Rlung statement about the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso

April 16th, 2023


We are aware of the recent event around the circulating video of the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso at a public event in India in February 2023 and the media coverage and social media reaction.

Although the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso is not a part of Rlung, and we are not a religious organization, he is an important figure. Most of the people within the organization, including our teachers, draw inspiration from him and follow his teachings.

We firmly believe that “the recent incident” occurred without any ill intent or malicious motive and as an organization we understand cultural differences and the attempt to bridge different worlds like traditional/contemporary, east/west, etc. It is apparent that the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso has made a huge contribution to the world throughout his life as a promoter of peace and compassion.

However, we also understand the displayed behavior in the video is deeply concerning when it is taken outside of the cultural and the community context of people who appreciate his jolly interaction with the boy. As a result of an unfortunate lack of understanding of cultural differences and trouble caused by translating the Tibetan language, this incident has occurred.

For any services Rlung provides, this kind of event will not take place because we understand the "western" way of thinking.

It was a traditional type of humorous banter that often occurs in Tibetan culture between grandparents or elders and younger members of the family. The use of the words ‘suck my tongue’ were a bad translation of the Tibetan phrase ‘eat my tongue’ which is not intended to be literal.

As the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso’s office issued an apology for the event, we understand that they also see the unfortunate difference in perception over what happened.

Rlung remains committed to the highest standards of accountability and believes that the safeguarding of young people and vulnerable adults is essential. Every organization must have a robust system for ensuring the safety of all minors. Rlung is developing a system that vets and checks that all members of staff are safe to work with under 18s and do not have criminal records.

Safeguarding is the responsibility of all members of any organization working or interacting with children and young people. It is important that all members of any organization are vetted and monitored and that a system of checks and balances is in place to enforce safeguarding procedures.

Part of our mission is seeing the value of the culture and teachings of the Himalayan people and taking this to the world. Simultaneously we hope that it will become a platform where people from all over the world can share cultural differences and respect each other. This recent incident has been a valuable lesson in understanding the differences between cultures and the potential for misunderstandings. We believe that Rlung can bring many positive benefits to people across the globe.