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Dalai Lama Not Thinking About Reincarnation Yet

ADH Staff WriterJune 18, 2024

The Dalai Lama has declared that he is not currently contemplating his reincarnation, adding further complexity to the question of his succession as China seeks to assert influence over the future leadership of Tibet.

Speaking to a small group of reporters in Dharamshala, India, the 88-year-old spiritual leader emphasized his focus on helping others during his lifetime rather than considering his reincarnation.

“The important thing is as long as I live I should use all my energies to help as many people as I can,” the Dalai Lama stated.

The issue of the Dalai Lama’s succession is a highly sensitive one, creating a significant point of contention between China and other nations, including the United States, which has cautioned Beijing against meddling in the process. Tibetan Buddhists are preparing for a potentially turbulent period following the Dalai Lama’s death, with the possibility of multiple successors being a significant concern.

The selection process for the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation is critical in the Buddhist faith, involving the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, who are believed to be reincarnated alongside each other to lead the faith. Upon the death of one, a search begins for their reincarnation, who, once found, undergoes training for a lifetime of leadership.

China has already interfered in this process by kidnapping the recognized reincarnation of the last Panchen Lama about 30 years ago. Since then, Beijing has installed an alternate Panchen Lama, a move widely seen as an attempt to control the selection of the next Dalai Lama and extend its influence over Tibet.

By not addressing his reincarnation, the Dalai Lama appears to be taking a stand against potential Chinese manipulation. His decision is an effort to protect the integrity of the spiritual succession from Chinese interference. This stance has significant political implications, potentially weakening China’s claims over Tibet.

The future of Tibetan Buddhism is at a critical juncture. The faith’s spiritual leaders are traditionally seen as reincarnated figures who forego spiritual enlightenment to guide others. By not choosing to reincarnate, the Dalai Lama is effectively stating that he refuses to let the faith be used as a tool for subjugation by Chinese authorities. His decision is a powerful statement of resistance, symbolizing a preference for the faith to potentially end rather than be manipulated by oppressors.

This courageous stance underscores the dire situation facing Tibetan Buddhism under Chinese rule. It highlights the lengths to which the Dalai Lama is willing to go to preserve the sanctity and autonomy of his faith. The global community needs to recognize and respect the Dalai Lama’s decision, understanding the profound implications it holds for the future of Tibetan Buddhism and the resistance against Chinese control.

This decision marks a pivotal moment, potentially making the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, the last in a line of spiritual leaders that has endured for centuries.

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