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Dalai Lama

JoshuaJoshua Veteran
edited November 2010 in Buddhism Basics
Why is the Dalai Lama so popular?

How much power does he have?

If he rules over the Gelug sect why aren't there three other leaders as powerful as he, why does he appear to be the spokesman of all Tibetan Buddhism?

Why is his position even necessary?
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Comments

  • edited November 2010
    Why does it matter? He's a wonderful representation of buddhism and is doing a great job of spreading a positive message.
  • JoshuaJoshua Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Yeah, I'm not trying to trash on him, I just don't understand him as well as I'd like. In other threads I'm exploring Vajrayana Buddhism more and in general, these forums have shown me my great ignorance of greater Buddhism beyond Theravada, since I've joined I've been studying Mahayana and now it is about time I learn more about Tibetan Buddhism. This point converges with the other thread about the Shadow of the Dalai Lama and I'd just like to know as much as I can.
  • edited November 2010
    I'll disagree to a point with the above two posters...

    Buddha specifically (as in left no room for interpretation) said that monks were not to get involved with politics. So either he is a king, or he is a monk. Being a king that acts like a monk doesn't make one a monk. Being a monk that acts like a king doesn't make one a king.

    Sri Lanka (and even former Tibetan Dalai Lama's) are a perfect example of why that rule is there

    From what I've seen of the guy, He doesn't seem like a "bad" person, but even with 10,000 hours of practice, politics gets shit on everyone
  • JoshuaJoshua Veteran
    edited November 2010
    What's to disagree with, I just want to learn about his position, and why the other three sects (Nyingma, Kagyu and Sakya) don't have an equivalent. I don't want to dispute why he should or shouldn't resemble a king. Just his job description and any other information anyone is willing to supply.
  • edited November 2010
    wikipedia probably
  • nanadhajananadhaja Veteran
    edited November 2010
    I believe HH the Karmapa is another one(nice bloke) and I am guessing the Panchen Lama is another one(unfortunately he is not available to talk your call at the moment)and thats all I can say really.
    I will not get into the issue of HHDL and politics etc.
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited November 2010
    valois wrote: »
    Why is the Dalai Lama so popular?
    Good people generally are, and as he's won the Nobel Peace prize, I'd say he's a "good" person.
    How much power does he have?
    That all depends on what you mean by 'power'.
    If he rules over the Gelug sect why aren't there three other leaders as powerful as he,
    because he is the POLITICAL leader of Tibet, but not their overal Religious leader. It's important to not confuse the two.
    why does he appear to be the spokesman of all Tibetan Buddhism?
    He isn't, and has never claimed to be. If he 'appears' to be, it's those perceiving, who are in error. Not him.
    Why is his position even necessary?
    From a Gelug point of view, it seems he had little choice. They figured he was the confirmed and authentic reincarnation of the XIII Dalai Lama and as such, the position fell to him.
    Politically - why not write to his website and ask him?
    One member here, wrote to him seeking an audience, and it was granted.
  • cazcaz Veteran United Kingdom Veteran
    edited November 2010
    valois wrote: »
    Why is the Dalai Lama so popular?

    How much power does he have?

    If he rules over the Gelug sect why aren't there three other leaders as powerful as he, why does he appear to be the spokesman of all Tibetan Buddhism?

    Why is his position even necessary?

    Because the western media have portrayed his holiness as some sort of superman due to his great popularity boost of standing against what some would see as the great enemy of communism and for his work in trying to free his homeland and so forth.

    The Dalai lama is not the offical head of the Gelug sect, The Gaden Tripa is the offical head of the Gelug sect however because the Dalai lama has political power and a large following it makes it difficult for anyone to disagree with his actions as many tibetans have stated that they feel opposition to his holiness is pretty much equal to treason because most of them fully beleive him to be Avaloketishvara, So there is very much a taboo of disagreeing with the Dalai lama in tibetan society, The 101st Gaden Tripa served a 7 year term in office and after his term had finished he quietly left to join the New Shar gaden monastry which was formed after the Dalai lama asked for the entire removal of shugden practitoners from established Gelug monastrys by way of swearing and oath campaign in front of the entire assembly of sangha vowing not to share spiritual or material aid with them , So even in the Gaden Tripas most esteemed position if he had said anything regarding this he would most likely have been immediatly removed from office by his holiness and much worse considering what has happened in the past to those whom have publically disagreed with the Dalai lama with the way he conducts his Political-spiritual actions, Such as being publically expelled from his monastry, Poster campaigns appearing denouncing him etc. So in this instance because of his holiness immense spiritual political power he can do whatever he likes and there is no one who can say otherwise.

