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WisdomBeing

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Could Mormon prophet or Dalai Lama resign like the pope?
« on: February 16, 2013, 11:01:52 AM »
This is rather a long article but it begs the question - will the Dalai Lama retire? Or will he remain the Dalai Lama until his passing? With the shock resignation of the Pope, it has thrown the whole tradition on its head. And perhaps it can happen for Tibetan Buddhists also. If the Dalai Lama was to step down as the spiritual head, who would replace him?

I have mentioned before that for the Dorje Shugden ban to be lifted most effectively, the Dalai Lama MUST endorse the lifting of the ban. If the Dalai Lama passes into clear light and then the successor lifts the ban, people will still think that the Dalai Lama was correct to ban Dorje Shugden and maintain a misguided loyalty to the Dalai Lama, hence there will still be schism for at least a couple of generations.

If the Dalai Lama lifts the ban - that would be most ideal, because then there would be no contention. Another positive possibility could be that the Dalai Lama retires, and his successor lifts the ban but the Dalai Lama endorses the decision. This will have the same effect.

Just something to ruminate over this weekend.


Could Mormon prophet or Dalai Lama resign like the pope?
http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/lifestyle/55824524-80/benedict-church-counselors-dalai.html.csp



(Ashwini Bhatia | The Associated Press) Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama looks on during the commemoration of the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule, in Dharmsala, India, Thursday, March 10, 2011. His followers say he can continue to lead them -- even if he grows too old. “If His Holiness was to have some mental illness or physical illness," says Jerry Gardner, also known as Lama Thupten, spiritual leader at Urgyen Samten Ling, Salt Lake City’s Tibetan Buddhist Temple, "that wouldn’t negate the innate qualities that are primordial to his enlightened mind.”

Succession » Pontiff’s move raises a question: Could a Mormon prophet or the Dalai Lama step down?
By Peggy Fletcher Stack | The Salt Lake Tribune
First Published Feb 15 2013 09:56 am • Last Updated Feb 15 2013 05:14 pm

Catholic popes, Mormon prophets and Tibetan dalai lamas arrive at their offices via different avenues. They are voted in, outlive their peers or are recognized from childhood.

They all leave the same way: They stop breathing.
   
At least usually. Pope Benedict XVI’s stunning resignation this week raises the question for other religious leaders serving lifetime callings: Should they stay until they die, or can they gracefully bow out?

It is a particularly modern dilemma, tied to a time when the demands on these men have expanded exponentially since their faiths began. They live ever longer and lead even more publicly. They are expected to travel widely, to preach and teach thousands, if not millions, and to do it all under the glare of media scrutiny. Followers crave charismatic figures who can charm reporters and believers alike, who can speak with moral authority and who can transcend the vicissitudes of mortal aging.

For the 85-year-old Benedict, the answer was clear: It couldn’t be done.

"Three or four centuries ago, if the pope got really sick or went nuts, you’d put him a backroom and the church kept moving along," says the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Woodstock Theological Center. "We have had a couple of crazy popes that caused schisms — I’m thinking of the [medieval] Borgias — but we can’t poison them anymore."

Today’s church "is a global village," Reese says. "It is a much more difficult problem."

And not just for the world’s billion Catholics.

Now several faiths also might consider whether to maintain the no-exit clause for their chief hierarchs or to allow them to step aside when declining health makes it almost impossible to continue. What would such an early departure do to the system that propelled these men to their positions in the first place? Would the dynamic between leader and disciples change? Would it diminish the reverence for — and holiness of — their role?

These are "extraordinary times," says Massimo Introvigne, chair of the Italian Observatory on Religious Liberty, which call for "extraordinary decisions."

"On the one hand, the idea of a lifetime calling is part of the mystique accompanying certain special sacred positions, such as pope, Dalai Lama or Mormon prophet," Introvigne writes in an email. "On the other hand, they preside over increasingly complicated organizations."

Perhaps no church structure, he says, is "more complicated than the Catholic Church."


Shoes of the fisherman » Catholics believe that Jesus picked Peter, the Galilean disciple, to lead his church and that every pope, which means "father," has been chosen to protect and pass on the faith.

He is selected by a two-thirds vote of the College of Cardinals. When a pontiff dies, the cardinals retire to a sequestered section in the Vatican and remain there until a leader has been elected. The conclave’s votes are cast on paper. After each round, those ballots are burned. Black smoke billowing from a chimney overlooking St. Peter’s Square means no pope has been elected; white smoke means one has.

Though popes are often beloved to the believers, Reese says Catholics revere the office, not the officeholder.

Traditionally, a pope did not resign because his role was that of a "father," he says. "You can’t resign from paternity. A father of a family is there until he dies. No one else can pick up that role."

But a pontiff is also bishop of a global community, which means he is akin to a political leader and head of a huge bureaucracy.

Benedict’s predecessor, the internationally popular John Paul II, could run across the stage and across the world when he was elevated to pope, Reese says. "At the end, we saw him as an infirm old man who could hardly talk."

To the Catholic scholar, Benedict’s resignation was "inevitable."

"The pope recognized he wasn’t up to the task," Reese says. "God was telling him through his illness that it was time to step aside."

