My previous post covered my visit to the Lama Temple. I’ve now got a video posted, so you can experience this “museum” more fully yourself.
You can see this in the middle of this video, but here’s a transcript of what I overheard the tour guide say about the Dalai Lama, and my question to him.
Tour Guide (to group of foreign tourists):
“They are all Buddhas, so they will never die. When their body dies, we will be left another young boy who will be the next Dalai lama. After this Dalia Lama dies, we will have another Dalai Lama. The present Dalai Lama, he is living in India Because in 1950 when this Dalai Lama was young, 30, he wanted to separate Tibet out of China and this kind of behavior makes the official government quite angry. Then he escaped out of Tibet.
Now Dalai Lama is getting old. So of course he is thinking about his next life, the next Dalai Lama. He wants to select his next one. Of course he cannot select where he will live. He knows when he passes, maybe without the permission of central government of China, maybe he cannot get re-life… so this is his problem so he is getting much closer relationship now with Central Government”
Me (Lhadon): so is it that the Dalai Lama needs permission from the central government to be reborn?
Tour Guide: Yes, yes.
Me (Lhadon): But isn’t the Communist party atheist. There is no religion right?
Tour Guide: Its not a problem with religion. Dalai Lama still has lots of followers that want separate for Tibet. But Dalai Lama himself and Tibetan people want Dalai Lama to be back because he is from Tibet.
Paul and I visited the “Lama Temple” today, a Tibetan Buddhist temple and monastery right in the heart of Beijing. Strange, right? Well it has a long history going back to the Qing dynasty, when some Manchu emperors became spiritual students of the Dalai Lamas. It was shuttered for many years after the Communists came to power (reopened in 1980), and supposedly saved from destruction during the Cultural Revolution only by the intervention of Zhou Enlai himself.
It’s hard to go to the Lama Temple without thinking of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. We witnessed this firsthand today when we entered one of the first buildings in the temple complex and stumbled upon a group of foreign tourists asking their Chinese guide about the situation concerning the Dalai Lama. The guide hesitated for a second and said, “Oh, there are two great teachers in the Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. One is the Dalai Lama and the other is the Panchen Lama.” But this answer didn’t satisfy the group.
One man clarified the question, “No, what is the problem between the Dalai Lama and China that we hear about?” So the guide, feeling very uncomfortable, went on to say that the Dalai Lama “wanted to separate Tibet out of China and this kind of behavior makes the official government quite angry” and how he now lives in exile in India, adding that “now Dalai Lama is getting old, so of course he is thinking about his next life” but that “without the permission of central government of China, maybe he cannot get re-life.” Uh… okay.
Is there anything more ridiculous than the officially atheist Chinese Communist Party leadership, infamous for denouncing religion as poison, playing a role in choosing the reincarnations of Buddhist teachers?
In 1995 the Chinese authorities intervened in the selection of the 11th Panchen Lama and replaced the 6 year old boy approved by the Dalai Lama with their own candidate. They trot this boy out on national television on certain occasions, while the real Panchen Lama, now 18 years old, remains under house arrest.
And then, a couple of days ago the Chinese government announced new rules that will require official approval for the selection of any reincarnated lama. There was an article in the August 4th Telegraph newspaper (UK): China demands veto on Tibet’s ‘living buddhas’.
Richard Spencer writes: “In a striking display of Beijing’s determination to tighten control over Tibet, a 14-chapter notice published by the state religious affairs bureau set out “approval procedures” for new living buddhas and said monasteries that did not follow them would be punished.”
So this is the improved human rights situation that the 2008 Olympics is helping to bring to China and Tibet? Just one year before the Games begin, the Chinese leadership is cracking down in Tibet, all the while proclaiming that China shares “One World One Dream” with the rest of us.
From inside the belly of the beast we demand a free and independent Tibet. For Ronggay A’drak, the Tibetan nomad from Lithang, who was arrested for leading a protest during the recent Lithang Horse Festival in eastern Tibet. For Tenzin Delek Rinpoche who is serving a life sentence for being nothing but a champion of Tibetan rights. For the Panchen Lama who has lived most of his life under house arrest. For the 14 Tibetans on hunger strike in New Delhi. For all Tibetans living under occupation or in exile, separated from their loved ones and condemned to wander as strangers in foreign lands. And finally, for future generations of Tibetan children who must know what it is like to live in freedom in their own nation.
Yesterday I wrote about my experience visiting the racist theme park outside of Beijing. Today, I’ve posted a slideshow of photos taken during our visit.
I hope these images will help communicate the source of the deep, disturbed feelings I was trying to share with you through my written words. Remember, this is all a fake recreation of a culture that China has been trying to destroy for the last fifty years.
Click the “read more” link to view the photos… » Read the rest of this entry «