Friday, August 24, 2007

No Reincarnation Zone

Living in Tibet? Planning to reincarnate soon? Better check with the Official Reincarnation Permit Bureau to see if you qualify for a license. China has declared through the State's Administration for Religious Affairs no one shall reincarnate without permission. This is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation."

At first this seems mad. Of course, the atheist leaders of the Chinese government have a method to their madness. (The People's Republic of China invaded Tibet in 1950.) This ruling is aimed more at Tibet, and Tibetan Buddhism, than to people in China. It is an effort to maintain and even increase control of deeply religious Tibetan Buddhists, and to limit the influence of Tibet's exiled god-king, the Dalai Lama who is 72 years old. It is natural to expect another incarnation of the Dalai Lama within the next decade or two. It is believed that reincarnated lamas, important buddhist leaders, can be identified as young boys. Preventing the the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan Buddhist monks from recognizing their own candidates for this position, will give the government greater control over the future of the traditional and mystical system currently used for the recognition of the living Buddha who is to become the next Dalai Lama.

This is just the latest assault on Tibet's Buddhist heritage. Not only has the Dalai Lama been exiled in India and any images of him banned, but also religious and political websites with any reference to Tibet. Many Tibetans are even afraid to mention the Dalai Lama's name in public out of fear of retribution.

The Dalai Lama, who teaches peace and compassion, said recently in Germany that resistance to Chinese rule in Tibet must remain peaceful. He is optimistic that he will one day return to Tibet and believes that an evolving China that is no longer isolated will be able eventually to resolve issues with Tibet and help to develop it "while at the same time preserving our (sic ) own unique culture, including spirituality...." It may be some time, however, if the Chinese opt to stick with the hardline approach disallowing the Tibetan Buddhists the time-honored tradition of selecting the next Dalai Lama.

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