    Again the reason the most esteemed leaders of other sects are over shadowed by him is because of his political power for centuries in Tibet the Gaden Phodrang the Dalai lamas residence has been the effective tibetan government and again because most tibetans view the Dalai lama as avaloketishvara disagreement is simply not something that is done, The Kagyu school for instances have endured a great schism over recognition of the New Karmapa because the Dalai lama recognised one over the other where as traditionally it is the job of the Sharmapa lama to do the recognition Kagyus where not particularly pleased with the interferance but there is little they could do but endure what occurs to them.

    You ask why the Dalai lamas position is even necassary this is a good question there have been many people who think now is the time for him to fully give up his political power and return the the role of full time monk and spiritual Tulku, As many westerners have a great distaste for politics as a whole let alone a combination of church and state. It would be good for his holiness to abandon the politics as a monk should and return to the role people need to day as a sincere example of a spiritual practitoner, But there are due difficulties in this happening apparently because of his prolonged battle with china and the great admiration of most of his people toward him he is literally the face of their struggle against china even though his position on Idependence has since changed to one of autonomity who could fill his shoes ? The Kalon Tripa ( Prime minister ) Hardly anyone has ever heard of him, Because once his holiness steps down or passes into parinivarna it is doubtfull there will ever be anyone capable of filling his gap and the Free Tibet movement will suffer for it, Although he is grooming his choice candidate his holiness the Karmapa as his temporal successor there would be immense sectarian problems arising after serval hundred years of Gelug political dominance transition to Kagyu lead leadership and thus even his holiness the Karmapa wouldnt be able to fill the void as any political spiritual interfearance with other sects as His holiness has done in the past will certainly not go down well at all.

    So to conclude it is a tough senario which can all remind us of the Importance of Secularism and help us recognise samsara as the honey trap it is.

    His Holiness the Dalai lama has a tough job and not everything he does is right ( as in samsara actions are always bound to be samsaric ) But what can you do other then practise ? You just have to Ignore the Politics and get down to the core of Buddha's teachings and use difficult circumstances as an oppertunity of training the mind :)
  • Floating_AbuFloating_Abu Veteran
    edited November 2010
    TheJourney wrote: »
    Why does it matter? He's a wonderful representation of buddhism and is doing a great job of spreading a positive message.

    Yup, and like the Buddha, he will get criticised no matter what.

    Good Blessings to all people.
  • BonsaiDougBonsaiDoug Simply, on the path. Veteran
    edited November 2010
    CPaul wrote: »
    Buddha specifically (as in left no room for interpretation) said that monks were not to get involved with politics. So either he is a king, or he is a monk. Being a king that acts like a monk doesn't make one a monk. Being a monk that acts like a king doesn't make one a king.
    You bring up an excellent point. The Buddha said:

    The way to material gain is one thing,
    The path to Nirvana another.
    Knowing this, a monk who is the Buddha's disciple
    Should not delight in being venerated,
    But cultivate solitude instead.
    - The Dhammapada (75)
  • edited November 2010
    You bring up an excellent point. The Buddha said:

    The way to material gain is one thing,
    The path to Nirvana another.
    Knowing this, a monk who is the Buddha's disciple
    Should not delight in being venerated,
    But cultivate solitude instead.
    - The Dhammapada (75)

    Well that certainly isn't saying, without room for doubt, that a monk can't get involved in politics. I'd be interested to see where he does say that if he does, though.
  • IronRabbitIronRabbit Veteran
    edited November 2010
    The Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader - of a system that has no belief in "spirit", per se (i.e. - anatta). As our mod, Fede pointed out - HHDL did not run for election as "king" - rather he was found and confirmed. There need be no separation of "church and state" in the Gelukpa school because it is just that - a "school" not a "church" or political "party". Again, Fede hit it on the head - saying that perceptions and labels such as "king" or "leader" have their source with critics and observers not with HHDL - who claims to be a "simple monk". In fact the system or school of Vajrayana views passive political activism as no more than "right speech" and "right action" where victimization of human beings occurs irrespective of their philosophical adherence to the teachings of the Buddha. Humans associate "religion" with any system that contains ritual and ceremony - apparently, even in one that holds no god or deity as a supreme creator or law giver as in Buddhism. HHDL is the king of nothing and admits it openly. When politics is an activity that is beneficial to oppressed people and nations and promotes peace - it is part of "right practice". How, in a system that emphasizes intelligent investigation can there be an interpretation of seeking veneration when that investigation is directed toward correcting corruption of peaceful coexistance? We are all standing knee deep in our own shit anyway, so saying politics gets shit on everyone is sort of a moot point.....
  • cazcaz Veteran United Kingdom Veteran
    edited November 2010
    TheJourney wrote: »
    Well that certainly isn't saying, without room for doubt, that a monk can't get involved in politics. I'd be interested to see where he does say that if he does, though.

