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The Dalai Lama Resigns
March 14, 2011 6:30 PM   Subscribe

The Dalai Lama announces his resignation as a political leader. It remains to be seen if the Tibet Parliament will accept.
posted by Bulgaroktonos (42 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
He is a remarkable man.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 6:34 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


In his resignation letter, he cited a desire to spend more time playing golf with Bill Murray.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:38 PM on March 14, 2011 [19 favorites]


Man, this NPR thing is getting out of control.
posted by PlusDistance at 6:45 PM on March 14, 2011 [11 favorites]


I freely admit to not being up on this topic; however:

Why is it such a "dumbfounding assertion" that he "must follow the tradition of reincarnation and cannot choose his successor"? Isn't that how he was chosen (or, that is to say, recognized) as the Dalai Lama?
posted by Curious Artificer at 6:48 PM on March 14, 2011


After the Panchen Lama, the second-highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism, died in 1989, the Dalai Lama recognised a young boy living in Tibet as his reincarnation: the “next” Panchen Lama—or the same one, as it were. China however preferred a different Tibetan boy, whom it installed as Panchen Lama on its own. The Dalai Lama’s appointee was placed under indefinite house arrest; his whereabouts remain unknown.
posted by mkb at 6:55 PM on March 14, 2011


His message - a little bit of history, and why it shouldn't be delayed any longer.
posted by unliteral at 7:10 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why is it such a "dumbfounding assertion" that he "must follow the tradition of reincarnation and cannot choose his successor"? Isn't that how he was chosen (or, that is to say, recognized) as the Dalai Lama?

Because (as it says in the same paragraph) it's a Chinese government official making the assertion. There's a near-100% likelihood that China will attempt to name a new state-approved Dalai Lama the same way they did with the Panchen Lama 20 years ago.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:14 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Two more interesting mini-articles from The Economist on The DL:

"The indispensable incarnation" & "The Karmapa's comeuppance?"
posted by artof.mulata at 7:18 PM on March 14, 2011


No, I get that. What I mean is that how come HE gets to name his own "reincarnation" while he's still alive?
posted by Curious Artificer at 7:19 PM on March 14, 2011


"Without squirts of Zune, I cannot continue..."
posted by mmrtnt at 7:23 PM on March 14, 2011


Maybe his successor will be a woman! But probably not.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:25 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Farewell, Dalai,
It's just as well, Dalai,
But it'll nice to have you back where you belong
You're looking swell, Dalai,
We can tell, Dalai,
You're still glowin', you're still crowin'
You're still goin' strong!
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:27 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]




The Dalai Lama’s appointee was placed under indefinite house arrest; his whereabouts remain unknown.

Aren't we supposed to trade the Ajanti Dagger for him?

Paging Sardo Numspa! Paging my dear brother Sardo Numspa! You have a 80s movie reference on the white courtesy phone.
posted by chambers at 7:44 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


cool papa bell, I stole your joke and I'm using it on facebook. just wanted you to know.
posted by valkane at 8:01 PM on March 14, 2011


It's sad that this time has come - but it is not at all unexpected. His Holiness has said for quite some time that the Tibetan people should have a temporal leader of their own choosing.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 8:18 PM on March 14, 2011


The Dalai Lama has been trying for years to get the Tibetans to take more democratic control over their own destiny.

Trouble being, China is still occupying their country, so not a lot of leeway there when it comes to policy and decision-making. Outside Tibet, the exile community has tried but still defaults to the Dalai Lama for any major decision, including the one to seek an agreement with China that would give up Tibetan independence in return for a truly autonomous region within China.

Trouble with that being it presupposes you can trust the Chinese government. Which is an unelected military-backed claque that killed dozens of Tibetan protesters in a lead-up to the more widely-known massacre in Tiananmen Square.
posted by ecourbanist at 8:18 PM on March 14, 2011


I hope the true story of the real Panchen Lama comes to light. It would be a great story. I am of course, revealing my predisposition to the Dalai Lama's P.O.V. regarding religious matters. It is beyond ludicrous to watch the Maoists pretend to have Tibetan Buddhist credentials!
posted by kozad at 8:58 PM on March 14, 2011


kozad: "I hope the true story of the real Panchen Lama comes to light."

I suspect they killed him dead.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:08 PM on March 14, 2011


By "democratic control" do you mean the reinstatement of a totalitarian, misogynist theocracy?
posted by Brocktoon at 9:11 PM on March 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I hope the true story of the real Panchen Lama comes to light."

I suspect they killed him dead.


