As tensions rise inside Tibet between the local population and Han Chinese migrants, the Dalai Lama has raised the ire of Beijing by suggesting that a referendum could determine whether or not he is reincarnated before his own death. From The Times:
The exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader proposed yesterday to hold a referendum among his 13-14 million followers around the world ” before his death ” on whether he should be reincarnated or not.
If the majority vote against it he said he would simply not be reborn, ending a lineage that tradition dictates dates back to the late 14th century, when a young shepherd was appointed the first Dalai Lama.
If the vote was in favour he said that he might appoint a reincarnation while he was still alive, breaking the 600-year-old tradition of being reborn as a small boy after his death. [Full text]
Also related: “China hits out at Dalai Lama comments on successor” and “Dalai Lama tries to use Olympics to lever Beijing,” both from AFP.