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If "myth" in the present context refers to the religious doctrine that ordains certain individuals as "holy" or God-like, than the case of the Dalai Lama does suggest that myth and truth can "happily coexist" in the process of reputation construction. Officially designated His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, the Dalai Lama's position is a product of orthodox Buddhist belief in reincarnation, specifically, that the Dalai Lama is the reincarnated form of the previous, now-deceased, lama. This individual is the official leader of Tibetan Buddhism, and serves alongside the Panchen Lama, the current incarnation of whom was essentially kidnapped by the Chinese government as a young boy and remains in Chinese custody. In the Buddhist hierarchy, though, none serves at a higher level than the Dalia Lama, and this individual, born-name Lhamo Dondrub, is highly revered among Buddhists as well as among many others who see in this peaceful, conciliatory figure a role model for humility and virtue. If the stature of the Dalai Lama on the world stage has been interestingly elevated, however, it is a product of the fact that Tibet was invaded and occupied by China, and that the Dalai Lama has been forced to live in exile ever since. While many, especially among the more secular political left and religious right, may reject the notion of reincarnation and, consequently, the legitimacy of any religious position predicated upon such continual cycles of death and rebirth, the Dalai Lama's stature and political legitimacy as the representative of a brutally repressed people has ensured his image of moral rectitude survives unscathed. Given the relative paucity of Buddhists in the United States, for example, the popularity of the Dalai Lama is certainly far out of proportion to that percentage of Buddhists among the American population, and that popularity is entirely a product of the quiet dignity this important figure has projected for many decades. To answer the question, then, the "myth" and truth of the Dalai Lama can and do happily coexist in the process of reputation construction.
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