Nepal is a very old kingdom, and religion (whether Hindu or Buddhist) is very deeply involved in society. Sherpa religion follows the ways of Buddhist faith and the teachings of the Dalai Lama. The history of Buddhism dates back to 563 B.C., the birth of Prince Siddhartha Gautama in the lowlands of present-day Nepal. He renounced his claim to be king and wandered the land in search of enlightenment. After years of journeying he found his answer while meditating under a banyan tree. He came to be known as the Buddha or “Enlightened One”, and his principles reached across India and Nepal. The teachings lead its faithful to seek out the ending of human suffering and bring personal enlightenment through compassionate service and realizing Nirvana, the “True Ultimate Reality”.
The Buddhist spiritual leaders among the Sherpa people are monks and lamas who dwell in monasteries in each of the villages. They give advice and perform 'fortune telling' or ceremonies for those seeking enlightenment, and are supported by receiving payment for their services. The Dalai Lama is considered the preeminent spiritual guide, and is believed to be a manifestation of the Buddha, Avalokitesvara, who chooses to reincarnate in service of the people. The current Dalai Lama, born as Lhamo Dhondrub on July 6, 1935, was discovered by Buddhist monks in Tibet as he was two years old. Following the Buddhist tradition he was recognized as the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama, and was enthroned in 1940 as the 14 th in succession, and renamed Tenzin Gyatso. In the 1950’s, still at a young age, he suffered the tragedy of the violent invasion of Tibet by the Chinese, and since 1960 has lived in exile in India. In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for ceaselessly adhering to non-violence and mutual respect in seeking peaceful solutions to the conflict with China.