"The Dalai Lamas held temporal and spiritual leadership over the last 400-500 years. It may have been quite useful. But that period is over..."
- The Dalai Lama
- The Dalai Lama
In a speech that underscored the pressures he has had to bear during his life serving as both a spiritual and political leader, the Dalai Lama has said there is no need for his successor to perform the two roles.
"Today, it is clear to the whole world that democracy is the best system despite its minor negativities. That is why it is important that Tibetans also move with the larger world community."In a video clip shown to hundreds of monks, nuns and lay people gathered in the mountain town of Dharamsala, the 73-year-old said it was essential that the Tibetan community in exile embraced democracy if it were to keep step with the wider world.
Robert Thurman, professor of Indo-Tibetan studies at Columbia University, said that while the Dalai Lama had managed to perform both a political and religious role, it was his belief that the Tibetan people would benefit from more secular education and taking more personal responsibility. "He thinks that democracy is the best way for this. He has dealt with Chinese autocracy for more than 60 years and he has seen what that has done," he said.
Despite the Dalai Lama's stated commitment to democracy, some observers believe a "regent" could be appointed to lead the freedom struggle in the form of Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who is the Karmapa, or spiritual head of the Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism and the third highest-ranking figure across the various schools. Whilst the 17th Karmapa could not inherit the title of Dalai Lama, he could act as a figurehead and help fill the void should the Dalai Lama fall ill or die. Such a move has been publicly discussed amid concerns last year about the Dalai Lama's health.
Earlier this year, the 23-year-old Karmapa, who was born and raised in Tibet but who escaped to India in 2000, told reporters: "His Holiness has been very successful in laying the foundations for the Tibetan struggle. He has done a great job. Now it is time for the next generation to build on this and carry it forward."
Read the entire article at the independent.co.uk web site
From a story by By Andrew Buncombe
• Related, and a very nice piece: Adapting to change: Dalai Lama suggests two people take his two roles