The Dalai Lama has said that he may choose not to reincarnate inside Tibet if it is not free, and that no one has the right to choose his successor for political ends.
However, the Chinese government, which has always accused the Dalai Lama of being a political separatist, says declining to reincarnate is a step too far and insists he must ‘respect’ the ancient tradition of reincarnation.
According to a news release in Reuters, the 14th Dalai Lama (born Tenzin Gyatso) explained in an interview to German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that the tradition of the Dalai Lama post could end with him, adding that Tibetan Buddhism was not dependent on a single person. The Chinese government was not amused.
China has ruled Tibet since Communist troops invaded in 1950. The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule. China has long viewed the Dalai Lama as a thorn in their side, calling him a “wolf in monk’s clothing”. However, in a curious twist, they seem to want him back again in another reincarnation.
A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying told reporters that China had a “set religious procedure and historic custom” when it came to the reincarnation of living Buddhist lamas, including the position of Dalai Lama.
“China follows a policy of freedom of religion and belief, and this naturally includes having to respect and protect the ways of passing on Tibetan Buddhism,” said Mr Hua, according to Reuters.
“The title of Dalai Lama is conferred by the central government, which has hundreds of years of history. The 14th Dalai Lama has ulterior motives, and is seeking to distort and negate history, which is damaging to the normal order of Tibetan Buddhism.”
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