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The Dalai Lama

"You can't shake hands with a clenched fist."

Tenzin Gyatso, is the 14th Dalai Lama and the spiritual leader of Tibet. He is the best known face of Tibetan Buddhism, has lived in exile in India since he fled the Chinese occupation of his country in 1959.

The Dalai Lama is recognised as a scholar and a man of peace. His words reflect his Buddhist principles and advocate peaceful solutions to conflict, based on knowledge, tolerance and mutual respect. His words mirror his belief that all suffering is caused by ignorance and that people inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their own happiness or satisfaction. For him, true happiness comes only from a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. His powerful words indicate we need to cultivate a universal responsibility for one another and the planet we share.

Born as Lhamo Dhondrub on 6 July 1935, he was recognised at the age of two as the reincarnation of his predecessor, the 13th Dalai Lama. Dalai Lama literally translates as "Ocean of Wisdom". He follows the life of a Buddhist monk - living in a small cottage in Dharamsala and rising at 4am to meditate. He then pursues an ongoing schedule of administrative meetings, private audiences and religious teachings - concluding each day with further prayer before retiring. The Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

Our Expert Says...
Professor David Crystal

Many quotations focus on the hunger for peace in our world, and on the difficulties which stand in the way. This offering from the Dalai Lama summarises a whole class of problems, and makes a statement which is applicable to a multiplicity of situations all over the planet. It is its simplicity and succinctness which makes it so memorable. Both concepts - the shaking of the hand and the closing of the fist - are completely transparent. Nobody could fail to understand what is meant. The quotation actually states the obvious. Then, upon reflection, we realise that what is being asserted is not obvious at all. Some of the best quotations make us think twice in quick succession. This is one.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Tibetan Government in Exile

The Dalai Lama of Tibet

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