Friday, January 20, 2017

Dalai Lama Will Live 100 Years

China is not having a good year. With today's inauguration of incoming President Donald Trump, who railed against China as a "currency manipulator" and set aside years of American diplomatic policy by taking a call from the president of Taiwan, the Chinese government can't be happy. Furthermore, Trump's pledge to rein in outsourcing to Chinese firms could put a significant dent in the country's economy, should it come to pass.

And now there's this. At a festival celebrating his 80th birthday, the Dalai Lama, a longstanding thorn in the Chinese government's side, declared that he would live to be at least 100 years old. If accurate, that means he has at least twenty more years to spend advocating for a free Tibet, an issue that the Chinese government would dearly love to see just go away.

“Today, the people and deities of Tibet have made prayers for my long life. Doctors also suggest that I could live another 20 years or more. I’m 80 now; let’s plan to celebrate again when I’m 90,” His Holiness told the thousands of Tibetans and devotees, who welcomed the statement with a thunderous applause and cheers.

“Although there is no freedom in Tibet, people there too are praying for my long life, even if they can’t do so openly, but they have faith, devotion and a special connection with me. I’d like to thank you all,” His Holiness said, greeting Tibetans inside Tibet.

The grand two-day celebration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday was attended by a battery of top Indian leaders including Cabinet ministers Dr. Mahesh Sharma and Mr. Kiren Rijiju, Chief Minister Shri Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister Mr. Nabam Tuki, Ms. Viplove Thakur, Member of Parliament among others.

In fact, it was the first time in the history of Tibetan exile that a cabinet minister from the central government of India has visited Dharamshala to attend a Tibetan function. The leaders on their part also expressed their prayers for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s long life and implored him to take care of his health.

China has made some premptive moves to prepare for when the Dalai Lama finally passes away, such as writing into a law a ban on unauthorized reincarnation. Granted, it's hard to see how such a thing could be enforced, but the idea is to undermine the legitimacy of whoever is recognized as the Dalai Lama's next incarnation. Before that, they spirited away the child recognized as the next Panchen Lama, who traditionally "certifies" each of the Dalai Lama's incarnations.

Chinese government officials are likely hoping that the Dalai Lama passes away sooner rather than later, so they can put into practice these plans to undermine traditional Tibetan Buddhism. Twenty more years of the status quo will only frustrate them further, which provides a great incentive for the Dalai Lama to take care of his health and keep on living.

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