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For reincarnation, it takes more than just the words of Dalai Lama

(Xinhua)    09:06, July 20, 2015

BEIJING, July 19 -- The 14th Dalai Lama has been talking about his reincarnation as though the centuries-old system is his personal matter.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, the 80-year-old monk hinted that he would hold some kind of referendum among Tibetan exiles, and consultations among Tibetans within China, about whether a new Dalai Lama should succeed him.

He also commented that "the Chinese Communist Party is pretending that they know more about the reincarnation system than Dalai Lama".

Historically, the Dalai Lama is just part of a succession system which strictly follows set religious rituals and historical conventions.

Tibetan Buddhism holds that the soul of a senior lama is reincarnated in the body of a child upon his death. To decide who is the next Dalai Lama, it takes more than just the words of the incumbent Dalai Lama.

A quick history lesson on the system would reveal that succession also hinges on other historically set processes, including a search for the new incarnation and recognition by the central government.

Another important process in deciding the successor is identification through a lottery, in which names of competing candidates are written on folded slips of paper placed in a golden urn granted by the central government to decide who is the lucky one.

There are exceptions to the lottery. China's central government officially exempted the selection of the 9th, 13th, and 14th Dalai Lamas from use of the golden urn.

The authority of the central government has always been important in the reincarnation process. Historical precedents have clearly shown the central government's vital role in the process.

The title "Dalai Lama" itself, which can be loosely rendered as "ocean of wisdom," was officially conferred on the 5th Dalai Lama by the central Chinese government in 1653.

Since then, all confirmations of the Dalai Lama have required approval by the central Chinese government, which has deemed the process an important issue concerning sovereignty and national security.

For the past nearly 500 years, the Gelug sect has used a consistent reincarnation process. It is through this procedure that the 14th Dalai Lama himself became head monk of the Gelug, or "Yellow Hat" school of Tibetan Buddhism.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Zhang Qian,Yao Chun)

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