked then-President hopeful Donald Trump. Since being elected into power, President Trump has not indicated any interest in meeting with the spiritual leader and has in fact steadily eroded American government support for the Tibetan cause.

This has done little to stem talk of the Dalai Lama’s wellbeing, after 2016 was dominated by rumors of ill health after His Holiness visited the Mayo Clinic. Reports from the media attributed these visits to everything from a general check-up to chemotherapy. The Associated Press even reported that the Dalai Lama was receiving treatment specifically for prostrate cancer.

Closer to home, the toll of this repeated negative press is starting to be felt in the Tibetan settlements.

Lhundrub, 45, admits that he worries about the Dalai Lama. Declining to give his full name, Lhundrub agreed to be interviewed only on the condition of anonymity, saying that he feared retribution on his family who continue to live in the settlements.

“When I was younger, I heard all sorts of wonderful things about the Dalai Lama. He could do no wrong and people would never even dare to question his decisions. Nowadays, he is always making all kinds of comments to the media. People are whispering if something is wrong. Is someone hiding the news from us?”

His concerns were echoed by Tselha, 27, who accuses the Tibetan leadership of keeping the public in the dark. “What will happen when His Holiness passes away? How do we plan for our future if we don’t know what is going on? Are we stuck with Sikyong Lobsang Sengge?”

Indeed, current polls suggest that Sikyong Lobsang Sengge is facing a crisis of confidence, with his approval ratings registering at an all-time low. According to a well-placed source within the government, there is growing concern about this among the Tibetan establishment.

Dhardon Sharling has been heavily promoted by the Sikyong Lobsang Sengge. Her frequent appearances by his side has triggered public suspicions about the reasons behind the Prime Minister’s apparent favoritism towards her.

“It seems the Sikyong is more concerned about his public image. He spends more time promoting himself and the people he favors, and less on the affairs of our people,” our source tells us. “He was voted in because people thought a Harvard-educated man would know how to guide our people towards dialogue with China. We all thought he would be a breath of fresh air. Instead, things seem to have become worse compared to Samdhong Rinpoche’s time.”

He is anxious to clarify that he is not the only person who feels that way.

“Within the Parliament, there are many people who are starting to doubt the Dalai Lama’s decisions. As a spiritual guide, they continue to respect him but doubts about his political acumen and decision-making process are gaining strength,” he tells us.

“The recent speeches by MP Tenpa Yarphel really highlighted this. While the honorable member expressed frustration over our government’s reliance on Nechung for state decisions, every Tibetan knows the only reason Nechung has the power to do this is because His Holiness [the Dalai Lama] said so. But now people are starting to wonder if His Holiness made the right decision and how many more wrong decisions have been made.”

As the Tibetan leader continues to advance in age, it is a question no one wants to ask but everyone knows needs to be answered – what will happen after the Dalai Lama is gone? No doubt preparations are quietly being made in this burgeoning democracy for the Dalai Lama’s successor, but observers point out that a single charismatic leader has yet to be identified.

After decades of divisive policies and institutionalized segregation by the Tibetan leadership, and an over-reliance on the appeal of the Dalai Lama, disheartened Tibetans find they can do little else but offer their prayers that the Tibetan leadership wakes up soon to the reality that more will need to be done soon to draw their people together. Until such time that happens, there is very little that people like Lhundrub and Tselha can do but sit and wait.


Associated Press claims the Dalai Lama has prostrate cancer

Click to enlarge. An article published in a local Floridian paper, citing information from the Associated Press that the Dalai Lama has prostate cancer.

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  1. You can see in the comment of this youtube video how ungrateful, greedy and nasty Tibetans are. The Indians are angry and have a right to be angry after hosting the Tibetans for 60 years. Yet instead of being grateful, they lash back. Even calling the Indian students “COMMUNIST CHINA PAID DOGS” and other vulgarities. Very racist. Anything Tibetans don’t like, they call you a China spy or China money eating agent. Even the Indian nationals now are berated as China dogs.

