The Dalai Lama

The His Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and also leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile. He is considered to be the incarnation of AvalokitÚsvara, the Buddha of compassion. It is hard for most Westerners to imagine his central role in the lives of most Tibetans:
"They perceive him as the embodiment of their own highest aspirations, a person who, through individual effort, compassionate activity, and diligent meditation has transcended the world, but who still continues to emanate physical manifestations for the benefit of others" (Powers, 1995:15).
Tibetan Buddhism does not have gods in the western sense, but deities or Buddhas who themselves were once ordinary people and who have been "awakened" - transcended ordinary life through their meditations. The final goal of all Buddhist practice is to become a Buddha oneself (Powers, 1995:15).
Margaret Nowak has called the Dalai Lama a "summarizing symbol" for the Tibetan people, saying that "Of all the elements of Tibetan tradition that survive today, none is more critical than the Dalai Lama" (Nowak, 1978:24-5), and adding that "The crucial nature of sacred continuity in this institution, (is) made all the more significant now by Tibetans" fear for even the ordinary continuity of their culture".
Certainly in relation to TIPA and to the Tibetan performing arts in general, the Dalai Lama has been  the staunchest of patrons and promoters, and has made great efforts to change the traditional attitudes to the artists, who have generally held a low status within the Tibetan society, by emphasizing the importance of their role in preserving Tibetan culture.