I think that anyone who thinks anything other than "that child was murdered in cold blood" is deluding themselves. What has always surprised me about the story is that the Dalai Lama, normally fairly astute about these sorts of things, would allow a child to be put in the position where he would inevitably be killed by Chinese authorities. I cannot imagine that he did not foresee that as at least one possible outcome. I suppose, if you believe he will be reborn again, that his death is somewhat less tragic than it would be for those who do not share your beliefs, but the grief of his parents - one day they have a son, that afternoon you are told he was the chosen reincarnation of a god-on-earth, months later he is dead - must be profound.
posted by anastasiav at 9:41 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have no time whatsoever for the Chinese state's handling of minority national rights and autonomy issues, but I see no compelling reason to think they just killed Gendun Choekyi Nyima. They have no need to, having him and family entirely in their control; not much of a track record of simple murder of political undesirables even during the totalitarian era (where the killings that did occur were largely by 'the masses' as mobilised in some campaign or other; not saying the state didn't directly execute anyone, but particularly in the case of even slightly prominent persons, it's not really been their modus operandi), and claim he's living quietly in the TAR. Given the state's penchant for wanting to keep as many cards in its hands as possible, that seems plausible enough.
posted by Abiezer at 10:06 PM on March 14, 2011


No, I get that. What I mean is that how come HE gets to name his own "reincarnation" while he's still alive?

That's not quite it. From what I understand in the main-post articles and the official statement that unliteral linked, the current DL is contemplating ending the line of Dalai Lamas and selecting a non-reincarnated successor to lead Tibet in exile. On the flip side, it's presently in the Chinese government's interest to solidify their hold on Tibet by playing along with the old traditions and installing a ringer as the new DL.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:07 PM on March 14, 2011


Asserting that the Panchen Lama must absolutely be dead is a bit shortsighted and silly. If the Panchen Lama were dead, then he would begin his rebirth cycle again, and the proper monks (including H.H.) would begin the dream yoga phase that would tell them where the next incarnation is. Killing the Panchen Lama would essentially set him free.

The Chinese authorities are cautious, and believe time is on their side. It is far more beneficial to them to brainwash the real Panchen Lama into renouncing Tibet than it is for them to kill him and take the chance that he is incarnated again before H.H. passes.

It bears repeating, as well, that the new Lamas will be reincarnated outside of Tibet and China; H.H. announced it quite a while ago and it removes from the Chinese the ability to control the next incarnations.
posted by Bushidoboy at 11:25 PM on March 14, 2011


I recognize that Chinese oppression is not a good thing. But just like in the case of the Falun Gong, why does the fact that they are oppressed make their particular brand of bullshit palatable in the west?
posted by yifes at 12:36 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


But just like in the case of the Falun Gong, why does the fact that they are oppressed make their particular brand of bullshit palatable in the west?

The fact that they are oppressed?

The irony seems to be that the Chinese government elevates this dude by opposing him. The communists should put Mr. Lama in charge of a Tibetan regional government that has actual municipal responsibilities and see how long his people support him.

Building a sewage treatment plant requires rather different skills than those needed to attend Hollywood parties.
posted by three blind mice at 2:10 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Guess I should go see him when he speaks in L.A. in May.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:20 AM on March 15, 2011


Killing the Panchen Lama would essentially set him free. The Chinese authorities are cautious, and believe time is on their side.

He's not Obi-Wan. Killing him does not make him more powerful than we can possibly imagine. The more likely scenario is that the Chinese authorities realized that they could kill the infant with impunity, nobody would know about it as long as they kept their traps shut, and there would be no magical spirit vision quest caused by overly hot chili peppers in which the new Panchen Lama was revealed by a giant sky coyote.

This is about politics, not a religious or spiritual epiphany. Except in so far as religion is extremely political. Which sounds contradictory but, I think, isn't.
posted by Justinian at 2:47 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you do take reincarnation literally, then killing the Panchen Lama probably isn't going to set him free, as he wouldn't have had the proper training.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 3:29 AM on March 15, 2011


Phew, that's a relief, here's to separation of church and state for all peoples...
posted by misterG at 3:54 AM on March 15, 2011


I recognize that Chinese oppression is not a good thing. But just like in the case of the Falun Gong, why does the fact that they are oppressed make their particular brand of bullshit palatable in the west?

