It’s always something with China and Tibet. China wants to control Tibet but Tibetans have historically preferred to be left alone. So the 14th Dalai Lama, the leader of Tibet in absentia, is making trouble for China again. He’s had about seven hundred years to think about all this, and he can be a bit of a scamp.
That’s the story, anyway–that he’s been knocking around since the 1300s, and is now in his fourteenth skin suit. It’s a slick deal. He no sooner dies than he pops up again as a fresh baby, and as soon as he has been reliably identified, he’s rigged up in the Dalai Lama clothes again. And then he gets to be more or less in charge of Tibet.
Which is what China wants to be.
Tibet has the highest-elevation population of yak-eaters on earth, and whereas it has traditionally been included in the general China orbit, it has a sturdy independent streak. In modern times it has resisted being swallowed up by the People’s Republic of China, especially after China began instituting social and political reforms such as destroying monasteries and slaughtering Tibetans against their wishes. The current Dalai Lama fled the country in 1959 and has been living in exile ever since, which is somewhere inside India. He is now quite the vagabond. (His earlier incarnations didn’t necessarily get out much at all. In fact, they alternated living in a Winter Palace and a Summer Palace that were only three kilometers apart.)
So the deal is the Dalai Lama is both the religious and political head of state and he reigns in perpetuity by being reincarnated. It’s a bit of trouble locating the new version of the Dalai Lama but it can be done. There’s a magic lake with visions in it, and signs, and what-have-you, and sometimes there are other clues as well, such as when the embalmed 13th Dalai Lama, who was presumably pickling in peace with his head facing southeast, was discovered to have moved his head toward the northeast. This would have sent me screaming over the border but the guys in charge of finding the holy baby are made of stronger stuff and they immediately headed off northeast and located their boy. Sometimes they find more than one likely candidate and then they test them by offering some trinkets, some of which belonged to the dead Lama and some which didn’t, and the child who recognizes the stuff that had been his in his previous life gets the nod. It seems equally likely to me that one of the other kids is the real deal, and just wants some new shit.
To my mind there are a number of things, really, that cast doubt on this whole succession. There was a period during which four out of five successive Dalai Lamas were murdered before even reaching the age of maturity. Some put the blame on Tibetans who thought the Chosen Ones were suspiciously Chinese, and others blame the Chinese for selecting Dalai Lamas that didn’t meet expectations. At any rate, eventually everyone figured out it did no good to knock these guys off because they just come right back again.
So now nothing much has changed. China still really, really wants Tibet to knuckle under and get with the Chinese program, even though Tibetans hold fast to principles that are decidedly un-Chinese, such as non-violence. And this is why China is very interested in finding the next Dalai Lama before anyone else does. They’re pretty sure he’s going to be a solid, unmistakable Chinese loyalist. So they plan to look for him in China.
That’s where the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, who is a proponent of an autonomous Tibet, comes in. He’s started to say maybe he won’t come back after all. Maybe he’s done. The Chinese government, which is officially atheist and shouldn’t really have an opinion, has said no you don’t, you can’t not come back, and Tenzin says, hey. They’re my lives and you can’t make me.
The Chinese countered that they’re going to find a new one regardless. Naturally, this casts even more doubt on the legitimacy of the whole operation. Seems to me like someone is doing some steering on the old Ouija board.
But I do think it ought to be up to Tenzin. He’s been coming back as a baby in diapers for seven hundred years now and maybe he’s had it. And he has another trick up his red sleeve. He’s said he might not come back–or, he might come back as a girl.
Be a shame if something awful were to befall that new Dalai Lama female fetus in China. Whoops!
He is much smarter than all the rest of them.
Plus, he's adorable. Just like the pope. Just look at that (top) picture!
Can't say I'm much concerned with what the Dalai Lama chooses to do. He's as much of a fraud as Pope Francis or Mother Teresa; it's just easier for the eastern con men in robes to bamboozle Westerners because they and their bullshit seem exotic and mysterious by virtue of being unfamiliar.
The present Chinese regime is a fascist dictatorship. Tibet under the lamas was a theocratic hell-hole running on slavery and serfdom. Given that those are pretty much the only options geography allows to the Tibetans, one couldn't blame them if the entire lot of them decided to off themselves in hopes of coming back somewhere else (maybe Peru, since llamas are easier to contend with than lamas). The fact that so few do shows they're not buying what they've traditionally been sold.
As it is, it looks like soon the Chinese regime and the lamas-in-exile will be arguing over who has the "real" Dalai Lama. A funny-enough spectacle, if one isn't Tibetan.
Actually, I would dispute that there aren't many reincarnated Tibetans in Peru. We can't be sure, and you're not one to jump to unwarranted conclusions.
I think jenny o has the right take on the Dalai Lama.
Isn't someone in Hollywood already on this? I'm envisioning a sort of mash-up of Indiana Jones and the DaVinci Code.
Write the screenplay! I'll have my people take a look at it.
Considering the election hysteria that takes place in the US from election to the next and which is now being extened to the UK as well, I wonder if the Tibetan methodology might have something to offer — but not if we would have to eat Yak …
"The meat is deep-red in color with the fat located on the outside where it can be easily trimmed. This makes for low marbling which creates the meat's unique tenderness. The taste of Yak is best described as beef-like, but more delicate in flavor."
