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Identifying the Next Dalai Lama?

posted Dec 2, 2010, 10:48 AM by The Tibetan Political Review   [ updated Dec 2, 2010, 6:39 PM ]

By the TPR Editorial Board

As the Buddha taught of impermanence, the Tibetan nation will one day face the task of identifying the next, 15th, Dalai Lama.  What policies do the two major Kalon Tripa candidates – Lobsang Sangay and Tenzin Namgyal Tethong – have on this issue?  Fortunately, both candidates have made clear statements for the voters to judge.

The editorial board of The Tibetan Political Review presents the stated positions of both candidates.  Voters may freely decide which position they prefer, and we do not feel it is necessary or useful to provide any commentary ourselves. 

We welcome reflections or reactions from the voters, and any additional details that the candidates wish to provide.

Lobsang Sangay, writing in Phayul on November 12, 2008:


The Chinese hardliner strategy is to wait for the passing of HH the Dalai Lama (whom we all hope lives very, very long into the future) but the appointment of the Fifteenth Dalai Lama could foil their strategy. Of course the Chinese government will try to raise political objections but they will do that even if Tibetans follow the traditional protocol of reincarnation. To settle the Fifteenth Dalai Lama, the Chinese government will spend billions of dollars, because to legitimize their candidate would fatally wound the Tibetan movement.

To prevent such exploitation, as mentioned in interviews by His Holiness himself, it would be wise for HHDL to appoint a young man of fifteen or twenty years of age, perhaps with part Monpa heritage in view of the importance of the state of Arunachal Pradesh in the dispute between India and China.

It is universally accepted that the present Dalai Lama is a major asset during this tragic phase of Tibetan history. What could be better than to have a Fifteenth Dalai Lama similar to the present one, and this possibility increases if the next one is educated and groomed by the present one, thereby enhancing his credibility and leadership skills.

There are religious precedents for the appointment of a successor, including a teacher of the Dalai Lama himself. More importantly, Tibetans believe that the reincarnate lamas upon death are reborn through the womb of the mother. However, being born through the womb of the mother is only a process: what is crucial is the capacity of incarnate lamas to transfer their soul/consciousness through the womb of the mother. If so, the same spiritual mystical capacity could be utilized to transfer the soul/consciousness to an adult of the lama's own choosing. The exile movement will immediately gain an adult Fifteenth Dalai Lama to lead it, avoid past historical messy transition between Dalai Lamas, and effectively foil Chinese hardliners' expectation that the exile movement will weaken with the passing of the Dalai Lama.



Tenzin Namgyal Tethong, writing in TPR on September 17, 2010:


To ensure the smooth reincarnation of the 15th Dalai Lama, the primary responsibility at this stage rests with His Holiness, but eventually the Tibetan government and the Tibetan people in exile must be fully prepared to take on that responsibility. The preservation and protection of this institution at this time in our history, may be the most important responsibility which we can carry out in exile.


The Office of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government must take concrete steps to address these concerns and inform the public accordingly. It would be timely to have a full review of the “Regency” provisions in our exile charter in light of explicit Chinese intentions about future recognition of Tulkus of Tibet.


To counter Chinese efforts to appoint a fake Dalai Lama we must take steps to ensure that the worldwide Tibetan Buddhist community, as the primary international entity directly related to the institution of the Dalai Lama, accepts and endorses a system we have control over. We must structure it so that it gains the moral and legal recognition of the global Buddhist community as well as the global Tibetan community.


Furthermore, since His Holiness the Dalai Lama has become more than just a Tibetan Buddhist figure there is reason to believe that other Buddhist denominations, other religious orders, and even some governments will recognize and support what could in effect be the due recognition of the Institution of the Dalai Lama in exile, one that is free of the Chinese, formally and legally. We need to take the right steps and make the right provisions for such an effort to succeed, before the crisis hits us unexpectedly.