I have always wondered – (not really and I have only done so recently due to my current circumstances of being in little Tibet with the intent of meeting his holiness) – how would you feel if you were like suddenly pointed out as they next Dalai Lama – spiritual leader, a pope sort of? Unlike papacy however being a lama you were like somehow born into it if you were to be designated the Dalai Lama. Popes by nature or definition have to be people who have already done a few things of spiritual nature like the current Argentinian pope – Jorge Mario Bergoglio has and is noted. You sort of move up the ranks to be the head there.
Tibetan Buddhism began it is widely thought during the reign of the King Songtsen Gampo who is dated for birth by Tibetan accounts in an Ox year of the Tibetan calendar or either year 557, 569, 581, 583, 605 or 617 after Christianity (Anno Domino/ CE) emerged. The king had two Buddhist wives – one from China and the other from Nepal and before long Buddhism became the state religion and several monasteries were set up. It is to be noted that before Buddhism – the religion that existed in Tibet was called Bön which was sort of a proto Buddhism that originated in the 11th Century and had it’s distinct scriptures (source: The Oxford Dictionary of Buddhism) to be thought of as a separate religion. Modern Chinese census it is thought shows that 10% of the population of Tibet practice this religion with some 300 recognised monasteries.
In the mid 700s an Indian Buddhist Tantric Padmasambhava (Lotus Born) at the invitation of the then King Trisong Detsen there visited Tibet to exorcise ghosts! He sort of stayed on to combine the then existing religion with tantric Buddhism to give us what is recognised as Tibetan Buddhism. He is said to have founded the Nyingma school from which all schools of Tibetan Buddhism are today derived. He was given the name Rinpoche (Tibetan: precious one, teacher, jewel) by the king. The religion took root then.