Man of Peace – The Illustrated Life Story of the Dalai Lama of Tibet

December 16, 2023

This is a follow up to my introductory article about Tibet House US, which is located at 22 W 15th St, New York, NY 10011. In that article, I discussed how and why Tibet House was founded, as well as its value and relevance for secular Buddhists.

In this article, I would like to introduce a Tibet House publication titled, Man of Peace – The Illustrated Life Story of the Dalai Lama of Tibet, orMOPeace’. This historical graphic novel was a major project that lasted six years. The original idea came from William Meyers  and his late wife, Dr. Mary Meyers. The project was brough to completion under the guidance of co-authors Professor Emeritus Robert Thurman (President of Tibet House US), Jey Tsong Khapa (Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University), and Michael G. Burbank (Executive Director of MENLA, a nature resort and spiritual retreat center sponsored by Tibet House US).

To purchase the book, please click here.
One of the many beautiful engaging spreads in ‘Man of Peace – Illustrated Life Story of Dalai Lama of Tibet’. Page narrating to the left, the passing of the Great Thirteenth Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso; and to the right, the Buddhist Wheel of Life: ‘time’ in the grip of Yama, the Lord of Death, and how Karma is the cyclical force we need to liberate ourselves from. “Only wisdom can break the chain of karma and give freedom from the suffering of the unenlightened life…” Tibet House US © All Rights Reserved.

The Dalai Lama’s three commitments in life

The patron of Tibet House US (NY) and the protagonist of the graphic novel is H.H. the XIVth Dalai Lama. The story starts from the final days of the great XIIIth Dalai Lama amidst World War II, and continues narrating the life events of the Great XIVth Dalai Lama until July 14, 2011 when His Holiness gave the Kalachakra initiation in Washington, DC to 8,000 people. The novel’s Epilogue illustrates His Holiness’ 80th birthday and states his view of the Three Main Commitments in Life: 1) expanding compassion in the world, 2) fusing the inner science monastic curriculum with a modern-day university curriculum, and 3) spreading Tibet’s Nonviolent culture across our war-torn planet.

In more detail, these three commitments are:

  1. As a human being, finding ways to promote human values such as compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self discipline. All human beings are the same; we all want to gain happiness and avoid suffering. Even those who do not believe in religion recognize the importance of human values as a source of happiness in their lives. His Holiness the Dalai Lama refers to these human values as secular ethics.
  2. As a religious practitioner, finding ways to promote religious harmony and understanding among the major religious traditions of the world. There are ideological and philosophical differences among religious traditions, but they all have the same potential to create good human beings. It is therefore important for all religious traditions to respect one another and recognize the value of each other’s respective tradition. One truth and one religion are relevant on an individual level. At the same time, religious traditions need to enter into a dialogue with the insights and understandings developed in science.  For the community at large, several truths, several religions, and scientific knowledge are necessary.
  3. As a Tibetan holding the title of the Dalai Lama, who is fully trusted by Tibetan people both within and outside Tibet, the third commitment is to endeavor to preserve the Buddhist culture, to strive for Tibet’s cause and to assume the role of an independent spokesperson of Tibetan people living under oppression.

Historical events

The historical graphic novel also highlights historical events that connect global power politics with the nonviolent, cultural view of the Tibetan Buddhist leaders, many of whom have since passed on. As a secular Buddhist, I feel the value of this graphic novel is to understand from its narration how those aforementioned Three Main Commitments went into critical decisions that His Holiness and his compatriots had to make with the knowledge that these decisions involved self-sacrifices for themselves, their people’s needs and their land and culture for the sake of world peace. How can you be an ordained monastic bound by the Bodhisattva vows and simultaneously survive deadly politics without calling for violence? Below are a few interesting illustrations from the ‘Man of Peace’ which show the self-sacrifice of the His Holiness and other Tibetan Buddhist leaders.

