How important is the historical Dalai Lama and the 14th Dalai Lama for Buddhism in general and Tibetan Buddhism? Thanks. Do you know what I found? The Dalai Lama is not a pope of Tibetan Buddhism. Nobody is expected to automatically follow his advice, not even his own Tibetan tradition of Buddhism. However, he was also considered the secular leader of Tibet, and last but not least, many Tibetans consider him to be a Buddha. That obviously means that most Tibetans take his advise very seriously. Since the Chinese take-over of Tibet, I think he has become more important to Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhism then anyone else. He was the one person every Tibetan listened to, he was probably one of the most open-minded Tibetans, who had clear ideas how to deal with the outside world (unlike most Tibetans), and how to maintain good political contacts with world-leaders. Over these last decades, he has always been at the forefront of the preservation of the Tibetan culture and Buddhist values, and one of the best Tibetan Buddhist scholars of our time. In all these aspects he has become the main leader of Tibetans in exile.