    No wonder Indians are protesting for Tibetans to go back! This is happening while the Dalai Lama is alive for after he passes, it will completely degenerate and the Indians will take action and expel the ungrateful refugees.

    ungrateful Tibetans

  2. We know that the Dalai Lama does not want independence for Tibet. All Rangzen-fighting Tibetans are going against the Dalai Lama. They are hardcore separatists and most likely taking Chinese money to create schism. The attached Times of India article is very clear what the Dalai Lama wants. Rangzen Tibetans and activists are 100% against Dalai Lama and Tibetan nation.


  3. It is really a hard time for the Tibetans. The CTA has stopped trusting the Dalai Lama and are now Rangzen activists!

    What more to come? When have we suffered enough?
    When will it become better?

    It is really hopeless. What is the CTA waiting for? A strike in the lottery?

  4. Tibetans use India. It’s hey don’t respect India and actually very racist. Indians are tired of this now and want them out. Now big protests in the hundreds are happening in Arunachel Pradesh state of India demanding Tibetans go back to Tibet. The people there are tired of the Tibetans and do not welcome them anymore. After 60 years, why are the Tibetans still refugees? If they can go western country, they will go because India is NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE USERS. They put India down. They only stay in India if they cannot go to another country. They never get Indian citizenship because they want foreign citizenship. Shame. In India, they never pay taxes. They never join army to defend India. They never build hospitals, half way houses, orphanages or get money from foreign aid to help India. They never build anything for Indians and we have so many poor Indians in India. Look at the foreigner Mother Teresa how much she did for India and she did so much for Indians in Calcutta but Tibetans do nothing. Not a charitable race. Their Dalai Lama never set up orphanages, schools, soup kitchens for the poor or set up scholarship for Indians. He lived in India for 60 years and give nothing back but take and use Indian land. The Tibetans lived in India for 60 years but they contribute nothing to India. Only complain and Indians are now going to speak up. The SUMAA students said the protests against Tibetans are only beginning and there will be more.

    After 60 years how can they still be refugees. They are not genuine refugees. They call themselves refugees and not get Indian passport so their Tibetan ‘government’ in Dharamsala can continue to market them to western countries and Japan to give them money. To get free money. Tibetan leaders love free money. Tibetans have big houses, nice cars and can travel to other countries. The Dalai Lama temples in Dharamsala have gold idols and gold paintings and live in very high luxury. Tibetan leaders already get money in the US billions in aid and yet they never improve. The Tibetans always say they have no opportunities in India. Why they say that? Because they are saying they are too good for India.

    They say they want autonomy with China but they fly the Tibetan flag on Indian soil. If they want autonomy, they should fly the Chinese flag and show China government they are serious to sit and talk. They are always lying. They protest against China on Indian soil making problems between India and China. India is not responsible for Tibetans. Tibetans should not make China India’s enemy. Don’t be selfish. China is not India’s problem. Tibetans should solve the problems themselves.

    Tibetan leaders only want money, money and more free things. They always make segregation among their people due to regional differences and religion. Look how they supress the Dorje Shugden religion and their own Dorje Shugden Tibetans cannot join in their schools or Dalai Lama’s talks and ceremonies. They treat the Dorje Shugden people like the low castes in India. Their Tibetan people cannot stand up on their own become something because their leaders want everything for free. When they go to western countries, they lose their culture, religion and language and pay a heavy price. Their children become more like the adopted country’s culture and people. Their ‘government’ in Dharamsala block them from getting Indian citizenship so they can continue using their fake refugee status to get money from the west. When India is so generous to give them citizenship, their own Tibetan minister in Dharamsala block this.

    Now Indians had enough and want Tibetans to get out and go home!

    SUMAA students heavily protest Part 1

    SUMAA students heavily protest Part 2

    Indians and Indian tribal people want Tibetans to go back to Tibet:

    Hundreds of Indians want Tibetans out of India. Protests are vowed to continue:

    Indian SUMAA leaders demanding state government to revoke refugee privileges for Tibetans

    And here alternative videos:

    SUMAA students heavily protest

    Indians and Indian tribal people want Tibetans to go back to Tibet:

    Hundreds want Tibetans out of India. Protests are vowed to continue:

    Heavy protest in the hundreds by Indians for Tibetans to get out of India

  5. The aging Dalai Lama is a painful sight to look at in the media today. There is hardly any positive news regarding His Holiness, and the more he is seen on media, it means more dirty laundry to air.

