cover image The Dalai Lama: Leadership and the Power of Compassion

The Dalai Lama: Leadership and the Power of Compassion

Ginger Chih. Interlink, $35 (224p) ISBN 978-1-62371-814-5

This vibrant volume by Buddhist photographer Chih (A Place Called Chinese America) documents the relationship between the Dalai Lama’s leadership and the Tibetan diaspora. Chih uses the Dalai Lama’s biography as a jumping-off point to tell the stories of Tibetan communities in India and Nepal, and supplements their tales with her photos from the 2010s. She describes the Dalai Lama’s lonely childhood in an isolated palace and his escape from Tibet in anticipation of a military crackdown from China, as well as his efforts to preserve and modernize Tibetan culture and his transformation into to a figure of global influence guided by compassion. Chih’s most moving images document everyday life in the Tibetan diaspora, such as her portraits of students and instructors at the Tibetan Children’s Village, which the Dalai Lama helped establish for Tibetan children who had become separated from their parents while fleeing Tibet. The Dalai Lama’s compassionate leadership style offers an alternative to cynical politicians, Chih suggests, driving her point home with images of the religious leader embracing enthusiastic crowds. Chih’s photos capture the intensity and humility of the Dalai Lama, though those familiar with the outlines of his biography will find little that’s new. Nonetheless, this reverent account makes for a striking visual chronicle of the Dalai Lama and the diaspora. (Sept.)