How did the Dalai Lama become the most famous Buddhist in the world?
Spiritually speaking, many people assume that the Dalai Lama is like the pope of Buddhism. This is not true. For one thing, the Dalai Lama is the highest-ranking lama in Tibetan Buddhism, but he is not officially recognized as a leader among the other schools of Buddhism. For example, although Tibetan Buddhism is the state religion of Bhutan, the last independent Buddhist kingdom in the world, Bhutan has its own head lama. Other schools of Buddhism have their own chief monks or sangha leaders. The Sangha Raja (Sovereign Monk) is the supreme patriarch of Buddhists in Thailand. There are also other heads of large Buddhist sects, such as Fuji-san, head of Japan’s Nichirin, or Pure Land, sect of so-called “chanting” Buddhists, who are known for building “peace pagodas” around the world. The Dalai Lama’s role differs from the pope’s in other ways, too. Buddhism is not arranged in so hierarchical a fashion as is the Catholic Church, and there is no single head or ascendant ruling school. In
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- What are the instructions for life according to the Dalai Lama?
- Isn the Dalai Lama the Buddhist Pope?