Is this Dalai Lama the last?

Lesotho Times - - International -

LON­DON — For Bud­dhists who fol­low his teach­ings, or to those who are sim­ply drawn to his public mes­sage of kind­ness (“My reli­gion is kind­ness,” the popular bumper sticker reads), the Dalai Lama has ap­proached saint­hood. He in­stantly sells out public ap­pear­ances, and he’s fea­tured on the “Top 10 in­flu­en­tial fig­ures” lists (or some form thereof) that ap­pear reg­u­larly in pe­ri­od­i­cals or on web­sites.

He rep­re­sents a triple threat rarely seen in con­tem­po­rary cul­ture: spir­i­tual guru, head of the Ti­betan gov­ern­ment in ex­ile and in­ter­na­tional am­bas­sador. To­day, the plight of his peo­ple is known around the world: the Ti­betan flag, of­ten ac­com­pa­nied by the slo­gan “Free Ti­bet,” has be­come one of the iconic sym­bols of our time.

While at age 79 he shows lit­tle sign of slow­ing down, the Dalai Lama — the 14th in a line of head monks cho­sen through an elab­o­rate com­bi­na­tion of div­ina­tion, ex­am­i­na­tion and coro­na­tion — won’t live for­ever. The Dalai Lama’s suc­ces­sor is a topic that’s been in­creas­ingly broached.

Yet the com­pet­ing forces of pol­i­tics, eth­nic­ity and cul­ture have mud­dled the process; there are even ar­gu­ments over how the 15th Dalai Lama will be cho­sen.

To­gether it raises the very real ques­tion: Could he be the last in this long lin­eage?

Saint or split­tist? The Dalai Lama has his de­trac­tors. “Saints,” Ge­orge Or­well wrote, “should al­ways be judged guilty un­til they are proved in­no­cent.”

Among Ti­betan Bud­dhists — par­tic­u­larly West­ern Ti­betan Bud­dhists — there is a group of prac­ti­tion­ers who pro­pi­ti­ate the fierce pro­tec­tor-de­ity known as Shug­den. This par­tic­u­lar prac­tice has been dis­cour­aged by the Dalai Lama, who be­lieves the prac­tice runs counter to the prin­ci­ples of com­pas­sion and non­vi­o­lence. Shug­den prac­ti­tion­ers rou­tinely protest when the Dalai Lama de­liv­ers public teach­ings in the West be­cause they feel that his prohibition of Shug­den vi­o­lates their fun­da­men­tal re­li­gious free­dom.

The Dalai Lama’s most vis­i­ble de­trac­tor, how­ever, has been the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment, which has been work­ing full-time to prove the Dalai Lama guilty of a host of crimes against its coun­try.

As all po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions do, the Com­mu­nist Party of China has cre­ated a list of ep­i­thets to de­scribe him in an un­flat­ter­ing light: he is “a wolf in monk’s robes” and “a split­tist,” whose main goal is to divide the Chi­nese against them­selves. Or they char­ac­ter­ize him the leader of the “Dalai Lama clique,” a group of in­sur­rec­tion­ists living largely in ex­ile and ded­i­cated to spread­ing false ru­mors about the Chi­nese op­pres­sion of the Ti­betan peo­ple.

To China, a prob­lem that

won’t die But why is the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment so con­cerned about a “sim­ple Bud­dhist monk” (as the Dalai Lama of­ten de­scribes him­self)? And why has the is­sue of his suc­ces­sor — the rein­car­na­tion of the sit­ting Dalai Lama — been in the news re­cently?

Hav­ing been so suc­cess­ful in bring­ing the world’s at­ten­tion to the suf­fer­ing of his peo­ple, the Dalai Lama and his rein­car­na­tion rep­re­sent an enor­mous hur­dle for China: How do they deal with a prob­lem that, sim­ply put, won’t die?

Chi­nese gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials have adopted a very prac­ti­cal so­lu­tion: They have de­cided that they will lo­cate the 15th Dalai Lama. Their choice would, of course, be sym­pa­thetic with China’s goals re­gard­ing Ti­bet and the Ti­betan peo­ple, a se­lec­tion who would ar­tic­u­late China’s idea of Ti­bet as sim­ply an­other eth­nic re­gion of China, sub­ject to its laws and its do­mes­tic pol­icy. — Newsweek.

Alan ‘Howl­ing laud’ Hope, leader of the Mon­ster Rav­ing loony Party, has a ‘man­i­festo’ which in­cludes putting air con­di­tion­ing on the out­side of build­ings to deal with global warm­ing.

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