Ten years ago, the five-year-old 11th Panchen Lama, Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, was officially installed through a ceremony known as sitting on the bed. Now 10 years have passed, how about his life and study? Recently, the 11th Panchen Lama accepted an exclusive interview by CCTV program Oriental Horizon. During the interview, he said, "As a Living Buddha, I feel that I am bearing great historical mission."
"Historical mission falls upon me."
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Reporter: When did you begin your earliest memory of things about Buddhism?
Panchen: As far as I'm concerned, I was influenced by Buddhist sutras right after I was born, and even when I was still in my mother's womb. Later I heard my parents chant The gatha (hymn) to Great Master Padmasambhava and Buddhist scriptures translated by some eminent Tibetan monks. Additionally, I not only heard but also memorized the contents of works written by some eminent Tibetan monks, such as Great Master Tsonghkaha.
Reporter: So, you feel close at heart the chanting of Buddhist scriptures, do you?
Panchen: Yes, as religious believers, we are happy to hear the chant of Buddhist sutras. Why? Because reciting mani would generate in people a kind of affection, such kindheartedness is the foundation of bodhi (awakening).
Reporter: Do you still have any impression on the matter about the sacred baby-seeking team which came to your home, a soul boy sought for the reincarnation of Living Buddha?
Panchen: I can roughly remember that. That day, eminent monk Benba from Trashilhunpo Monastery came to my home.
Reporter: Then they told you that you were the soul boy for reincarnation of Living Buddha, and that after finally going through the drawing of slips from a golden urn, you were reincarnation of the Great Master Panchen Lama, what did you think about this?
Panchen: Now I feel that a great historical mission has fallen upon my shoulder, I've no other thinking than this one.
"I am a Living Buddha, therefore I have to learn various kinds of Buddhist knowledge."
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Reporter: Now you've switched over to a completely different lifestyle in the lamasery, can you adapt yourself to it in a short time?
Panchen: Now with the change in my status, my clothing, food and drink as well as other aspects of life have also changed. For a person, it is necessary to have a certain period time to adapt himself to a new style of life. With the growth in one's age, one will become more sensible and will get used to a new lifestyle.
Reporter: I have watched the whole process of your debate on things about scriptures, and your manner of scratching your head as you thought over something at one time and were laughing at another time. Is that a very interesting thing?
Panchen: Yes, debate on matters about scriptures is a very significant thing. Take philosophy for example. Philosophy is very abstruse. After attending a lecture given by a master of the sutras, one has to remember and comprehend it. During the debate, one can air one's own views and engage in an exchange of opinions with others, the more one engages in debate, the more one knows and the deeper one comprehends, the more one knows about scriptures, the more one becomes interested in them.
Reporter: It should be said that your current status in Tibetan Buddhism is higher than that of your four sutra masters. But as you go to see them at ordinary time, do you feel that they look like your elders, and do you have the feeling of being dependent on them?
Panchen: Yes. Living Buddha is merely a name. But a real understanding of Buddhism does not lie in whether or not one is a Living Buddha. I'm a Living Buddha, therefore I study various kinds of Buddhist knowledge, were I not a Living Buddha, I would not necessarily have such conditions to study. The masters of sutras teach me knowledge, I owe them a debt of gratitude, and I therefore show great respect for them.
"I pray for the living creatures in misery."
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Reporter: You held the first open service in Tibet in 1999. It is said that more than 10,000 people came to the service, asking you to give them a touch on the head and blessing, lining up in a two-km-long queue and demanding bless from you. What was your feeling at that very moment when you saw so many people expecting your blessing?
Panchen: Some devout believers came for a guanding (touch on the head) as an expression of their firm belief. To satisfy their demand, I gave them guanding, taught them dharma, and prayed for them getting free from diseases and disasters.
Reporter: As a matter of fact, mankind is faced with many disasters, such as SARS epidemic in 2003 and the Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004. What would you do when you learned about the occurrence of these catastrophes?
Panchen: As I told you just now, I often pray for the living creatures in misery. When the above-mentioned situation happened, I was still praying for and donated money to the victims.
Reporter: Apart from holding the Buddhist service in Tibet, have you ever called at the homes of some ordinary Tibetans?
Panchen: Yes, I have. I asked them to pray more, do more good things, follow the instructions of the Communist Party, and create a happy life for themselves.
Reporter: In your eyes, is he (the 11th Panchen Lama's own father) your father or one of your followers?
Panchen: Of course, I regard him as my father who brought me to this world. I cannot forget my parents' benevolence; otherwise, I would be acting in a way inconformity with human nature.
"Watching TV is the main way to keep myself informed of major domestic and foreign events."
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Reporter: Is watching TV every evening a matter of paramount importance to you? Do you get to know the outside world by watching TV?
Panchen: I get to know the central news and major international and domestic events through TV programs. This is the main channel through which I come to know the external and internal situation. Apart from that, I also like to watch historical TV plays.
Reporter: Do you follow the diplomatic situation with interest?
Reporter: What TV series have you watched recently?
Panchen: Young Emperor Kangxi
Reporter: Do you think there are differences and similarities between you and young Emperor Kangxi?
Panchen: There are differences in many aspects. From an epochal perspective, I am living in a new age and in New China practicing people's democracy. While Emperor Kangxi, on his part, lived in a feudal age. In terms of identity and status, Kangxi was an emperor while I am a Buddhist monk and Living Buddha. I pray for the happiness and equality to all the living creatures mainly through reciting scriptures.
"I will carry forward the glorious traditions of all Panchen Lamas who loved the country and the religion of Buddhism."
Reporter: We've recorded how you study all day long today and we feel you are really busy.
Panchen: That's true, from the angle of a Living Buddha, I am entrusted with great historical mission. If I did not study hard, I wouldn't be able to fulfill this mission.
Reporter: When will this study conclude?
Panchen: There won't be an end to study.
Reporter: Do you think you are now a child or an adult?
Panchen: I am neither a little child, nor a grown-up. I am a youth.
Reporter: As a Master Panchen Lama, what differences do you think there are between you and the 10th, 9th and all previous Panchen Lamas?
Panchen: There are actually not so many differences. The most fundamental point is that I must carry forward the glorious traditions of all the previous Panchen Lamas who loved the country and the religion of Buddhism. The biggest difference is that we live in different times and I will work hard to do things in the interests of the country and the people. I will strive for the reunification of the motherland, the unity of various nationalities and the happiness of people, as well s for the healthy development of Tibetan Buddhism on the road of compatibility with the socialist society.
By People's Daily Online