Friday, September 30, 2011

Deception and Prejudice: China's claim on Dalai Lama's reincarnation

His Holiness the Dalai Lama recently made a lengthy statement on the issue of his reincarnation and had categorically clarified his stand on the future Dalai Lama. The objectivity of such statement is clear and timely as the matter was supposed to be discussed in the 11th Tibetan Religious Conclave held in Dharamsala. In the statement, His Holiness made a crystal clear declaration on the historical tradition of reincarnations in Tibetan Buddhism, that gives a clear understanding about the concept of Tulku recognition.

But, as expected, Xinhua News Agency, the mouthpiece of Chinese Communist regime instantly responded in their rhetoric piece, 'Why the Dalai Lama worries about rebirth', which attempts to impose Chinese Government's role in approving all the Dalai Lama since 1653.1 But, the hastiness in China's response to His Holiness' Statement had neglected the crux of the issue, which the Chinese leaders had deliberately missed. His Holiness explicated historical facts that only one Dalai Lama so far had been approved by using the Golden Urn, which the Manchu officials had proposed to implement after the Tibet-Gorkha Conflict in 1791-1793. Except for 11th and 12th Dalai Lama, all the other predecessors including the incumbent Dalai Lama was recognized and selected through traditional Buddhist customs, which had nothing to do with China.

On 26 September 2011, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei fabricated the truth by responding to the query made during the ministry's regular press briefing. He said that, “The title of the Dalai Lama is illegal if not conferred by the Central Government" and furthermore warns that the Dalai Lama's action has caused severe damage to the normal order of Tibetan Buddhism.2 It is such a horrendously misleading, an idiotic and the most absurd stand of China in pushing their illegitimate control over the recognition of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I presume on this matter, China is on their way of becoming a total loser and laughingstock of the whole world.

In September 2007, China formulated a separate law in recognizing and controlling Lamas reincarnation in their so called 'Order No. 5' and was believed to have implemented this year. Earlier, China played a deceiving role in Panchen Lama's selection, whose predecessor died mysteriously in 1989. Since then, the Chinese Government stringently acted upon intruding into the religious affairs of the Tibetan Buddhism, by focusing mainly on the recognition of Tibetan Lamas, especially His Holiness the Dalai Lama. But, the question remains on whether China really has a power to choose the next Dalai Lama. Forget about their old traditions of mandate of the heaven, do they have the mandate of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, whom they are rigorously attempting to demonize. Do they have a historical truth to base their deceptive claim of having authority over the recognition of Dalai Lama? Lastly, Do they have the confidence of the Tibetan people and the Buddhist followers all over the world, whom His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave the rights to decide upon whether the institution of Dalai Lama should remain or not. If China maintains all these conditions, China should go ahead in legitimizing their claim! But if China did not fulfill those, then it is of no use in enacting law and forcing Tibetans to yield by their command as they always do. China must withdraw their faulty claim and leave their arrogance and political ambition in manipulating the religious matter into the political brawl. China in turn must understand that not all the decision can be achieved by using force. After all, recognizing and selecting Tibetan Lamas, especially His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is not a China's cup of tea and are not equivalent to the selection of Chinese Politburo members or the political leaders, like Mao, Deng, Jiang, Hu, Xi et al.

As the grand old man of China, Deng Xiaoping, gave a sacred word of advice to 'seek truth from facts', the Chinese Government had so far forgotten his words; Deng Xiaoping himself failed to stand firm on his words. It may be due to Chairman Mao's voice that had overshadowed Deng's theory, as Mao, the great helmsman of China had superior influences in China. Mao's message spread far across China that promotes 'telling a lie thousand times to make it a truth'. If China ever felt indebted to Deng, who had opened China to the outside world with his liberalization policy, China would presumably be in great dilemma of choosing the words of their great leaders (Mao and Deng), so distinct. The status of present China that runs pendulum over the times in mixing both Mao and Deng's inviolable chant about truth is in serious trouble of knowing what truth really means.

The Dalai Lama: Legitimacy in selecting the reincarnation

His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama, believed to be the manifestation of Chenresig (Avalokiteshvara), the Lord of Compassion, is the spiritual head of the Tibetan people. Earlier, His Holiness holds both temporal and Spiritual leadership of Tibet, but he devolved his political leadership by giving the authority to the elected Tibetan political leaders in early 2011.

The institution of Dalai Lama goes back hundreds of years since the birth of first Dalai Lama in 1391 A.D. It is considered one amongst the oldest Tibetan Buddhist Institutions that deals in performing the traditional selection process of reincarnation.

It is bizarre that China insists, Qing Emperor of conferring the honorary title ‘Dalai Lama’. The Chinese Foreign Ministry wrote in their official website, “The Qing emperor granted him the honorific title of "the Dalai Lama, Overseer of the Buddhist Faith on Earth Under the Great Benevolent Self-subsisting Buddha of the Western Paradise.'' The title Dalai Lama was thus established and is still in up today.”3 However, it is evident that Altan Khan, on embracing Buddhism, had conferred Sonam Gyatso the title of “Dalai” and called him the Dalai Lama. The title signifies "universal, great, wide expanse like ocean, or ocean-like wisdom.”4

In his recent statement, His Holiness the Dalai Lama stressed, “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.”5

During the 11th Religious Conclave, His Holiness the Dalai Lama explicitly rejected the Chinese ploy and stated, “My reincarnation is to be decided by myself, nobody has the right to decide about that.”6

