The Dalai Lama: Leadership and the Power of Compassion

Interlink. Sept. 2022. 224p. ISBN 9781623718145. $35. REL
Chih, a leadership consultant and documentary photographer, writes a photo-heavy biography of the 14th Dalai Lama that she says aims to convey Buddhist leader’s inestimable character. She argues specifically that the historical circumstances surrounding the annexation of Tibet and the Dalai Lama’s exile have turned an already a gifted and intelligent individual into a powerful figure who is much more than a spiritual leader of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism. The Dalai Lama is more than the multifaceted monk, statesman, humanitarian, and amateur scientist, Chih writes; he’s an example of what can be the best in each person. Chih’s account starts with a narrative of the Dalai Lama’s early childhood, education, and flight from Tibet. From there, the author becomes more topical, reflecting on the Dalai Lama’s accomplishments as a global leader. Chih, who is herself a refugee from China, also details the plight and the culture of the Tibetan people and briefly relates the history and global impact of Tibetan Buddhism. Most notable are the book’s many photographs by Chih (some of which depict the Dalai Lama, Buddhist communities, and Tibet), which show her personal connection to her subject.
VERDICT That Chih is captivated by the Dalai Lama is beyond question. But this effusive narrative falls just shy of a hagiography. Perhaps for this reason, Chih’s biography fails to capture the depth of this remarkable human being, the Tibetan people, and the distinctiveness of Tibetan Buddhism.
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