Chinese Communist Party leaders are deathly afraid that the Dalai Lama will not have an afterlife. Worried enough that this week, officials repeatedly warned that he must reincarnate, and on their terms.
Tensions over what will happen when the aging 14th Dalai Lama dies, and particularly over who decides who will succeed him as the most prominent leader in Tibetan Buddhism, have ignited at the annual gathering of China’s legislators in Beijing. Officials have amplified their argument that the Communist government is the proper guardian of the Dalai Lama’s succession through an intricate process of reincarnation that has involved lamas, or senior monks, visiting a sacred lake and divining dreams.
Party functionaries were incensed by the exiled Dalai Lama’s recent speculation that he might end his spiritual lineage and not reincarnate, confounding the Chinese government’s plans to engineer a succession that would produce a putative 15th Dalai Lama who accepts its presence and policies in Tibet. Their anger welled up on Wednesday, as it had a day earlier.