Tibetan tradition. Yet the whole world knows him as a being

of direct simplicity and the most practical outlook. The Dalai

Lama has a keen interest in all aspects of contemporary

physics, neurobiology, psychology, and politics, and his views

and message of universal responsibility are embraced not only

by Buddhists, but by people of all persuasions all over the

world. His dedication to nonviolence in the forty-year-long,

agonizing struggle of the Tibetan people for their independence

from the Chinese won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989; in a

particularly violent time, his example has inspired people in

their aspirations for freedom in countries in every part of the

globe. The Dalai Lama has become one of the leading spokesmen

for the preservation of the world's environment, tirelessly

trying to awaken his fellow human beings to the dangers of a

selfish, materialistic philosophy. He is honored by intellectuals

and leaders everywhere, and yet I have known hundreds of

quite ordinary people of all kinds and nations whose lives have

been changed by the beauty, humor, and joy of his holy presence.

The Dalai Lama is, I believe, nothing less than the face of

the Buddha of Compassion turned toward an endangered

humanity, the incarnation of Avalokiteshvara not only for Tibet

and not only for Buddhists, but for the whole world—in need,

as never before, of healing compassion and of his example of

total dedication to peace.

It may be surprising for the West to learn how very many

incarnations there have been in Tibet, and how the majority

have been great masters, scholars, authors, mystics, and saints

who made an outstanding contribution both to the teaching of

Buddhism and to society. They played a central role in the history

of Tibet. I believe that this process of incarnation is not

limited to Tibet, but can occur in all countries and at all times.

Throughout history there have been figures of artistic genius,

spiritual strength, and humanitarian vision who have helped

the human race to go forward. I think of Gandhi, Einstein,

Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa, of Shakespeare, of St. Francis,

of Beethoven, of Michelangelo. When Tibetans hear of such

people, they immediately say they are bodhisattvas. And whenever

I hear of them, of their work and vision, I am moved by

the majesty of the vast evolutionary process of the buddhas and

masters that emanate to liberate beings and better the world.

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