Monday, October 24, 2011
Tibet - Can the Dalai Lama Retire? Tibet - as a Democracy?
The 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, which is shortened from Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, was born Lhamo Thondup, on July 6, 1935 is the 14th and current Dalai Lama of Tibet, but currently he's in exile in India. Dalai Lamas are the most influential figures in the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, although the 14th has consolidated control over the other lineages in recent years. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, and is well known for his lifelong advocacy for Tibetans inside and outside Tibet, which as their leader of course he should be. Traditionally he's believed to be the reincarnation of all of his predecessors at least, possibly even to the time of Buddha. The same soul incarnating over and over for a single purpose.
So directly he's the incarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, also known as the the Great Thirteenth, Thupten Gyatso, which is shortened from Ngawang Lobsang Thupten Gyatso Jigdral Chokley Namgyal, who was born in 1876 and himself brought many changes to Tibet, among them the first post office, currency, and the first power station, as well as a reincarnation of the 12th, the 11th, the 10th, on back to being a reincarnation of the 1st Dalai Lama Gedun Drupa who was born in the late 14th century.
I'm saying all that so you can understand the ideas that've driven Tibet for the last 600 years or so. One spirit in the form of so far, 14 men has run Tibet. This is not theory, or idea, or possibility in Tibet, it's truth, it's fact. Throughout the world influenced by Tantric Buddhism it's truth. That accounts for most of the east.
Until the most recent the 14th there were times that they lived in exile, but until now returned to the Potala in Lhasa. Unfortunately in the time of the 14th he was forced to flee into exile in fear for his life, and has been unable to return to Lhasa. He is a ruler and religious leader forced to lead his people from afar.
The Chinese, among others, have always had the desire to add Tibet to their country, for centuries they maintained a relationship that was beneficial to both, but then in the early 20th century, due to British India and Czarist Russia also getting involved, trying to bring Tibet under their influence, led to invasions and the three major powers trying to gain control of Tibet. In much the same way as had happened in Russia, China underwent a rebellion against the Manchu Dynasty, leading to it's being ruled by the Chinese Nationalist Party. Tibet was finally invaded by Nationalist China in 1949 and that's where it stands today. Tibet still stands under the oppressive communist regime. I just read an article that Tibetans are burning themselves alive in protest against the communist oppression, and that the Chinese government claims the Dalai Lama is committing terrorism in disguise by supporting this. The Chinese have murdered millions of Tibetans in the years, decades, since invading and taking over the country. For a multitude of reasons, that all boil down to failure to bow down to China.
Link to article on Tibetan self immolation
Link From Birth to Exile in the Dalai Lama's Web Page
As mentioned above I was also reading an article that the Dalai Lama considers himself semi-retired. From what I've read, and learned, I don't claim to be a expert, this may be the first time this has happened. I believe in all other incarnations the Dalai Lama ruled until he died. At which time the search would begin for the next incarnate. It had never occurred to me that semi-retirement is even possible. In a corporation, the CEO goes into semi-retirement and someone else takes over the day to day detail of the job, that makes sense because there's nothing really special about the job that can't be taught to someone else fairly quickly, assuming they don't already know it from having worked with the CEO. But, in the case of a single soul that's incarnated into the same role, the same job, 14 times, isn't that something a little special? I admit that I'm as far from being an expert as you can get about this, I'm far from even being knowledgeable. He would certainly be more aware of the circumstances than I. It just seems to me that once having accepted the job, you have no business trying to leave early, either you are, or you're not. There's no one else that can take over the day to day details of the job. If there were there'd be no need for a Dalai Lama, any one or a bunch of any ones could do the job as well or better. So far, through 14 incarnations over many centuries, this hasn't been true. I'm wondering if he's lived in and been exposed to the west so long that he's started to accept the western beliefs about Tibet and a ruler that is the reincarnation of all the previous incarnations? That it's not real, interesting, but that's all. He has lived longer than all except the First Dalai Lama, Gedun Drupa, who was born in 1391 and lived 83 years. Maybe he's just getting tired? I'm going to leave with just a comment that the 5th and 13th Dalai Lama's were called "The Great" because they did great things, but if you believe, the 14th is the same soul, the same being, but in a different time, and also capable of great things. In my opinion, what he's done, by surviving these 67 years, most in exile, holding the Tibetan people both in exile and in Tibet together, being their religious and secular leader, and even more. Dealing with world leaders, some friendly, some not, most duplicious and outright liars, saying one thing to his face another behind his back. Dealing with a world that itself is completely different than Tibet. For that matter dealing with a Tibet, that day by day becomes different than the country he knew, as the Chinese invaders deliberately do their best to eradicate all that Tibet was, once. All this and more may possibly make him Greater than either of the others. Again, he's dealing with more of the outside world, living outside of his world, trying to resolve the release of Tibet by a larger, stronger, insane nation, that's invaded and controlled Tibet for decades and has no desire to leave. His incarnation is taking place in a world that's hundreds of times more decadent, hostile, He's earned the right to retire, but how is it possible? It isn't.
