Sunday, August 24, 2014

Is China becoming Buddhist?

Communist China is fast becoming expert in Tibetan Buddhism. Unfortunately (for them), though Beijing shows a great interest in the Tibetan Tradition, it is not enamoured with the Dalai Lama as yet.
Beijing was very pleased when, on August 20, Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun reported that the Tibetan religious leader’s visit to Mongolia, scheduled for later this month, was canceled.
Of course, this was done under Beijing’s own pressure.
How could the Dalai Lama visit Ulan Bator the same month than the new Emperor? Xi Jinping paid a two-day state visit on August 20 and 21 to Ulan Bator.
The Chinese media reported that the cancellation was ‘believed’ to result from China's effective use of economic leverage on the neighbour, whose 80 percent of the population follow Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
Suppose that the Dalai Lama had got a better reception than Xi Jinping, it would have not looked nice for the strong man in Beijing. Isn’t it?
Mongolia, being China's largest trading partner, had no choice, but to bow to Beijing's will and cancel the visit.
More interestingly China Tibet Online asserts: “Tibetan Buddhism has been a remarkable tie and witness of the bilateral relationship between the two countries.”
Outer Mongolia and Communist China now share their passion for Buddhism.
Beijing’s new love is apparent in another article of China Tibet Online which, quoting Trinley Dorje, director of the Tibet Committee of Ethnic and Religious Affairs, affirms: “At present, China's Tibet Autonomous Region has 358 Rinpoches [reincarnated lamas] who were enthroned in accordance with the reincarnation system of Rinpoches.”
The official publication adds: “The reincarnation system of Rinpoches, or living Buddha, is a unique practice for the continuation of the Rinpoche of Tibetan Buddhism, which is respected by the Chinese government. In recent years, some 40 Rinpoches in Tibet were enthroned according to the historical custom and religious ritual. The searching, decision and enthronement of 5th Dezhu Jiangbai Gesang and the 8th Rongbu Chokyi Lozang Dondrup which were carried out in the recent five years both strictly followed the reincarnation system.”
Of course, very few have heard of these ‘rinpoches’ before, but it is another issue; the point is Xi Jinping’s regime pretends to be not atheist anymore.
We are told that Tibet’s Department of Ethnic and Religious Affairs also helped 20 Islamic clergies to get the approval from the China Islam Association (under the Communist Party). In 2013, the Tibetan government even sent 16 Tibetan Muslim for a pilgrimage in the Saudi Arabia.
Is China transformed?
In the meantime, Gyaltsen Norbu, the Panchen Lama selected by Beijing visited with fanfare Western Tibet (Ngari prefecture).
Xinhua reported: “The 11th Panchen Lama, Bainqen Qoigyijabu [Panchen Gyaltsen Norbu], has come to Nagri [Ngari] Prefecture of Tibet for the first time to hold Buddhist activities. Since he arrived on August 13, the Panchen Lama had worshiped Kangrinboqe, [Kang Rinpoche or Mount Kailash] a holy mountain about 6,656 meters above sea level in Burang [Purang] County. In the eyes of the followers of Hinduism, Buddhism and Bonism, it is the center of the world.”
It is undoubtedly true.
The details of the busy schedule of the Panchen Gyaltsen Norbu are given: “Before the worshiping ceremony started in the morning of the August 14, he visited a temple at the foot of the mountain to pray for all living creatures.”
We are told that Gyaltsen Norbu was received by some 20 monks [who] welcomed him ‘by holding prayer flags, accompanied by the sound of horns’. The report continues: “Before the worshiping ceremony [puja], he visited the Chokyi Temple at the foot of the mountain and chanted sutras to pray for all living creatures”, says Xinhua, adding that hearing the news that the Panchen Lama had arrived, 'Buddhism followers' [i.e. Tibetans] nearby got together in a zigzagging queue in hope of worshipping the Panchen Lama for blessings.
Nothing, of course, like the late 10th Panchen Lama, during his last visit to Tashilhunpo. Watch this video!
Gyaltsen Norbu had the ritual photo op in two local village house in Montser [Minsar?] in Gar County. A Tibetan, Yeshe with his family, “with all in brand new clothes, welcomed the Panchen Lama by holding hada [khata] in their hands and bringing out the chema, a wooden container used by Tibetans to pray for a bumper harvest.”
Yeshe had to give details about his daily life, "how many members are there in your family, where is the source of your income, how much do you earn one year”, etc. Gyaltsen Norbu was told the 8-member family, lived on transportation and tourism travel; they have an annual income of about 8,000 US $: “the Panchen Lama was pleased and wished Yeshe could also help other local residents prosper”.
Gyaltsen Norbu then went to “the holy lake Mapham Yutso [Mansarovar] and nearby temples, chanted sutras for all living beings, visited two local farm households, named a 13-day-old baby at the request of his parents and touched the heads of several hundreds of people to give them blessings.”
The report asserts: “It enjoys a reputation equal to the holy mountain in the eyes of local Tibetans.”
On the morning of August 16, the Panchen Lama went to the Khorchak Monastery, built in 996 CE, near Purang. the monastery belongs to the Sakya school; according to the Chinese news agency: “He successively worshiped the main shrine, Great Chanting Hall, Tara Hall, Champa Hall, Dharmapala Hall, and Seven-Buddhas Hall. Then in the main shrine, he chanted sutras with monks of the monastery and gave head-touching blessing to those followers”.
But Karl Marx was not forgotten during the visit, on the last day, Gyaltsen Norbu honoured a Communist ‘model worker’ by visiting the tomb of one Kong Fansen, a Chinese ‘model’ official who dedicated his life to the building of Tibet; Gyaltsen Norbu presented “a hada [khata], a strip of raw silk and linen for good blessing.”
All these choreographed visits would be fine, if they were not aimed at showing off to the world that Communist China is today a very tolerant  nation.
But China is so intolerant that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima born on April 25, 1989 and recognized as the 11th Panchen Lama by the Dalai Lama is still under house arrest in China; the authorities in Beijing have systematically refused to let the world know about his whereabouts.
He has not been seen in public since May 17 1995, nearly twenty years ago.
This proves that Communist China is not truly Buddhist as yet.
Here are some pictures of the Chinese Panchen Lama near Mt. Kailash and Manasarowar.

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