Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How the next Dalai Lama may be selected!

Tomb of the 10th Panchen Lama at Tashi Lhunpo monastery
Two years ago, I mentioned about the 'arranged' recognition (and enthronement) of the Tenth Panchen Lama.
Today, a Chinese website published a series of photos of the so-called Golden Urn ceremony organized by the Communist Party of China (CPC).
Though at the end of the recent Kalachakra the Dalai Lama stated that he will live till 100, the Communist Government in Beijing is meticulously planning his reincarnation.
It explains the publication of the 1995 'rehearsal' for the selection of the Eleventh Panchen Lama. 
The photos of the farcical ceremony are posted below.

If he could hear the uttering of one of his Tibetan followers, poor Karl Marx would turn in his tomb!
Padma Choling, (alias Pema Thinley), Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Regional (TAR) People's Congress created a flutter when he declared: “it's not up to the Dalai Lama to decide [about his own reincarnation].”
The third session of China's 12th National People's Congress (NPC) had opened as usual with fanfare at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 5, 2015. Three days later, the Tibetan official objected to the Dalai Lama’s earlier announcement saying that ‘[his] traditional religious role should cease with his death’.
Padma Choling affirmed that it was against “the Tibetan Buddhism tradition as the soul of a senior lama is reincarnated in the body of a child on his death. …[as] the move is expected to upset the reincarnation system that has been honored for hundreds of years in Tibet and destabilize the Buddhist region.”
The Central Committee member added that the process: “should follow strict historical conventions and required religious rituals of the Tibetan Buddhism …and be approved by the central government.”
According to Beijing, it is for the Communist Party of China to ‘decide’ who will be the next Dalai Lama.
The atheist Party believes that the Dalai Lama’s claims to stop his lineage (more correctly, the institution of the Dalai Lamas) “is blasphemy against ibetan Buddhism.”
The question remains: how will the Communist Party choose the next Dalai Lama? It is very easy to guess, if you read a book ‘Surviving the Dragon: A Tibetan Lama's Account of 40 Years under Chinese Rule’ written by a Tibetan Lama, now in exile in the US, who was part of the great tamasha to ‘select’ a new Panchen Lama in 1995.
The Lama, Arjia Rinpoche was the Abbot of the Kumbum monastery in today’s Qinghai Province before escaping from China; he was also a member of the ‘selection committee’ for the Panchen Lama.
Arjia recalls: “On May 14, 1995, I was stunned by the news that, in India, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama had announced the name of the reincarnated Eleventh Panchen Lama. My immediate fear was that the Chinese government would not accept his decision and would put itself at odds with Tibetan tradition. And I was right.”
Beijing was furious that the Dalai Lama, based in Himachal Pradesh, had ‘unilaterally’ decided on the new incarnation.
Soon after the Tenth Panchen Lama passed away, under mysterious circumstances while on a visit to Tibet, the Chinese government formed a ‘search team’ under Gyayak Rinpoche, the Panchen Lama’s dharma teacher. Chadrel Rinpoche, abbot of the Panchen Lama’s Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and Arjia Rinpoche were to assist the old Lama.
Arjia remembers: “The Chinese government trusted Chadrel Rinpoche to do their bidding … asking only that he report frequently to the central government on his progress.”
Chadrel Rinpoche considered that it was Tashi Lhunpo monastery’s responsibility to discover the newly born Lama.
The problem started after Gyayak’s demise, when Beijing discovered that Chadrel Rinpoche had secretly been in contact with the Dalai Lama to find a ‘consensus’ candidate. Dharamsala was unaware that Chadrel Rinpoche had written a ‘letter of promise’ agreeing to obey the Chinese government; this explains Dharamsala’s unilateral announcement.
At the same time, says Arjia: “the Tibetans clearly wanted the Fourteenth Dalai Lama to be the final arbiter of the identity of the true reincarnation of the Panchen Lama.”
Events started to hot up in early November 1995, when an emergency meeting was called in Beijing to ‘clarify’ the Communist Party’s position.
According to the former Abbot of Kumbum: “This was when I learned that Chadrel Rinpoche had been arrested. …[then], we were bombarded with statements like ‘We must not allow the Dalai's separatist clique to interfere in the Golden Urn Ceremony’. Though not spelled out, the message was clear: His Holiness would not be involved in the selection process, and the Golden Urn Ceremony would be the method of choice.”
The next day, the main meeting took place to which Jamyang Shepa, abbot of Labrang-Tashi Kyil monastery, Bumi Rinpoche, a high Lama from the TAR and Arjia participated.
Ying Kesheng, the Party Secretary of Qinghai Province was present.
Three points were on the agenda.
  1. Eliminating from contention the boy selected by the Dalai Lama (Gedun Choekyi Nyima, who since then has been under house arrest);
  2. Denouncing and removing Chadrel Rinpoche from his official position on the search team; and
  3. Mandating a Golden Urn Ceremony.
