“It is important to understand the past as we are trying to find solutions for the future.”
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Over the course of three years, journalist Thomas Laird spent more than sixty hours with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in candid one-on-one interviews in Dharamsala, India
. They discussed His Holiness’s lifelong study of Buddhism and his beliefs on history, science, and reincarnation. Through these conversations, Laird and the Dalai Lama laid the cornerstones of a popular history of Tibet
, something that has not been done with a Dalai Lama since the 1600s.
This was an enormous project, and the result is The Story of Tibet
, a vibrant historical narrative that brings these meetings to life. It reveals the presence, character, and ideas of the Dalai Lama, and it introduces the reader to fourteen hundred years of civilization, myth, and spirituality.
Tibet’s story is both rich with tradition and filled with promise. It begins with the Bodhisattva Chenrizi (“The Holy One”), whom Tibetans believe manifests in the Dalai Lama. We learn the origins of Buddhism and the era of Tibet’s emperors, whose reign stretched from southwestern China to northern India. His Holiness introduces us to Tibet’s greatest yogis and meditation masters and explains how the institution of the Dalai Lama was founded. Embedded throughout this journey is His Holiness’s lessons on the larger roles religion and spirituality have played in Tibet’s story, reflecting the Dalai Lama’s belief that history should be examined not only conventionally but holistically.
Traveling across great distances to offer vivid descriptions of Tibet’s greatest monasteries, Laird explores, with His Holiness, Tibet’s relations with the Mongols, the Golden Age under the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, contact with the Manchu empire, the four decades of modern independence in the first half of the twentieth century, and the Dalai Lama’s personal meetings with Mao Tse-Tung just before His Holiness fled into exile in 1959. The Story of Tibet
is His Holiness’s personal look at his country’s past. With so much of Tibetan identity based on oral history, this is a work of momumental importance, and a crucial addition to our understanding of Tibet.