he Dalai Lama’s personal physician has rejected an explosive report which claimed that the Tibetan spiritual leader is terminally ill, insisting instead that the 82-year-old remains in good health, pointing to his busy work schedule as evidence.
Citing unnamed Indian intelligence sources, the Indian news site The Quint reported on Monday that the Dalai Lama is suffering from prostate cancer for which he has been receiving treatment in the US for the past two years. The report claims that the cancer has now “advanced well into the last stages,” a development that both the Indian and Chinese governments have been aware of “for months.”
“This is fake news,” Dr. Tseten Dorjee, the personal physician to the Dalai Lama, toldThe New Indian Express.“He is doing very well, and if that was not the case he would not have given discourses for 3 days in a row and taken this 10-day trip to Latvia and Lithuania.”
The Dalai Lama left on his lecture tour of the Baltic states on Tuesday. Dr. Dorjee emphasized that the spiritual leader has been “so active recently, that it defies common sense for someone to write an article like this.”
As for claims that the Dalai Lama had taken to wearing an extra layer of robes to hide a colostomy bag, Dr. Dorjee said these assertions were nothing but “absolute rubbish.”
Members of the Central Tibetan Administration have similarly denied reports of the Dalai Lama’s alleged ill health. For the remainder of the year, the spiritual leader has a packed schedule, which includes trips to the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland, along with frequent lectures and talks in Dharamshala.
“Does this look like the schedule of a ‘terminally ill’ person?” one official from the Dalai Lama’s office rhetorically asked the New Indian Expresswhile wondering if there was some “ulterior motive” behind the report.
Back in 2016, the Dalai Lama went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota to receive precautionary treatment for his prostate. In a video message from the hospital, he reassured his followers that the treatment was really nothing to worry about. The following year, he told a crowd in San Diego that in a follow-up visit doctors had found no trace of a “small sign of cancer” in his prostate gland. “It is completely cured,” he said.
Later that year, the Dalai Lama canceled a controversial trip to Botswana due to “exhaustion.” It’s not clear if the Dalai Lama really was “exhausted“ or if the cancellation was a face-saving gesture as the Botswanan government finally bowed to significant pressure from Beijing, however, back in March of this year, the Central Tibetan Administration announced that the Dalai Lama would cut down on foreign travel and engagements because of his old age and “exhaustion,” while stressing that his overall health remained good.
Though the Dalai Lama has said that he will live to be at least 100 years old, the health of the iconic Tibetan leader remains an area of constant concern. Many Tibetans worry that after he dies, China will step in and choose the next Dalai Lama. Despite being a non-religious state, China has claimed that it has a role to play in the reincarnation process of the leaders of Tibetan Buddhism, choosing its own Panchen Lama in 1995 andspiriting away the boy chosen by the Dalai Lama.
“Ladakh wants me to reincarnate in Ladakh. China wants me to reincarnate in China, European countries want me there. One soul… how to divide it?” he told HBO host John Oliver last year. “At the time of my death, some indication may come, at the moment, no indication. At the moment, I have no destination.”
In the meantime, the Dalai Lama has suggested that China should first try tofind the reincarnations of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.