The Dalai Lama is a high ‘lama’ in the Gelug (yellow hat) school of Tibetan Buddhism. It was founded by Tsongkhapa. The name ‘dalai’ is of Chinese-Mongolian origin & translates as meaning ‘ocean’. In this context ‘ocean’ could mean ‘spirit’ or the boundlessness of nature. ‘Lhama’ is Tibetan in origin & comes from the word ‘blama’ (the letter ‘b’ is silent) & it means ‘teacher’ or ‘guru’. So a Dalai Lhama is a spiritual teacher.
Within the Tibetan culture, the Dalai Lhama is regarded as being a ‘reborn bodhisattva of compassion’ (or more specifically an ‘Avalokitesvara’). He is the latest in a long line of reincarnations (known as ‘tulkus’) born throughout the ages to guide aspirants toward compassionate acceptance, love & emancipation from ‘samsara’ (worldly illusion) .
The current Dalai Lhama has found himself to be at odds with the ruling Chinese government which annexed Tibet as a part of China after WW2. He has spoken out against both the ongoing occupation of Tibet & China’s brutal suppression of the spiritual movement known as Falun Gong.
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