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Buddhism Dalai Lama Decrees Referendum on Reincarnation Custom

Discussion in 'Interfaith Dialogues' started by Admin Singh, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. Admin Singh

    Admin Singh
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    The Dalai Lama said Tuesday that Tibetan Buddhists will vote in a referendum before he dies to decide whether to break with the tradition of reincarnation and adopt a new system of leadership.


    What form the referendum will take was not specified, but the proposal would be a key change to Tibetan Buddhism's centuries-old practice of monks selecting the embodiment of the spiritual leader, or lama, once the previous one is dead.


    "If people feel that the institution of the Dalai Lama is still necessary, it will continue," the 14th reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, told reporters at a gathering of religious leaders from around the world in Amritsar, India.


    He said the vote would be held among all traditional Tibetan Buddhists along the Himalayan range including China, Nepal and India.


    "When my physical condition becomes weak, then serious preparations [for the referendum] should happen," he said.


    But the 72-year-old added that "according to my regular medical checkup, I am good for another few decades."


    The Dalai Lama has recently been musing about possible ways to prevent China from taking control of the search for his successor.


    There are rising fears of China's heavy hand after Beijing enacted new legislation in September that all future lama appointments by Tibetan Buddhists must receive government approval and be selected without outside influence.


    If Tibetan Buddhists decided in a referendum they want to continue with the Dalai Lama tradition, Gyatso says he would either be reincarnated after death outside of China or would choose a new leader before his death.
    "The very purpose of reincarnation is to carry out the tasks of the previous life that are not yet achieved," the Dalai Lama said. "If I die while we are still refugees, my reincarnation, logically, will come outside Tibet, who will carry out the work I started."


    Gyatso has also raised the possibility of naming a new Dalai Lama himself during an interview in Japan last week.


    He said there is a precedent for one incarnation naming another while still alive; one of his teachers, the Lama Trogye, was selected while his predecessor was still alive.


    The Dalai Lama has lived in exile with his followers in India since fleeing Chinese soldiers in 1959.


    China has ruled the Himalayan nation since Communist-led forces invaded the region in 1951.


    China's government has condemned the Dalai Lama's proposal, saying it subverts centuries of Buddhist tradition.


    With files from the Associated Press
     
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  3. spnadmin

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    Aman ji

    Thanks for this. I have not been able to put it out of my mind all day.

    What form the referendum will take was not specified, but the proposal would be a key change to Tibetan Buddhism's centuries-old practice of monks selecting the embodiment of the spiritual leader, or lama, once the previous one is dead.

    "If people feel that the institution of the Dalai Lama is still necessary, it will continue," the 14th reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, told reporters at a gathering of religious leaders from around the world in Amritsar, India.


    I wonder how to fully grasp the significance of this report. Reincarnation is fundamental to Buddhism, and Buddhism has possibly devoted more of its scholarly energies to teachings on reincarnation than any other dharmic faith. To question reincarnation is so fundamental that if a member of the largest buddhist forum e-Sangha starts a scrap about it, the result can be a permanent loss of membership.

    And more: the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama is fundamental to Tibetan Buddhism. This is an unquestioned belief and one that has persisted for many centuries. The Dalai Lama as both political and religious leader of his "panth" brings forward the wisdom of all past incarnations per the Tibetan belief.

    Now faced with the it-seems-endless challenges to his authority by the People's Republic of China, the Dalai Lama has decided to engage the entire Tibetan Buddhist sangat. We do remember that China passed a law in which it outlawed "reincarnation" last year. This was a ploy to prevent the next Dalai Lama from being chosen outside of China and outside of the control of the Chinese government. The Dalai Lama's response was to say that perhaps the next Dalai Lama will not be found in China. Now he has added to the chips he has placed on the table. He wants to involve all Tibetan Buddhists in some way in this dialog.

    The stakes are high any way the referendum is set up and any way it turns out. If the proposal is rejected, the Tibetan Buddhists may find themselves governed as a faith from within China, a country hostile to their religion. if the proposal is accepted, they then will have rejected a part of their sacred traditions, and with that their religion will change in fundamental ways. Perhaps there will even be break-away groups and sects within the faith.

    Today, this news should strike a cord with Sikhs. We have nothing like a Dalai Lama by design of our Gurus. Yet this Dalai Lamai is humble enough to bend to his sangat on a fundamental principle that has no precedent for discussion. I am reminded that Guru Gobind Singh also changed forever the method of succession of gurus, naming the Guru Granth as the eternal guru. But most of all I am reminded that Guru Gobind Singh showed the same humility as the Dalai Lama in a time of similar grave danger to His panth. On bended knee he sought amrit from the 5 beloved, and he said during his own lifetime, [SIZE=-1]"The Khalsa is my special form ;I live in the embodiment of the Khalsa. The Khalsa is a part and parcel of my body ; the Khalsa is my very soul." [/SIZE]

    And are our jathedars paying attention? Some matters speak to fundamental challenges to the practice of Sikhi. Some matters do not. Can they discern which matters are significant to the entire panth and therefore they are matters that require servant leadership? Among the jathedars, who has been humble enough to go on "bended knee" to seek the thoughts of the worldwide sangat through Sarbat Khalsa?
     
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