Speaking of Tibet, the Dalai Lama just gave a long interview to the BBC. He went out of his way to make it easy for reactionaries to have an opinion on his country.
For some reason, the interview isn’t published in the English website, which shows only a small lame news article.
The BBC Chinese version though has a long and juicy account. Dalailama.com also has a longer account.
What did the Dalai Lama say? He said he is in favor of abolishing all traditional Tibetan culture and formally become yet another NGO in the payroll of the US State Department.
As the Chinese headline says: “Dalai Lama claims reincarnation system is obsolete, must to adapt to Democracy.
The way the Dalai Lama institution works is that Buddhism, as most Indian religions, claims that souls are reincarnated after death, so after someone dies, it’s soul goes into some baby. That needn’t mean anything in particular; but of course Great Men are Great Men, so when a Great Men dies, his soul goes to some baby, then that baby by definition becomes a Great Men.
Tibetan monk leaders thus are not chosen amongst the monastery; instead some baby is brought up from the middle of nowhere, claimed to be the reincarnation of the old Boss, and made Boss himself. It sounds weird, but the Tibetan monasteries already had plenty of practice with kidnapping little boys, and it’s probably not a bad way of avoiding succession wars inside the monasteries. Just bring some complete outsider and get done with it. Although in practice it necessarily was more complicated than this.
In the 18th century the Chinese emperor decided to reign on the selection process, and put the names of several candidates in a Golden Urn, after which a lot was taken; the Buddha–inspired (under close watch of the Emperor) lottery decided who became the Big Fish Lamas in both Tibet, and by then heavily Lamaist Mongolia. This system continues to this day, although of course the Golden Urn is watched by the Communist Party of China.
Well, the present day Dalai Lama, which is of course in exile after he staged an uprising against China in 1959 and failed, has decided not only that the Golden Urn is a travesty; but that the very idea of reincarnation is “obsolete”. “A remnant of feudalism”, he says.
“I am committed to democracy,” he said, “while many of our religious institutions, such as reincarnation, are remnants of feudalism. Today we need to act appropriately to the new reality in which we find ourselves. The future of Tibetan Buddhism doesn’t depend on the institution of the Dalai Lama. It’s the 10,000 monks and nuns now studying in Tibetan centres of learning, mostly in South India, who will ensure the preservation of the Nalanda tradition.”
Well, I’m sorry Mr. Lhamo Thondup, but your whole religion is a remnant of feudalism. But you aren’t supposed to say that. You are supposed to say that the theology of the Gelug School is the eternal truth discovered by sagely monks inspired by the Boddhisattva of Wisdom, or something. If “adapting to the new reality” means giving away all your theology and institutions, why do you even exist? What are your values? Some snippets from the Chinese version:
“I am committed to democracy.”
“The next Dalai Lama could very well be a woman. Women have higher ability for empathy and feeling.”
“If a female Dalai Lama were to appear, she would have a very attractive face.”
There you go, progressive values. All he’s doing is surrendering his tribe to the West; effectively dissolving the Tibetan people as a coherent unit.
Meanwhile in China, Tibetan Buddhism is booming, its monasteries full of people, running a constant confrontation against the Communist government. Thousands of Chinese across the country are converting to Tibetan Buddhism as they find it the only serious religion that keeps its discipline and hasn’t sold out to modernity.
The only reason it hasn’t is because China invaded the place, creating the ethnic tensions that Peter Turchin says are the origin of social order. Meanwhile the Tibetan government in Exile has become a progressive QUANGO funded by the US taxpayer to promote feminism in the Himalayas. And exhorting European countries to accept the Muslim immigration.
So I think we can settle that the correct opinion on Tibet is to be glad Mao invaded, and only be sorry that the Dalai Lama managed to escape.