With the Dalai Lama now 76 years old, the question of who will determine his future reincarnation is an urgent issue for his followers in Tibet and around the world. In 1995, when the Dalai Lama and Beijing put forth different candidates for the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, the second highest lama in Tibetan Buddhism, it generated a political and religious impasse that has not been resolved 16 years later. The Panchen Lama named by the Dalai Lama was disappeared by Chinese authorities as a young child and has not been seen in public since, while Beijing’s candidate has gained little respect or following among Buddhists. In order to avoid a similar situation upon his own death, the Dalai Lama has now announced that he will determine the process for deciding if the lineage of the Dalai Lama will continue upon his death, and if so, how his reincarnation will be found. In his statement, he made it clear that, “no recognition or acceptance should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends by anyone, including those in the People’s Republic of China.” From AFP:
The Dalai Lama made the statement in a 4,200-word document issued after a gathering of leaders of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamshala.
“When I am about 90, I will consult the high lamas of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, the Tibetan public, and other concerned people who follow Tibetan Buddhism, and re-evaluate whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or not,” he said.
“On that basis we will take a decision,” the 76-year-old spiritual leader, who is the 14th Dalai Lama, said.
[…] The spiritual leader said he had decided to lay out “clear guidelines to recognise the next Dalai Lama” while he was still “physically and mentally fit” so that there was “no room for doubt or deception.”
“The person who reincarnates has sole legitimate authority over where and how he or she takes rebirth and how that reincarnation is to be recognised,” he said.
He said that if it was ultimately decided that there was a need for a 15th Dalai Lama to be recognised, responsibility for doing so would mainly lie with officers of the Dalai Lama’s trust.
The Dalai Lama’s official statement can be read here on his website.