Saturday, September 27, 2014

Dalai Lama Suggests He Will Not Reincarnate | CAFFEINATED ...

The most interesting read so far this morning.

The hitch is that – despite the Buddhist belief in reincarnation – the 14th Dalai Lama, once dead, will be just as dead as the rest of us. In recent years, when asked about what will happen to the institution of the Dalai Lama once he dies, he’s said that when he turns 90 he’ll consult the high Lamas, the Tibetan public, and others concerned with Tibetan Buddhism in order to make a decision whether it ought to continue.

But his more recent comments seem to indicate that he’s leaning towards not reincarnating. Speaking to the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, he said that “the institution of the Dalai Lama has served its purpose.” He continued, “We had a Dalai Lama for almost five centuries. The 14th Dalai Lama now is very popular. Let us then finish with a popular Dalai Lama.”

However, there have also been times when the Dalai Lama has proven to be a rather shrewd political operator. He’s amassed a great deal of support for his cause throughout the world. He has also not received enough credit for his decision to transform the Tibetan government-in-exile from a theocracy to a democracy in 2011 by abdicating and transferring power to an elected prime minister. It’s a rare thing for an absolute ruler to acknowledge that his rule is fundamentally unfair and unjust, and to voluntarily give it up is rarer still, yet that’s what the Dalai Lama did.

This decision hints at his thinking on whether or not to reincarnate: he seems to hope that once he’s dead and, with the institution of the Dalai Lama dissolved, the political fight will be left to the politicians. This is all very radical thinking from what’s always been a very conservative institution. Moreover, with seemingly no leverage, the Dalai Lama is pushing back against Chinese imperialism.

By refusing to reincarnate, the Dalai Lama will make it more difficult for the CCP to give the impression that any puppet-leader the party installs has any legitimacy in the eyes of Tibetans. He’s also undoubtedly mindful of the fact that the move towards a democratic secular government-in-exile contrasts with the Communist Party’s brand of one-party authoritarianism.


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