Ethics Institutions Politics

It’s up to Dalai Lama whether he’ll be reborn, Buddhist leader says

Karmapa Lama, left, and Tibet's exiled Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama arrive at the Kangra airport on the outskirts of the northern Indian hilltown of Dharamsala on May 16, 2011. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Stringer *Editors: This photo can only be republished with RNS-KARMAPA-HARVARD, originally transmitted on March 26, 2015.
Karmapa Lama, left, and Tibet's exiled Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama arrive at the Kangra airport on the outskirts of the northern Indian hilltown of Dharamsala on May 16, 2011. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Stringer  *Editors: This photo can only be republished with RNS-KARMAPA-HARVARD, originally transmitted on March 26, 2015.

Karmapa Lama, left, and Tibet’s exiled Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama arrive at the Kangra airport on the outskirts of the northern Indian hilltown of Dharamsala on May 16, 2011. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Stringer
*Editors: This photo can only be republished with RNS-KARMAPA-HARVARD, originally transmitted on March 26, 2015.

BEIJING (Reuters)  It is up to the Dalai Lama to decide whether he will be reborn, Tibetan Buddhism’s third highest religious leader said, after Chinese officials repeatedly said the exiled Dalai Lama had no right to abandon reincarnation.

Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who holds the title of Karmapa Lama and lives in exile in India, told Radio Free Asia in an interview in Washington that he had “complete belief” in the ability of the Dalai Lama to decide his fate after death.

“In Tibetan traditions, we don’t talk much about the reincarnation of a living master,” he said late on Wednesday.

“However, now many questions are being generated. In my view, it is only the Dalai Lama himself who should decide about his future reincarnation. So I am confident and have full trust in his decision. There are many presumptive statements and guess works, but I am not worried,” he said.

The Karmapa is close to the Dalai Lama and after him is the most eminent Lama to have fled Chinese rule of Tibet, which Communist forces “peacefully liberated” in 1950.

Despite his escape across the Himalayas in 2000, the Karmapa remains recognized by Beijing as the 17th incarnation of his spiritual lineage.

Tibetan Buddhism holds that the soul of a senior lama is reincarnated in the body of a child on his death. China says the tradition must continue and it must approve the next Dalai Lama.

However the Nobel peace laureate, who fled his homeland in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule, has said he thinks the title could end when he dies.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, asked about the Karmapa’s comments, said the tradition of reincarnation went back centuries.

“The Dalai Lama’s reincarnation must respect the relevant religious rituals, historic custom and the state’s laws and rules,” Hong told a daily news briefing.

Tibet’s China-appointed governor last month accused the Dalai Lama of blasphemy for doubting reincarnation.

Tibetans fear China will use the issue of the Dalai Lama’s religious succession to split Tibetan Buddhism, with one new Dalai Lama named by exiles and one by China after his death.

In 1995, after the Dalai Lama named a boy in Tibet as the reincarnation of the previous Panchen Lama, the second highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism, China put the boy under house arrest and installed another in his place.

Many Tibetans spurn the Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama as a fake.

(Reporting By Megha Rajagopalan and Ben Blanchard.)

 

About the author

Reuters

9 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • This Dalai Lama represents peace, we vote the “rebirth” of Dalai Lamas.

    The world needs a lot more Dalai Lamas that promote the message of Peace!

  • How neat would it be if there was no more Dalai Lama? That would make for an interesting turn in the course of that religion, not to mention all of the studies surrounding it.
    Would the religion collapse or evolve? Would it splinter? Would the termination of that highest position affect the constituents elsewhere? If so, how would practices change? How would this affect politics tied to the religion? What groups would come to the forefront, claiming a new Dalai Lama in their midst or predicting the arrival of one elsewhere? Would the religion lose any sort of representation in the global community? Fascinating!

  • I asked the Dalai Lama in compassion some years ago saying, after the suffering he has see his people go through to follow his way, it would not be surprising if he chose not to reincarnate. But at that time he said he had every reason to continue.

    Recently I wrote on how tibetan buddhism continues in Mustang, here: http://www.yofiel.com/writing/essays/the-ancient-kingdom-of-lo and I can only hope for a better destiny there. It’s very difficult to find people who care at all, but there is still lots of anger about tibet in the west. I welcome opinions of others

  • I do so wish that the media would get it right. The Karmapa may be a swell fellow but he is not the 3rd highest or 3rd most important lama in Tibetan Buddhism . There is no such thing. One source even said he is BY the Dalai Lama’s successor, a person who in actuality has not even been born yet.

  • Jesus is the son of God (Matthew 3:17) and he is not his Heavenly Father, or the only God, who did not die for mankind (Jesus did).

    During the upcoming millennial rule of God’s kingdom or heavenly government, with Jesus as King, the benefits of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice will be applied to imperfect mankind. Perfection will therefore be eventually attained by mankind, resulting in everlasting life on earth (John 3:16; 17:3). Then there will never be any more need to repent nor the use of Jesus as mediator, which we need now since we are still sinful.

  • The current Dalai Lama is a great man by almost any measure, while, reincarnation is simply another ancient anti-scientific tradition. His Holiness has stated that when science and tradition conflict, science must prevail. This presents an opportunity for a political gain and a scientific gain. Reincarnation must be rejected for the good of all concerned.

  • The Dalai Lama is continuing his practice of creative, non-violent adaptation to China’s maneuvers for dominance. Tibet was a religious feudal state before China’s invasion, similar to the Papal States before the Italian state took over. Therefore, the Dalai Lama has been identified by the Chinese as a subversive, political rival. The assertion that he has a choice to reincarnate is in keeping with Tibetan beliefs. He is an enlightened being who’s presence on earth is for the education and assistance of others, not himself. Tibetan tradition also asserts the Buddha’s teaching that at some point, Buddhism will be forgotten. There is not the demand for preservation as in Catholicism. Therefore the Dalai Lama is under no obligation to reincarnate, freeing Tibetan Buddhism to adapt in ways which will allow it to flourish, abandoning those aspects which the Chinese find so worrisome, or permitting gradual decline. China’s insistence on his reincarnation is undermining its…

  • This is a very important statement by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Chinese will everything in their power to appoint and select the next Dalai Lama so that they can manipulate the people of Tibet.

    I hope and pray that people of Tibet get the freedom they long for and rightly deserve!!

ADVERTISEMENTs