Dalai Lama apologises for ‘attractive’ female reincarnation remark

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama gestures during an event at Tsuglakhang Temple in McLeod Ganj, India, on 17 May 2019.

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama gestures during an event at Tsuglakhang Temple in McLeod Ganj, India, on 17 May 2019. File photo/Tibet Sun/Lobsang Wangyal

By Lobsang Wangyal

ON THE WEB, 2 July 2019

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama apologised for his remark that his next incarnation could be a female but she should be ‘attractive’, according to a statement released by his office on Tuesday.

“In responding to a question about whether his own reincarnation could be a woman, and suggesting that if she were she should be attractive, His Holiness genuinely meant no offence. He is deeply sorry that people have been hurt by what he said and offers his sincere apologies.”

The Dalai Lama’s comment was made in an interview with the British news outlet, the BBC, aired last week from his exile base in McLeod Ganj.

He had said, “If female Dalai Lama comes, then she should be more attractive,” adding that a female Dalai Lama would be “not much use” if she was not good-looking.

His statements have sparked outrage to a global audience on the internet.

“For all his long life, His Holiness has opposed the objectification of women, has supported women and their rights, and celebrated the growing international consensus in support of gender equality and respect for women. His Holiness has frequently suggested that if we had more women leaders, the world would be a more peaceful place.

“His Holiness, a monk now in his mid-eighties, has a keen sense of the contradictions between the materialistic, globalised world he encounters on his travels and the complex, more esoteric ideas about reincarnation that are at the heart of Tibetan Buddhist tradition,” the statement said.

The statement also clarified his stand on refugees after facing flak for saying that Europe could become an “African or Muslim country” if refugees don’t return to their homelands.

“His Holiness’s views about the current refugee and migration crisis may have been misinterpreted,” the statement continued.

“He certainly appreciates that many of those who leave their countries may not wish or be able to return, and that Tibetans, who cherish the idea of returning home, would find their country irrevocably altered.”

He had said in the past that the way refugees and migrants had been accepted by European countries demonstrated compassion in action. “We should help them now in their desperation. But, eventually they will want to return to their own lands. This is what we Tibetans have always had in mind. First of all we must see peace and development restored in the countries refugees have fled, but in the long run it is natural to want to live in the land where you were born.”

The statement further said that the Dalai Lama regularly cautions against allowing the divisive idea of “us” and “them” to flourish. He suggests that a solution to many of the problems we face in the world today is to remind ourselves that as human beings we are all brothers and sisters belonging to one human family, and that together we can take action to address the global challenges that confront us.

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