Personally I think the DL is pretty shrewd and has come into the modern age with a good attitude and clever mind, and, I suspect, a full awareness of what he represents to others even if he doesn't believe it himself. He might even save a generation of Chinese girls with this tactic. And I respectfully disagree with Infidel that Mother Theresa was a fraud. Her good works and humble behavior were the antithesis of a fraud. BTW, I am not of any religious persuasion, in case anyone missed that memo.
Didn't miss that memo. I like the Pope too. I have friends who don't like the pope because he hasn't come out in favor of abortion rights yet, but I think they're being a little hard on him.
I'm more concerned (and peeved) that he hasn't shown any signs of moving on the contraceptive ban issue! Some people claim the church needs to maintain high numbers (who tithe) in order to pay for all that shiny stuff in Rome, but I don't know whether I'm cynical enough to believe THAT … aw, dang it, yes – I am.
I know, I know, but it's their club, and they can write up their own charter. But he's pissing off all the right people railing against the money-hoarders. For instance.
Yes, I give you that, plus other good things. I have a particular reason to be upset about the issue I mentioned. May I email you? (translation: I'm emailing you; check your Pootie emails!)
Her good works and humble behavior were the antithesis of a fraud.
That's just the image she projected. She was a con artist and a sadist who did far more harm than good. Christopher Hitches wrote an entire book about her, The Missionary Position, which I recommend. It's fairly short but a real eye-opener.
Francis hasn't changed anything of substance, just thrown out a few rhetorical sops. Nothing has really changed in any point of actual doctrine or practice, including the child-molestation cover-ups.
Yet–I'm still a fan. Of the Popester. People are real disappointed in Obama too, but in both cases–they've got a lot of opposition to overcome. I know it SEEMS like if God is speaking through you, you can say anything you want, but practically speaking…he's not done yet, anyway.
@ Infidel – I've gone and read the synopsis on Wikipedia of Hitchens' book, plus the response to it, and the verdict appears to still be out as to whether it's good or bad. Perhaps Mother Theresa was both saint and sinner – like a lot of the rest of the world.
I am of no religious persuasion either, which is something that cannot be said of Christopher Hitchens. No evangelist ever promoted his message more fervently than Hitchens pushed the Gospel of Atheism. And he was a self-absorbed, arrogant, unkind man as well. I was at a public appearance where he took questions from the audience; he belittled people. It was appalling. I'm quite willing to believe Mother Theresa wasn't perfect (who is?), but I don't want to hear it from him.
Political science, history and religion according to Murr…Could there be anything more snortworthy???
Welll, underpants, maybe! Hi Dan!
Years back I was trodden on by a yak (in Kathmandu), which was nearly enough to turn me in a meat eater again.
I love the DL's hint that he might, just migh come back as a woman. Add me to the chorus applauding jenny_o. And watching what the current pope does with some interest mixed with a soupcon of cynicism.
Actually, I haven't been able to absorb any of your comment past "years back I was trodden on by a yak."
EC, being trodden on by a yak must put you in a very exclusive club, I think 🙂
I also think I would like to read a post on that!
All religions are a freak show.
I applaud them all for their never ending jokery, fakery and papery. Free tickets for the heathens too!
Mother Teresa made a fetish out of poverty did she not?
And her faith was very shaky which made her highly appealing to me, the heathen.
I liked that part too. Seems honest enough.
Mother Theresa was a fraud and a fanatic whose hospital condemned hundreds of innocent people to terrible suffering because she thought it was good for their souls. My personal jury is still out of Pope Francis. I do, however, rather like the Dalai Lama. Maybe it's because he seems to have a genuine love for people and for peace, or maybe it's because I tend much more towards Buddhist philosophy than Christian. If his little hint about reincarnating as a female helps save a few girls' lives, more power to him.
*on* Pope Francis. Sorry.
No prob–we sail past the typos here at Murrmurrs, Inc. I haven't read anything about Mother Theresa one way or the other. Maybe I should read the book Infidel is recommending, but I probably won't, because there's too much to read out there, and I'm a REALLY slow reader. The Dalai Lama, as I said, is a scamp. He's winking all the way. I like that.
Both Christopher Hitchens and Meg Green have written less-than-laudatory bios of Mother Theresa. I haven't read Green's but I suspect it would be more balanced than Hitchens's, as he really really hated her. Here's a tl;dr version: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/04/mother-teresa-myth_n_2805697.html
Last time I saw the Dalai Lama he didn't have sleeves…
Even though he has bingo wings! Yeah. But in many of the pictures he is only sleeveless on one side.
Those Chinese. Tut Tut. It's not enough they are buying up masses of Australian acreage and converting everyone to foul tasting chocolate, now they want Tibet to knuckle under too? Shame on them. Leave peaceful little Tibet alone.
Back up. Wait what? What about the chocolate?
50% of our imported Easter Eggs are from China and the taste just isn't chocolate. It's awful. Beware chocolate made in China. You've heard how they grow their food over there? I'm guessing the chocolate contains palm oil, but not the good quality palm oil. Chocolate shouldn't have any palm oil anyway.
Oh. Like that waxy chocolate. We eat nothing but the second-best here. Starting to favor chocolate with salt or chilies.