Very interesting article today in the New York TImes about what will happen after His Holiness, the current Dalai Lama dies. One of his possible successors, The Karmapa, the young head of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, is mentioned and pictured in the piece.
Of course, many are predicting the Chinese will try to name and groom their next successor. Of course, the Dalai Lama has already said he won’t be reborn in Tibet.
For me, this is another case that highlights A) the beautiful but odd anachronysm that is the Tibetan lineage system of leadership and B) the not-so-beautiful specter of authoritarian control that is the Chinese system of government.
When you start messing around with reincarnation and other unverifiable status requirements for leadership, you open the door to all kinds of issues, as the discussion from last week’s post on the tulku system showed. Makes you long for a good old-fashioned election, dominated by right wing corporate media, family oligarchies, and over-simplification of wedge issues, don’t it?
Check out the over-the-top narrator’s voice in this video about the Karmapa.