A possible answer: Voyeuristic interest in orientalist novelty plus a brief escape from the depressingly homogeneic religious options in the West (bearded-desert-guy monotheism uber alles)

But speaking for myself: I can't philosophically justify the restriction of freedom merely because said freedom is used to say hella loopy things.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:26 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


This should be pretty clear, but Westerners have been practicing "Eastern mysticism" (or "brand of bullshit," as yifes puts it) for over a hundred years. Real Tibetan texts were not available when Hindu philosophy began its dissemination abroad, but the invasion of Chinese forces and the subsequent flight of Tibetan lamas to less remote countries, such as ours resulted in the adoption of their brand of esoteric practice by Europeans and Americans. ( Of course, you can believe Tibetan Buddhism is bullshit or that Westerners just like it because it's exotic if you'd like.)
posted by kozad at 8:39 AM on March 15, 2011


It is of absolutely no importance whether you believe in the Panchen Lama- Dalai Lama cycle. What matters is if anyone- anyone at all- with the the power to order the Panchen Lama's death believes in it. It's embarrassing that I have to make such a basic point to counter the boring and tired 'my atheism is the only point of view in existence' dogma. It makes atheists look bad when they can't get around the elementary point that perception can be just as powerful as reality.

The Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama are not the only ones involved in the dream yoga cycle that begins when one of the two dies- other Lamas take part as well. It is simply tradition that the Dalia Lama and the Panchen Lama are the fulcrums of the cycle.

The Chinese want to use a false Panchen Lama to declare a false Dalai Lama after the Dalai Lama's death. The false Dalai Lama will be heralded as the new Matreya, and used to control people. It has almost next to nothing to do with whether their religion has even the slightest basis in fact, and everything to do with how many people perceive it to be worthy of adhering to it's tenets.

If the Chinese have a false Dalai Lama in the next 100 years, they will have the equivalent to an antichrist figure that they can manipulate the people with, and those who are caught behind their information wall will have next to no idea that their Dalai Lama is anything but what they claim it to be.

But, you know, any chance to preach to everyone how stupid the brown people and their ignorant taboos are. Not like us strong, pure white men.
posted by Bushidoboy at 9:50 AM on March 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


He's an emanation of Avalokitesvara IIRC, not Maitreya. Just to get a bit of pedantry in here.
posted by Abiezer at 10:22 AM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


What matters is if anyone- anyone at all- with the the power to order the Panchen Lama's death believes in it.

See, I think the opposite. If anyone at all with the power to order it doesn't believe, and I suspect most if not all of them don't, then he would be toast. It only takes one guy to pull a trigger.
posted by Justinian at 1:02 PM on March 15, 2011


It makes atheists look bad when they can't get around the elementary point that perception can be just as powerful as reality.

Tell that to the wall you think you can walk through.
posted by lumpenprole at 1:25 PM on March 15, 2011


Retiring from hanging around American celebrities and movie stars huh? Tough gig. Who are rappers going to reference now in order to allude to their spiritual depth? What a tragic loss for the famous and well-connected.
posted by xmutex at 2:25 PM on March 15, 2011


I can't philosophically justify the restriction of freedom merely because said freedom is used to say hella loopy things.

Except pre-occupation Tibet was hardly a free society, no matter how much Chinese propaganda you ignore. I don't care if you believe in your loopy bullshit at home, but if that is the basis for your oppressive theocracy, then you get no sympathy from me.

Of course a modern independent Tibetan government will be different, but you might as well wish for all the white people to leave America and hand the land back to the natives.
posted by yifes at 2:43 PM on March 15, 2011


good job yifes, everyone who dislikes the oppression of tibet is actually pining for the pre-occupation theocracy, way to call it
posted by Greg Nog at 5:08 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


As much as pre-occupation Tibet might not have been a liberal or democratic society, that's the starting off point, not the ending. The hope is that it will become free, liberal, and democratic. The same thing with Cuba; I have no desire to return to pre-Castro Cuba, but I do hope that that doesn't mean we have to stick with the current iteration.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:43 PM on March 15, 2011


What matters is if anyone- anyone at all- with the the power to order the Panchen Lama's death believes in it.

I share your annoyance at a certain type of blithe, preachy atheism that is idealist to the core, but despite the increased number of religious believers in China today, I really don't think those at the top of the ladder in Beijing are concerned about lama mythology beyond its practical use, as you mention. There's no rule forbidding an end-run around anyone in a position of power over the Dalai Lama-nominated Panchen Lama's life (assuming he is alive) who happens to believe in any of it. The North American white men in power generally believe in more taboos and are more religious than the people with final decision-making power in China (and they are not located in the TAR).
posted by Gnatcho at 6:25 AM on March 16, 2011


Tibet’s Quiet Revolution
posted by homunculus at 3:15 PM on March 19, 2011


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