Traditionally, the monks wait a few years, then search the neighborhood of the lamaserie for small boys, hoping to find one who recognizes the late lama’s possessions; any who appears to is presumed to be the lama’s latest reincarnation, and is taken to the monastery, installed in the office, and trained and educated by the monks. But now all of Tibet is under Chinese control; considering the trouble the current Dalai Lama has made for them, presumably the government wouldn’t allow the search to be made. So what will the monks do?
Two words: Arlen, Texas
Actually, I’d bet they’ll do the same thing as usual, and there’ll be a huge public outcry if the Chinese prevent it from happening.
There’s more problems. The Panchen Lama helps find the reborn Dalai Lama. And there’s currently two of them; one recognised by the Tibetans (who’s missing, apparently under China’s protection) and one recognised by China.
There may well be two Dalais when the current one shuffles off.
From what I’ve read, the reincarnated Dali Lama is chosen (or recognized, I guess) by the Panchen Lama, and vice versa. Currently there are two Panchean Lama’s however, one choosen by the current Dali Lama (and subsequently arrested by the Chinese) and the other by the Chinese government.
I imagine that if this schism continues at the time of the Dalai’s death, we’ll end up with two claiments to that position as well. One chosen by the current Lama’s supporters and the other by the Chinese chosen Panchean Lama.
I don’t have time to find cites and going off of memory, but this is closer to the process.
First, multiple signs are used to find the general location of the reincarnate. For the current Dalai Lama, this included consulting the State Oracle during his trance (current incarnate Oracle lives in exile in India), visions in the sacred lake Lahmo Latso, finding a boy child of the age range in the general location, indications from the 12th Dalai Lama as to where he would reincarnate, the 12th Dalai Lama several times changed the direction he was pointing in the crypt to facing the direction where the current Dalai Lama was found, physical signs on the boy, then tests to see if he recognizes “his” stuff from copies, does the boy recognize any of his previous associates taking part in the search, is he a prodigy, etc.
The Panchen Lama may or may not be involved in some of the process. It is clearly not that the Panchen Lama “recognizes” the Dalai Lama, and vice versa.
A detailed description can be found In Exile From the Land of the Snows, Dalai Lama’s My Land, My People, and Sir Richard Bell’s A History of Tibet.
The Chinese government is highly likely to make it’s own choice. It does now for quite a few of the Tulkus or recognized reincarnates that head monastaries including the Panchen Lama. The Mongols and Chinese have long tried to have a hand in the Dalai Lama selection. I think it was during Kublai Khan’s reign that the Fifth Dalai Lama was made the secular and religious ruler of Tibet, and the previous 4 were posthumesly award the title. Ever since then, both the Mongols and Chinese attempted to meddle to large or small degrees in the selection process.
The current Dalai Lama has also previously in the 1990’s said he may be the last Dalai Lama and not reincarnate. I need to check to see if this is still his view.
It is very likely that there will end up being 2 Dalai Lama’s. The Chinese picked one and the Tibetan one.
As I recall, the current dalai lama has also stated a number of times that he won’t reincarnate in Tibet while it’s under Chinese control; I can only assume that this was a preemptive move to weaken the Chinese position if and when they claim a dalai lama of their own.
I remember the 14th insinuating that the office of the dalai lama had served its purpose, as well… my guess is that he was trying to put framework in place to phase the dalai lama’s role out of the Tibetan political system since, at least on the surface, he’s been a big advocate of further seperating the monastic and political establishments recently.
I suppose it is a tenet of Tibetan Buddhism that the Dalai Lama can choose when and where and to what parents he is next reincarnated (which most people can’t)?
Given the current state of affairs in Tibet, that sounds like making a virtue of necessity.
This is the main reason I can’t get upset when China is in charge of Tibet.
There are plenty of bumper stickers here that say Free Tibet. But free it to a feudal overlord chosen by secretive elders? How is that better than all the dictators that disgust us?
The efforts to get rid of Tibetan culture don’t bother you, then?
I think they should just sing, “Hello, Dalai!” and see who answers.
You could get Michael Crawford and Barbra Streisand in specially! Make a show of it, why don’t ya!
Gonna need a credible cite that at least in the past century that the DL is a feudal overlord. Please read Sir Charles Bell Tibet Past and Present. In fact, you can find a free Microsoft Reader copy here. This University of Oregon site has tons of free books on Asia, including Tibet.
Sir Charles Bell was the British information officer stationed in Tibet in the 1930’s. You can find his books here
Altan Khan :
I bow before the undisputed Mongolian master of the Straight Dope. Seriously, and I mean this in a good way, I never have to actually look up anything Mongolian as Tamerlane will have the relevant cite posted in quick order.
It may happen sooner than you think: http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/05/11/dalai.lama.reut/index.html
This just cracks me up.
Interesting. However the article has a giant typo, so I added the bolded part:
A boy the Dalai Lama picked as successor **to the Panchen Lama ** is believed to have been under house arrest since 1995 when he was 6 years old. Human rights groups call him the world’s youngest political prisoner.
Why does China have such a bee up its nose about Tibet, anyways?
Is it all over religion or is it mineral rights that I’m not aware of or what?
Tibet was right next door, and was small, weak and virtually undefended, with no strong neighbors or rival superpowers willing to stand up for it. That made any country very tempting for a Communist dictatorship during the Cold War.