Dharamshala: The members of the Tibetan Allopathic Physicians Network issued a joint statement in condemnation of the misrepresentation in the media recently of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s interaction with a boy causing the sentiments of the Tibetans, Himalayans, Buddhist community and supporters of His Holiness the Dalai Lama who revere him to be hurt.
The statement reads, “We, the undersigned members of the Tibetan Allopathic Physicians Network have been deeply saddened by how His Holiness the Dalai Lama has recently been the subject of much controversy and misunderstanding. We feel that there has been gross misrepresentation and misunderstanding, which has led to unjustified defamation and slander. ”
“As medical professionals, we are always mindful of the importance of safeguarding children and of our responsibilities in this regard. We understand the nature of the concerns raised. However, we also possess a broad collective knowledge of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, his ethics, teachings and significant contributions to humanity which include establishing the foundations of popularising mindfulness and developing frameworks for social, emotional and ethical learning.”
It further clarifies its stance on the issue by referring to the fact that throughout their many years of direct and extensive observation, including the professional contact had by Dr Sadutshang, His Holiness’s personal physician who has worked closely with him for over 35 years thereby making him a first-hand witness to the Dalai Lama’s integrity, humour and playful nature.
The statement also reminds the readers of His Holiness’ rudimentary knowledge of English and how his austere monastic lifestyle removes him from the awareness of certain cultural connotations attached to words that might be common to the rest of the world.
It concludes by calling for the understanding of the cultural and situational context rather than an ethnocentric view of the interaction. Simultaneously, it firmly acknowledges that the members are in no way reducing the importance of safeguarding children while urging for information on cultural sensitivities.
Furthermore, it highlights the mental and emotional distress the misrepresentation has caused the Tibetan community and expresses hope that the massive efforts to clarify will bring about comfort.
Read the original letter below.