A video in which the Dalai Lama appears asking a boy if he wants to “suck his tongue” has generated widespread criticism of the Buddhist leader, who has apologized through his representatives.
The video was recorded in a suburb of the city of Dharamsala, in India, where the temple where the priest lives is located, on February 28, according to the AFP news agency.
The video shows the Dalai Lama giving a “peck” on the mouth of the boy, who had gone to greet him.
The boy asks if he can hug the religious leader, who points to his cheek and says “first here”. The boy kisses the leader on the cheek and gives him a hug.
Then the Dalai Lama points to his own lips and says “here too”, and then he kisses the child on the mouth, while holding his hand.
The leader then places his forehead against the boy’s forehead, sticks out his tongue and says “and suck my tongue”. Some people laugh, the boy sticks out his tongue and walks away, as does the priest. Sticking out your tongue can be a greeting in Tibet.
The priest hugs the boy again and talks to him, telling him to be inspired by “good human beings who create peace and happiness”.
The video sparked widespread criticism of the priest, with many saying the move was inappropriate and disturbing.
The Dalai Lama’s representatives said he was sorry for the hurt his words may have caused the family and the boy.
“His holiness often teases people in an innocent and joking way. He apologizes for the incident,” they said.
The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since 1959, when he fled Tibet after an unsuccessful attempt to gain independence from Chinese rule in the territory.
The recent episode took place at a leader’s meeting with 120 students who had completed a training program offered by a foundation.
However, this is not the only controversial episode for which the religious has been deeply criticized in recent years.
In 2019, the religious leader gave an interview to the BBC in which a line was seen as sexist and was very poorly received by the public.
Asked about the possibility of the next Dalai Lama being a woman, he replied, in English, that she should be more beautiful than him.
“If a female Dalai Lama comes, she should be more attractive,” he said, laughing.
Buddhists believe in reincarnation after death. For Tibetan Buddhism, the religious leader and head of state known as the Dalai Lama would be the reincarnation of a leader first born in 1391.
The current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, considered the 14th reincarnation, is 87 years old.
After the controversy generated by the leader’s response to the BBC’s question, representatives also apologized.
The Dalai Lama “has a keen sense of the contradictions between the materialistic, globalized world he encounters in his travels and the complex, more spiritual ideas about reincarnation that lie at the heart of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition,” a statement said at the time.
“However, he sometimes makes off-the-cuff comments, which might be considered amusing in one cultural context, but lose their humor when translated into another. He regrets any offense that may have been done.”
The statement further said that throughout his life, the Dalai Lama has always opposed the objectification of women and supported gender equality.
Visit to cult leader
After investigations in 2017 revealed that the American group Nxivm was a cult that kept sex slaves, the Dalai Lama was criticized for having participated in an event of the group and met with the leader of the sect, Keith Raniere – today arrested and convicted in the USA for extortion, sex crimes, human trafficking and fraud.
The event in which the religious leader participated was in 2009, before the allegations against the group surfaced – at the time Nxivm and other related entities were known only as non-profit self-help institutions.
One of the leaders of the group, Sara Bronfman, would have been responsible for getting the leader’s presence because she had a close relationship with an employee of the religious leader, the self-declared “emissary of peace” Lama Tenzin Dhonden.
In 2017, Dhonden was ousted from his role at the founding of the Tibetan leader amid allegations of corruption.
The Dalai Lama issued a note saying that he never received any amount for participating in the group’s event in 2009 and that he does not accept payments of this type.
However, he made no other comments about Nxium or Raniere.
Published in BBC News Brazil
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