How could Gandhi and the Dalai Lama be compared to one another?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one of the strongest points of comparison between both Gandhi and the Dalai Lama is that both of them are seen as both spiritual and political leaders of their people.  It is for this reason that the Dalai Lama could be seen as a modern comparison to Gandhi.  They are both representatives of the idea that political change must be secondary to spiritual evolution.  Both leaders are willing to embrace the idea that the individual must be settled in their own understanding of self and community before political liberation can become part of the dialogue.  Part of the reason why the Dalai Lama is so threatening to the Chinese government is because he refuses to look at the world strictly through the lens of politics and rather embraces a spiritual dimension.  It is for this reason that Gandhi did not accept a political position in the new Indian nation, recognizing that his work for spiritual advancement does not stop with the mere partition of a new nation.  In this, both leaders represent the ideal that individuals can constantly evolve and can embrace a higher and more transcendent plane of being, making both leaders spiritual and political advocates for both their people and nations and all others.  Another mode of comparison would be how both stress non- violence and the recognition that to be transcendent in a contingent world is one of the ideals to which human beings must dedicate themselves.


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