NEWS

Tibetan Government-in-exile Cautions China Against Plan to Pick Dalai Lama’s Successor

By Craig Lewis
Buddhistdoor Global | 2015-09-02 |
His Holiness the Dalai Lama embraces Lobsang Sangay on 8 August 2011 after Sangay took the oath of office in Dharamsala to lead the Tibetan government-in-exile. From nbcnews.comHis Holiness the Dalai Lama embraces Lobsang Sangay on 8 August 2011 after Sangay took the oath of office in Dharamsala to lead the Tibetan government-in-exile. From nbcnews.com

The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the Tibetan government-in-exile based in Dharamsala, North India, on Tuesday urged China not to go ahead with its plan to choose a successor for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who marked his 80th birthday this year.

The CTA statement was given at a press conference in Dharamsala as Beijing commemorated the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region. It came in response to the Chinese white paper that preceded the two-day meeting of the 6th Tibet Work Forum in Beijing from 24–25 August, which was attended by top Communist Party leaders.

“We have . . . provided a comprehensive explanation with regard to communist China’s scheme to pick the reincarnation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” said CTA leader Lobsang Sangay, who holds the post of Sikyong within the CTA, equivalent to prime minister. (Hindustan Times)

“If Communist China goes ahead with its plan to pick the reincarnation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, there will be an international pushback,” he cautioned. “The pushback will not only come from the Tibetan people but from millions of Buddhists who traditionally share Tibet’s spiritual heritage and millions more in the rest of the world who have benefited from the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.” (Deccan Herald)

Zhu Weiqun, chairman of China's ethnic and religious affairs committee. From tibetanreview.netZhu Weiqun, chairman of China's ethnic and religious affairs committee. From tibetanreview.net

Chinese Communist Party official Zhu Weiqun, who has spent much of his career dealing with Tibetan issues, insisted back in March that it was ultimately for the Chinese government to decide whether and how the Dalai Lama would be reincarnated.

“Decision-making power over the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, and over the end or survival of this lineage, resides in the central government of China,” said Zhu, who leads the ethnic and religious affairs committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. (The New York Times

China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs had already decreed in 2007 that all reincarnations born within China must obtain approval from the government in order to be declared “valid.” Reincarnation applications must be approved by four different governmental bodies. 

The dispute over the Dalai Lama’s next incarnation has significant implications for Beijing and the stability of its control of ethnically Tibetan areas of China, where dissatisfaction with Chinese rule has been punctuated by protests and self-immolations.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has himself long downplayed expectations for a successor, saying he could be the last of his line. “The Dalai Lama institution will cease one day. These man-made institutions will cease,” he said. “There is no guarantee that some stupid Dalai Lama won’t come next, who will disgrace himself or herself. That would be very sad. So, much better that a centuries-old tradition should cease at the time of a quite popular Dalai Lama.” (BBC)

On 24 September 2011, the Dalai Lama made a public statement of his stance on the issue: “Reincarnation is a phenomenon which should take place either through the voluntary choice of the concerned person or at least on the strength of his or her karma, merit and prayers. Therefore, the person who reincarnates has sole legitimate authority over where and how he or she takes rebirth and how that reincarnation is to be recognized. It is a reality that no one else can force the person concerned, or manipulate him or her.” (The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

“When I am about ninety I will consult the high Lamas of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, the Tibetan public, and other concerned people who follow Tibetan Buddhism, and re-evaluate whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or not. On that basis we will take a decision.” (The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

The next Dalai Lama would be the 15th incarnation over a continuous period of about 500 years. The current 14th Dalai Lama escaped from Lhasa to India in 1959 after the Chinese People’s Liberation Army invaded Tibet. India is now home to about 100,000 Tibetans living in exile.

See more

CTA challenges China's claim on Dalai Lama's legitimacy (Hindustan Times)
China warned over picking Dalai Lama reincarnation (Deccan Herald)
Reincarnation (The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama)
Dalai Lama concedes he may be the last (BBC)
China’s Tensions With Dalai Lama Spill Into the Afterlife (The New York Times)
The Dalai Lama Reiterates Retirement from Political Activity (Buddhistdoor Global)
State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5 (Wikipedia)

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