The Dalai Lama usually spends several months a year travelling the world to teach Buddhism and highlight Tibetans’ struggle for greater freedom in China. But he has cut down on his travels in the past year to take care of his health.
“His Holiness is like the sun. Even if you don’t crave for happiness, it will come naturally to you when he is around,” said Sonam Choephal, an 85-year-old former political prisoner. Choephal, who had spent 22 years in a Chinese prison in Lhasa for participating in a 1959 protest in the Tibetan capital, lives in Australia and travelled to India on a pilgrimage. The Dalai Lama fled Tibet following the 1959 failed uprising against Chinese rule.
China doesn’t recognise the Tibetan government-in-exile and accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking to separate Tibet from China.
The Dalai Lama denies being a separatist and says he merely advocates for substantial autonomy and protection of the region’s native Buddhist culture.
At an event with educators in New Delhi earlier this month, the Dalai Lama said he was not seeking independence for Tibet, but rather a “reunion” with China under mutually acceptable terms.
The Dalai Lama also predicted that the political impasse with China could change if he lived for at least another decade.