In the People’s Republic of China religion is overseen by the State Administration for Religious Affairs. This branch of the government must ensure the stability of the Republic since religion can be diverse and dangerous to the status quo.
The recent decision to regulate the reincarnation of Buddhism can be summed up in the following quotes from
The Tibet Post:
China is set to announce a new constraint on Buddhists practising in Tibet, with a barring of Buddhist monks outside of China to be recognized as a reincarnation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The ban, set to be made law next month would effectively permit the Chinese government to select the future Dalai Lama.
The new law stipulates that Buddhist monks in Tibet must seek permission for reincarnation from the Chinese communist regime; this has been described by the Chinese state administration for religious affairs as an important move to “institutionalize management of reincarnation.”
But beyond the irony lies China’s true motive: to cut off the influence of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual and political leader, and to quell the region’s Buddhist religious establishment more than 50 years after China invaded the small Himalayan country. By barring any Buddhist monk living outside China from seeking reincarnation, the law effectively gives Chinese authorities the power to choose the next Dalai Lama, whose soul, by tradition, is reborn as a new human to continue the work of relieving suffering.
The 14-part regulation issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs is aimed at limiting the influence of Tibet’s exiled god-king, the Dalai Lama, and at preventing the re-incarnation of the 72-year-old monk without approval from Beijing.
It is the latest in a series of measures by the Communist authorities to tighten their grip over Tibet. Reincarnate lamas, known as tulkus, often lead religious communities and oversee the training of monks, giving them enormous influence over religious life in the Himalayan region. Anyone outside China is banned from taking part in the process of seeking and recognising a living Buddha, effectively excluding the Dalai Lama, who traditionally can play an important role in giving recognition to candidate reincarnates.
The State Administration for Religious Affairs does not believe in reincarnation. This regulation has one purpose—to control the spiritual head of the Tibetan Buddhists.
The Dalai Lama is a powerful individual whom the Buddhists will honor and obey. For the government to place someone in that leadership position is to guarantee control of that religious order. However, this philosophy did not work too well for the Soviet Union as they attempted to control the Russian Orthodox Church from the top down.
To China Tibet is an irritating carbuncle. From their viewpoint they must do whatever it takes to “heal” this infection. However, their hygienic solution is destined to fail.
Religion, embedded religion, is very difficult to eradicate and even more difficult to control. The odds are not in favour of the powerful. It is the people who compose a nation, and the will of the people eventually will triumph.
Life on this planet traversing the cosmos is never dull to the thinking individual. The plots and sub-plots of governments to maneuver, to coerce and to control their people are a badly-written play which repeats every generation.
If the leaders of a nation would allow their people the simple dignity of being, the world would be a better place. For people to be free to choose and to live would be a welcome change from the status quo.
Leaders come and go on this orb. The most powerful leader today is nothing when they say their final goodbye to this earth. They fade like their people into the cosmic ocean, but their song is not one which the cosmic symphony cares to play. Their fading continues until they are reduced to a footnote which begs no special attention out there where life began when the morning stars sang their first song. The songs of creation are songs of freedom.
May the people of Tibet embrace their creation song. May its melody be heard globally that a people oppressed and suppressed on this planet can still sing their song of freedom which is their inalienable right by creation.
G. D. Williams © 2011
Additional resources on Tibet:
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
Tibetan Government in Exile
Tibet: The Story of a Tragedy
NOVA: Lost Treasure of Tibet