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02 December, 2007

Calling all Tibetans to vote for the next Dalai Lama

Not quite yet, but the Dalai Lama seems to be seriously considering breaking with tradition regarding his successor. The first step would be to hold a referendum among all traditional Tibetan Buddhists, including those living in China-occupied Tibet, to decide whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or not.

"When my physical condition becomes weak, and there are serious preparations for death, then this event should happen," said the 72-year-old, adding "... according to my regular medical checkup, I am good for another few decades."
In a move that must be a surprise to no one, China condemned the referendum proposal. "The Dalai Lama's statement is in blatant violation of religious practice and historical procedure," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press.

You may recall that late last summer that China announced a ban on reincarnation that occurred without approval from the Chinese government. As unbelievable as this sounds, it takes the recognition of reincarnated lamas away from the Buddhists. The fear of Tibetan Buddhists is, of course, that China will control the search for a successor once the Dalai Lama dies.
The Dalai Lama, who believes he is the 14th reincarnated Dalai Lama, acknowledged his death would be difficult for many Tibetans.

"If I die today there will be some setback to the Tibetan struggle," he said "But the Tibetan spirit will not go away with my death."
• Read the entire article on the AP web site

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