Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama offered assurances over his health on Wednesday, saying that though doctors have encouraged him to rest, prompting him to cancel speaking engagements in October, his physical condition is “in general, very good."
Speaking at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minnesota, to over a thousand Tibetans living in the U.S., the Dalai Lama confessed to being “somewhat tired” following recent public appearances in London.
“That’s natural, though,” the Tibetan spiritual leader said, adding, “You should all be happy. I am in very good health.”
Tibetans attending the event appealed to the 80-year-old Dalai Lama to follow the advice of the doctors who examined him last week at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, where he had gone for what he called a routine checkup.
“As you all know, it has been about 10 years now that I have been coming to the Mayo Clinic for health checkups,” he said, speaking in Tibetan in remarks translated by RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“Earlier, doctors in India told me, ‘You are in very good condition, there are no symptoms of illness at all. You are in very good health.”
“And here, today, the doctors have said that, in general, my physical health is very good.”
“As you say, the doctors have told me it will be good for me to take more rest, though,” he said.
“That is really true.”
'Slight problems' with knees
Though still in overall good health, the Dalai Lama has been troubled for the last two years with “slight problems” with his knees, he said, adding that he had recently been examined by a specialist in Germany.
“He told me very directly that while physically my body is in very good condition, I am no longer 18 years old. I am an 80-year-old man,” he said.
“An 80-year-old person’s knees will gradually weaken, and there’s nothing much that can be done about that,” the Dalai Lama said that he was told.
“That was very good advice, I thought," he said.
Recognized around the world as the face of Tibet’s struggle for greater freedom under Chinese rule, the Dalai Lama is deeply revered by Tibetans both in exile and living in Tibetan regions of China, where the possession or display of his photograph frequently draws harsh punishment .
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 143 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the Dalai Lama’s long life and return.
Reported by Tseten Dolkar for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Benpa Topgyal. Written in English by Richard Finney.