The Dalai Lama (a friend on MySpace) announced on the anniversary of the Tibetan uprisings yesterday afternoon that he intends to follow through on a long-time inner wish to step down as Tibet's political leader so that he may primarily focus on his loftier mystical role as Spiritual advisor.
Analysts on the sidelines are conjecturing that His Holiness has chosen to journey down this path with the express hope that there will be a move in the Tibetan refugee community away from theocratic rule towards a democratic society when Tibet is at long-last liberated.
"My desire is to devolve authority has nothing to do with a desire to shirk my responsibility. It is to benefit Tibetans in the long run," the Dalai Lama calmly noted to a posse of followers and tourists in recent days from a safe perch in his homeland.
In addition, he underscored that he would also ask the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile to change the existing charter to reflect his wishes - with the ultimate aim - of handing over authority to an elected leader in the near future.
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, was born Lhamo Thondup on July 6th (1935) to a poor family in the small village of Taktser in the province of Amdo.
The name Lhamo Thondup literally means ‘Wish-Fulfilling Goddess’.
His Holiness is held to be the reincarnation of each of the previous thirteen Dalai Lamas of Tibet (the first having been born in 1351 AD) who are in turn are considered to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara - or Chenrezig (Bodhisattva of Compassion) - the holder of the White Lotus.
Thus, His Holiness is also believed to be a manifestation of Chenrezig.
In fact, he is the seventy-fourth Dali Lama in a pure lineage that can be traced back to a Brahman boy who lived in the time of Buddha Shakyamuni.
When Lhamo Thondup was barely three years old, a search party - that had been sent out by the Tibetan government to find the new incarnation of the Dalai Lama - arrived at Kumbum monastery once it was discerned there had been a number of auspicious signs reported in the region.
One of these omens concerned the embalmed body of a predecessor - Thupten Gyatso (the Thirteenth Dalai Lama) - who had died aged fifty-seven in 1933.
During a period of resting in state - the head was discovered to have turned from facing south to northeast - for some inexplicable reason.
Shortly after that, the Regent - himself a Senior Lama - had a vision.
Looking into the waters of the sacred lake - Lhamo Lhatso (Southern Tibet) - he clearly saw the letters Ah, Ka and Ma float into view.
These were followed by the image of a three-storied monastery (decorated with an exquisite turquoise and gold roof) nestled alongside a path which merged inside a nearby hill.
At this juncture, the scout caught sight of a small house with strangely-shaped guttering, as well.
He was sure that the letter Ah referred to - Amdo - the Northeastern Province.
So, it was there that a search party was sent to explore the possibilities.
By the time the excited entourage reached Kumbum, they instinctively felt that they were on the right track.
It seemed likely that if the letter Ah referred to Amdo, that Ka must indicate the monastery at Kumbum (which was three-storied with a torquoise-colored roof).
Now, the seekers needed to locate a hill and a house, with peculiar guttering.
So, they began to search the neighbouring villages.
When they saw the gnarled branches of juniper wood on the roof of the one particular dwelling, they were certain that Dalai Lama would not be far away.
Nevertheless, rather than reveal the purpose of their visit, the group asked only to stay the night.
The leader of the party, Kewtsang Rinpoche, then pretended to be a servant and spent much of the evening observing and playing with the youngest child in the house.
The child recognised him and called out the name:
‘Sera lama, Sera lama’
Sera was Kewtsang Rinpoche's monastery.
The following morning the contingent left; then, returned a few days later as a formal deputation.
This time they brought with them a number of things that had belonged to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama (along with several similar items that did not).
In every case, the infant correctly identified those belonging to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, as he cried out:
“It’s mine. It’s mine.”
The search party was jubilant!
The boy was taken to Kumbum monastery and later recognized as the new incarnation of the Dalai Lama.
At 15, the Dalai Lama found himself the undisputed leader of six million people, facing the threat of a full-scale war.
For nine troublesome years, His Holiness tried to evade a full-scale military takeover of Tibet by China on the one hand - and the bold-faced effort to placate the growing resentment among Tibetan resistance fighters against the Chinese aggressors - on the other.
His Holiness made a historic visit to China from July 1954 to June 1955 for peace talks with Mao Zadong and a handful of Chinese leaders such as Chou En-lai, Chu Teh and Deng Xiaoping.
One winter day in 1959 - General Chiang Chin-wu of Communist China - extended a seemingly innocent invitation to the Tibetan leader to attend a theatrical show by a Chinese dance troupe.
When the invitation was repeated with the conditions that no Tibetan soldiers were to accompany the Dalai Lama (and that his bodyguards were to be unarmed) the Lhasa populace became suspicious.
Soon a crowd of tens of thousands of Tibetans gathered around the Norbulingka Palace determined to thwart any threat against their young leader's life.
On March 17th, 1959 - during a consultation with Nechung Oracle - His Holiness was given explicit instructions to exit the country immediately.
The Oracle's decision was further confirmed - when a Divinity performed by His Holiness - produced the same answer (even though the odds against making a successful break seemed terrifyingly high).
A few minutes before ten o'clock, His Holiness - now disguised as a common soldier - slipped past the massive throngs of people with a small escort and proceeded towards Kyichu river (where he was joined by an entourage which included immediate family members).
He's been in exile ever since.