In the simplest terms, for people who are as ignorant as I am of the world outside their front door, the Dalai Lama is the pope of Buddhists. He gets to be reincarnated too, so that's pretty badass. The current Dalai Lama is the 14th one, and all things being equal, he seems like a really decent guy.
Not only is he the leader of Tibetan Buddhists and a guy who seems happy to share the faith with everyone, but he also uses his position to travel the world and speak on topics as diverse as women's rights, economics, sexuality, animal welfare, and all kinds of others that he approaches with a pretty liberal outlook. For instance, even as a monk, he's not opposed to homosexuality and believes everyone has a right to tolerance and understanding. That's some modern-day thinking right there for a guy who's been reincarnated for over 1,000 years.
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"Salutations, I'm as old as shit. Indubitably."
Born as a monk and identified as the Lama when he was still a child, the Dalai Lama does all his good works having never had a drink or sex, which, I have to be honest, blows my mind. I can't imagine having the willpower to do good works without at least the ability to rub one out every so often, but hey, there's a reason I'm not the spiritual leader of millions. So he does all this forward thinking with that kind of shit weighing him down each and every day, not to mention how China has been kind of oppressing Tibet and the Tibetan people, including the Dalai Lama, for his entire life, and would probably disappear him good if he went back there. This all stems from an uprising back in 1959 when the Lama was forced into exile.
In 1989 the Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize for his 40-year effort to bring peace between Tibet and China through nonviolent means, despite the many lives that had been lost during the campaign. No matter China's stance, the Dalai Lama has always advocated peaceful resolution through communication and understanding, a point of view that has to be hard as hell to stick to when you have monks lighting themselves on fire and people being dragged by horses in front of crowds as a method of showing you what you were in for if you kept up your Buddhist shenanigans.