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Meet the Dalai Lama
May 27, 2000

The Dalai Lama is the leader of Tibet. He believes in solving problems without violence, no matter what. He is the most remarkable man I have ever met.

So who, or what, is a Dalai Lama? The Dalai Lama says his name "means different things to different people." Some Buddhist people believe he is a living god. To the Dalai Lama himself, it is just his job. So let's learn more about this Buddhist monk who happens to hold the most important job in all of Tibetan Buddhism.

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'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'
- His Holiness the Dalai Lama
There have been fourteen Dalai Lamas through the years, and Buddhists believe that they have all been the same person. How does that work? Through a process called reincarnation. Buddhists believe that all living things are reincarnated or born again after they die.

The current Dalai Lama was born into a poor farming family in a small village. He lived in a stone and mud house. His mother had sixteen children. When he was little he liked to play in the chicken coop and make clucking noises. There were signs that he was the Dalai Lama, but no one thought much of them at the time: He used to tell his mother "I'm going to Lhasa!" (the capital of Tibet) and he would let no one but her handle his bowl.

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Just some of the people patiently waiting for a glimpse of His Holiness
So how was this Dalai Lama discovered? Well, a search party of monks traveled to a sacred lake where they believed they could see the future in the waters. They saw visions of a certain house. They went on a long journey through the snow and the mountains to find it. They disguised themselves as simple travelers by covering up their monks' robes with sheepskins, and they asked to stay the night. The senior monk pretended to be a servant and played with the youngest child in the house, Lhamo. Lhamo seemed to recognize the monks and asked to go with them.

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His Holiness extends a warm greeting to everyone
But they had some tricky tests for the boy before they could be sure. First, they put two strings of black beads in front of him. He picked the beads that had belonged to the thirteenth Dalai Lama (in other words, he chose the things that had belonged to him in his previous life). He did the same with other strands of beads, with walking sticks, ivory drums, and other objects. Lhamo passed all the tests. And he was only two years old! crowd.jpg Caption: Just some of the people patiently waiting for a glimpse of His Holiness dalai.jpg Caption: His Holiness extends a warm greeting to everyone

Nowadays, the Dalai Lama lives near Dharamsala, in northern India. I met His Holiness on a beautiful spring day. He was dressed in his maroon robes. For some reason I was surprised to see him wearing red socks and brown leather shoes. He walked out onto the porch, smiling. He was there to talk to people from around the world who had come to see him. People were very happy to see him. I got to take his picture. And then I was brought to His Holiness and introduced to him. When he looked in my eyes, I was mesmerized! He is a very special person who gives people hope.


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