The democratic response to authorised rebirth
For hundreds of years a clique of senior monks located and authorised reincarnating Tibetan Lamas. That’s until China’s State Administration of Religious Affairs announced Order No. 5, laying down “management measures for the reincarnation of living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism”. In other words the Chinese government sought to issue, for the want of a better term, re-birth certificates. But the Dalai Lama has done one better:
Faced with Chinese plans to seize control of his reincarnation, the Dalai Lama has come up with two revolutionary proposals — either to forgo rebirth, or to be reborn while still alive.
The exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader proposed yesterday to hold a referendum among his 13-14 million followers around the world — before his death — on whether he should be reincarnated or not. [Times Online]
The shoe is now on the other foot: the Chinese government said that the Dalai Lama’s remarks “violated the religious rituals and historical conventions”.