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Secret Lives of the Dalai Lama

Saturday, February 20, 2010
2:00 PM–3:30 PM

The unique transmission of wisdom traditions in Tibet is the subject of a conversation between historian Alexander Norman, author of The Secret Lives of the Dalai Lama and Prof. Elliot Sperling;moderated by scholar Michael R. Sheehy.
Alexander Norman opens his vivid and accessible new book with the bloody murder of Lobsang Gyatso of 1997. What starts as a murder mystery unfolds as he explains the Dorje Shugden controversy within the context of a comprehensive history of the Dalai Lama institution itself. Alexander Norman has known H.H. the Dalai Lama since 1988 and has previously worked closely with him on his bestselling books Freedom in Exile and Ethics for the New Millennium. He is currently a member of Blackfriars Hall at the University of Oxford.

Elliot Sperling is Associate Professor of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University and an expert on the history of Tibet and Tibetan-Chinese relations. This marks his fourth participation in a program at RMA.

The new website The Treasury of Lives ( provides well-researched and clearly written biographies of all known masters of Tibetan religion, both Buddhist and Bon, each illustrated with portraits. The site is linked with the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC), an online library of Tibetan literature, and Himalayan Art Resources (HAR), a virtual museum of Himalayan art. All traditions are presented together, with dynamic search and browse capability to allow users to access the biographies using a variety of categories such as ‘tradition,’ ‘institutions,’ ‘geography,’ and ‘historical period.’