Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

NY Times: Dalai Lama says institution of DL is "backward". "I proudly, voluntarily ENDED [it]!"

DakiniDakini Veteran Veteran
edited December 2015 in Buddhism Today

Yet another thread on the topic: will the DL choose to reincarnate, or not? It seems that more recently, since announcing years ago that he might not, and thus sending the Chinese authorities into a tailspin, he's become resolved to end the tradition once and for all. In an unusually frank feature article in Sunday's New York Times Magazine, he explains (as reported by author Pankaj Mishra).

"...all religious institutions ... developed in feudal circumstances. Corrupted by hierarchical systems, they began to discriminate between men and women, they came to be compromised by such cultural spinoffs as Sharia law and the caste system. But, 'time change, they have to change. Therefore, Dalai Lama institution, I proudly, voluntarily, ended. So ... it is backward' " (Emphasis original to the article.)

This is a great way to justify a decision that was originally designed to throw a wrench into the Chinese government's plans to choose their own DL reincarnation, so as to better control the Tibetan people. It's also consistent with his past efforts to democratize his government-in-exile.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/06/magazine/the-last-dalai-lama.html

VastmindpossibilitiessilverlobstermarcitkoRuddyDuck9BreathingSince72syrphus

Comments

  • LionduckLionduck Veteran Veteran

    Very good

    sova
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `   South Carolina, USA Veteran
    edited December 2015

    I've been doing some thinking on this since I first saw it publicized in this thread by our own Dakini. But I don't know how effectually HHDL can pull this one off without doing a Jiddu Krishnamurti. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiddu_Krishnamurti

    I mean, would not HHDL have to renounce the Title and then go off to some sort of cave and disappear and the time of his death be kept secret from all minds? Of course, Krishnammurti never had to do this, as he was not trying to destroy any anachronism. BUT HHDL has already had his many days in the sun.

    I mean, if they can't establish the time of his death, wouldn't that be a stepping stone to ending the tradition?

    I don't think pronouncements he makes now would be enough. It's the timing that means everything. I have found that, in life, Timing Is Everything. And You?

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    @Nirana

    Well..coming from a different tradition than Tibetan, perhaps I'm missing something.

    If someone has the ability to determine whether they will be reborn or not, and states that they are choosing not to be reborn, then beyond the politics of it all, why wouldn't that be the end of it.

    Why do you think that worldly timing would have anything to do with it?

    ShoshinVastmindkarasti
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Interesting point.........

    Vastmind
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `   South Carolina, USA Veteran

    If someone has the ability to determine whether they will be reborn or not, and states that they are choosing not to be reborn, then beyond the politics of it all, why wouldn't that be the end of it.

    Why do you think that worldly timing would have anything to do with it?

    To me, kind sir, it's an open question as to whether anyone "HAS" the power to be reborn or not. Certainly there would be at least two camps, and the Chinese governmental one could certainly do some hoodwinking. Whereas, if some scenario such as leaving no hints behind as to the time or year of HHDL's death would unfold, it seems to me that would put some great onus on the Chinese.

    AnyWho, just some speculation on my part. I guess I'm just some sort of trapped soul when it comes to awe of holy people and things like that.

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran Veteran

    Never underestimate people's ability to justify their desires. One of the Lamas could say he had a vision, and the Dali said he'd changed his mind from the spirit world due to all the prayers from Buddhists in China.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran Veteran
    edited December 2015

    Well, the interesting thing with this new justification of his is, that if the Chinese do come up with a fake reincarnation anyway, and make up some yarn about it, it would mean that they're choosing to continue a "backward" and historically corrupt, bourgeois tradition. Which would put them in a very weird position. Nobody would fall for it. The DL is almost playing a game of "more Marxist and egalitarian than Thou". lol

    CinorjerWalkerperson
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran
    edited December 2015


    Cameloids rule! Love and Lhamas <3 o:)

    Cinorjer
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Interesting thread. I'm not sure if it is a "backward and historically corrupt, bourgeois position". Ultimately a figurehead and authority figure for an organisation is probably a necessity. Even a council will have a spokesperson, who is the face of the organisation.

