A Monk's Struggle

As China cracks down in Tibet, the Dalai Lama faces his greatest challenge since going into exile 49 years ago. Can his message of peace bring his people freedom?

James Nachtwey / VII for TIME

Dalai Lama on the grounds of his private residence in Dharamsala, India. He walks a path between his home and his official office. He is guarded by the Indian military. Each time he passes, the sentries come to a salute with their arms.

"Since China wants to join the world community," the 14th Dalai Lama said as I was traveling across Japan with him for a week last November, "the world community has a real responsibility to bring China into the mainstream." The whole world stands to gain, he pointed out, from a peaceful and unified China—not least the 6 million Tibetans in China and Chinese-occupied Tibet. "But," he added, "genuine harmony must come from the heart. It cannot come from the barrel of a gun."

I thought of those measured and forgiving words—the Dalai Lama still prays for...

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