HIGHLIGHTS

  • With his proclamation at the age of five as the Fourteenth Incarnation of the Patron God of Tibet, the DALAI LAMA was destined to become the spiritual and temporal leader of his people.
  • Despite this restrictive tradition, the DALAI LAMA showed a keen curiosity about the outside world. It was his hope to introduce better methods of farming and irrigation, to build systems of education and public health and bring other benefits of modern science to his people.
  • Striving to retain his people’s right to live and worship in their own way, the DALAI LAMA has brought his appeal to men of conscience everywhere. Like the late Ramon Magsaysay, he chose to stand where others have faltered in the protection of fundamental human rights.
  • The Board of Trustees recognizes “his leadership of the Tibetan community’s gallant struggle in defense of the sacred religion that is the inspiration of their life and culture.”

 CITATION

The Board of Trustees welcomes Gyalo Thondup, the brother of the DALAI LAMA whom His Holiness has deputed to receive this Award on his behalf.

With his proclamation at the age of five as the Fourteenth Incarnation of the Patron God of Tibet, the DALAI LAMA was destined to become the spiritual and temporal leader of his people. Since then, his life has been singularly devoted to study and training for that responsibility.

The society of his land was feudal, dominated by conservative monastic orders and hereditary nobles. Sometimes known as the Forbidden Kingdom, it firmly stayed aloof on its “roof of the world” and sought to remain utterly free from foreign influence.

Despite this restrictive tradition, the DALAI LAMA showed a keen curiosity about the outside world. It was his hope to introduce better methods of farming and irrigation, to build systems of education and public health and bring other benefits of modern science to his people. He also desired radical changes in land tenure, but said such reforms “must conform with the dignity, needs and peculiar conditions of my own people.”

Buddhism, one of the world’s great religions, has been at the heart of the Tibetan way of life. The monasteries were the conservers of learning and fully 100,000 Tibetans were monks. Now this isolated land’s Reformed Lamaism and the distinctive social system it has infused are threatened with destruction. The Tibetan people have shown their protest by a general uprising.

Striving to retain his people’s right to live and worship in their own way, the DALAI LAMA has brought his appeal to men of conscience everywhere. Like the late Ramon Magsaysay, he chose to stand where others have faltered in the protection of fundamental human rights.

In electing His Holiness, the DALAI LAMA to receive the 1959 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, the Board of Trustees “recognizes his leadership of the Tibetan community’s gallant struggle in defense of the sacred religion that is the inspiration of their life and culture.”

 RESPONSE

I have read with great interest of the splendid achievements of the people of the Philippines since they attained their independence and assumed their rightful place in the community of nations. I have heard a great deal about the glory of this ancient land of culture and tradition and the loving kindness of its people. It was, therefore, with feelings of pride and pleasure that I accepted the Award which you have elected to confer on me. I welcome this great honor not only because the Award is associated with the name of one of your illustrious leaders but also because I feel that it affords unmistakable evidence of your interest in the welfare of my people. I have no doubt that the people of Tibet, confronted by this dark hour of despair and distress, can depend on your sympathy and support in their grim struggle for peace and freedom. I would have gladly taken this opportunity to pay a visit to your great country but unfortunately sad and tragic circumstances prevent me from doing so. However, I cherish the hope that one day in the near future I shall be able to fulfill this desire.

I offer you my sincerest thanks for the great honor you have done me and pray that the Enlightened One may endow you and your country with long years of peace and progress.

May God’s blessing be on you all.

 BIOGRAPHY

In the Asian drama, the tenets of the world’s great religions, all cradled in Asia, and the ways of life they have inspired have profound significance. Now, Tibetan culture, singularly infused by religion, is threatened by an avowedly atheist overlordship. In leading his people and the followers of Lamaist Buddhism elsewhere to meet this challenge with courage and dignity, the DALAI LAMA seeks to preserve a faith cherished through centuries against an intrusion that cuts directly across the lines of religious belief, customary behavior and established tradition.

The youth upon whom this charge was thrust was named LHAMO THONDUP, or LA-MU-TAN-CHU as it is also written, at his birth on June 6, 1935, near Lake Koko Nor in Amdo, a district of Tibet that had been incorporated in the Chinese Province of Chinghai. The title Dalai, a Mongolian one meaning “Ocean,” implying vastness and depth, by which he is best known abroad, is seldom used in Tibet where he is addressed as GYAL-WA RIMPOCHE, “Great Precious One,” or KUNDUN, meaning simply “Presence.”

The DALAI LAMA represents in his person the Fourteenth Incarnation or return to earth of Chenrezi (spyan-ras-qzigs), the Bodhisatva Avalokitesvara of compassion and mercy who is Patron God of Tibet. Most revered of the 1,000 Bodhisatvas who were eligible for Buddhahood but renounced Nirvana in order to help mankind find the Way, the reincarnations of Chenrezi have been incontestably the Kings of Bod, as the Tibetans call the central part of their land, since 1642.

(For the complete biography, please email biographies@rmaf.org.ph)