The Dalai Lama is “deeply sorry” for having told a BBC interview that his reincarnation, if a woman, should be “attractive”, his office said in a statement on Tuesday.
A report in Hindustan Times, however, said he made no apology however for saying that US President Donald Trump had a “lack of moral principle” and “complicated” emotions.
“(In) responding to a question about whether his own reincarnation could be a woman, and suggesting that if she were she should be attractive, His Holiness genuinely meant no offence,” the statement said. “He is deeply sorry that people have been hurt by what he said and offers his sincere apologies.”
The comments, which attracted criticism around the world, were made in an interview with the British broadcaster and aired last week from the Nobel peace prize winner’s exile in Dharamsala.
“If female Dalai Lama comes, then she should be more attractive,” he had said. “If female Dalai Lama, oh, oh… that people, I think prefer, not see her, that face.”
“His Holiness, a monk now in his mid-eighties, has a keen sense of the contradictions between the materialistic, globalized world he encounters on his travels and the complex, more esoteric ideas about reincarnation that are at the heart of Tibetan Buddhist tradition,” the new statement said.
“However, it sometimes happens that off the cuff remarks, which might be amusing in one cultural context, lose their humour in translation when brought into another. He regrets any offence that may have been given.
“For all his long life, His Holiness has opposed the objectification of women, has supported women and their rights and celebrated the growing international consensus in support of gender equality and respect for women,” it added.
It said that the original context of his referring to the physical appearance of a female successor was a conversation with the then Paris editor of Vogue magazine.
“She asked if a future Dalai Lama could be a woman. His Holiness replied, ‘Certainly, if that would be more helpful,’ adding, as a joke, that she should be attractive. He was at least partially responding to the unfamiliar ambience of working with a team whose prime focus was the world of high fashion,” the statement said.
On Trump, the Dalai Lama, 83, had said: “One day he says something, another day he says something… But I think (there is a) lack of moral principle.”