India, China and the Dalai Lama

Discussion in 'Political Discussions' started by Kizmet, Mar 31, 2019.

  1. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

  2. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Jimmy Clifton will temporarily come out of his retirement from the forums to announce it here on DI.
  3. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    It would be nice to hear from Jimmy again, even if it was prompted by such a sad occasion.
  4. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

  5. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    Nobody knows at this point.

    When China occupied Tibet, they destroyed almost all of the monasteries (letting a few of the showplace ones survive as museums) and killed many of the monks, forcing the rest to return to lay life. Then they belatedly realized that wasn't winning hearts and minds, and allowed a relatively small number of monasteries to rebuild on a much smaller scale (typically about 1/10 the former number of monks).

    Today aspiring monastics are required to swear allegiance to China and the Party, and denounce the Dalai Lama as a condition of ordination. Reportedly, many who do this don't really mean it and we often see monastics demonstrating against the regime (and disappearing into labor camps). Loyalty to the Dalai Lama is still widespread among the Tibetan people, monastic or lay.

    The Chinese have succeeded in establishing their own Party-controlled Tibetan hierarchy though. Beijing has even passed a (Chinese) law that Tibetan religious leaders (some of whom traditionally are considered reincarnations of earlier leaders) must by law be chosen by Beijing. (Whose leadership aren't even Buddhists!) The Chinese goal is to control Tibetan Buddhism not only in Tibet, but around the world.

    So... when the Dalai Lama dies, the Chinese controlled Tibetan hierarchy will almost certainly appoint some Chinese stooge as their new communist-party "Dalai Lama". That's a given, almost 100% certain.

    The question is what the present Dalai Lama does and what the Tibetan diaspora outside Tibet does. Will they name a second free Dalai Lama? There is speculation that one is already being prepared in one of the Tibetan monasteries on the Indian side of the boundary line. Or will the current Dalai Lama announce the end of the Dalai Lama line, as he's suggested he might do? Even if he does that, will the younger and more militant Tibetan exiles name another Dalai Lama anyway?

    If there are two competing Dalai Lamas, what will happen? The Chinese will obviously claim theirs is the legitimate one because he was named by the Tibetan hierarchy in Tibet. But most of the Tibetan people inside Tibet will privately favor his rival in the privacy of their own hearts. The Tibetan diaspora in India, Nepal and the West, will overwhelmingly recognize the free Dalai Lama.

    And after a generation of Chinese propaganda against the Dalai Lama and his virtual erasure from inside China (he's invisible on the Chinese internet), expect a new wave of expensively produced Chinese propaganda promoting the Dalai Lama (their Dalai Lama), along with the implicit suggestion that China controls Tibetan Buddhism worldwide.

    So my guess is that we will see Tibetan Buddhism split in two. The Chinese government and its stooges will promote one version. The Tibetan exiles and their Western supporters another. Most of the Tibetans in Tibet will probably side with the exiles, but we might never really know it, since to say it publicly in Tibet would make them subject to arrest and possible death (and informers are everywhere).

    On a more religious level, it's interesting to speculate that inside Tibet, when the monastic hierarchy is subverted by foreign non-Buddhist powers, popular Buddhism among the people might move away from the highly scholastic and philosophical forms that it's evolved over the last 1,000 years towards a more popular and perhaps shamanistic form. The latter has always been there, particularly in the Nyingma school and in the traditions of local holy men (who might not be ordained monastics). This turn towards less organized popular religiosity may already be happening, during the last generation. It's hard for outsiders to know.
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  6. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    There's also the Panchen Lama... or at least there used to be before the regime abducted him.

    "On May 14, 1995, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, aged six, was recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the 11thPanchen Lama of Tibet. Three days later, on May 17, 1995 he along with his family went missing. Since then, their whereabouts remain unknown and Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is one of the world’s longest serving political prisoners."

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