Why the Dalai Lama worries about rebirth

Updated: 2011-09-26 20:50


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BEIJING - The 14th Dalai Lama said Saturday he will decide whether to be incarnated when he is "about 90" and that China should have no say in the matter.

If he is to be reincarnated, he will leave clear written instructions about the process, the Dalai Lama said in a statement after a meeting with leaders of the four Tibetan sects.

"Apart from the reincarnation recognized through such legitimate methods, 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," he said.

The Dalai Lama has brought up the same issue of his reincarnation on many occasions in the last two years.

Each time he insisted on guiding the choice of his successor, though his assertions kept changing in form.

According to the Dalai Lama, his reincarnation could be chosen when he's still alive, or be stopped altogether. His reincarnation could be designated, or elected in a papal-style conclave, and could be a girl, inside or even outside China.

The issue has been brought up nearly every month since the Dalai Lama transferred his political role to Lobsang Sangay, the new prime minister of the "government-in-exile" in April.

On the latest occasion on Saturday, he said he will consult Buddhist scholars -- 14 years from now -- to evaluate whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue at all.

The reincarnation of Living Buddhas has always followed strict historical conventions and religious rituals, and all the Dalai Lamas have been approved by China's central regime since 1653.

Now the 14th Dalai Lama, eager to pass on his so called "Tibet independence" attempt, is ready to defy these rituals.

Obviously, he's facing the biggest challenge: whether he is truly willing to retire from politics, most probably into obscurity in Dharamsala, the northern Indian town where his "government-in-exile" is based.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate and published author of several books preaching for "Tibet independence" and reviling China's ruling Communist Party, is apparently reluctant to retire from politics and the spotlight -- though the high monk should know what truly matters for a Buddhist.

Over the decades since he fled China in 1959, the Dalai Lama has come to enjoy his role as a political monk, traveling across the globe, picking up his accolades and selling his independence claim.

Like a has-been star, he fears the loss of popularity, a personal loss that does no harm to his fellow Tibetans, but would certainly announce the eventual failure of his separatist attempt, a "cause" in which he has dedicated most of his life.

As a result, he has kept to his political campaign even after he relinquished political power as head of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

The Dalai Lama knows precisely why he matters in the international political arena and does not mind being used, from time to time, as a cat's paw by some Westerners with mean motives to put pressure on China. In pursuit of fame and power, he has deviated from the commandments of Buddhism and used his religion as a subterfuge for his personal political motive.

The Dalai Lama, at 76, should seriously follow the teachings of Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, and seek the dharma that will liberate him from the rotation of life and death, in lieu of worrying about his reincarnation.