China has rather brilliantly declared that, from next month, Tibetan Buddhist monks must have official permission to reincarnate, Newsweek reports.
The new legislation lays down strict guidelines for making a reappearance and is, according to a statement from the State Administration for Religious Affairs, "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation".The penalty for illicit reincarnation is not noted (100 consecutive life sentences without parole?), but there is method in the Chinese authorities' madness.
As Newsweek points out, the law will effectively prevent any Buddhist monk living outside Tibet* from seeking reincarnation. Accordingly, it also "effectively gives Chinese authorities the power to choose the next Dalai Lama".
The exiled 72-year-old Dalai Lama is currently in India pondering his successor. Since he's refused to reincarnate in Tibet while it's under Chinese control, there is the provocative possibility of a Chinese-sponsored Dalai Lama going head-to-head with a new young chum for Richard Gere.
Paul Harrison, a Buddhism scholar at Stanford, explained: "It will be a very hot issue. The Dalai Lama has been the prime symbol of unity and national identity in Tibet, and so it's quite likely the battle for his incarnation will be a lot more important than the others."
Harison and other Buddhism scholars are agreed the next Dalai Lama's Dalai Lama will "will likely be from within the 130,000 Tibetan exiles spread throughout India, Europe and North America", while China is evidently preparing the ground for a Tibetan resident rival. ®
*Better described as "China", if you work for Google.