Religion and Spirituality


The Dalai Lama Blocks China from Choosing his Successor

November 29, 2007 04:06 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
On Nov. 27, in a move taken to prevent Beijing picking his replacement, the Dalai Lama declares that a ballot will decide who succeeds him, breaking with 600 years of religious tradition.

30-Second Summary

In 1937, when he was two years old, Tibetan boy Tenzin Gyatso was visited by a band of monks, who requested the child examine the possessions of the late Dalai Lama.

Legend has it that Tenzin identified enough of those objects as his own to convince his visitors that he was none other than the 14th reincarnation of their deceased religious leader.

Such ceremonies have heralded the inauguration of senior lamas for centuries. But in 1995, Chinese authorities kidnapped the six-year-old boy who had just been declared the 11th Panchen Lama, one of the most important positions in the Tibetan Buddhist religion. He was replaced by a candidate approved by Beijing, which now uses that surrogate lama as a mouthpiece for Chinese policy.

It is to avoid such an incident happening again that the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader and exiled head of state, announced on Nov. 27 that he favors a referendum on his successor.

The Dalai Lama’s opposition to China's occupation of Tibet has won him admirers the world over. But although he is often perceived as the embodiment of compassion and fortitude in the face of oppression, he is not without his critics.

According to Corey Flintoff of NPR, the lama “is sometimes reviled for his willingness to accept that Tibet should remain tied to China.”

In addition, many were surprised in 1998, when the Dalai Lama spoke in support of India’s nuclear weapons tests.

Headline Link: ‘Dalai Lama defies China over Successor’

Reaction: China condemns Dalai Lama

Opinion & Analysis: Perspectives on the Dalai Lama and Tibet

History: Tibet

Key Players: The Dalai and Panchen lamas


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