    Politics could be included in the 8 worldly concerns. As a samsaric concern Itis Degernative for the Buddhadharma, While one can temporarily help other sentient beings ultimately unless you are perfecting the path then you should not expect politics to solve your own or others suffering in fact most of the time it increases it , You know the old saying good intentions pave the path to hell, As a politcian your karma is extensive the decisions you make have great karmic consequences, In samsara nothing ever turns out the way we want it. Therefore it is best to abandon politics.
  • IronRabbitIronRabbit Veteran
    edited November 2010
    caz namyaw wrote: »
    Politics could be included in the 8 worldly concerns. As a samsaric concern Itis Degernative for the Buddhadharma, While one can temporarily help other sentient beings ultimately unless you are perfecting the path then you should not expect politics to solve your own or others suffering in fact most of the time it increases it , You know the old saying good intentions pave the path to hell, As a politcian your karma is extensive the decisions you make have great karmic consequences, In samsara nothing ever turns out the way we want it. Therefore it is best to abandon politics.


    <center>[SIZE=+3]NEVER GIVE UP[/SIZE]</center> <center> by
    [SIZE=+2]H.H. The XIV Dalai Lama[/SIZE]</center>
    <center>hline.gif
    [SIZE=+1] No matter what is going on
    Never give up
    Develop the heart
    Too much energy in your country
    Is spent developing the mind
    Instead of the heart
    Be compassionate
    Not just to your friends
    But to everyone
    Be compassionate
    Work for peace
    In your heart and in the world
    Work for peace
    And I say again
    Never give up
    No matter what is going on around you
    Never give up[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=+1]
    [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=+1]hline.gif[/SIZE]
    </center> [SIZE=+1]
    [/SIZE]
  • cazcaz Veteran United Kingdom Veteran
    edited November 2010
    <center>[SIZE=+3]NEVER GIVE UP[/SIZE]</center> <center> by
    [SIZE=+2]H.H. The XIV Dalai Lama[/SIZE]</center>
    <center>hline.gif
    [SIZE=+1] No matter what is going on
    Never give up
    Develop the heart
    Too much energy in your country
    Is spent developing the mind
    Instead of the heart
    Be compassionate
    Not just to your friends
    But to everyone
    Be compassionate
    Work for peace
    In your heart and in the world
    Work for peace
    And I say again
    Never give up
    No matter what is going on around you
    Never give up[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=+1]
    [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=+1]hline.gif[/SIZE]
    </center> [SIZE=+1]
    [/SIZE]


    Very wise words. :)
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2010
    caz namyaw wrote: »
    The Dalai lama is not the offical head of the Gelug sect, The Gaden Tripa is the offical head of the Gelug sect.The 101st Gaden Tripa served a 7 year term in office and after his term had finished he quietly left to join the New Shar gaden monastry which was formed after the Dalai lama asked for the entire removal of shugden practitoners from established Gelug monastrys by way of swearing and oath campaign in front of the entire assembly of sangha vowing not to share spiritual or material aid with them

    Wait, ... the Gaden Tripa? I've never heard of him, time to do some research. I didn't quite follow what you said, Caz, is the Gaden Tripa now head of the Dorje Shugden sect? Please clarify, I'm confused. It sounds important.

    From my recollections of Tibetan history, here's my best shot at answering the OP:

    Historically, after Buddhism developed in Tibet (it used to be a warrior society practicing shamanism, called "Bon" in Tibet), the Sakyas emerged as the dominant sect politically. When the Mongols took over Asia and had influence over Tibet, they installed the Gelugs over the Sakyas and created the title "Dalai Lama". "Dalai" means "vast", as in "vast as the ocean is his wisdom", in Mongolian. That's why his name is often translated as "Ocean of Wisdom". So the Mongols set it up, and that's the way it's been ever since. The Gelugs moved to consolidate power, and took over a number of Kagyu monasteries, which is why the Kagyu are resentful today, and then there's the fact that he recognized the 17th Karmapa who escaped from China, when in fact, there are two Karmapas, it's still disputed as to who is the authentic one (long story).

