His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama


1935_____The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is born in a small village in the province of Amdo. When the lama entrusted with the search for the reincarnation enters his house disguised as a pedlar, the two-year-old child points at the rosary he is wearing and says, “I want that.” To which the lama responds, “Tell me who I am and you shall have it.” The child answers correctly. “You are a lama from Sera Monastery.”

1940_____The 14th Dalai Lama is enthroned in Lhasa.

1950_____With 80,000 Chinese soldiers crossing the border into Tibet, the Dalai Lama takes over the reins of power at the age of 15. He is now responsible for the fate of his country. A review of the state of the Tibetan army, with its 8,500 troops, 50 cannons and 200 machine guns, makes it clear that resistance is futile. The Dalai Lama exchanges his official residence for one on the country’s southern border at Yatung, but returns to Lhasa at the end of the year.

1954_____The Dalai Lama travels to Beijing for peace talks. He is cordially received and meets with Mao Zedong, as well as with a series of other heads of state also visiting China: the Indian Prime Minister Pandit Nehru, for instance, and the General Secretary of the Russian Communist Party, Nikita Khrushchev. The Dalai Lama spends several months travelling around China and is impressed by Marxist ideas. Nevertheless, his talks with Mao Zedong lead nowhere. In their last encounter, the Dalai Lama is obliged to listen as religion is described as “poisoning” the people.

1956_____The Dalai Lama travels to India on the occasion of Buddha’s 2500th jubilee. The Chinese authorities are uneasy, fearing that he might defect. The Dalai Lama discusses the deteriorating Tibetan situation with Indian Prime Minister Pandit Nehru, who either cannot or will not lend his aid. The Dalai Lama also meets with Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Zhou Enlai who assures him of Tibet’s “unique” status and the fact that China sees “no problem” with the country. The Dalai Lama returns.

1959_____One week after the mass uprising, on 17 March, the Dalai Lama decides to flee. On 20 June, in exile in India, he calls a press conference and revokes the 17-point agreement signed with China in 1954. The Dalai Lama is presented in absentia with the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Asian counterpart to the Nobel Peace Prize.

1960_____In the United States the Dalai Lama is presented in absentia with the Lincoln Award for his commitment to the freedom of Tibet.

1963_____The Dalai Lama decrees a democratic national constitution for Tibet based on Buddhist principles and the Declaration of Human Rights. Members of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile have since been elected by direct suffrage. At the same time the Dalai Lama subjects himself to democratic strictures, allowing for his own removal from office by a two-thirds majority.

1967_____The Dalai Lama leaves his refuge for the first time, to travel to Japan and Thailand. He meets Thailand’s King Bhumipol and Prime Minister Thanom Kittikachorn. During his flight he sees an American B-52 bomber over Vietnam. He recalls in his memoirs: “I was moved when I realised that the theatre of human cruelty extended even to ten thousand metres over the earth.”

1972_____The Dalai Lama visits Thailand.

1973_____The Dalai Lama meets Pope Paul V, Ireland’s President Erskine Childers, and Ireland’s Prime Minister Liam Cosgrave. He visits Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, England and the Netherlands.

1974_____The Dalai Lama visits Switzerland for the second time.

1978_____The Dalai Lama travels to Japan, where he meets Prime Minister Suzuki Zenko.

1979_____The Dalai Lama visits Greece and Mongolia. In Mongolia he receives a special medal from the Asian Buddhist Council for Peace. The Norwegian Refugee Council bestows upon him its Plakett Award in honour of his work. The city of Houston, Texas, makes the Dalai Lama an honorary citizen. The University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) awards him the title Doctor of Buddhist Philosophy. He receives the keys to their respective cities from the mayors of San Francisco and Los Angeles. Seattle University makes the Dalai Lama a Doctor of Humanities.

1982_____The Dalai Lama meets Malaysia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdul Rahman, Indonesia’s Vice President Adam Malik, and Pope John Paul II. He visits Italy, Germany, Australia, France, Hungary, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Spain.

1983_____The Dalai Lama visits Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Turkey.

1984_____The Dalai Lama visits Germany, Japan, England and the US. The University of Paris grants him an honorary doctorate.

1985_____The Dalai Lama visits Switzerland and the US. On 24 July, 91 members of the US Congress co-sign a letter to President Li Xiannian of the People’s Republic of China expressing support for direct talks between Beijing and representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans in exile, and urging the government of the People’s Republic of China “to grant the very reasonable and justified aspirations of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his people every consideration”.

1986_____The Dalai Lama meets Federal President Rudolf Kirchschläger of Austria and Prime Minister Jacques Chirac of France. He visits Austria, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. At the Vatican he meets with Pope John Paul II.

1987_____The Dalai Lama presents his five-point plan before the American congress in Washington, with which he hopes to settle the status of Tibet. The plan calls for the country to be declared a peace zone, for the massive project of rendering Tibet Chinese to be halted, and for human rights to be reinstated. Furthermore, it provides for the country in future to be used neither as a depot for Chinese atomic weapons nor as a radioactive waste dump. The Dalai Lama visits Germany and Switzerland. In New York he receives the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award.

1988_____The Dalai Lama presents a more advanced version of his five-point plan in Strasbourg. The new plan calls for Tibet to become a self-administered democratic state, “in association with the People’s Republic of China”. The Dalai Lama visits France, Finland, Germany, Sweden, England and Switzerland. At the Vatican he confers with Pope John Paul II. Tübingen University in Germany awards him its Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize.

1989_____The Dalai Lama receives the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo against China’s unsuccessful protest. The president of the Committee, Egil Aarvik, compares China’s protest to Adolf Hitler’s enraged reaction to the awarding of the Peace Prize to Carl von Ossietzky, the peace campaigner, in 1935. In Washington the Dalai Lama is given the Raoul Wallenberg Human Rights Award by the Congressional Human Rights Committee; in France, meanwhile, Danielle Mitterrand presents him with Le Prix de Mémoire. The Dalai Lama meets Mexico’s President Carlos Salinas de Gortari and Norway’s King Olav and Prime Minister Jan Syse. He visits France, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Italy and Norway.