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Posted on Friday, November 30 - 2007

" Copyright © The GuardianThe centuries-old tradition of choosing a new Dalai Lama may be about to change from the mysteries of reincarnation to the realities of a referendum to hold off the increasing influence of the Chinese government in the process.Tibet's exiled spiritual leader yest..."

The Dalai Lama

Copyright © The Guardian

The centuries-old tradition of choosing a new Dalai Lama may be about to change from the mysteries of reincarnation to the realities of a referendum to hold off the increasing influence of the Chinese government in the process.Tibet's exiled spiritual leader yesterday offered the prospect of a referendum before he dies to decide how to pick the Himalayan people's next living Buddha - incensing China which insists on the right to approve incarnations. At a gathering of religious leaders from around the world in the northern Indian city of Amritsar, the 72-year-old appeared to be prepared to break with a historic system to choose the spiritual and politicalhead of the Tibetans."If people feel that the institution of the Dalai Lama is still necessary, it will continue," he told reporters. "When my physical condition becomes weak, and there are serious preparations for death, then [the referendum] should happen," said the 1989 Nobel peace prizewinner.

"[But] I am good for another few decades." China, which has sought to snuff out Tibetan nationalism since its forces invaded in 1950, condemned the proposal. "The Dalai Lama's statement is in blatant violation of religious practice and historical procedure," the foreign ministry said in a statement. In the past few months, Chinese politicians and the state-controlled media have stepped up the rhetoric against the Tibetan leader, who is accused of beinga "splittist" because he advocates more autonomy for his people. It appears that Beijing's hardening position, after six rounds of talks over five years between the two sides, has prompted the Tibetan leader to consider radical options. Traditionally "living Buddhas" are identified in boyhood through a mixture of tests and divination by Buddhist monks after a lama dies. But this summer Beijing announced it would control the process and reserve the right to approve incarnations - the final straw for the Tibetan government-in-exile that has operated for five decades from the Indian hill station of Dharamsala. "The Communist party of China have no moral or spiritual basis for such measures," said Tempa Tsering, the Dalai Lama's representative in New Delhi. "Any attempt by the Chinese to pick a successor will result infalse idols.&quo......


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