The Dalai Lama talks about his brother, his family

The Fall issue of Buddhadharma magazine has a feature-length profile I wrote of Tendzin Choegyal. He is the Dalai Lama's youngest brother and was once an influential member of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala. Choegyal is a highly intelligent, worldly guy who isn't afraid to say "bullshit" and "reincarnation" in the same sentence, all the while showing great reverence for his famous brother and Tibetan Buddhism. One of the highlights of reporting this story was that I got to ask the Dalai Lama about his family life.
“My brother…,” the Dalai Lama says, an amused look on his face. He then does something he rarely does in public: he rewinds his memory back to the day he was born, and talks about each of his siblings.
You can read an excerpt here or
download the PDF
to read the full story. Also, here's a link to a shorter Q&A I did with him for Giant Robot.

( Lisa Katayama is a guest blogger.)


  1. Having read only the two negative comments about him here – I like him already.

    Anyone who angers that type of person is my kind of guy.

  2. Really interesting read – such a fascinating guy. He’s so humble and cynical, but obviously extremely intelligent and wise. He’s a poor-man’s Dalai Lama.

  3. Sonam,

    We’re talking about Choegyal here, not whether the Dalai Lama is a Muslim, or whatever lame, knob-headed propaganda you people are peddling this week.

    You and the WSS need to stop spamming the inter-toobs with your whiney, piss-ant concern troll bllsht. You intrude on every thread that mentions the DL, take it completely off topic, and get yourselves all in a righteous lather.

    If you’re *so* *very* *concerned* about the DS monks in India, why don’t you set aside 1% of your temples fund and bring them to the UK or US? Or better still, why don’t you show a modicum of respect for the religious freedom of those you take such relish in reviling and slandering.

    Most sincerely.

  4. I think Choegyal is funny, he’s like the Tibetan Billy Carter or Roger Clinton. As for the other stuff, all religious groups have leaders who address doctrine and practice. The Pope/Vatican issue proclamations regarding how to worship as a catholic all the time.
    It’s really funny how much the PRC are freaked out by one simple monk that they have to troll posts like this.

  5. Sonam: You should really learn about that before you start spreading BS. Why don’t you read up on the Dalai Lama’s point of view of the whole controversy? It’s on his site. There is a lot to read, as it’s very complex, so most people won’t be bothered (and therefore we get posts like yours).

    It’s like taking about business freedoms in the US, then pointing out that the CEO and other higher ranking people in a specific company often have more control over what the company does than people lower down in the organisation. The Dalai Lama is like the CEO and people are free to apply for a job or leave the company to join another, but once they are working there, they have to follow the company rules. If you don’t like those rules, you are free to leave and join another company or start your own.

  6. sometimes the object is to just bury with a million flakes of snow. They don’t have to mean anything or be right, just take up space and attention.

  7. Okay, that’s interesting. Lisa Katayama publishes an entry about the Dalai Lama’s brother, Tendzin Choegyal, and we promptly get three brand spanking new commenters showing up to rag on the Dalai Lama. Two of them are located within fifteen miles of each other in the continental United States, and the third is posting from Beijing.

    It’s late. I’m tired. I’ve unpublished all three commenters. If I think better of my action in the morning — and mind, I’m saying if — I’ll reinstate them.

  8. Okay, that’s interesting. After reading Boing Boing for years, I finally take the time to sign up… and my first comment gets deleted under suspicion of colluding with another poster who apparently lives next to me? Give me a break! I’m not part of some conspiracy! No one has contacted me, prodding me to write; and I contacted no one on this matter. I read the PDF article and formed my own opinion. Please republish my comment. It said nothing against the Dalai Lama. My negative comments were reserved to the author and her subject. The fact that the she is a friend of this website –who is actively watching and responding to these comments (#1 TAKUAN) — leads to my own suspicions of conspiracy and suppressed opinions.

    Oh, the irony!

  9. Rdes: Lisa Katayama, Takuan, and the moderator who unpublished your comment are three different people.

    Perhaps I was mistaken, but it did not seem to me that you were voicing a recently-formed opinion. The .pdf was news to you?

  10. Moderator HAYDEN: Yes, I read the article for the fist time yesterday. In what way did my opinion appear to be not “recently-formmed”?

  11. RDES – your vitriol is what seemed rather practiced.

    I’m not a mod, just letting you know what I saw.

    That said, if you’ve read BB for years and only just created your first user account,

    then why make your very first comment so very very negative?

    lift over drag, that’s the mission.

  12. I see your point and I’m deeply sorry for sounding like a troll. I promise to be less vitriolic in any future comments.

    I’m a fan of the Dalai Lama and his message of universal tolerance. I downloaded and read the PDF article because I was fascinated to learn about his brother. From the sample text in Boing Boing, he sounded like a more down-to-earth version of his holiness.

    When I read about the brother’s pat one-word solution (“Acceptance”) to any and all questions posed to him, I thought: “well, that’s not exactly insightful…”

    But then I read his comment about a blond female audience member (rather viscously described by the author as “heavyset” and “rambling”): “I think she was frustrated with her own life and tried to make it look like she was worried about Tibetans.”

    He didn’t sound very enlightened to me.

  13. I can say from personal experience that the Tibetan cause has struggled so long and so hard with no help at all for decades that they tend to accept whoever does say they wish to help. Not always to their net benefit. Complicating this is Tibetan obligation to be kind to the needy.

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