When asked how he views himself, Tenzin Gyatso responds: "I always consider myself as a simple Buddhist monk." Yes, indeed, Tenzin Gyatso, his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, is a Buddhist monk, but a very special one. Not only is the Dalai Lama the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, but he is also the head of state of Tibet- in exile - and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Among all other world leaders, the Dalai Lama is certainly a very special kind of leader. His residence used to be Potala Palace in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, until 1959 when China invaded Tibet and took control of the government.
On July 6, 1935 in Taktser, a small village of northeastern Tibet, Tenzin Gyatso was born "Lhamo Dhondup" to a poor farming family. At age 4, he was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama in accordance with the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
Tibetan Buddhists believe that the current Dalai Lama is a reincarnation of a past Lama who decided to be reborn again. Dalai Lamas are the reincarnation of "Bodhisattvas" (Buddha) who are "enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity." The "High Lamas" and members of the Tibetan government are responsible for the search for a boy born around the time of the death of the Dalai Lama. The 13th Dalai Lama, died in December 1933. It can take several years before the new Dalai Lama is found; for Tenzin Gyatso, it took almost 4 years.
The High Lamas use several methods to find the next reincarnation: dreams on a location; watching the direction of the smoke when the Dalai Lama is being cremated; or a trip to the sacred lake called Lhamo Lhatso...