There is a news story that the Dalai Lama says he could be the last reincarnation – due to pressure from the Chinese Government. This is because the Chinese Government saying they will ‘find’ the next reincarnation on the death of the current Dalai Lama.The Chinese Communist Party has produced legislation to control reincarnation. Order No. Five, concerning the control and recognition of reincarnations came into force on 1st September 2007. There are historical parallel between the current Chinese Government and former Governments which have attempted to do the same.
Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso as a boy.
Test of Reincarnation Claim
I would like to ask the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama to participate in James Randi’s million dollar challenge, the James Randi foundation can design a protocol to test the claims about reincarnation, from a sceptical point of view, and possibly provide evidence to support the supernatural claims of either party. Of course this depends on the claims made, and would need cooperation from the current Dalai Lama, but if the new incarnation can remember their past life it should be easy to design a confirmatory test (for example memorising the contents of a sealed envelope).
The Dalai Lama has a web-page explaining reincarnation here. There are two methods of reincarnation, regular reincarnation in the wheel of life is based on sway of karma and destructive emotions. The alternative for the truly enlightened is rebirth through the power of compassion and prayer – which allows the choice of parents. Presumably the Dalai Lama will seek to reincarnate outside of Chinese jurisdiction.
History of the Dalai Lama’s
The Dalai Lama is the head monk of the Gelug or “Yellow Hat” school of Tibetan Buddhism, founded by Tsongkhapa (1357–1419). There have been 14 Dalai Lama’s including the current incumbent.
The system of reincarnation can be traced back to the time of Kublai Kan. In 1252, Kublai Khan granted an audience to Drogön Chögyal Phagpa and Karma Pakshi, the 2nd Karmapa who also sought the patronage of Möngke Khan. Before his death in 1283, Karma Pakshi wrote a will to protect the established interests of his lineage, the Karma Kagyu, by advising his disciples to locate a boy to inherit the black hat. His instruction was based on the premise that the Buddhist Dharma is eternal, and that the Buddha would send emanations to complete the missions he had initiated. This system was adopted by the other Buddhist schools.
The Dalai Lama is traditionally thought to be the successor in a line of tulkus who are considered to be metaphorical manifestations of Avalokiteśvara (compassion). The name is a combination of the Mongolic word dalai meaning “ocean” and the Tibetan word བླ་མ་ (bla-ma) meaning “guru, teacher, mentor”.
In the 1630s, Tibet became entangled in power struggles between the rising Manchu and various Mongol and Oirat factions. Eventually the Fifth Dalai Lama was able to establish himself as the highest spiritual and political authority in Tibet and destroyed any potential rivals, this was also a period of rich cultural development.
For certain periods between the 17th century and 1962, the Gelug school managed the Tibetan government, which administered portions of Tibet from Lhasa.
A contested Dalai Lama
A contested Dalai Lama came into existence in 1707 when Lha bzang Khan took power (with aid from China’s Kangxi Emperor) from the regent of Lhasa, on the pretence of the excesses of the 6th Dalai Lama. After the defeat of the regent, the Dalai Lama was escorted to Beijing but died on the way, killed on Lha-bzang’s orders (wikipedia) and the Chinese emperor appointed Kangxi appointed Lha-bzang Regent of Tibet.
Lha-bzang appointed a new Dalai Lama enthroned without consulting with the religious authorities, this was rejected by Tibetans and Lha-bzang’s Khoshut rivals. Kangxi recognized Lhazang’s choice, but hedged his bets and also protected Kelzang Gyatso in Kumbum (now the recognised 7th Dalai Lama).
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