WE all think our children are wonderful, but few of us would go so far as to claim they are divine.
But that’s what happened to two-year-old Lhamo Dondhup in a tiny Tibetan village back in 1937.
More than 70 years on and this god is still with us – and this week he’s even among us here in the North of England.
The Dalai Lama has come a long way since those humble beginnings back in the 1930s.
For decades he’s toured the world as the exiled leader of the Tibetan people, being welcomed into the palaces of princes, premiers and presidents.
Thousands of supporters are flocking to meet Buddhism’s head honcho this week as he tours Leeds, Manchester and London.
Apparently the Dalai Lama hopes his time in Britain will allow him to spread his “teachings of peace and understanding” to anyone who will listen – including a group of Gurkhas he met in Manchester on Sunday.
Let us hope, for the sake of their own career advancement, that these fearsome warriors didn’t pay too much attention to his pacifist message.
As far as I can tell, the Dalai Lama claims to be the manifestation of someone called Avalokiteshvara, who was apparently some sort of a god – though not the angry bearded divinity with which we non-Buddhists are familiar. It seems the original version of this guy was all about the compassion.
People who claim to be living gods are more likely to be found wandering confusedly round Huddersfield Magistrates’ Court waiting for their hearings to start than they are to be having a chin-wag with Barack Obama.
So fair play to the Dalai Lama for getting so many people to play along with the implausible idea that he’s some sort of god.
There’s no doubting the top Tibetan’s ability to put bums on seats.
I found that out for myself a few years ago when our schedules overlapped and we both happened to be in Brussels at the same time.
Along with hundreds of other people, I squeezed into the European Parliament to hear what the Dalai Lama had to say.
As I jostled for elbow room in the press gallery I felt a demoralising fear that I was about to be verbally assaulted with a load of spiritual mumbo-jumbo.
I don’t like people who even use the word “spiritual”, let alone those who base their whole lives around the concept.
But along with dread, I also felt a great sense of curiosity about the Dalai Lama, this powerful yet powerless man, revered by millions but reviled by the only people who really mattered – the Chinese government.
His speech did indeed contain the usual soft soap that I had feared, the standard refrain that all religions are essentially the same.
Dressed in his trademark purple robe, he described his recent gall bladder operation and the fact that his peaceful mind had helped him through.
But, just as I was expecting an observation about the cuteness of kittens, the old man hit me with a thought so profound, yet so simple, that it has stuck with me to this day.
The Dalai Lama looked out across the debating chamber and remarked how many women there were amongst the hundreds of Euro-MPs present.
Humanity, he explained, was once based around small groups with little distinction between the genders.
But then we progressed to farming and later to industry – both activities which relied on physical strength, and which were therefore dominated by men.
However, he told us, we were now moving into a new phase, an economic system based on services where the skill of communication – an area in which women outstrip men – would be the most important.
In other words, the future belongs to women.
The Dalai Lama managed to condense all of human history into a few sentences before adding a prediction for the future which appeared to be based on perfect logic.
I wouldn’t say it was a divine performance but it was a very interesting one.