One of the final pages in the storytelling that is still current: the spread that shows one of the three pages depicting images of actual Tibetans who had sacrificed their lives in self-immolation in defence of their sovereign rights with a heartaching quote from Tsering Woeser, “Memories are intertwined with these flames”. Woeser is a brave poet/reporter borne of Tibetan-Chinese descent, a brave voice for the Tibetans at home. Juxtaposed is a page of the current Chinese President, Xi Jinping, and H.H. reminiscing how Xi’s father was a friend he met in 1954.
Tibet House US © All Rights Reserved.

The illustrations

‘Man of Peace’ will be coming out in Tibetan, German, and Spanish versions, and we hope to fundraise for this. The hardcover version has a marvelous cover jacket designed by Alex Grey, founder and former Director of The New Museum, NYC, an iconic artist famous for his art of human molecular energies.

Front cover (reproduced from oil painting) created and donated by Alex Grey, showing HH Dalai Lama and Potala Palace in the background.
“Dalai Lama is a portrait of the Tibetan religious leader and representative of the Bodhisattva ideal of wisdom and compassion … (Alex grey).
Alex stated that his oil painting was/is dedicated to “Dalai Lama’s Bodhisattvic goal of rejoining his people in freedom and friendship with China – and the world.”
Tibet House US © All Rights Reserved.
Cover jacket and Robert Beer’s golden Vajra on the cloth bound book cover.
Tibet House US © All Rights Reserved.

Tibetan master artist, Rabkar Wangchuk, volunteered at the very beginning of the project and helped ensure that the book reflects an authentic Tibetan cultural aesthetic. Steve Buccellato of Legendhaus studio, a well known Californian digital artist became the Creative Director for the MOPeace project. If you are a diehard fan of comic books like Marvel and DC Comics, you probably have seen Steve Buccellato’s incredible artwork. Ultimately, Steve helped Tibet House US to find and guide a team of seven graphic novel artists and digital painters, enhancing immensely the artistic quality of the book, and sped up the production of this amazing 300-page graphic novel. The novel also had a cartographer, Tsering Wangyal Shawa. Robert Beer, the world renowned Buddhist and Newari Tantric artist, created exquisite line drawings of Buddhist symbols for the novel.

Illustrations depicting HH Dalai Lama’s ‘4 POINTS OF HOPE’: Dialogue, not War; Sustainability, not Planetary destruction; Individual initiative, not Institutionalised systems; And Spiritual, not only Material science.
Tibet House US © All Rights Reserved.
Panel showing “... wisdom to understand the real from the false …”
Tibet House US © All Rights Reserved.
Panel depicting Robert Thurman, and the meeting between His Holiness and Geshe Wangyal (Robert Thurman’s root lama) at the New Jersey Tibetan Buddhist Learning Center.
H.H is Robert Thurman’s Root Vajra master as he was ordained as a monastic under Dalai Lama. Prof. Thurman is
now 82 years of age. HH Dalai Lama is 88.
Tibet House US © All Rights Reserved.

A compelling book

Michael G. Burbank, who was mentioned as one of the co-authors of the project, recounted how, when he was on an airflight to India, a Tibetan woman caught sight of the ‘Man of Peace’ and asked to borrow it. She read the entire 300 pages during that flight, and later told Michael that she was not a book reader and had trouble with her attention span, but she could not let go of the graphic novel. She was so grateful that it was available in this format. To capture the life story of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is extremely difficult to capture in just words – this graphic novel has managed to capture the many layers and complex global events with which His Holiness was involved - and tell it in a way accessible to all.

This graphic novel is a labor of much love by many dedicated writers, artists, editors and publisher. We hope it will bring much light and love to you as a new collector and reader as well.

Robert ‘Bob’ Thurman says in the ‘Acknowledgements’:

In case any reader who has come to feel close to the Dalai Lama from following his adventures and being aware of the crisis in which he continues to stand and persevere wishes to express that closeness by calling upon him as a spiritual friend. I wish to close by sharing his personal mantra:


Which is his name in Sanskrit, and means “ OM Vajradhara, Manjushri, God of Speech, Oceanic Upholder of the Teaching of the Loving Minded One, Glorious Goodness – may all wishes be accomplished!

To purchase the book, please click here.



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