Dalai Lama Apologizes for Telling Kid to ‘Suck My Tongue’
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has apologized for telling a young boy to “suck my tongue,” an incident the the 87-year-old Buddhist leader claimed was done in jest.
The incident took place back in February, in Dharamsala, India. The Dalai Lama was speaking to a young boy, who asked His Holiness, “Can I hug you?” As the boy came up to him, the Dalai Lama pointed to his cheek and said, “first here,” asking for a kiss; the child gave him a kiss then embraced the Dalai Lama.
Next, the Dalai Lama pointed to his lips and said, “Then I think finally here also.” The boy gave him a quick kiss on the lips as the crowd laughed and applauded. Finally, the Dalai Lama said, “And suck my tongue,” sticking out his tongue and moving towards the boy; they briefly touched foreheads before the Dalai Lama pulled back and patted the boy’s shoulder as the crowd laughed again. The boy and the Dalai Lama embraced a couple more times before the clip ends.
In the statement from his office, the Dalai Lama said, “His Holiness wishes to apologize to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused. His Holiness often teases people he meets in a innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras. He regrets the incident.”
The Dalai Lama’s apology is not the first he’s had to issue in recent years over some supposedly dubious gestures or remarks. Back in 2019, he issued one after telling a BBC interviewer that a future female Dalai Lama “should be more attractive.” In 2018, he also drew criticism after giving a speech where he suggested that refugees who’d traveled to Europe from North Africa and the Middle East should eventually return because ”Europe is for Europeans.” He later clarified that he believed European countries should help these refugees, “give them education and training, and the aim is return to their own land with certain skills.”
Still, the Dalai Lama also has a well-documented history of being a goofball. There are whole YouTube compilations dedicated to His Holiness cracking jokes and teasing people, especially interviewers trying to ask him really “deep” questions. John Oliver even said that when he met the Dalai Lama for an interview on Last Week Tonight several years back, His Holiness greeted him with a tickle.
“I got tickled by the Dalai Lama and it was very funny,” Oliver cracked on The Tonight Show. “I’m not saying that everyone should tickle everyone, but a tickle from the Dalai Lama is a tickle you remember.”