A Young Lama Weighs Tibetans’ Future

The Washington Post profiles the Karmapa Lama, the third highest leader in Tibetan Buddhism behind the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, and widely perceived to be a potential successor of the Dalai Lama as the faith’s spiritual leader:

The appointment of a successor to the 73-year-old Dalai Lama, who almost single-handedly catapulted Tibet’s struggle into the world’s consciousness, has become a daunting issue for Tibetans as the spiritual leader ages.

[…] So far, Tibetans have remained unified largely out of their love and respect for the Dalai Lama. But there is a growing divide in the community — some want independence from China, and others favor the Dalai Lama’s proposal for true autonomy, or his “middle way” approach. Analysts are uncertain whether the Tibetan movement could remain united under a less-venerated leader such as the Karmapa Lama.

“Our generation has so much to take on our shoulders when His Holiness passes. The Dalai Lama has unified the hearts of all Tibetans,” said Tenzin Tsundue, a poet and member of the Tibetan Youth Congress, a group that advocates an independent Tibet. “But Karmapa is passionate, he’s energetic. He has the respect of the youth. We will really need him.”

[…] Tibetans worry that China could exploit division over the Dalai Lama’s successor and that it is already trying to steer the selection process for Tibet’s next leader. Last week, Chinese officials said that Beijing must approve the Dalai Lama’s successor, according to the state-run New China News Agency.

See also reports on the Karmapa from BBC, The Times (which calls him the “hip-hop lama”), and AP, as well as a Reuters factbox on “Question marks over succession of Dalai Lama.”

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