The main purpose of the appearance of a reincarnation is to continue the predecessor’s unfinished work to serve Dharma and beings. In the case of a Lama who is an ordinary being, instead of having a reincarnation belonging to the same mind-stream, someone else with connections to that Lama through pure karma and prayers may be recognised as his or her emanation.
Alternatively, it is possible for the Lama to appoint a successor who is either his disciple or someone young who is to be recognised as his emanation. Since these options are possible in the case of an ordinary being, an emanation before death that is not of the same mind-stream is feasible. In some cases one high Lama may have several reincarnations simultaneously, such as incarnations of body, speech and mind and so on. In recent times, there have been well-known emanations before death, such as Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorje and Chogye Trichen Ngawang Khyenrab.
As the degenerate age gets worse, and as more reincarnations of high Lamas are being recognised, some of them for political motives, increasing numbers have been recognised through inappropriate and questionable means, as a result of which huge damage has been done to the Dharma.
During the conflict between Tibet and the Gurkhas (1791-93) the Tibetan government had to call on Manchu military support. Consequently, the Gurkha military was expelled from Tibet; but afterwards Manchu officials made a 29-point proposal on the pretext of making the Tibetan government’s administration more efficient. This proposal included the suggestion of picking lots from a Golden Urn to decide on the recognition of the reincarnations of the Dalai Lamas, Panchen Lamas and Hutuktus, a Mongolian title given to high Lamas. Therefore, this procedure was followed in the case of recognising some reincarnations of the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and other high Lamas. The ritual to be followed was written by the eighth Dalai Lama, Jampel Gyatso. Even after such a system had been introduced, this procedure was dispensed with for the ninth, 13th and myself, the 14th Dalai Lama.
Even in the case of the 10th Dalai Lama, the authentic reincarnation had already been found and in reality this procedure was not followed, but in order to humour the Manchus it was merely announced that this procedure had been observed.
The Golden Urn system was actually used only in the cases of the 11th and 12th Dalai Lamas. However, the 12th Dalai Lama had already been recognised before the procedure was employed. Therefore, there has only been one occasion when a Dalai Lama was recognised by using this method. Likewise, among the reincarnations of the Panchen Lama, apart from the Eighth and the Ninth, there have been no instances of this method being employed. This system was imposed by the Manchus, but Tibetans had no faith in it because it lacked any spiritual quality. However, if it were to be used honestly, it seems that we could consider it as similar to the manner of divination employing the dough-ball method (zen tak).
In 1880, during the recognition of the 13th Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the 12th, traces of the priest-patron relationship between Tibet and the Manchus still existed. He was recognised as the unmistaken reincarnation by the Eighth Panchen Lama, the predictions of the Nechung and Samye oracles and by observing visions that appeared in Lhamoi Latso; therefore the Golden Urn procedure was not followed. This can be clearly understood from the 13th Dalai Lama’s final testament of the Water-Monkey Year (1933) in which he states:
“As you all know, I was selected not in the customary way of picking lots from the golden urn, but my selection was foretold and divined. In accordance with these divinations and prophecies I was recognised as the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama and enthroned.”
When I was recognised as the 14th incarnation of the Dalai Lama in 1939, the priest-patron relationship between Tibet and China had come to an end. Therefore, there was no question of any need to confirm the reincarnation by employing the Golden Urn. It is well known that the then Regent of Tibet and the Tibetan National Assembly had followed the procedure for recognising the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation taking account of the predictions of high Lamas, oracles and the visions seen in Lhamoi Latso; the Chinese had no involvement in it whatever.
In the recent past, there have been cases of irresponsible managers of wealthy Lama-estates who indulged in improper methods to recognise reincarnations, which have undermined the Dharma, the monastic community and our society. Moreover, since the Manchu era Chinese political authorities repeatedly engaged in various deceitful means using Buddhism, Buddhist masters and Tulkus as tools to fulfil their political ends as they involved themselves in Tibetan and Mongolian affairs. Today, the authoritarian rulers of the People’s Republic of China, who as communists reject religion, but still involve themselves in religious affairs, have imposed a so-called re-education campaign and declared the so-called Order No. Five, concerning the control and recognition of reincarnations, which came into force on September 1, 2007. This is outrageous and disgraceful. The enforcement of various inappropriate methods for recognising reincarnations to eradicate our unique Tibetan cultural traditions is doing damage that will be d
ifficult to repair.
Moreover, they say they are waiting for my death and will recognise a 15th Dalai Lama of their choice. It is clear from their recent rules and regulations and subsequent declarations that they have a detailed strategy to deceive Tibetans, followers of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and the world community. Therefore, as I have a responsibility to protect the Dharma and sentient beings and counter such detrimental schemes, I make the following declaration.
The Next Incarnation
As I mentioned earlier, reincarnation is a phenomenon which should take place either through the voluntary choice of the concerned person or at least on the strength of his or her karma, merit and prayers. Therefore, the person who reincarnates has sole legitimate authority over where and how he or she takes rebirth and how that reincarnation is to be recognised. It is a reality that no one else can force the person concerned, or manipulate him or her. It is particularly inappropriate for Chinese communists, who explicitly reject even the idea of past and future lives, let alone the concept of reincarnate Tulkus, to meddle in the system of reincarnation and especially the reincarnations of the Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas. Such brazen meddling contradicts their own political ideology and reveals their double standards. Should this situation continue in the future, it will be impossible for Tibetans and those who follow the Tibetan Buddhist tradition to acknowledge or accept it.
When I am about 90 I will consult the high Lamas of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, the Tibetan public and other concerned people who follow Tibetan Buddhism, and re-evaluate whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or not. On that basis we will take a decision. If it is decided that the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama should continue and there is a need for the 15th Dalai Lama to be recognised, responsibility for doing so will primarily rest on the concerned officers of the Dalai Lama’s Gaden Phodrang Trust. They should consult the various heads of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions and the reliable oath-bound Dharma Protectors who are linked inseparably to the lineage of the Dalai Lamas. They should seek advice and direction from these concerned beings and carry out the procedures of search and recognition in accordance with past tradition. I shall leave clear written instructions about this. Bear in mind that, apart from the reincarnation recognised through such legitimate methods, no recogn
ition or acceptance should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends by anyone, including those in the People’s Republic of China.
This is the final article in a three-part series.