    The reason Dalai Lama’s had the spotlight on his misconduct and wrongs decisions all started when he unwittingly decided to ban Dorje Shugden practice and thus, created the worst schism in modern Tibetan Buddhism.

    The propitiation of Dorje Shugden can be traced as far back as 400 years ago, revered as an enlightened Dharma Protector who is, in fact, the emanation of the Bodhisattva Manjushri. Dorje Shugden was held in high esteem even by the Dalai Lama.

    However, this all suddenly changed without much explanation. In 1996, the Dalai Lama went from worshipping and praising the deity Dorje Shugden to publicly renouncing and condemning it as a demonic practice. Turning against Dorje Shugden, the Dalai Lama began repeatedly calling for the cessation of the Dorje Shugden practice, primarily citing that it harms his life and the Tibetan cause.

    And the Dalai Lama’s loyalists were swift to take action against Dorje Shugden practitioners, who made it their work to efficiently decree the worship of Dorje Shugden, a criminal act.

    What the Dalai Lama had done, whether deliberately or not, had tarnished his established icon of peace, harmony, compassion, and tolerance. He acted in complete contrast to all the values he stood for. Over time, people can see that the Dorje Shugden controversial is a convenient scapegoat to cover up the failure of the leadership.

    And people began to think that the Dalai Lama is not who people think he is. Many find it difficult to reconcile the humble, peace-loving monk persona with his extreme position in respect of the Dorje Shugden ban. Therefore people are digging into the dirt and trying to find out “who is Dalai Lama?”

    If the Dalai Lama wants to, with his authority in the Tibetan in the exile community, he can stop the ban, end the suffering and rescue his reputation.

  6. Within the Tibetan communities in India, there is no free speech and how Tibetans insult each other and would even insult foreigners by calling them Chinese agents just because you speak up and this is suppose to silence you. All of this began with the Tibetan CTA. Nonetheless, there are a handful of Tibetans who had enough and they dare to speak the truth and in this case, Tenpa Yarphel speaks against Nechung and veiled statements about the Shugden ban –
    And then there are people who would oppose his view by shaving his head. Very silly. 😓

  7. Real refugees vs. Tibetan ‘refugees’. Should India and other countries continue to help Tibetans, the most prosperous ‘refugees’ on earth?


  8. Chokyong Nechung is wrong! Nechung in this video said that Dalai Lama is going back to China and that was five years ago? What happened? Why are we even listening to him ever again. He always make mistakes. 😱


  9. Question to Tibetan exile government, Central Tibetan Administration – CTA: Hey this Geshe Dorje interprets Nechung’s prophecy saying the Dalai Lama will go back to Tibet five years ago, but look, Dalai Lama still cannot go back. Watch…

    Not only that, there is still NO sign of even creating a good relationship for a chance to go back! So we are all stuck and still nowhere near going back to Tibet. So why on earth are we still listening to this spirit Nechung who always makes mistakes and give wrong prophecies? Nechung even killed the 13th Dalai Lama by giving him the wrong medicine. So WHY are we still listening to him for? Why are we Buddhist following what a spirit says? If we can follow Nechung spirit so why condemn Dogyal? This is weird and wrong!

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.…Instead of turning away people who practise Dorje Shugden, we should be kind to them. Give them logic and wisdom without fear, then in time they give up the ‘wrong’ practice. Actually Shugden practitioners are not doing anything wrong. But hypothetically, if they are, wouldn’t it be more Buddhistic to be accepting? So those who have views against Dorje Shugden should contemplate this. Those practicing Dorje Shugden should forbear with extreme patience, fortitude and keep your commitments. The time will come as predicted that Dorje Shugden’s practice and it’s terrific quick benefits will be embraced by the world and it will be a practice of many beings.

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