Critical Commentary: Dalai Lama Says He Would Support A Woman Successor

Posted on April 27, 2013 by


             On Wednesday The Huffington Post posted an article titled Dalai Lama Says He Would Support A Woman Successor, written by Katherine Bindley. This article states that recently the Dalai Lama has said in an interview with United Kingdom Channel 4 News that he would support a woman successor, and that females have a “more potential to develop love and affection,” and therefore should take a more active role in the modern community to promote compassion. Since the Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader in the Buddhist community this article is dealing with Buddhism, and more specifically what role is appropriate  for women to play in the Buddhist community.

               My first impression upon seeing this article is one of progress and wisdom. The first thing that you see when you open the article is a picture of the Dalai Lama apparently pointing at someone with a stern but not unkind expression on his face. This makes me think of someone who knows what they believe is right and is willing to stand up for that belief.  The first paragraph seems to reinforce this impression by seeming to praise the Dalai Lama for trying to empower women, and almost criticizing other religious leaders for not doing the same. Also if you scroll down the page there is a slideshow of “77 Wise Sayings By The Dalai Lama On His 77 Birthday.” This cements the impression that they want to portray the Dalai Lama a wise old man, whose advice we should listen to if we want to be prosperous. This article consistently uses language that is very forward moving such as progressive, feminist, and possibilities.

               Strangely although it does explain briefly that the next Dalai Lama would be chosen as a child born around the same time as the death of the current Dalai Lama, the article doesn’t go into the belief of how the actual reincarnation happens. In Tibetan Buddhism it is believed that the Dalai Lama can actually choose where and as who they are reincarnated as. Also the article doesn’t mention that some parts of Buddhist tradition believe that women can’t achieve enlightenment, or that the tradition of Buddhist nuns is almost as old as the tradition of monks, both having been taught in the Buddha’s lifetime.

               This article definitely portrays His Holiness as an awesome guy with the progressive feeling, and it basically feels like praise for him and his position. The sources seem reliable and the subject seems to getting lots of media attention with at least two other hyper links in the article leading to other articles about the possibility of a female Dalai Lama.

               Personally I think that the Dalai Lama stating that he’s supportive of a female successor has major implications for not just the Buddhist community but the religious communities of the world in general. The idea of a female being a major world religious leader could really change the religious world because if one religion does it other ones will have to give their female followers a larger role or risk losing them to the other religions. I think that if the next Dalai Lama is female there could be a domino effect throughout the other major religions of the world.

Bindley, Katherine. “Dalai Lama Says He Would Support A Woman Successor” The Huffington Post  4/24/2013

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