    I think the comments that monks aren't supposed to engage in politics is valid, but there are a lot of things that monks/lamas aren't supposed to do that they do do in Vajrayana. And there are problems in other forms of Buddhism as well (not to pick on Vajrayana exclusively), mainly due to the high respect monks have in the societies where they live. For generations, if not hundreds of years, they've been above the law. So that encourages abuses. In Tibet, because the government was made up of monastics, they were the law. You can imagine what effect that had.

    Does the (extremely) brief history of monastic politics in Tibet help?
  • cazcaz Veteran United Kingdom Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Dakini wrote: »
    Wait, ... the Gaden Tripa? I've never heard of him, time to do some research. I didn't quite follow what you said, Caz, is the Gaden Tripa now head of the Dorje Shugden sect? Please clarify, I'm confused. It sounds important.

    From my recollections of Tibetan history, here's my best shot at answering the OP:

    Historically, after Buddhism developed in Tibet (it used to be a warrior society practicing shamanism, called "Bon" in Tibet), the Sakyas emerged as the dominant sect politically. When the Mongols took over Asia and had influence over Tibet, they installed the Gelugs over the Sakyas and created the title "Dalai Lama". "Dalai" means "vast", as in "vast as the ocean is his wisdom", in Mongolian. That's why his name is often translated as "Ocean of Wisdom". So the Mongols set it up, and that's the way it's been ever since. The Gelugs moved to consolidate power, and took over a number of Kagyu monasteries, which is why the Kagyu are resentful today, and then there's the fact that he recognized the 17th Karmapa who escaped from China, when in fact, there are two Karmapas, it's still disputed as to who is the authentic one (long story).

    I think the comments that monks aren't supposed to engage in politics is valid, but there are a lot of things that monks/lamas aren't supposed to do that they do do in Vajrayana. And there are problems in other forms of Buddhism as well (not to pick on Vajrayana exclusively), mainly due to the high respect monks have in the societies where they live. For generations, if not hundreds of years, they've been above the law. So that encourages abuses. In Tibet, because the government was made up of monastics, they were the law. You can imagine what effect that had.

    Does the (extremely) brief history of monastic politics in Tibet help?


    Without Hijacking the thread friend The Gaden Tripa is the elected position within the Gelug tradition as one whom is Je Tsongkhapas representative on earth, The Gaden Tripa is the offical head of the Gelugpa sect ( or is ment to be ) the 101st Gaden Tripa quietly left to join Shar gaden monastry after the end of his term, The new monastrys that have arisen out of the Banning and segregation have no offical head other then their abbot The Venerable 101st is highly respected within these monastrys but as the term of Gaden Tripa ends so does their power any successive gaden tripas whom are under the political whim of the Gaden Phodrang I doubt will be paid much attention to by Shar Gaden and Serpom Norling monastrys seeing as they are now offically outside the reach of these people who threw them out of their own monastrys in the first place. As with any other practitoners these guys rely sincerly upon their spiritual guide the majority of them have as their root guru Kyabje Trijang Dorjechang whom was the Dalai lamas own root guru, Whether a specific head of the old sect cast afresh will arise is yet to be seen perhapes after the time of his holiness when there will be less clout to those who break the great taboo of open disagreement, Who knows only time will tell.
  • JoshuaJoshua Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Some of the things being mentioned is going to require some reading on my part which I don't have the time to do right now, but thank you all very much for the help, I'm learning a lot.

    Can someone answer this, why has the Gelug sect in particular become so powerful?
  • cazcaz Veteran United Kingdom Veteran
    edited November 2010
    valois wrote: »
    Some of the things being mentioned is going to require some reading on my part which I don't have the time to do right now, but thank you all very much for the help, I'm learning a lot.

    Can someone answer this, why has the Gelug sect in particular become so powerful?


    Because of Worldly politics the Dalai lamas became an institute of overt temporal and spiritual authority Wikipedia the 5th Dalai lama or even better find a book on his political activities and you will see how the institution came to remove anyone that stood in their way. The Jonangpa Tradition for example was considered heratical by the 5th Dalai lama because over their view of shetong emptiness and where pretty much forcibly converted into Gelug monastrys they are very lucky they survived, such an instance arose from various factional pacts such as the Dalai lamas pact with the mongals in order to fullfill the political aims of the time.

    It is certainly and interesting history and by no means Shangri-la.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Caz: "Banning and segregation"? What is that about? Are you talking about something that happened in the time of the 5th Dalai Lama? Just a little context or time orientation would help. I don't think this is "hijacking the thread", since it's pertinent to the position of the DL. I guess Valois can be the judge of that.

