China: Choices by Dalai Lama of His Successor Will be Illegal

The future choices by the Tibetan spiritual leader of his successor will be “illegal”, warned Beijing on Monday, stating that the title of “Dalai Lama” was conferred by the Chinese central government.

“The title ‘Dalai Lama’ is given by the central government and is illegal in any other scenario,” said Hong Lei, spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, two days after the Dalai Lama said that he would choose his successor himself.

问:达赖喇嘛近日就转世问题有一些新说法。中方对此有何反应?

答:十四世达赖喇嘛出于不可告人的政治动机,肆意歪曲和否认历史,是对藏传佛教正常秩序的极大破坏,是对达赖喇嘛传承体系的极大亵渎。

活佛转世是藏传佛教特有的传承方式,中国实行宗教信仰自由政策,当然也包括尊重和保护藏传佛教这一传承方式。达赖喇嘛的称号是中央政府册封的,否则就不具备合法性,十四世达赖喇嘛也是经当时民国政府批准认定的。达赖喇嘛转世有一套完整的宗教仪轨和历史定制,从来没有上一世达赖认定下一世达赖的作法。同时,国家颁布了《宗教事务条例》和《藏传佛教活佛转世管理办法》,任何活佛的转世,包括达赖喇嘛的转世,都应当遵循宗教仪轨、历史定制和国家法律、法规去办。(Link)

The Tibetan spiritual leader, 76 years old and in exile since 1959, said Saturday he would decide his reincarnation when he is 90 years old.

“When I approach my 90 years, I will consult the great lamas of Tibetan Buddhist traditions, Tibetan and other followers of Tibetan Buddhism and a reassessment of the institution of the Dalai Lama will be made. My decision will be made on that basis,” he said.

According to Tibetan tradition, the monks must identify a young boy showing signs that he is the reincarnation of the last spiritual leader.

But the Dalai Lama spoke in the past a possible break with this tradition by choosing a successor before his death and among Tibetans in exile. He also said he might be open to an election of the next Dalai Lama.

“A set of religious rituals and historical conventions involved in the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama and there has never been the custom of a Dalai Lama choosing his own successor,” said Hong.

In 1995 Beijing rejected the Dalai Lama’s choice for the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, the second highest title in Tibetan Buddhism.

The Panchen Lama chosen by China, Gyaincain Norbu, is now 21 years old and often praised the Chinese government in Tibet.

The Panchen Lama chosen by the Dalai Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, has not been seen since 1995.