The Reincarnation Conundrum:
Described as the most absurd act of authoritarian history, Beijing, already charged for spying against the 17th Karmapa, has banned the reincarnation of HH the Dalai Lama. China has also banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission.
According to the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month will stipulate the procedure by which one is to reincarnate. It is being dubbed, an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.
Commenting on the development, author Tim Jhonson told, “Chinese Communist Government believes that many of the problems faced in Tibet will disappear after the Dalai Lama. They are waiting for him to die”. Jhonson is the author of, ” Tragedy in Crimson: How the Dalai Lama won the world but lost his battle with China “.
“The truth is that the ruling party wants a new kind of Tibetan lamas not loyal to the Dalai Lama. The Party (communist) wants to sever ties between the lamas of the Tibetan plateau and the Dalai Lama. It is not new, Beijing does the same with the Vatican and Catholic bishops in their territory,” says Johnson.
China and Dalai Lama
China has a problem with Tibet since it occupied it in the 1950′s. Tibetans form an ethnic group with a clear identity formed by five million people, a language and most importantly the Dalai Lama as spiritual and political leader. The Chinese government’s ethnic policies resulted in the Tibetan revolt of 2008 and of the Uighurs in 2009, with hundreds of civilian getting killed.
The Dalai Lama, 76, is planning his succession, saying that he refuses to be reborn in Tibet so long as it’s under Chinese control. The most famous political exile of the world has made it clear in recent months that the next Dalai Lama will be born and receive religious training in an environment free outside of China.
Assuming that the Dalai Lama is able to master the feat of controlling his rebirth, as Dalai Lamas supposedly have for the last 600 years, the situation is shaping up in which there could be two Dalai Lamas: one picked by the Chinese government, the other by Buddhist monks. “It will be a very hot issue,” says Paul Harrison, a Buddhism scholar at Stanford. “The Dalai Lama has been the prime symbol of unity and national identity in Tibet, and so it’s quite likely the battle for his incarnation will be a lot more important than the others.”
The Chinese Motive
But beyond the reincarnation irony lies China’s true motive: to cut off the influence of the Dalai Lama and to quell the region’s Buddhist religious establishment. By barring any Buddhist monk living outside China from seeking reincarnation, the law effectively gives Chinese authorities the power to choose the next Dalai Lama, whose soul, by tradition, is reborn as a new human to continue the work of relieving suffering.
Faced with his imminent death, the Chinese government with its “reincarnation with permission” wants to preempt any attempts by the lama to democratize the election of his successor.
“The reincarnation procedures must meet the religious and historical conventions. It must also be approved by the central government,” noted an official Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak. Tenzinchodrak became the 14th Living Buddha of Tibet in 1955 and is known for his anti Dalai Lama rhetoric.
The Dalai Lama, himself, has been suggesting and working on all plans but the Chinese. The famous monk has proposed that, if it is decided that the Dalai must go on, you can also vote by a council of elders lamas like the Vatican. He does not rule out choosing a woman either. Another solution is to resort to esoteric practice called “tulku Madey,” whereby the Dalai can choose a reincarnation while still alive, “which would give him time to prepare it personally,” says Johnson.