Dalai Lama Releases Free App for iPhone

By Craig Lewis
Buddhistdoor Global | 2017-12-18 |

The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama has announced the launch of a new free app for Apple mobile devices called “Dalai Lama.” Launched just days ago, the app enables users to follow His Holiness’s travel and international public engagement schedule, and provides access to photos, videos, news updates, and live-streamed events.

The 82-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader already has a strong online presence—his  official Twitter account @DalaiLama has 16.7 million followers, eclipsing many other “superstar” Twitter users, such as Hollywood icon Robert Downey Jr., although far short of singer Katy Perry’s 108 million followers. The Dalai Lama’s Facebook page has almost 14 million likes and follows, while his Instagram account has close to 1 million followers.

According to the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the launch of the new app was timed to coincide with the Dalai Lama’s visit to Drepung Loseling Monastery in Mundgod, in the southern Indian state of Karnataka last week, where he is giving teachings and ordaining new monks, and also to mark Ganden Ngachö, the anniversary of the death of the renowned Tibetan teacher Je Tsongkhapa (1357–1419), the founder of the Gelukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. So far the app is only available for devices running Apple’s iOS operating system.


While the app offers a new way for followers to keep up with the Dalai Lama’s active schedule of appearances and public teachings, His Holiness has previously urged people to embrace technology in a mindful manner. 

In 2014, he observed that even though the existence of digital devices is “wonderful,” he cautioned that they can also present obstacles to our lives if we allow them. “I think technology really increases human ability. It [made] a lot of things much easier,” he said. “But technology cannot produce compassion.” (Huffington Post)

His Holiness explained that it is important not to allow computers and mobile devices to dictate the way we live: “After all, we are the controllers of the technology and if we become slaves of technology, that’s not good.” (Huffington Post)

Recent media reports indicate that the new app has been already blocked by the Chinese government, which considers the Dalai Lama to be a dangerous separatist, and cannot be downloaded from Apple’s App Store from inside China. On Sunday, the Global Times newspaper in China published a shrill criticism of the app’s launch, decrying the move as an act of desperation.

From twitter.comFrom

The app is not the Dalai Lama’s first venture into the digital realm. The website “Atlas of Emotions” was launched by American psychologist Paul Ekman in 2016, following a series of conversations between Ekman and His Holiness. The site is intended to represent a “map of the mind” enabling people to learn to understand their moods and feelings through interactive graphical representations of the human emotional experience and how it influences our lives.

Other eeligions ahve also embraced digital technology. In 2013, the Catholic Church released an app called “Confession,” aimed at allowing users to keep track of their sins. A more recent app enables Catholics can make donations, and locate churches and clergy members.

Earlier this year, the Khyentse Foundation of revered Bhutanese Vajrayana teacher Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche launched “The Bodhgaya Finder” mobile app for iOS and Android devices, which indicates the direction of Bodh Gaya, India, from any location in the world.

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