Senior religious leaders representing four schools of Tibetan Buddhism have collectively upheld the Dalai Lama’s individual authority to choose his successor, promising legitimacy that a possible Chinese representative would lack.
Over 100 lamas, including senior Buddhist priests, representing all schools of Tibetan Buddhism, ratified a special resolution to that effect on the first day of the 14th Tibetan Religious Conference, which lasts until Friday.
“The authority of decision concerning the process in which the next reincarnation of the 14th Dalai Lama should appear entirely rests with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama himself,” the three-point resolution says. “If the government of the People’s Republic of China for political ends chooses a candidate for the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan people will not accept and recognise that candidate.”
Chinese claims of having a say in nominating a successor has raised concerns among Tibetans about a potential legitimacy contest between a successor chosen by Dalai Lama himself and the one chosen and backed by China.
“It is a question of credibility, legitimacy,” Lobsang Sangay, president of the Tibetan government-in-exile said. “China could appoint one. But the representative will have no credibility. Fake is always fake.”
Last month, Tibetan Buddhists from around the world assembled and passed a resolution at the 3rd Special General Meeting seeking continuation of the reincarnation tradition and vesting the rights to choose a successor on the Dalai Lama himself.
Wednesday’s resolution adopted by senior religious figures of Tibetan Buddhism puts a holy seal of approval on October’s resolution, thereby significantly, if not entirely, rejecting the likelihood that the legitimacy of a successor selected by the Dalai Lama is disputed.
“The Karmic bond between the Dalai Lamas and the Tibetan people having been inseparable and the present status of the Tibetan people being extremely critical, all Tibetans genuinely wish for the continuation of the institution of reincarnation of the Dalai Lama in the future,” the resolution says.
“We therefore strongly supplicate to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama for the same,” it adds.
Sangay said with followers, as well as senior lamas, having prayed to the Dalai Lama, 84, for ensuring continuation of the reincarnation tradition, he is confident that the spiritual leader will oblige. “It is now up to His Holiness to decide when, where and whether,” Sangay said.
The spiritual leader says he will name his successor when he reaches the age of 90. The Tibetan Religious Conference is held every three years.
Special general meetings are held only when the need arises. The first such meeting was held in 2008 following Chinese repression of an uprising in Tibet. The second was held in 2012 to dissuade Dalai Lama followers from committing acts of self-immolation.
The third, held last month, was focused on countering Chinese attempts to hijack Tibetan Buddhism by interfering with the process of succession to the 14th Dalai Lama.