    Valois--I agree, this requires some research; I've studied Tibetan history, and I've never heard of this. But politiics and intrigue is not unusual. And, in a nutshell, the Gelugs are the most powerful, as Caz mentioned, because they did everything they could, after being installed by the Mongols, to consolidate power. The Mongols declared the Dalai Lama the spiritual and temporal leader, and so the Gelugs acted to strengthen and solidify their power. There were power struggles against the Sakyas, who didn't appreciate being sidelined by the Mongols, and as above-mentioned, a takeover of some Kagyu monasteries. Personally, I don't see this as a value judgement againsts the Gelugs, just a simple historical fact. I'm not partial toward any of the sects. My understanding is, however, that HHDL turned over his political function to a Prime Minister years ago. Though I've seen conflicting opinions on that. (He has referred to himself as "retired" from position as temporal head of the gov't.) You can check out the official website of the Central Tibetan Administration, as the Gov't-in-Exile now calls itself. The Gelugs are considered to be the most reformed of the sects, not practicing sexual tantra except symbolically, through meditation, FYI. But...other types of abuses occur (the boy novices). Good luck in your research.
  • edited November 2010
    Dakini wrote: »
    But...other types of abuses occur (the boy novices). Good luck in your research.

    Cite your source for this?
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Cite your source for this?

    www.lamashree.org/dalailama_08_childabuse_tibetanbuddhistmonasteries.htm

    Also, Public Television in the US did a series on Tibetan Buddhism in the late 1990's that featured a monk who gave personal testimony about this. And Tashi Tsering mentions it in his book,"The Struggle for Modern Tibet". I think the Canadian Broadcasting documentary that is being developed right now will also cover it.
  • ToshTosh Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Does that website have an axe to grind? Are there any secular source links?
  • edited November 2010
    As with any other practitoners these guys rely sincerly upon their spiritual guide the majority of them have as their root guru Kyabje Trijang Dorjechang whom was the Dalai lamas own root guru

    This is a lie. Trijang was Junior Tutor to HH Dalai Lama and not his root guru. Research research research
  • edited November 2010
    Although he is grooming his choice candidate his holiness the Karmapa as his temporal successor there would be immense sectarian problems arising after serval hundred years of Gelug political dominance transition to Kagyu lead leadership and thus even his holiness the Karmapa wouldnt be able to fill the void as any political spiritual interfearance with other sects as His holiness has done in the past will certainly not go down well at all.

    Is that the case? HH Karmapa is highly respected by all Tibetans and is in no way being groomed as you so suggest, reminiscent of some bizarre political paedophilia, and in case you had not noticed Tibet is currently an occupied country under the control of the Chinese state.

    How much control does HH have? Only that which is voluntarily afforded by refugee tibetans. I would suggest that views of members of groups which have been involved in public demonstrations against HH Dalai Lama be taken with a pinch of salt.
  • edited November 2010
    In response to the original question the "leaders" of the other sects are:

    Kagyu: HH Karmapa Orgyen Trinley Dorje
    Sakya: HH Sakya Trinzin
    Nyingma: No overall leader but Trulshik Rinpoche can be regarded as such

    In reagrd to the Karmapa controversy, the majority of tibetans and the rinpoches mentioned above recognise Orgyen Trinley Dorje as the current Karmapa. Sharmapa's candidate is fading into the background.
  • JoshuaJoshua Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Please don't browbeat me for asking this, but if the 5th Dalai Lama committed so many karmaic sins, then how has he gotten the capacity to voluntarily reincarnate as another Dalai Lama, for, in my ignorance, I was under the impression that that indicated his spiritual prowess which doesn't cooperate well with political motivations.

    Bottom line, if you persecute you don't become enlightened.
    So to reincarnate as the subsequent Dalai Lama he need not therefore become enlightened I take it?
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Tosh wrote: »
    Does that website have an axe to grind? Are there any secular source links?

    Full disclosure as I see it: Lama Shree does sensationalize the material, and upon examination of other essays of his, he does have an ax to grind with the Tibetans. But enough other sources have mentioned the issue over the years, that I don't doubt the basics of the report. That PBS series I mentioned is called "Dreams of Tibet", you can find the transcripts on the PBS website, but I haven't found the material in question yet. (There's a lot to pick through.) But I saw the show back when it was aired. I also found a reference on the internet to the fact that India recently passed a law aimed at protecting the novices, I don't recall the details. I asked Lama Shree to post an update about that, and he said he has, but I can't find the updated material on his site.

