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The biggest influence in my life is His Holiness The XIV Dalai Lama. I first saw him at a teaching in Washington, DC, in 1998. I walked into the venue angry and closed off. I left transformed.

I had such a spiritual experience in a few short hours that I went back to New York City, where I was living, and dove into Tibetan Buddhism. I’ve been practicing and trying to live the way of life ever since.

I’ve had the opportunity to attend dozens of teachings by His Holiness and have been beyond fortunate to meet Him on several occasions.

So it was extremely painful and a bit infuriating to read and watch the media reports circulating about his interaction with a young boy in Dharamshala, India, this past February. The circulated clip is edited and does not portray what happened.

I’m not going to link to the edited video because I won’t be part of the smear campaign against one of the most loving and peace-promoting beings on the planet. Briefly, the video shows His Holiness sticking his tongue out to this boy while giggling and saying he wanted him to suck it. The two touched foreheads.

I have to admit, I was a bit grossed out watching the edited video, but I also knew it was most likely taken out of context. His Holiness has a sense of humor and is known for being playful. He often pulls people’s ears, bangs his forehead against others, rubs noses, and performs childlike antics.

The boy’s family was in attendance, and neither they nor the child were upset by what occurred. None of the other young people in attendance were upset by what happened.

Sikyong Penpa Tsering of the Central Tibetan Administration recently spoke about the incident. (Sikyong means “political leader” – the term has replaced the former title “Tibetan Prime Minister-in-exile.”)

Please watch his video on Instagram.

My first reaction to the news reports was that the Chinese government was involved somehow. Sikyong Penpa Tsering confirmed today that their investigation has uncovered pro-Chinese individuals as being behind the circulation of the edited video. It’s another attempt by anti-Dalai Lama forces to smear his name.

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In addition, a Tibetan named Jigmey la posted a video explaining the situation. On March 23rd, His Holiness formally recognized and enthroned the reincarnation of His Holiness the Tenth Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpoche as the spiritual leader of Mongolia and head of the Gelugpa School of Buddhism in that country.

A ceremony in India was attended by 600 Mongolians and over 5,000 monks and nuns. This event enraged the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) who have been trying to control and stop the spread of Buddhism for over fifty years. Go to around 10:08 in Jigmey la’s video for more information.

As an aside, if you think this is bad, it’s going to be an absolute nightmare when His Holiness passes. The CCP will do everything in their power to enthrone the next Dalai Lama with someone they want, not the actual reincarnation. The Dalai Lama has said several times that he’ll live until at least 100. I hope so.

If you aren’t familiar with Tibetan history or The Dalai Lama’s life, he had to flee Tibet in 1959 at the age of twenty-three because the Chinese government had invaded the country and was coming to capture him. Since then, China has caused untold human rights abuses and killed over one million Tibetans.

And these are not stories. I’ve met the longest-surviving Tibetan prisoner-of-war jailed in China for thirty-five years. A friend visited Tibet only a few years ago and was followed everywhere and made to leave days early. Anyone caught with an image of His Holiness in Tibet can be imprisoned or killed by Chinese authorities.

I need to clarify a serious point – the Chinese government is the problem, not the Chinese people. Many Chinese are followers of His Holiness, so this is not an indictment on the individuals who live or are from there. But the Chinese government has been trying to silence His Holiness for decades.

His Holiness would always ask if any Chinese were in attendance at his events. He would ask them to raise their hands, and he’d lovingly acknowledge them. He made sure to let everyone in the audience know he had no issue with individuals from or living in China.

You can read more about The Dalai Lama’s life and who he is on his official website.

Hatz and a Holiness, California 2000

Tibetans consider The Dalai Lama a manifestation of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Many look up to him as the most important holy figure on the planet. In Tibetan culture, some even see him as a god. As Jigmey la states in his video, many Tibetans would lay down their life rather than denounce His Holiness.

The fact that the media jumped on this incident and fueled the fire of misinformation is disheartening and infuriating. But I shouldn’t be surprised in this day of ratings and greed.

Sikyong Penpa Tsering asked everyone to watch the full video of the event. Please get the facts before you pass judgment – on anyone. If you’re a journalist, contact someone at tibet.net and ask for a link to the entire meeting and talk by His Holiness. JIgmey la has also posted the unedited part with the child, though watching the entire program, including His talk, is best for context.

Why don’t we spend more time spreading the message of The Dalai Lama’s talks? His main teaching is to be kinder – to yourself and others.

That’s it.

Oh – and he doesn’t want or need any more Buddhists, so he’s not interested in converting anyone. He has traveled the world for decades, spreading a message of peace, love, and compassion.

How about we have some for him?