by Robert Wilkinson
I heard a while back that Bejing intends to name its own "next" Dalai Lama when the current Dalai Lama dies. I find it peculiar that an officially atheist government claims the power to decide how a Being reincarnates, and in what body.
I heard this some time back, but never found a concise explanation until now. Today's offering comes courtesy of the WaPo article by Matteo Pistono, Beijing and the (next) Dalai Lama. Key portions are reprinted below. It seems that at least a few of the apparatchiks in Bejing have major chutzpah, and are breathtakingly presumptuous:
In March 2009, Jiao Zai'an, an official of the Chinese Communist Party's United Front Work Department, said the Party must "decide what kind of person is allowed to be reincarnated," because such approval is essential to "ensure the political soundness of reincarnate lamas."
Uh. Yeah. That's how totally crazy the power brokers in Beijing are. You'll find out more about their paranoid view of His Holiness in the article. And of course, if you want to read the entire article, please go to the Washington Post link above.
Beijing and the (next) Dalai Lama/p>
By Matteo Pistono
... The Dalai Lama himself has offered varying possibilities regarding how the 15th Dalai Lama could be identified but has not publicly stated definitively how the reincarnation would occur.... (but) we must pay close attention to how and to whom he gives the authority to identify the next Dalai Lama. The reason should be obvious; the Chinese government already has a plan to control the 15th Dalai Lama.
China maintains that the Dalai Lama wants an independent Tibet, although since 1988, the Tibetan leader has officially and publicly stated that he is seeking genuine autonomy for Tibetans within the People's Republic of China. Chinese officials vilify and portray the Dalai Lama as the single greatest threat to the unity of the Chinese nation. The Dalai Lama has been said to have "the face of a man and the heart of a beast" and is "a wolf in monk's robes." These words are not from some backwater cadre; rather a spokesperson of the Chinese central government in Beijing and the senior official of the Tibet Autonomous Region spoke them. Not only does the Chinese government consider the Dalai Lama to be a dangerous "separatist," they also see religious devotion to him as seditious. Displaying a photograph of the Dalai Lama, praying for his long life, wearing an amulet with his image, or having his voice chanting mantras on a mobile ring tone, is a subversive criminal act in China.
Authority and power within Tibetan Buddhism has historically been decentralized among many different reincarnate lamas (but) since China invaded Tibet and the Dalai Lama fled into exile to India in 1959, the Dalai Lama has been elevated by those Tibetans who have been deprived of his presence as the preeminent representative of their faith and their identity. Today, for the nearly six million Tibetans living under Chinese rule in Tibet, the Dalai Lama is their spiritual protector and political leader--and devotion to him and his message is at an all-time high.
Beijing's future attempts to control the 15th Dalai Lama will be a testament to their failure to dampen devotion to and influence of the current 14th Dalai Lama, despite decades of dogged attempts to do so. In March 2009, Jiao Zai'an, an official of the Chinese Communist Party's United Front Work Department, said the Party must "decide what kind of person is allowed to be reincarnated," because such approval is essential to "ensure the political soundness of reincarnate lamas." Tibetans reject these Party-appointed lamas, making Beijing's religious politics a perilous path....
The Dalai Lama has repeatedly stated that he will never reincarnate inside territory where he could not be a free spokesman for the Tibetan people. Not long ago, in Benares, India, he told me, "If the Tibetan people want another Dalai Lama, then I will be reborn outside of China's control. The purpose of reincarnation is to continue our duty, our work from before. The Chinese do not like my work today, so why would they want it again in my next reincarnation?"
After the Dalai Lama passes, Beijing intends to promote a child they select to be their next Dalai Lama, as they (did) with the 11th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama. This gross trespass against religious freedom by the Chinese state has been a terrible tragedy for the young Panchen Lama identified by the Dalai Lama (he was kidnapped and disappeared) and the young boy chosen by China (who is regarded with suspicion by the Tibetan people as a puppet of the Chinese government). Similarly, we can expect that the Tibetan people will reject the search and carefully managed ceremony (of) the Chinese Communist Party's leadership that purports to invest a young 15th Dalai Lama with spiritual authority.
The Tibetan people will expect governments that have long supported the Dalai Lama to reject a Chinese-appointed Dalai Lama and to stand firmly behind those in whom the 14th Dalai Lama has entrusted the continuation of his work for a peaceful and just solution for Tibet, and to affirm that the institution of the Dalai Lama does not belong to the Chinese government but rather to the Tibetan people themselves.
Matteo Pistono is a writer, practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, and author of "In the Shadow of the Buddha: Secret Journeys, Sacred Histories, and Spiritual Discovery in Tibet." Pistono's images and writings about Tibetan and Himalayan cultural, political and spiritual landscapes have appeared in BBC's In-Pictures, Men's Journal, Kyoto Journal, and HIMAL South Asia. Pistono was born and raised in Wyoming where he completed his undergraduate degree in anthropology from the University of Wyoming, and in 1997 he obtained his master of arts degree in Indian philosophy from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. After working with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. on Tibetan cultural programs, Pistono lived and traveled throughout the Himalayas for a decade, bringing to the West graphic accounts and photos of China's human rights abuses in Tibet. He is the founder of Nekorpa, a foundation working to protect sacred pilgrimage sites around the world, and he sits on the executive council of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, Rigpa Fellowship, and the Conservancy for Tibetan Art and Culture.
In the Shadow of the Buddha is Pistono's account of a human rights monitor operating covertly in China and Tibet.
Somehow I suspect that whoever Bejing tries to elevate will be rejected by Tibetans all over the world. You cannot enslave or control a Spiritual Teacher who has an unbroken remembrance of His last thousand years on Earth. He has also hinted He "may" incarnate in the US. Wouldn't that be a trip!!
For even more about China, Tibet, the Dalai Lama and the US, please go to Matteo Pistono's second and third articles on the subject, President Hu Jintao, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama where you'll learn a lot more about the brutality of the Chinese government toward the Tibetans and their culture, and Will the Chinese government ban Wednesdays? A snapshot from Lhasa. where we read:
I have met Tibetan Buddhist teachers in Tibet who have been tortured and spent years in prison simply for encouraging the devout to pray for the Dalai Lama's long life. Local government departments in Tibetan areas regularly issue and enforce strict regulations on dates they deem politically sensitive such as July 6, the Dalai Lama's birthday, or Dec.10, International Human Rights Day and on the anniversary of the Dalai Lama's Nobel Peace Prize. A few years ago, I saw a Lhasa city government citywide notice that stated, "The People's Government forbids any person, any group, or any organization, in any form or in any place to use any situation to represent celebrating the Dalai's birthday, to pray to the Dalai for blessing, to sing prohibited songs, to offer incense to the Dalai, or to carry out barely-flower-throwing illegal activities."
All thanks to Matteo for keeping this front and center as the President of China visits the US to tell us how the Beijing bankers want us to hop.
© Copyright 2011 Robert Wilkinson