    This problem seems to be par for the course when children are housed with adult (and teen) monks. A few years ago in Taiwan 24 little novices took their abbott to court for molestation. Sri Lanka won't allow children to join monasteries for this reason. Reforms or better laws (that are enforced) can solve the problem.

    It's been pointed out to me that some families send their young children to the monasteries due to poverty--one less mouth to feed and child to clothe. That being the case, if an age requirement were instituted (end of highschool, say, or junior high), aid would have to be available for families in need. Somehow that issue would have to be addressed. The solution may not be so simple as to pass a law or institute reforms, but ... where there's a will there's a way. There's got to be a way to solve the problem. If the monasteries were closed to little boys, India would probably have to build more public schools, too! Nepal is in such political chaos, we can't expect any change there for awhile, I think.

    (Are we done with the Dalai Lama theme? Do we want to wrap this up, or start another thread? Are you there, Valois?)
  • JoshuaJoshua Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Fenrir wrote: »
    In response to the original question the "leaders" of the other sects are:

    Kagyu: HH Karmapa Orgyen Trinley Dorje
    Sakya: HH Sakya Trinzin
    Nyingma: No overall leader but Trulshik Rinpoche can be regarded as such

    In reagrd to the Karmapa controversy, the majority of tibetans and the rinpoches mentioned above recognise Orgyen Trinley Dorje as the current Karmapa. Sharmapa's candidate is fading into the background.

    Wait, so the Karmapa is the head of the Karma Kagyu school, which is simply the biggest of the Kagyu sub-schools, and he's only the implied head because this sub-school has the most power so by extension it's tradition that he heads the entire Kagyu school, am I correct?

    And Ngawang Kunga currently leads the Sakya school?

    Wiki actually says that Trulshik Rinpoche "in 2010 he became the official head of the Nyingma school." But why does the Nyingma school traditional have no head if the other three do?

    I was also wondering if, like the Kagyu school, the Gelug school has multiple subschools with a variety of Dalai Lama-like positions being held simultaneously without Tenzin Gyatso simply having the most power and thus shadowing the rest?

    (I apologise if I've asked something already mentioned, I'll reread the entire thread later when I've a better understand, right now I simply get lost in all the jargon.)
  • JoshuaJoshua Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Dakini, why would I be ready to wrap it up? I'm still entirely ignorant of Tibetan Buddhist politics. As long as I have questions (and my thirst for knowledge is voracious) and as long as there's still patient people here willing to answer my questions this thread shall live. ;)
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Hi, Valois. Your query on the 5th DL and my answer to another question both posted at the same time, but yours beat mine by a split-second. Yours wasn't there when I was writing. I was afraid we had digressed from your topic, and we hadn't heard from you for awhile, so I wasn't sure if you still had questions. Just a misunderstanding. Carry on, by all means.

    The standard history of Tibet presents "The Great Fifth" as a national hero, because he designated Lhasa as the capital and began construction of the Potala Palace, set up a government structure that had two branches, lay and monastic, and declared the gov't a Buddhist gov't, among other things. But Caz has given us another perspective, which is interesting. It fills out the picture. So while some, as Caz has pointed out, may regard the Fifth in unfavorable terms, as far as I know, most Tibetans see him favorably. (There are always two, or three...or more... sides to every coin. As noted before, the Kagyus and Sakyas weren't thrilled to be bumped out of place. But overall, he has been presented as a hero. Maybe as other viewpoints are taken into consideration, and times change, historical treatments become more diverse and complex, that's changing, I don't know.) Maybe someone else can provide more details.
  • JoshuaJoshua Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Again the reason the most esteemed leaders of other sects are over shadowed by him is because of his political power for centuries in Tibet the Gaden Phodrang the Dalai lamas residence has been the effective tibetan government and again because most tibetans view the Dalai lama as avaloketishvara disagreement is simply not something that is done, The Kagyu school for instances have endured a great schism over recognition of the New Karmapa because the Dalai lama recognised one over the other where as traditionally it is the job of the Sharmapa lama to do the recognition Kagyus where not particularly pleased with the interferance but there is little they could do but endure what occurs to them.

    This implies people maybe do a shoddy job recognising a reincarnate. If so, and considering my speculations that the Dalai Lama may have committed great sins in the past (making his deliberate reincarnate unlikely), isn't there a great likelihood that the line of at least Dalai Lamas and Karmapas are not successive reincarnates?
  • edited November 2010
    I recommend the 3-part video lecture series of Robert Thurman on Tibet as an excellent overview of Buddhism in Tibet. It offers an alternative (albeit idealistic) view of Tibetan politics and social institutions that is far more fair (IMO) than the Western leftist imputation that Tibet was some horrible theocratic feudal society.