However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei in a regular briefing stated, “There has never been the case of a previous Dalai determining the next Dalai.”7 Even Padma Choling, chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region contradicted His Holiness the Dalai Lama by saying, “There have been 14 Dalai Lamas. It is unreasonable for him to do whatever he wants (about reincarnation). There’s no way for him to do so,”8 and "What he said does not count,"9

If His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s message does not count, that too on his own reincarnation, then do we have to believe the Chinese Communist Regime. As Pema Choling implies, Dalai Lama had no authority whatsoever in the selection process of the Dalai Lama. If so, then one must not forget a comment made by Mao to the Dalai Lama that 'Religion is Poison'. Apparently, China must not have forgotten their role in destroying more than 6,000 Tibetan monasteries and their ill feelings towards Tibetan Lamas. They labeled all the reincarnated monks as one amongst the ‘Four Olds’ that led to severe punishment, torture, killing and the struggle session (tham zing). Where is China's morality in choosing the Tibetan Lamas, when they themselves are the offenders?

Reincarnation in Exile: China’s pain

Since early 2000, His Holiness the Dalai Lama made several hints about his new birth that utterly annoyed China in scraping their plan about choosing their own Dalai Lama. In 2000, His Holiness the Dalai Lama in an interview, had stated, "If I die as a refugee and the Tibetan situation remains like this, then logically, my reincarnation will appear in a free country, because the very purpose of reincarnation is to carry on the work which began in my previous life.”10

Bodhisattvas were born to help the sentient beings. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the avatar of Lord Chenrezig is one of the bodhisattvas born to help the Tibetan people. When Tibet suffers over more than 60 years, he had painstakingly taken whole responsibility in leading the Tibetan struggle, by the virtue of being recognized as the Dalai Lama, the temporal and spiritual leader. Since bodhisattvas were born to finish their unfinished mission, the Dalai Lama envisioned that he be born again in a free country, where he can pursue his unattended missions. His Holiness did not reject being born again, but claims that if the Tibetan people feel the need to end the Dalai Lama institution, the Dalai Lama shall cease then onwards. But he will be born in other forms, considering the utmost need of the sentient beings.11

It is vital to understand why China is so engrossed in appointing China’s Dalai Lama, despite the ultimate wish of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. My understanding on this matter is, China’s wish fulfilling dream of politicizing the Dalai Lama for maintaining stability in their Communist regime. Tibet, over the last many decades had became a serious trouble for China’s stability and international prestige, as both are imperative for China’s rise. Although, Tibet is one among the 55 national minorities of China, Tibet issues remain the most distracting element for China’s leapfrog image.

Inside Tibet, many young Tibetans, who have never seen His Holiness the Dalai Lama shows tremendous reverence and even sacrifice their life for His Holiness’ return to Tibet. At the same time, His Holiness is getting huge popularity worldwide, travelling across all over the world, spreading positive values and moral ethics. China realized that they should curb the activities of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and maintain strong opposition against him both inside Tibet and elsewhere. Such contaminations are widely seen in Tibet, with the ban of His Holiness photo and even proposed to fight against him till the end. In 2008, Zhang Qingli, former Party Chief of Tibet said "We are now engaged in a fierce blood-and-fire battle with the Dalai clique, a life-and-death battle between us and the enemy."12 So, If Dalai Clique is an enemy of China then Dalai Lama should well be considered as the leader of the enemy. As Zhang Qingli mentioned, "While Dalai is a secessionist chief who fools simple believers under the guise of religion,"13 Then, why China is so passionate about choosing the next Dalai Lama, whom they considered as an enemy?

In late 1979, after a gap of twenty years since the Chinese occupation of Tibet, China realized that His Holiness the Dalai Lama maintained an overwhelming influence over Tibet, when the exile delegation first visited Tibet on a fact-finding mission. Since then, China kept their vigilant eyes in contemning His Holiness the Dalai Lama, whenever opportunities prevail. China hates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and had called him by various derogatory names, such as wolf in a monks robe, a monster with a human face but the heart of a beast, splittist and so on. Even China discussed earlier about ‘chopping off a Serpent’s head’, which was strictly meant for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Despite this, magnanimity of His Holiness spreads wide across China as more and more Chinese follow him. In return, His Holiness humorously thanked the Chinese Government for making him popular through their vacuous acts of condemnation.

China is currently putting their heart and soul in using the religious card and are engaging to enroll Tibetan lamas who are not loyal to the Dalai Lama. In spite of selecting China’s Panchen Lama, by rejecting a boy (Gedun Chokyi Nyima) nominated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, it brings no goodwill to China. Majority of Tibetans do not trust Gyaltsen Norbu, a boy hand picked by China. Author Tim Johnson said “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,”14

Since His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the epitome of Tibetan struggle and the ultimate voice of Tibet, China believes that the Tibetan struggle will slowly disappear when the Dalai Lama passes away. They are not just waiting for him to die, but pushing hard to control and recognize the new Dalai Lama, even though they accused the present Dalai Lama for not


patriotic enough to the motherland. So, the serious question lies on the real intention of

Chinese Government in

recognizing the next Dalai Lama. Is it for the sake of religion or for the sake of China’s politics? If they succeed in doing so, will it help them to silent the Tibetan movement? Irrespective of China’s regulatory rules on religious affairs and the administration of reincarnation of living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism, do the atheist regime really understands the true meaning of reincarnation? Lastly, what will be the implication of such rules to the reincarnated Lamas of Himalayan belts and others, which are beyond China’s jurisdiction.










  11. Freedom in Exile, An autobiography of His Holiness the Dalai lama, pp.237




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