Here he explains: Link To The Article Quoted below
His Holiness said he also came to explain why he had handed over all his political authority to the elected Tibetan leadership. He said this 14th Dalai Lama had voluntarily, happily, and proudly relinquished the historical authority of the Dalai Lamas. He added that the main reason for his decision was that it was his view that rule by kings and queens or religious leaders was out of date. He had also been maintaining that religious and political institutions must be separate. Therefore, he felt it was somewhat hypocritical for him to be combining the two roles while telling others that they should be separate. His Holiness said that he also thought it was the right time to devolve his authority as the Tibetan community outside of Tibet was quite matured in democratic practice. He said he had full confidence that they can shoulder full responsibility so that his time could be devoted to promotion of human value and promotion of religious harmony.
His Holiness said that this was not a sudden decision but something that he had been thinking of for a long time. He said since his childhood he had been critical of the administrative system in Tibet.
Here he talked about the contrast in experience that he had while visiting Beijing in 1954 and India in 1956. In 1954 he went to Beijing as a member of the Chinese National People’s Congress and witnessed how silent and disciplined the members were. In India, he said the Parliament was full of noise and seeming to have no discipline. He witnessed the Indian parliamentarians criticizing the government and the then prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. He was thus impressed by the freedom of speech and freedom of thought in India.
His Holiness said that after coming to India as a refugee in 1959, he began democratization process. By 2001 we already achieved elected political leadership, he said, adding that since then his position was semi-retirement. He said now 10 years had passed and that now the semi retirement must be complete retirement. His Holiness added that our small organization in exile was fully democratic. “So we really feel very proud,” he said adding that he felt it was “ my duty to report to my long time supporter and long time friend.”
From another article: Link to the Article below
NEW DELHI - The supreme religious post of the Dalai Lama should be abolished if Tibet became autonomous and democratic, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said in an interview published here.
'If I were to die in the next few months or before we were able to return to Tibet, there will be a new Dalai Lama,' the 69-year-old spiritual leader was quoted as telling the Hindustan Times newspaper on Tuesday.
'But if we cease to be a refugee community and live in democratic Tibet, then I don't think there should be a successor to me after I die,' he reportedly said.
His comments came as thousands of Tibetans prepare to celebrate his 70th birthday next month in north India, where the spiritual leader based himself after fleeing his homeland in 1959 when China crushed a Tibetan uprising.
The office of the Dalai Lama was founded in the 15th century, and two centuries later the fifth holder of the post departed from his purely religious role to unite Tibet politically, assuming temporal as well as spiritual powers.
A successor to the Dalai Lama is chosen by searching for the reincarnation of the incumbent, but the spiritual leader in the interview questioned the age-old ritual, arguing the complex search for successors was flawed.
Born Lhamo Dhondrub on July 6, 1935 the Dalai Lama was discovered as the 14th incarnation of Tibetan Buddhism's supreme religious leader as a toddler and enthroned at the age of four on February 22, 1940, in Lhasa.
'Some reincarnations have not been true,' the Dalai Lama told the English-language daily, but he added that he was certain he was the incarnate of the fifth incumbent who held the post for 67 years after being named the Dalai Lama in 1617.