    You can watch it instantly on Netflix.
  • JoshuaJoshua Veteran
    edited November 2010
    lol.

    Netflix = $

    I = mendicant = piracy
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2010
    RE: choosing (identifying) the Karmapa--at least one book has been written about the details of the controversy over the 17th Karmapa, possibly more. Briefly, the procedure in the past has been that the Karmapa, at some point before his death, writes a letter giving indications as to where to search for his reincarnation and other details. No one ever found a letter written by the 16th. The controversy stems from that.

    My theory is that the reason the candidate from China was recognized by the DL is that he was also recognized by the Chinese gov't. In view of the fact that the Panchen Lama, usually the one to identify, or approve, the Dalai Lama's next reincarnation, has been sequestered by the Chinese since early childhood, the current DL feels he'll have to rely on the Karmapa to take over for the Panchen Lama. This isn't traditional, but extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures, is the thinking. So the trick they pulled is that since the Karmapa has been recognized by the Chinese, the Chinese won't be able to denounce his choice of the next Dalai Lama--the Karmapa is/was their guy, the Chinese gov't's guy. (Though he escaped and cast his lot with the DL.) I haven't come across any info about the other candidate, other than that he was born in India. I've seen some very messy discussions posted by people involved in the matter denouncing this side or that side, and there's a proposal for the two Karmapas to get together and talk. India won't allow the Karmapa to travel much outside of Dharamsala (his traditional seat is in Sikkim). The whole thing is unfortunate and from what I understand, very painful for the Kagyupas. I hope it can be resolved soon, for everyone's sake. It's true, though, that by now a majority of Tibetans accept the Dalai Lama's choice.
  • JoshuaJoshua Veteran
    edited November 2010
    This treads on another thread of mine, and definitely off topic, but briefly I'd like to address something. Let's say the incorrect Karmapa was chosen, and let's say under the table there's no secret dealing involving a master plan as to why an incorrect one was publicly placed into power. Would the real one, in ignorance, fall from grace straight into the bonds of samsara again and not become enlightened as planned? Or is his enlightenment destined?
  • edited November 2010
    valois wrote: »
    What's to disagree with, I just want to learn about his position, and why the other three sects (Nyingma, Kagyu and Sakya) don't have an equivalent. I don't want to dispute why he should or shouldn't resemble a king. Just his job description and any other information anyone is willing to supply.
    The other lineages absolutely do have the equivalent and the Dalai Lama is not the head of the Gelug lineage. The Ganden Tripa is the head of the Gelug lineage.
    The 14th Dalai Lama is unique and important because he hold and transmits all lineages of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • JoshuaJoshua Veteran
    edited November 2010
    The other lineages absolutely do have the equivalent and the Dalai Lama is not the head of the Gelug lineage. The Ganden Tripa is the head of the Gelug lineage.
    The 14th Dalai Lama is unique and important because he hold and transmits all lineages of Tibetan Buddhism.

    I believe I'd read once that although he chose to be schooled in them after the Chinese invasion the other sects don't recognise his authority. There's implications there.
  • cazcaz Veteran United Kingdom Veteran
    edited November 2010
    valois wrote: »
    This implies people maybe do a shoddy job recognising a reincarnate. If so, and considering my speculations that the Dalai Lama may have committed great sins in the past (making his deliberate reincarnate unlikely), isn't there a great likelihood that the line of at least Dalai Lamas and Karmapas are not successive reincarnates?

    Well friend seeing as the system of reincarnation relies upon relying upon those whom you perceiving as realized masters its a faith issue. This is not saying however that there are not genuine reincarnate masters teaching Dharma today, Of course as with anything when incarnations represent a chance to improve your own status and well being by say for instance recognising them as a child within your own family or someone else for other reasons, It can make you wonder as to the validity of some choices, But then again the one who is the ( Insert name of lama here ) Lama will porve themselves to be worthy by fullfilling the purpose of that role, Nyigmapa lama with spread pure Nyigmapa teachings, Sakya lama will spread pure Sakyapa teachings, Kagyu lama spreads pure Kagyupa teachings, And a Gelug lama will spread pure Gelug teachings...
    In order to recognise the reincarnation of another you have to have at least some clairvoyence. With Regards to this I can say nothing as I have no clairvoyance but it should not be a line of inquiry that should be a great taboo ! :)
  • cazcaz Veteran United Kingdom Veteran
    edited November 2010
    valois wrote: »
    This treads on another thread of mine, and definitely off topic, but briefly I'd like to address something. Let's say the incorrect Karmapa was chosen, and let's say under the table there's no secret dealing involving a master plan as to why an incorrect one was publicly placed into power. Would the real one, in ignorance, fall from grace straight into the bonds of samsara again and not become enlightened as planned? Or is his enlightenment destined?

