Chinese Government Wanting to Locate and Control Next Dalai Lama
Lobsang Sangay’s story “Tibetan Leader: Chinese Government Can’t Choose Next Dalai Lama,” Time, 30 March 2015 (http://ti.me/1HhKcN0) talks of how the Chinese government is ordering for the power to choose and locate who the next Dalai Lama will be. The current Dalai Lama escaped from Tibet in 1959 and has always advocate for Tibet’s freedom from the Chinese government, which has sparked ill feelings towards the latter, and so it seems almost peculiar as to why they want control of this religious and political figure now. The Communist leaders of China’s ideology towards religions can be summed up as being “the opium of the people”, with even their founding figure Mao Zedong saying “religion is poison”. This resentment has only grown as the years pass by and has even escalated enough that the Chinese government does not even allow for portraits of the Dalai Lama around and have punishments implemented for anyone in Tibet found even carrying around his image. The Dalai Lama is turning 80 years old this year, and the question now is what will become of him and who will become his heir? He himself has addressed the issue and said that the next Dalai Lama will come in the form of reincarnation, selection, or emanation, and has also said that if things persist as they still are now between Tibet and China, then the next heir will arise outside of Tibet as to not be near the Chinese government. If one were to be chosen through political means, he has advised everyone, China included, that this person is not to be recognized or accepted as a proper candidate.
Tibetan Buddhism sees reincarnation as a sacred spiritual practice and in doing so allows for the continuation of a mission and wisdom from the precious entity. The Dalai Lama is a source and symbol of hope for the people of Tibet, and its due to this strong spiritual bond and faith from him and the people that has allowed for his reign and beliefs to continue on, even doing so by adapting to new ways and practices in today’s world by transferring his power over to an elected leader for Tibet.
The Dalai Lama is one of the head monks of the Gelug School, which is one of the newer schools of Tibetan Buddhism, and is the textbook definition of a charismatic leader. In accordance with the textbook, he is seen as a form of enlightenment and be used to inspire and give power to marginalized individuals/groups. He is energetic and stays true to his message and cause, leading by example and is both involved and responsive to his followers, all while leaving a historical impact. The management of this charisma is what’s highlighted in this story, where if the role of this important figurehead were to end up in the wrong side of things, violence and other negative impacts can erupt, and in this case, if the Chinese government were to somehow control the next reincarnation, could mean even more suppression for the people of Tibet. The Dalai Lama seems to practice a more responsible form of charisma, where it can be used to benefit his followers, like with Lu Yuanson of Modern Chan Society (a lay Buddhist group) who converted himself and removed his leadership status, which led to his followers converting too so that they could continue on with a different faith even after his death, just as the Dalai Lama hopes for when he talked about advising to not accept a new heir that was chosen for just political power. Personally, I agree that the Chinese government should not have control, if they could, over the next Dalai Lama, and that his crusade should not end for he has stood up for what is right and just, and so hopefully his heir is someone who embodies this too. I also think it’s quite unique and interesting how there are more than just ways a new Dalai Lama can be chosen/arise from, and so not having as much restrictions might just make things better in finding someone suitable.