Sunday, November 04, 2007

The smiling Dalai

Father Raymond de Souza asks why the Dalai Lama always seems to be smiling. Perhaps because quietly and without military force, he has become China’s nemesis
The PRC has moved against the cultural institutions of Tibet, primary among them the role of the Buddhist monks. Restrictions have been placed on their own internal decision-making and designation of leaders. Most pointedly, the Dalai Lama is forced to live in exile, as he refuses to accept the PRC’s swallowing of Tibet as legitimate.

China has yet to learn that sheer might and growing prosperity are not replacements for the rights of conscience and religious liberty. While the International Olympic Committee, and Google, and Mattel and others are perfectly willing to bow before the PRC leadership, the Dalai Lama and his monks are made of sturdier stuff. And nothing confounds the politically powerful more than the man of religion who bows only to his God. Whether the ancient pharaoh and Moses, Pilate and Jesus, Henry II and Thomas Becket, Henry VIII and Thomas More — the story is the same, and you would have thought the Chinese would be wise enough to learn it.
China is so afraid of this one man being free, that they risk looking absurd, even to point of recognizing what they claim doesn't exist.
So unhinged has Beijing become over the Dalai Lama that this past summer they moved to prevent him from reincarnating himself as the next lama after his death. I do not believe in reincarnation and so am not concerned with the particulars of how it is supposedly accomplished, but surely a certificate of permission from the religious affairs bureaucracy is not essential.

Yet effective last Sept. 1, Beijing decreed that any reincarnations accomplished without official government permission were invalid. Of course the monks will ignore the decree, but it would be delightful to discover what the actual process was for obtaining a permission to reincarnate from the PRC government.

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