By Tenzin Dharpo
Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Phayul file photo_Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, July 23: The reincarnation issue of the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama who celebrated his 83rd birthday just over a fortnight ago is a much touched upon subject in the Sino-Tibet dynamics of late. The Chief of the exile Tibetan government’s think -tank has said that China, although bent on asserting its claim on Tibet’s spiritual space, is at odds with the key figure of the Tibetan spirituality, the Dalai lama and his incumbency over the same space.
Tibetan Policy Institute’s Director Thubten Samphel wrote in an article published by the official website of the Central Tibetan Administration, “In 2016, China launched an online database of all reincarnating Tibetan lamas. Those not on the database are not “living Buddhas” in the Party’s eyes. And the Dalai Lama is not on the database.
“Here the Party is confronted by the Dalai Lama dilemma. The Party wants the 15th Dalai Lama but not the 14th, who some senior cadres “ordered” him to reincarnate.”
The Tibetan scholar argues that China is laying ground work to assert its so-called authority over the reincarnation of the next Dalai Lama, whether it is by promoting the Beijing-appointed Panchen Lama, or grooming young Tibetan lamas “to show to the world that there is Tibetan Buddhist church’s acceptance of its choice.”
However, Samphel opines, “The problem for China is that the concept of reincarnation is a matter of faith and cannot be imposed through administrative diktat. That faith will be guided by the actions of the heads of all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and that of Bon, Tibet’s home-grown religion, who fortunately are all in India. Above all, it will be determined by the decision of the 14th Dalai Lama.”
China’s design behind the claim over the reincarnation process of the Dalai Lama is a threat perceived well by the international community. In April 2018, the United States Senate passed a resolution that supported the right of the Tibetan Buddhists to hold authority over the reincarnation process of spiritual leaders, as opposed to the heavy-handedness of the communist Beijing government.
The unanimously passed resolution 429, “affirmed its support for the Tibetan people’s fundamental human rights and freedoms, including their right to self-determination and the protection of their distinct identity. The Senate expressed its sense that prominent among these rights is that the identification and installation of Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders as a matter that should be determined solely within the Tibetan Buddhist faith community, in accordance with the inalienable right to religious freedom.”