Dalai Lama, 87, was only showing his ‘innocent grandfatherly affectionate demeanor’ in video where he asked a young boy to ‘suck my tongue’, insists head of Tibet’s exiled government


The video is self-explanatory. I don’t see anything bad about it, just looks weird after crossing cultural lines. Displaying the tongue is a Tibetan greeting. My understanding is there was a mistranslation—the boy wanted to hug the Dalai Lama but the DL was told he wanted a kiss. The other point to remember is China’s CCP constantly attacks the DL and has been doing so for decades. They do it because they know that historically revolutions in China often centered around a revered religious figure. Falun Gong is repressed for this same reason and no other. There is an OK article on the incident at the source link above. ABN

UPDATE: Here is a better interpretation of this event sent by a reader:

As for the Dalai Lama kerfuffle, according to my Tibetan, there was zero issue with the translation and DL was definitely not told that the boy wanted a kiss. (As an interpreter, I sometimes got blamed for relational/karmic stuff that really wasn’t my error, so I’m sensitive to this issue.)

For some reason, the DL was not understanding the common Tibetan term ‘tham (hug) being spoken by the interpreter to his left but he finally understood the English term “hug” (spoken with gesture) by the man on his right.

A Russian ex-monk/interpreter in the Tibetan tradition said that Tibetan grandparents have this thing they say to tease young kids: nga’i.lce.las.’jib. It translates as, “Suck my tongue.” or “Suckle from my tongue.” The idea is just to gross the kids out and get them to recoil in disgust.

I never witnessed this in my years in the Tibetan scene because I never spent time with lay families and this sort of thing never came up in the monastic setting I was in. But it sounds entirely plausible, as Tibetans tease everyone hard from an early age. Anyway, this was definitely not the wordless tongue-as-greeting Tibetan thing. In my experience, that is usually something fleeting and the tongue isn’t stuck very far out.

That said, I still find it odd that the DL, as someone who has been on the world stage for decades, decided to go with a direct translation of this. Like, was there seriously not any inner voice saying, “Um, maybe this one won’t translate well. Maybe don’t go there . . . “?

I’m definitely no Tibetan Buddhist or DL apologist. The dysfunction in that system is extreme. But IMO, the last thing people need right now is to lose whatever modicum of faith they have.

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