A network of abuse survivors has severely criticized the Tibetan spiritual leader, Dalai Lama, for kissing a young Indian boy on the lips and then asking him to suck on his tongue.
The U.S.-based organization, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), which is dedicated to supporting survivors of spiritual and religious abuse, expressed their disgust over the issue in a statement on Monday, 10 April, following the release of the disturbing footage.
It read: “We are as horrified as any viewer by the actions of the Dalai Lama. Our primary concern is with the innocent boy who was the subject of this disgusting request by a revered spiritual figure.
“Additionally, it is just as disturbing to read the minimizing statement released on behalf of Buddhist enlightenment.
“An 87-year-old man asking a young boy to perform a blatantly sexual act in a public setting is very disturbing. We feel it is important that every single person who sees, suspects, or suffers child sex crimes, regardless of the level of crime, contact law enforcement to report it.”
In the video, Dalai Lama had called out the young boy during a charity event he held at his temple in Dharamshala, India in February, asking if he could hug him. The boy, identified as Tenzin Gyatso, agreed to the request and was beckoned on by Lama to come closer.
The spiritual leader first asks the boy to kiss him on the cheek, before pointing at his lips. He holds the boy’s face as they briefly kiss, then they press their foreheads together.
Dalai Lama is then seen sticking out his tongue as he asks the boy to suck on it. The boy then slowly moves forward and suckles on the 87-year-old’s outstretched tongue.
Before letting the child go, the Dalai Lama shared some wisdom, telling him to ‘look to those good human beings who create peace, happiness’ and not to ‘follow those human beings who always kill other people’.
The video has caused an literal outrage among viewers online, and to this the office of the spiritual leader has responded with an apology. The apology was made available on the verified Twitter handle of Dalai Lama. The post read:
“His Holiness wishes to apologise to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused.
“His Holiness often teases the people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras.
“He regrets the incident.”
While some have come to Lama’s defense, claiming that he often teases people and jokes around, others have slammed him, referring to his actions as “scandalous”, “disgusting”, and “absolutely sick.”