    If that someone happens to be a Dalai Lama, an actual reincarnated soul, then surely that is going to be better than a career politician or whichever of the lama's wishes to carry the burden, which will very likely be the most politically minded one.

    Look what happens with the Popes in Christianity. They are elected by the college of cardinals, and it's a highly political process, and the quality of popes has been historically very variable.

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran Veteran

    What we are seeing is the beginning of a split. Once the DL dies, some monk in Tibet will have a vision that the DL changed his mind and the Chinese sponsored side will find some poor, unfortunate child to force into this role. Outside of Tibet, they will be faced with a choice of who becomes the leader and public voice but have to continue the brand. And of course, the DL is not the only reincarnated Tulku. At what point do they admit that entire institution needs to go?

    Steve_B
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I find the Pope-hood a fascinating topic. I have never been Catholic, but my husband is/was and he said that the Cardinals pray until God gives them an answer on who to select (it is more complicated than that, but in a nut shell) so in effect, God elects the pope. But so many people really don't like Francis despite him being the most Christian value type of Pope there has been in a long time.

    The HHDL is a pretty smart man, and it seems most likely to me that his "decision" to not be reborn as another tulku is a political decision to protect the Tibetans the best way he knows how at this point, and to prevent China from gaining another foothold into their culture. I think he knows, as he said the system is backward and outdated, that allowing it to continue no longer allows the tulku system to do what it was supposed to do. Now that same system that was supposed to carrying on lineages is looking like it could hurt the very people it was supposed to help. Many Tibetans love him and will believe that it is completely his choice to be reborn or not, and I'm sure it's scary to them to think they will have to go forward without that figure in place. But to try to retain it is going to cause more harm than good, so best to let it go.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran Veteran
    edited April 2016

    @Cinorjer The Chinese already have the Panchen Lama (both the real one and a fake one, who's the "official" one), who traditionally is the one to sanctify the choice for DL. So they're holding some pretty powerful cards in that respect. On the other hand, their extreme panicked reaction upon hearing the DL's first announcement some years ago that he wouldn't reincarnate indicates that their smug assumption that they held all the winning cards was shaken. Which is interesting. It means the DL was holding a card the Chinese didn't know he had, and one they couldn't dismiss, once he played it. He's a sharp guy.

    Ve-ery interesting. The Chinese will probably still try to use the Panchen Lama to appoint, or approve, a new DL selection, but no one will fall for it. I just hope that whatever happens next, after that, will avoid a bloodbath.

    silverDavid
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    My understanding of his position is more that he wants to end the institution of someone with the title and position of Dalai Lama rather than him not wanting to reincarnate, but maybe he means both.

  • federicafederica Deep-fried Dharma Batter Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Allegedly, it is the Lama's decision to reincarnate, and where. so I guess he means that too, yes.... They kind of choose a tulku successor....

    No. I don't know quite how it works, either.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran Veteran
    edited April 2016

    @person Both. First, he stepped down as political leader of Tibet, so he's only the spiritual leader, now (though members of sects other than his say he was never their spiritual leader, as they have their own, like the Karmapa). But he also announced around 8 years ago, or so, that he decided not to reincarnate. And the Chinese pitched a fit, issuing a statement saying that "The Dalai Lama MUST reincarnate! He must follow tradition!" Pretty crazy, and kind of funny. He really out-maneuvered them with that one.

    Any bodhisattva can choose not to incarnate. They usually choose to reincarnate, because they've taken vows to do so until all sentient beings have been liberated. But the DL may think he'll do more good by not reincarnating, given the political situation.

    Here's one of the more recent reports: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/12/world/asia/chinas-tensions-with-dalai-lama-spill-into-the-afterlife.html?_r=0

  • SwaroopSwaroop Veteran India Veteran

    The tulku system has been ridden with nepotism and favouritism since the beginning. Maybe HHDL is doing what needs to be done.

    lobsterCinorjerRuddyDuck9
  • DakiniDakini Veteran Veteran

    @Swaroop said:
    The tulku system has been ridden with nepotism and favouritism since the beginning. Maybe HHDL is doing what needs to be done.

