Tokyo Mango's interview with the Dalai Lama's youngest brother


Lisa Katayama says: Here's an interview I did with the Dalai Lama's youngest brother -- he's bipolar and has anger management problems. Nobody's interviewed him at length before.

Tendzin Choegyal is the Dalai Lama’s youngest brother. Aside from being related to one of the holiest persons alive, TC is a rebellious soul who dropped out of college, spent a couple of years as a paratrooper in the Tibetan contingency of the Indian army, survived alcoholism,and found peace through a blend of Buddhism, lithium, and reading the news on the Internet. When I met him at his home in Dharamsala, India–the Himalayan town that houses the Tibetan government-in-exile–we talked about reincarnation, war movies, Steven Seagal’s crazy outfits, and the preservation of Tibetan culture.

The following is a reprint of my interview with Choegyal, published in Issue 52 of Giant Robot magazine. A feature-length profile will be in the Fall issue of Buddhadharma, which goes to press in July.

GR: At a young age, you, too, were recognized as a reincarnate of an important man, right?

TC: Oh, that’s bullshit. I don’t believe it. From a Buddhist perspective, we are all reborn. But choosing a particular person as someone special and saying he’s a reincarnation of so-and-so is bullshit. I don’t consider myself special. I’m just like you. I want happiness, and I don’t want suffering. I think it’s just a sheer accident that I was chosen.

GR: What about your brother?

TC: Ah, that’s different. He is on a completely different level–a much higher caliber, and a lot of tests were done. It may be true for others, but as far as I’m concerned, this is the greatest mistake of the century.