The Dalai Lama Joins Twitter to Become a 21st Century Buddhist

"The Internet is clearly about more than sports scores and email now. It's a place where we can conduct our democracy and get very large amounts of data to very large numbers of people." ~Frank James

Dharmsala, India — The Dalai Lama has become the world's most senior world religious leader to join Twitter.

The Tibetan leader, 75, decided to set up an account on the social networking site after meeting the site's creator Evan Williams during a trip to the White House last month to visit U.S. President Barack Obama. Following the meeting, Williams tweeted: 'Met the Dalai Lama today in LA, Pitched him on using Twitter - He laughed.'

However, the spiritual leader clearly rethought his decision, as a verified Twitter account was set up in his name later that day. He now has nearly 140,000 followers, just two weeks after joining the site.

The Dalai Lama has yet to leave any personal messages on the site, and it is currently being used to post information from his official website. Previous examples of tweets include a message left following an appearance on the U.S. chat show Larry King Live, after which it appeared: 'Dalai Lama Says Loves China Despite "Suppression". His Holiness also tweeted condolences to the people of Chile following the recent devastating earthquake.

Many Tibetans have embraced the technological move by the Dalai Lama, as they feel it will bring them closer to their leader, who has been in exile from his homeland since 1959 when he fled after rebelling against the Chinese law.

Lobsang Wangyal, a photojournalist living in Dharamsala, the main home of Tibetans in exile in India, said: 'His Holiness has again proved he can be a modern day teacher while retaining the essence of tradition. 'This is a part of his belief that we must become 21st Century Buddhists.'

Philippa Carrick, chief executive of the Tibet Relief Fund, added: 'He has an inordinate amount of followers. It is testimony to the remarkable outreach he has. 'Whether people are Buddhist or not, they resepct his spirituality and humanity. He often does talks on universal stability, when he says everyone is responsible for making the world a better place. 'This is part of living that out.'

The Dalai Lama is the latest religious leader to embrace the technological advancements in the networking world. Pope Benedict XVI frequently updates followers with video messages on YouTube, and also has a Facebook account. In addition, the Church of England has a Twitter account, weekly podcasts and a group on Facebook. The Dalai Lama's new verified Twitter account comes after a fake account under His Holiness's name was shut down last year.

From The Buddhist Channel, by Daily Mail

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