The Dalai Lama is apologizing for comments he made in a BBC interview last week suggesting that should a female succeed him, she should be “attractive,” saying that his “off the cuff remarks” were lost in “translation.”
“His Holiness genuinely meant no offense. He is deeply sorry that people have been hurt by what he said and offers his sincere apologies,” his office said in a statement to CNN on Tuesday. The Dalai Lama’s office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
In a sit-down interview with the BBC published last week, correspondent Rajini Vaidyanathan asked the Dalai Lama, 83, to clarify comments he had previously made about the possibility of a female successor, telling the network that while he was open to it, “that female must be attractive, otherwise it’s not much use.”
Vaidyanathan asked him if he understood why that upset women around the world, to which he doubled down on the attractive remark.
“That is one time,” he said with a laugh. “If female Dalai Lama comes, then she should be more attractive.”
“If female Dalai Lama” — here, he scrunched up his face, seemingly as if to portray someone unattractive — “that people, I think prefer, not see her, that face.”
“A lot of women would say that’s objectifying women,” Vaidyanathan responded. “And it’s about who you are inside, isn’t it?”
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“Yes, I think both,” he said.
His office’s statement on Tuesday continued to reiterate that the Dalai Lama has traditionally stressed “the need for people to connect with each other on a deeper human level, rather than getting caught up in preconceptions based on superficial appearances,” according to CNN.
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The Dalai Lama 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,” his office’s statement went on to explain, saying that the joke was lost in “translation.”
“However, it sometimes happens that off the cuff remarks, which might be amusing in one cultural context, lose their humor in translation when brought into another,” the statement continued.
Regarding comments that the Dalai Lama made on refugees to Europe — he said that he thinks it’s best if they one day return to their own countries, after being allowed to be educated in European countries — his office’s statement Tuesday said “he certainly appreciates that many of those who leave their countries may not wish or be able to return.”
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