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Chair in Ethical Management
HEC Montreal


For as long as space endures, and for as long as living beings remain, until then may I too abide to dispel the misery of the world

Chronology of Tibet and the Dalai Lama

1935 Birth of Lhamo Dhondrub in Takster, in the Northeast Tibetan region of Amdo
1937 Recognized as the 14th Dalai Lama
1949 Mao Zedong’s Communists found People’s Republic of China
1950 China invades Tibet. The Dalai Lama becomes prematurely Chief of State and negotiates sovereignty of Tibet
1959 Anti-Chinese revolt spreads in Lhasa; Tibetan victims are numbered in thousands. The Dalai Lama flees and seats his government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India
1960 The International Commission of Jurists observes “acts of genocide committed to destroy the Tibetan people as a religious group.”
1963 The Dalai Lama approves a democratic constitution for the Tibetan community in exile. No countries recognize its legitimacy
1966 During the “Great Cultural Revolution”, 2,692 Tibetan monasteries are destroyed
1984 The government-in-exile declares that 1.2 million Tibetans are dead as a direct result of Chinese occupation
1987 The Dalai Lama proposes the Five-Point Peace plan before the US Congressional Human Rights Caucus to resolve the issue of Tibet
1989 The Dalai Lama accepts the Nobel Peace Prize
1995 Controversy over the 10th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama: for the first time in Tibetan Buddhism history, the Chinese intervene in the choice of the reincarnation of a high Lama by jailing the child recognized by the Dalai Lama and designating another child instead
2000 The 17th Karmapa flees from the Chinese regime and arrives by foot in India

He was born Lhamo Dhondrub, but was soon thereafter recognized as the reincarnation of the thirteenth Dalai Lama, and his name was changed to Tenzin Gyatzo. Upon reaching the age of majority, he would become incontestably the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet. He would serve as the central pillar of the Dalai Lama institution, which has ruled Tibet with wisdom and compassion for more than three hundred years.

After the Chinese invasion and occupation, he exiled in India to better serve his people. It was the shaking of a kingdom out of time and space, the tremor of a culture, a people, a philosophy. The fourteenth Dalai Lama was forced to shatter the safe remoteness of the “Head of the World” and face the challenges and paradoxes of modernity, something no other Dalai Lama had ever done.

How did the Dalai Lama become the world’s most famous Buddhist? He is not the “pope of Buddhists” as some may say; the nation he commands his not recognized, neither is the government-in-exile he formed. Chiefs of state are often afraid to receive him officially, not wanting to annoy the Chinese giant. However, his popularity has never ceased to grow. He is the living example of non-violence and compassion, accessible to all; he refuses to convert anyone to his religion, and in fact preaches tolerance among religions.

“I am a steadfast follower of the doctrine of non-violence which was first preached by Lord Buddha, whose divine wisdom is absolute and infallible and was practiced in our own time by the Indian saint and leader, Mahatma Gandhi.”

Tibet is still his primary concern, but since his exile and the resulting exposure to Western countries, his message has reached the whole world. Arguably, he is not only one of the greatest Dalai Lamas, but also one of the greatest people to have lived in the 20th century. His leadergraphy will trace the major steps of his accession to the rank of political and spiritual leader, Tibetan and universal, by emphasizing the transformative experiences that marked the evolution of his thoughts and actions.

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Key Documents

  • Freedom in Exile : The Autobiography of the Dalai Lama
With a disconcerting sincerity, the Dalai Lama reveals details of his life, the one he lived as the leader of Tibet, the one he lives in exile in India. Despite the atrocities his people endured and current impasse around the Tibetan issue, the Dalai Lama preserves an unfaltering optimism in human nature and faith in the future of his people and his planet.
  • The Art of Happiness, by the Dalai Lama
Ask the Dalai Lama if he is happy, he shall answer “yes”, undoubtedly, for happiness is for him the supreme goal of existence. That is what he explains in this book, a surprising mix of old wisdom, good sense, reflections and concrete advice that we can all apply.
  • Ethics for the New Millennium, by the Dalai Lama
Compassion is what gives sense to our life. It is the root of every durable emotion of joy or happiness. With kindness, affection, honesty and justice, we assure our own benefit. This book exposes ethics not based on a complicated theorization, but on common sense.
  • A Simple Monk, by the Dalai Lama
Six authors share their perspectives on the Dalai Lama, with interviews, essays and superb photos of the face of Tibet, her people, and her leader. As in the photographs, texts are free of fawning commentary,, making this a simple but touching portrait of the Dalai Lama.
  • Kundun: A Biography of the Family of the Dalai Lama, by Mary Craig
The Dalai Lama is not the only religious figure in his family. Two of his brothers are also incarnate Lamas and his parents became highly important by their relation to the spiritual leader. Kundun traces their history, from their position as simple peasants to their entry in the complex world of politics, then to the difficulty of life in exile.
  • Seven years in Tibet, by Heinrich Harrer
Published in 1953, this book relates the autobiographical story of Harrer, who flees an English internment camp in India and crosses the gigantic Himalayas, to become the tutor of the Dalai Lama, then aged 14. The author describes from a Westerner’s point of view the Tibetan rites and Buddhist tradition before the Chinese invasion in 1950. The book inspired the movie starring Brad Pitt.
  • Kundun – the movie, by Martin Scorcese
A superb movie on the life of the Dalai Lama, from his recognition at the age of two until his forced exile in India. The film shows a grand serenity of tone and image and the screenplay is intimately close to the biographies. It is an excellent initiation to the politics of Tibet during this period.

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Key Websites on Dalai Lama
This site is dedicated to raising awareness about the life and works of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and is created and maintained by the Office of Tibet and the Tibetan government-in-exile.
The biography of the Dalai Lama, in accordance with the official website of the government-in-exile. The Office of Tibet, the official agency of the Dalai Lama in London, maintains the site.
Internet archive of Nobel Prize Laureates. Includes a list of links and documents by and on the Dalai Lama.
Biography, resources
Archives of a CBC report
An essay by the Dalai Lama entitled "Meeting Points of Science and Spirituality." It concerns a subtle analysis of the aspects of Tibetan philosophy (epistemology and ontology) and their parallels in the modern scientific thought.
The Official Site for His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Visit to Vancouver 2004. Five of the events can still be viewed as webcasts.

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