    Haha, yes. Reform isn't a bad thing. :)

    Swaroop
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran Veteran

    I have to admit the entire concept of the atheist Chinese Communist party getting into a fight with Tibetan Buddhists over who has the authority to decide which poor little boy gets dragged into this tradition, if any, is surreal. Especially since it's the Dalai who is trying to stop the tradition and the Communists trying to continue it. For the life of me, it seems that should be reversed. I guess politics does make strange bedfellows.

    personRuddyDuck9
  • SwaroopSwaroop Veteran India Veteran

    The communist Chinese are willing to invoke ancient traditions when it suits them. The Chinese emperors had a patron-priest relationship with potala, so they had a say in confirming the succession.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran Veteran
    edited April 2016

    @Swaroop said:
    The communist Chinese are willing to invoke ancient traditions when it suits them. The Chinese emperors had a patron-priest relationship with potala, so they had a say in confirming the succession.

    That's not the point, though. Since when would a communist country assume the role of its past emperors? Isn't communism about smashing imperialism? And eliminating religion and superstition as "poison", the antithesis of scientific modernism? Clearly, they're not above using religion when it suits their motives.

    People are merely noting the strange irony of it all.

  • RuddyDuck9RuddyDuck9 Veteran MD, USA Veteran

    @Dakini said:
    @Cinorjer The Chinese will probably still try to use the Panchen Lama to appoint, or approve, a new DL selection, but no one will fall for it.

    What makes you so sure? If Buddhists can sell protected tiger parts on the black market, then anything is possible. I think humans as a species are gullible by nature. They want to believe, even lacking evidence.

  • GrooverGroover Explorer England. Explorer

    I'm often surprised at Buddhists using the word "Reincarnation". The Dalai lama has never reincarnated. Sorry if that seems pedantic but the concepts of reincarnation and rebirth are very different.

  • federicafederica Deep-fried Dharma Batter Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Reincarnation in Tibetan Buddhism is an accepted concept, for those advanced Gurus and Lamas whose status and distinguished position permits. All Hoi Poloi experience rebirth.

    SwaroopRuddyDuck9
  • SwaroopSwaroop Veteran India Veteran

    @RuddyDuck9 said:

    @Dakini said:
    @Cinorjer The Chinese will probably still try to use the Panchen Lama to appoint, or approve, a new DL selection, but no one will fall for it.

    What makes you so sure? If Buddhists can sell protected tiger parts on the black market, then anything is possible. I think humans as a species are gullible by nature. They want to believe, even lacking evidence.

    Simply because the Tibetans do not recognise the Chinese appointed Panchen lama.

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran Veteran

    @Groover said:
    I'm often surprised at Buddhists using the word "Reincarnation". The Dalai lama has never reincarnated. Sorry if that seems pedantic but the concepts of reincarnation and rebirth are very different.

    For most Buddhists, yes. Tibetan Buddhism is a highly mystical branch and their views on reincarnation seem to have been influenced by the need to establish a line of succession for their celibate Buddhist "Priest-Kings". Kept them from going to civil war every time a Dali died with no son or daughter in line of succession. They go find the reincarnated Dali and raise him as the new leader. It's a fascinating study in how isolation can cause social systems to evolve in far different ways.

  • RuddyDuck9RuddyDuck9 Veteran MD, USA Veteran

    @Swaroop said:

    @RuddyDuck9 said:

    @Dakini said:
    @Cinorjer The Chinese will probably still try to use the Panchen Lama to appoint, or approve, a new DL selection, but no one will fall for it.

    What makes you so sure? If Buddhists can sell protected tiger parts on the black market, then anything is possible. I think humans as a species are gullible by nature. They want to believe, even lacking evidence.

    Simply because the Tibetans do not recognise the Chinese appointed Panchen lama.

    Even if Tibet as a people does not recognize the PL, the Chinese may yet attempt to make him a leader/ political figure in their shifty sort of way. The world at large may accept this person's "authority" (however fake it is) simply out of ignorance. For example... when the United States was convinced that a C-average student cheerleader would be a good choice for their President a couple years back. Talk about a puppet leader with no real power. But somehow the US voted him in, because they were told he would be good, while not knowing any better. Politics make me sick. I hope the world can see the truth of this malarkey soon. For everyone's sakes.

Sign In or Register to comment.