Tanya Johnson Meets His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
I had the opportunity to meet His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, a world-renowned spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prize-winner, in Southern California. As a practicing Buddhist, the meeting with His Holiness was spiritually meaningful for me.
His Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso the 14th and current Dalai Lama, is the spiritual leader of Tibet’s Buddhists. Dalai Lamas are influential monks of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism who are known for their temporal duties.
At age 6, His Holiness began his monastic education which had a significant emphasis given to Buddhist philosophy. At 23, He sat for his final examination, passing with honors and was awarded the Geshe Lharampa degree, equivalent to the highest doctorate in Buddhist philosophy.
His Holiness’s leadership responsibilities began in 1950 when he was called upon to assume full political power of Tibet. In 1959, he was forced to escape Tibet into exile and live in northern India. In 1963, His Holiness presented a draft democratic constitution for Tibet, which was followed by several reforms to democratize the Tibetan administration.
His Holiness received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. And in May of 1990, as of result of His Holiness’s reforms, the Tibetan administration in exile was fully democratized.
He is thought of as a beacon of hope for humanity. His Holiness continues to share his inspirational messages with international audiences who range from young students to world leaders.
I have spent years in the Himalayas and working in Buddhist causes. From mountain climbing to deepening my spirituality, this region of the world is especially close to my heart. Because of my passion for the Himalayan region, my philanthropy, The Manzanita Foundation, has completed compelling work in Bhutan.
I was introduced to Her Majesty Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuk in 2007, which led to the creation of an educational program for primary school children. Additionally, I partnered with Her Majesty in RENEW (Respect, Nurture, Empower Women), the first and only program of its kind in Bhutan that gives women in violent or unstable situations a safe shelter, provides skilled training, and assists them into the workforce.
The Manzanita Foundation also assisted with the building of the Tara Temple near the capital, Thimphu. Each time I visit Thimphu, the Tara Temple is my first stop.
His Holiness shared his message of nonviolence, interreligious understanding and inclusiveness reflecting concern for global unity in an increasingly polarized world. He was able to connect with his audience within minutes, while remaining so authentic and charming. Hearing His Holiness’s message of humanity and kindness was an unforgettable moment.