UPDATE: In an interview tweeted by BBC journalist Rajini Vaidyanathan on June 27, 2019, the Dalai Lama repeated his previous comments.
The next Dalai Lama could be a woman ... but she’d have to be attractive.
Like, really attractive.
His Holiness made that assertion in an interview with BBC journalist Clive Myrie that was posted online Monday.
About five minutes into an exchange that touched on the Syrian refugee crisis, Myrie asked whether there will be a 15th incarnation of the Dalai Lama, whom Buddhists believe has been reincarnated.
The current Dalai Lama said that’s up to the Tibetan people. But when Myrie asked whether the next incarnation could be a woman, His Holiness said yes, but “the face should be very attractive.”
Myrie then pressed on the point, asking, “So you can only have a female Dalai Lama if they’re attractive. Is that what you’re saying?”
To which His Holiness said, “I mean if female Dalai Lama did come, then that female must be very attractive. Otherwise not much use.”
Myrie asked if he was joking, but he said, “I meant it, true!”
The remarks drew plenty of condemnation on social media.
Stand up to the Dalai Lama’s sexual discrimination! Stop attending his “talks” and pressure the media! #DalaiLama
— Elizabeth Mitchell (@TashiLunphoes) September 23, 2015
— Olivia Block (@oliviablock) September 22, 2015
Does Dalai Lama think he looks ‘attractive’?!! Why should women have to? Is that what he sees as a woman’s purpose in life? HE’S A CON-MAN!!
— xmaseveevil (@xmaseveevil1) September 21, 2015
@DalaiLama you should be ashamed of yourself. A woman’s worth is NOT defined by her outward appearance.
— Delaney Nielson (@delaneysue) September 23, 2015
But this isn’t the first time that the Dalai Lama has made such an assertion.
In 2011, German journalist Michaela Doepke asked him a similar question in an interview for the publication Buddhismus Aktuell.
He responded by saying that a French journalist asked him this very question “twenty or thirty years ago.”
A translated version of the interview quotes him as follows: “I also said half-jokingly that if the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation is female, she must be very attractive. The reason is so that she will have more influence on others.
“If she is an ugly female, she won’t be very effective, will she? What do you think?”
These are not the only times the Dalai Lama’s comments have proven controversial.
In 1997, he said at a press conference that, “From a Buddhist point of view, men-to-men and women-to-women is generally considered sexual misconduct,” a comment that left gay Buddhists disappointed, The San Francisco Gate reported.
However, in 2014, the Dalai Lama showed a progressive attitude toward gay marriage, saying, “If two people — a couple — really feel that way is more practical, more sort of satisfaction, both sides fully agree, then OK,” Agence France-Presse reported.