    If one is already enlightened or an emination of an enlightened being Degeneration from enlightenment is impossible. There are for example a whole host of other eminated beings from the highly realized whom may not be enlightened, and reincarnated masters whom have yet to complete the path.
  • edited November 2010
    valois wrote: »
    I believe I'd read once that although he chose to be schooled in them after the Chinese invasion the other sects don't recognise his authority. There's implications there.
    Its not really an authority issue when it comes to transmitting the teachings.
    HHDL has very skillfully made himself a living storehouse of the transmissions of Tibetan Buddhism by knocking down sectarian walls and pursuing the teachings.
    He is an authority on the teachings but not an authority over the masters of other lineages necessarily.
  • JoshuaJoshua Veteran
    edited November 2010
    I've been doing some reading.

    The Dalai Lama's history is very sketchy, huh?

    Lot's of conspiracies I see.

    His history is beyond the scope of this thread.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited November 2010
    My lama has disagreed with the da lai lamas presentation in a book. I asked a question and she was critical. It may be because the da lai lama was not presenting ultimate reality but rather a skillful means. Or maybe my lama has a different philosophy.

    Two factors you are ignoring. Western perception, media, and popularity. A tibetan may revere the da lai lama but not consider him the head of buddhism. Like us in america.

    Second factor is that he is a political head in exhile of the nation of tibet. That is more than just Gelug. They have no separation of church and state, although that is less of a problem (probably) in buddhism.
  • JoshuaJoshua Veteran
    edited November 2010
    He's actually beginning to vacillate in my mind somewhere between the Bodhi-Pope and (let's go ahead and just assume) an Arhat at any given time, am I correct in saying this?
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Not correct. Many in Tibet disagree with him who are practitioners. He is maybe a folk hero of the people. But for instance in the shentong and rangtong debate (google) there are a huge minority if not a majority who disagree with him. Most of the 'folk hero' common joes don't think of such things as disputing interpretation of the dharma.

    Myself I feel silly disputing the da lai lama. Or gangagi or eckardt tolle. who the hell am I. But I am crammed in this mish mash because I read certain people or study with them and I get ideas.

    But no I think the Tibetans who are practicing to the level that they doubt/question/resolve the dharma are not just viewing him as a pope, King Arthur.
  • JoshuaJoshua Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Kind of like the Bush and the Obama presidency.

    Some Tibetans are like ultra-conservative Christian Americans with Bush or ultra-liberal naive Americans with Obama, is my perception correct?
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Yes but I am more polarized in american politics. Probably if I worshipped Dorje Shugden (or HHDL) things would be different.

    *note I think worship of an ideal of kindness must be good. even if your idol is human or non-corporeal.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited November 2010
    One example that I follow.....

    If my root guru (and its a little premature in my studies of me to say that word....lets just say 'my current teacher)....

    disagrees with the dalai lama?

    I follow my root guru not the dalai lama...

    But if I am in gelug and my root gurus teacher IS the dalai lama? Then thats a little tricky :) In my tradition you see your root guru as padmasambava which takes some of the guesswork out though I don't know what I would do if she disagreed with karmapa. Probably go back to popular books, even read sutras.
  • edited November 2010
    valois wrote: »
    I've been doing some reading.

    The Dalai Lama's history is very sketchy, huh?

    Lot's of conspiracies I see.

    His history is beyond the scope of this thread.

    Any political/religious history is going to have a bit of sketch to it and the history of the Dalai Lama's is no exception.
    Personally, I think its fascinating.
    The current Dalai Lama is one of my teachers but he isnt my root teacher.
    I think he has been very skillful given the situation that he is in.

  • This Dalai Lama guy is popular because Gelug sect is the newest one to receive political power, near to our era.
    If we're in a different area, possibly other sect would be the dominant one.
    it started with Nyingma with the direct support from Tibetan king.

    Many Tibetan Buddhists disapproved him because in the past the Gelug under him has done quite a lot of very nasty things.... including "cultural genociding" (ironically he blames China for the same things he did) other sects... And those disciples under such sects are very very against Dalai Lama.

    Imagine your sect is being raided by Dalai Lama / Gelug like the Jonangs.... do u still worship him like the pope of Buddhism?
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