The rinpoches present had no other choice but to accept Beijing’s decision: “The meeting was swift and efficient. That same afternoon, central TV aired footage of the meeting throughout China and the rest of the world,” says Arjia Rinpoche.
Soon after, another meeting was called “for determining the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama using the Golden Urn Ceremony.”
It was to be held in the Jokhang Cathedral in Lhasa: “We landed at Gonggar airport in Lhasa, which was tightly guarded by People's Liberation Army soldiers and armed policemen. Our column of buses, led by police patrol cars, took two hours to drive the 60 miles to the hotel. Soldiers were lined up along the entire route ‘for our protection’. When we arrived at the Lhasa Hotel, things were even more oppressive; I saw squads of PLA soldiers with machine guns, as well as regular police, surrounding the hotel so that no one could slip in or out.”
This could probably be called the selection of a Living Buddha with Chinese characteristics.
The Communist officials told the rinpoches:"The Golden Urn Ceremony will take place tonight, so please be prepared. …If a separatist clique [followers of the Dalai Lama] attempts any disruption of the ceremony, everyone will be protected.”
A stern warning followed: “if any among you support or participate in any such attempt, we will punish you without mercy."
The ceremony was held on November 29, 1995, at 2 am: “we were called together and ushered into vehicles bound for Jokhang Temple. Although the night was dark, again we could see soldiers in their heavy bulletproof vests every few steps along the deserted streets. …As we walked toward the statue of the Buddha [the famous Jowo], we saw undercover policemen standing in every corner and shadow.”
Arjia Rinpoche continues the narration of the dramatic event: “In front of the statue of Sakyamuni Buddha was a large table covered with a yellow silk cloth. Alone on the table stood a golden urn about 15 inches high, surrounded by seated high officials.”
Luo Gan, a State Counselor (and later, a member of the Politburo’s Standing Committee) and Gyaltsen Norbu (the TAR governor) were present.
Then the Ceremony began: “Inside the gold urn was a small case, which contained three ivory lots, an inch wide and seven or eight inches long, with cloud scrolls etched at one end. The names of the three candidates were written on three separate pieces of paper and pasted to the ivory sticks, each of which was then slipped into a tightly fitted pouch of yellow silk. …The three ivory lots were placed into the Golden Urn.”
Bumi Rinpoche, who had been appointed Ganden Tripa (throne holder of the Yellow School) by Beijing, drew the lot.
Arjia remembers: “I expected him to lift the vessel and shake one of the lots out of the urn, but instead he passed his hand quickly over the lots and pulled one out. He handed the yellow pouch to Luo Gan for verification. Luo Gan handed it to Gyaltsen Norbu.”
The name of the ‘selected’ candidate was Gyaltsen Norbu, like the Governor: “Gyaltsen Norbu chose Gyaltsen Norbu. The government chose itself as Panchen Lama,” a joke later circulated.
But the tamasha was not finished. Read on and you will understand how the next Dalai Lama will be selected.
After Gyaltsen Norbu’s enthronement in Tashi Lhunpo, Arjia Rinpoche returned to Beijing by plane. He and Jamyang Shepa were called in a private cabin by Li Tieying, a Central minister and Ye Xiaowen, the director of the Bureau of Religious Affairs under the Chinese Cabinet.
Arjia says: “Both of them looked especially pleased with themselves. Li Tieying placed the event in the context of great moments in China's history.”
After Li Tieying, retired (with an oxygen mask) in the unpressurized cabin, Ye Xiaowen spoke more freely: “He unwittingly revealed a shocking secret,” recalls Arjia. Ye said: “When the Dalai Lama announced the name of his chosen candidate, the government immediately sent out charter jets, usually reserved for members of the Politburo, to the birthplaces of the three final candidates in the Naqu [Nagchu] district of Tibet. They put the boys and their families on the three jets and whisked them away into hiding."
Arjia continues quoting Yu: “When we made our selection we left nothing to chance. In the silk pouches of the ivory pieces we put a bit of cotton at the bottom of one of them, so it would be a little higher than the others and the right candidate would be chosen.”
That was it.
Nothing could be done: “We were dumbfounded! Jamyang Shepa Rinpoche and I kept silent, our heads lowered, pretending we had heard nothing unusual.”
There is no doubt that the selection of the next Dalai Lama will be done in the same manner, if Beijing is allow to have its way.
Twenty years later, Gedun Choekyi Nyima, selected by the Dalai Lama as the Panchen Lama is still under house arrest, somewhere in China.
A tragic farce indeed.

Ye Xiaowen, State Council's Secretary for Religious Affairs selecting the name
Bomi Rinpoche, a Chinese appointed 'Ganden Tripa' and the Golden Urn
Governor Gysltsen Norbu recognizing Gyaltsen Norbu

Gyaltsen Norbu, the Chinese Panchen Lama
State Councilor Li Tieying and Gyaltsen Norbu
State Councilor Li Tieying and Gyaltsen Norbu
On behalf of the State Council, Minister Li Tieying recognizes Gyalsten Norbu

In front of the Buddha in Jokhang Cathedral

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