Tue, Sep 27, 2011 - Page 5 News List

China tells Dalai Lama not to question reincarnation

DRIVING A WEDGE:Some Tibetans fear that China is hoping to split the Tibetan movement between a lama named by exiles and another one named by Beijing

Reuters, BEIJING

China called on exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama yesterday to respect what it said was the historic tradition of reincarnation, after he questioned whether it should be continued.

“The reincarnation of living Buddhas is a form of succession special to Tibetan Buddhism, and the policies of freedom of religious belief observed by China naturally include respecting and protecting this form of succession in Tibetan Buddhism,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei (洪磊) told a regular briefing.

“There has never been the case of a previous Dalai determining the next Dalai. At the same time, the Chinese government has already issued rules about religious affairs and the administration of reincarnation of living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism,” he added. “The reincarnation of any living Buddha, including the Dalai Lama, should respect the religious rules, historical standards and state laws and regulations.”

Traditionally, high lamas, Buddhist priests, can take years to identify a child deemed to be a reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, a search usually limited to Tibet, now ruled by Beijing, which regards the Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist.

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

The Chinese government says it has to approve all reincarnations of living Buddhas, or senior religious figures in Tibetan Buddhism. It also says China has to sign off on the choosing of the next Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama, in a statement posted on his Web site over the weekend, said the question of leadership reincarnation should be decided in another 15 years or so by himself and other leaders of Tibetan Buddhism.

The demand of China’s atheist rulers that they had to recognize reincarnations was “outrageous and disgraceful,” he said. “No recognition or acceptance should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends by anyone, including those in the People’s Republic of China.”

The current Dalai Lama, 75, has stated previously that he will not be reborn in the People’s Republic of China if Tibet is not free and that no one, including China, has the right to choose his successor “for political ends.”

Hong repeated that the central government “had the right to confer the title of Dalai Lama.”

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, the Chinese government put that boy under house arrest and installed another in his place.

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

China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since 1950.

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