The Dalai Lama Announces Retirement: Teaching Kids About Buddhism

Dalai Lama

The spiritual leader of Tibet announced he plans to give up his role so his successor can be prepared

The Dalai Lama announced today he is stepping down from his role in the Tibetan government so that a successor can be groomed for when he eventually dies.

While he is reportedly in good health, he said the move “will benefit Tibetans in the long run. It is not because I feel disheartened.”

According to Reuters, he says he has long felt that Tibetans needed a leader freely elected by them. The announcement today was made in Dharamsala, India, on the 52nd anniversary of his fleeing Tibet after a failed uprising against the Chinese, at which time China took effective control of Tibet.

Speculation is that the move could bolster the power and authority of the government-in-exile. A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman called the Dalai Lama’s resignation a “trick.”

The Dalai Lama is a Buddhist leader and is believed by his followers to be the rebirth of a long line of tulkus who are considered to be manifestations of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteśvara. The Dalai Lama is thought of as the latest reincarnation of a series of spiritual leaders who have chosen to be reborn in order to enlighten others.

Here are five things to teach your kids about Buddhism:

1. Buddhism is different from other religions because it is not centered on the relationship between people and God, and it does not believe that there is a personal creator such as God.
2. Buddhists believe there is a cycle of birth, life and death and rebirth that goes on and on. Unless someone gains Enlightenment, when they die they will be reborn. Gaining enlightenment will help them break out of the cycle, which is called Nirvana, in which they will find peace and be free of suffering.
3. To reach Nirvana, Buddhists follow the teachings of Buddha by mediating and trying to empty their minds of all of their thoughts so that what is important is able to be seen clearly.
4. The belief in Buddhism is that nothing in the world is perfect, but that through Enlightenment, Buddha found the answer and the truth to why that is.
5. One of the teachings of Buddha, who was not believed to be a god but an ordinary man, was that there is no soul. Instead he said that what carries on to the next life is a person’s force, or Karma, and that it can be good or bad depending on how a person lives in this life.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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