Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Rainbow Body for the Party?

One evening of 1954 in Beijing, Mao Zedong had come to visit the Dalai Lama in the guest-house where the latter was staying. Suddenly, the Great Helmsman turned to the young Lama and said “Religion is Poison”.
The 19-year old Tibetan leader was stunned: religion for him and his countrymen was everything; for centuries, Tibet lived by the Buddha Dharma, for the Buddha Dharma.
Sixty later, the Party line has not changed, but there is a difference, the Chinese ‘masses’ are more and more attracted to the Buddha’s teachings.
But it is not that simple as today China is land of contradictions.
Take an op-ed written by Zhu Weiqun in the Global Times. Zhu is the chairman of the ethnic and religious affairs committee of the Chinese Peoples’ Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and a former interlocutor of the Dalai Lama’s envoys; he affirmed that “lack of religious belief could be blamed for widespread corruption among cadres or any moral decay in Chinese society.”
Zhu affirmed in the strongest terms: “Communist Party members must not follow any religion; it is an ‘unshakeable’ principle of the party …Communist Party members cannot follow any religion – this is the important ideological and organisational principle which has been upheld since the founding of the party”.
A few weeks earlier the all-powerful Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) criticized some party cadres in Tibet for secretly taking part in religious activities.
Chen Quanguo, Tibet's Party Secretary told the Standing Committee of the Regional Party in Lhasa: "One should not believe in the 14th Dalai group’s fantasies (illusions), or follow the Dalai group; one should beware infiltration and sabotage activities in which are involved separatist party cadres."
One of the contradictions: while warning the cadres not be trapped in the 'Dalai Lama's fantasies', the Party is promoting Buddhism on a large scale in Eastern Tibet (Kham).
An article in China Tibet Online, a affiliate of Xinhua, praises ‘Larung Gar Five Sciences Buddhist Academy, a Buddhist University in Eastern Tibet, pointing out that a previous incarnation of Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche, Larung Gar’s founder was a teacher of His Holiness (sic) the Thirteenth Dalai Lama (of course, it is mentioned that the same Khenpo Phuntsok once visited Dharamsala to share teachings with the present Dalai Lama).
The article explains that: “Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche established the Larung Gar Five Sciences Buddhist Academy in Larung Valley near Serthar, Sichuan Province, southwest China, in 1980, with the aim to revitalize Dharma and benefit all sentient beings.”
Yes, you read correctly, the Communist media speaks of ‘reincarnation’.
The Communist website continues: “The reason behind the selection of Serthar is primarily based upon the fact that it is a historically sacred place in Vajrayana [Tibetan Buddhism]. Monks go to achieve 'rainbow body' and comprehend the 'four karmas' at the academy. Thirteen disciples attained 'rainbow body' at this place.”
Can you believe that the Communist publication speaks of the mystic ‘rainbow body’, a siddhi which allows a high-realized master to dissolve the material components of his body into a rainbow at the time of his death, thereby leaving no mortal remains?
Tibet China Online claims: “The aim of the academy can be summarized by four distinct pursuits: to unite Buddhists in harmony; to uphold pure precepts; to study, reflect upon, and practice the sacred Dharma; and to propagate the Dharma and benefit all beings.”
So, is Dharma poison or nectar?
While some in the Party reject religion, others are fast becoming experts in Tibetan Buddhism.
Unfortunately, Beijing is not enamoured with the Dalai Lama as yet.
In August, Beijing was delighted when the Tibetan religious leader’s visit to Mongolia 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 had to pay a two-day state visit on August 20 and 21 to Ulan Bator. 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?
And Mongolia, being China's largest trading partner, Ulan Bator had no choice but to bow to Beijing's will and cancel the visit.
But in many other cases Beijing actively promotes Buddhism. China Tibet Online quotes Trinley Dorje, director of the Tibet Committee of Ethnic and Religious Affairs, who affirms: “At present, China's Tibet Autonomous Region has 358 Rinpoches [reincarnated lamas] who were enthroned in accordance with the reincarnation system of Rinpoches.”
Of course, very few have heard of these ‘rinpoches’ before, but it is another issue; the point is that though Xi Jinping’s regime pretends to be atheist, it is not when politically convenient.
In the meantime, some Chinese cadres have started studying Tibetan Buddhism. Incredible China! On October 20, China Tibet Online announced that a seminar on Tibetan Buddhism was held at the China Tibetology Research Center in Beijing. The theme of the in-depth discussion was 'Tibetan Buddhism and Equality'. It was a two-day seminar sponsored by the China Tibetology Research Center and the High-level Tibetan Buddhism College of China.
The seminar was not an ordinary religious teaching for Chinese citizens turning towards spirituality: the research group participating in the exercise had to submit the outcome of its research to the Party. The organizers says: "Over 70 people attended the meeting, including leaders of the United Front Work Department of the CPC, revered lamas of the Tibetan Buddhism, scholars and experts in the area of Tibetan Buddhism research, leaders of the departments concerned of the Tibet Autonomous Region.”
In other words, senior Party cadres were learning Buddhism ...without, of course, ever referring to the Dalai Lama.
At the same time, China remains extremely intolerant. For example, 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 yet.
An even more amazing fact, the Party now says that Confucius taught ‘religion’ in Tibet. According to the Chinese official media, the wise man became known in Tibet as a human with 'divine power', under the name of Kongtse Trulgyi Gyalpo.
According to Beijing, Confucius was a master of the Bon; the pre-Buddhist faith in Tibet: “In order to promote the Bon religion, Confucius traveled to many places far away from home, and learned from masters until he finally built a monastery of the Bon religion. However, he wasn’t able to protect the monastery on his own, so he invited Shenrab Miwoche [the founder of the Bon faith] to help out and later regarded Miwoche as his master," says the Communist website.
Great, but why did Mao say that 'Religion is Poison'?
Let us hope the Party will soon take a Rainbow Body in the firmament of the Middle Kingdom.

No comments: