Chinese government bans reincarnation
- Following are two articles on the Chinese government banning
CHINA REGULATES BUDDHIST REINCARNATION
Belief Watch: Reincarnate
Aug. 20-27, 2007 issue - In one of history's more absurd acts of
totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from
reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement
issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law,
which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the
procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to
institutionalize management of reincarnation." But beyond the irony
lies China's true motive: to cut off the influence of the Dalai Lama,
Tibet's exiled spiritual and political leader, and to quell the
region's Buddhist religious establishment more than 50 years after
China invaded the small Himalayan country. By barring any Buddhist
monk living outside China from seeking reincarnation, the law
effectively gives Chinese authorities the power to choose the next
Dalai Lama, whose soul, by tradition, is reborn as a new human to
continue the work of relieving suffering.
At 72, the Dalai Lama, who has lived in India since 1959, is
beginning to plan his succession, saying that he refuses to be reborn
in Tibet so long as it's under Chinese control. Assuming he's able to
master the feat of controlling his rebirth, as Dalai Lamas supposedly
have for the last 600 years, the situation is shaping up in which
there could be two Dalai Lamas: one picked by the Chinese government,
the other by Buddhist monks. "It will be a very hot issue," says Paul
Harrison, a Buddhism scholar at Stanford. "The Dalai Lama has been
the prime symbol of unity and national identity in Tibet, and so it's
quite likely the battle for his incarnation will be a lot more
important than the others."
So where in the world will the next Dalai Lama be born? Harrison and
other Buddhism scholars agree that it will likely be from within the
130,000 Tibetan exiles spread throughout India, Europe and North
America. With an estimated 8,000 Tibetans living in the United
States, could the next Dalai Lama be American-born? "You'll have to
ask him," says Harrison. If so, he'll likely be welcomed into a
culture that has increasingly embraced reincarnation over the years.
According to a 2005 Gallup poll, 20 percent of all U.S. adults
believe in reincarnation. Recent surveys by the Barna Group, a
Christian research nonprofit, have found that a quarter of U.S.
Christians, including 10 percent of all born-again Christians,
embrace it as their favored end-of-life view. A non-Tibetan Dalai
Lama, experts say, is probably out of the question.
CHINA BANS REINCARNATION OF LIVING BUDDHAS WITHOUT NOD
The Times of India
September 3, 2007
NEW DELHI: In an extraordinary move that has long-term implications
particularly for India, China has banned the reincarnation of living
Buddhas without state permission.
In an order by the state administration of religious affairs, which
comes into effect from September 1, China has said Buddhas cannot be
reincarnated outside China. Instead, they would have to take
permission from the state, which would oversee the selection of
the "soul-boy" (or the reincarnated Buddha).
Grading the importance of the living Buddhas, the Chinese government
has laid down that "for reincarnate living Buddhas with relatively
high degree of influence, the provincial people's government will
issue approval; for those with major influence, the state
administration for religious affairs will approve while for those
with extraordinary degree of influence, the state council will
approve." Unauthorised reincarnations would be penalised by the
The law also stipulates that reincarnations of living Buddhas cannot
be influenced by persons or organisations outside China. This means
that the Dalai Lama will be barred from the process.
What are the implications of this amazing law? It's easy enough to
determine that the Dalai Lama is the most immediate target. The 72-
year-old spiritual leader, who Buddhists believe is the reincarnation
of Avalokiteswara, has lived for almost half a century outside Tibet
To that extent, this has an immediate impact. China is clearly
looking beyond Dalai Lama. The third Dalai Lama was born in Mongolia
and the present Dalai Lama declared in 2002 that if Tibet was not
free when he died, he would be reincarnated in a free country
elsewhere. The Chinese government wants to pre-empt that.
It started with Panchen Lama who was appointed by the Dalai Lama in
1995 according to Tibetan custom. But the Panchen Lama was spirited
away by the Chinese government which appointed another in his place.
His job will be to appoint the next Dalai Lama according to Tibetan
tradition except this will be according to Beijing's diktat.
One of India's greatest political and diplomatic leverage with China
is the Dalai Lama. As the home of Buddhism, India's continued shelter
to the highest spiritual leader for the world's Buddhists and his
followers has attracted global attention, just as China has shown
The next Dalai Lama, according to analysts here, could even be chosen
by the Dalai Lama himself. But it's now clear China will stymie that
and create an uncertain situation with a series of Beijing-appointed
lamas who will be pitted against the Tibetans' choice. It will also
effectively rob India of that leverage.
The logical extrapolation is that China will harden its stand on the
boundary talks with India. At the heart of the impasse between India
and China is Arunachal, which China wants because of the Tawang
monastery where the 6th Dalai Lama is supposed to have been born. A
line in the new Buddhism "measure" makes China's intentions clear.