With Benedict leaving, the church faces a bevy of questions: What do you do with an ex-pope? What do you call him? If he writes anything — and Benedict is a prolific author and theologian — the media will look for any area of disagreement with the new pope. And, in the future, people may pressure a pope to resign not because he is ill, but because they don’t like him.

"This," Reese says, "will all have to be played very carefully."


The prophetic mantle » Mormonism was founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith, an upstate New York farm boy who said God told him to restore Christianity as it was originally. He also said he translated an ancient history written on gold plates, which were buried in the ground and became the religion’s signature scripture, the Book of Mormon.

Smith’s mystical experiences, revelatory claims and charismatic leadership launched a movement that, like many others, faced severe succession conflicts when he died (a mob murdered Smith in 1844 in Illinois). Ultimately, for most Latter-day Saints, the baton was passed to Brigham Young, the senior member of Smith’s handpicked Quorum of Twelve Apostles.

The pattern eventually became for the longest-serving apostle to ascend to the church’s highest office: the president, who is considered a "prophet, seer and revelator" to the Utah-based faith’s 14 million members. He chooses two men to serve as his counselors in a three-man First Presidency.

But Smith’s apostles were relatively young men. Young was 43 when his predecessor perished; he lived to be 76, spending nearly 30 years as church president.

Since then, medical improvements and healthy lifestyles have allowed LDS leaders to live long into their 80s and 90s. Like John Paul and Benedict, some Mormon presidents — especially in the latter 20th century — have had to deal with the afflictions of aging. David O. McKay, Spencer W. Kimball, Joseph Fielding Smith and Ezra Taft Benson all largely retired from public view in their final years, leaving the running of a growing global church to healthier counselors in the governing First Presidency (which itself can be expanded to include additional counselors).

To cope with aging at lower LDS leadership levels, some of the older members of the Seventy were "retired" or given emeritus status in 1978. Eventually, it became the norm for the Seventy to retire at 70.

No such system is in place for apostles, who are all seen as "prophets, seers and revelators" — and are on an inexorable climb to the church’s presidency.

"We don’t make apostles retire because we think God is working through mortality tables," says LDS historian Richard Bushman, an emeritus professor at Columbia University. "It would be going against God."

Plus, he says, "an incapacitated president is less of a problem in our church because of the counselors. If the president can’t do the job, everyone knows who is next in charge. He can take over and everyone respects his authority."

The current LDS president, Thomas S. Monson is a few months younger than the pope. He has continued to travel, though not as frequently as he did in the first months of his presidency, which began in February 2008. He still speaks at services, including funerals, and at twice-yearly General Conferences.

"Last August I celebrated my 85th birthday. Some of the senior members of the Quorum of the Twelve have a few years even on me. Age eventually takes its toll on all of us," the Mormon prophet wrote in a letter to members marking his five years in the job. "Despite any health challenges that may come to us, despite any weakness in body or mind, we serve to the best of our ability. I assure you that the church is in good hands."

If Monson’s health took a turn, his counselors no doubt would do much of the work along with the other 12 apostles — as has been the practice in the past.

Some members point to the Book of Mormon, where prophets often handed over their office to younger men. Others look at a passage in the LDS Doctrine & Covenants that could, hypothetically, make it possible for a church president to step aside, but only if interpreted in a certain way. Section 43, verse 4 says: "But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift [to receive divine revelation] except it be through him [church president]; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead."

If a Mormon prophet felt his mental and physical capacities were so compromised that he no longer could fulfill the obligations of his office, he potentially could turn over the job to his expected successor: the senior apostle.

"That would be in harmony with that passage," Bushman says, "and I think Mormons would feel comfortable."

Any other option would be "such a reversal of our customary procedures that the whole system would be undermined," the historian says. "It was would be scary for the Saints to tamper with it."

The LDS succession system protects the church from "politicking and factionalism," says American religion historian Kathleen Flake of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. "There’s no way to move ahead in the line by your own effort, so everyone relaxes and does the job."

The system provides security and predictability, she says. "Though counselors can’t replace the president, they can make the trains run and reflect the charismatic authority of the prophet."

The only downside is that during periods when the counselors are carrying the bulk of responsibilities for a declining leader, she says, long-range goals of the institution go unattended.

Mormonism has "romanticized the office of the prophet," she says, "which makes it difficult to see how it operates on a practical level."


Buddha incarnate » Buddhists believe that a sixth-century Indian prince named Siddhartha Gautama left his palace, wandered in the wilderness for a half dozen years and found enlightenment while sitting under a Bodhi tree. Among other teachings, the Buddha preached that each person goes through a continual cycle of incarnations, gaining wisdom and compassion with each life until he or she attains an enlightened state.

That soul, then, is free.

Tibetan Buddhists, though, believe that some souls choose to return even after their enlightenment to be an example to others. Among these are the dalai lamas. A reincarnated dalai lama is recognized early, sometimes as a young child of 7 or 8, and thus lives out his life as "the embodiment of Buddha."

His is not an office nor a clear-cut set of tasks. Though he does have attendants and major responsibilities, today’s Dalai Lama does not supervise a big bureaucracy. The 77-year-old does not appoint the leaders of a monastery nor set the rules for meditation or worship.

"To practitioners, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the spiritual embodiment of the Buddha of Compassion that encompasses all the enlightenment of past and present," says Jerry Gardner, also known as Lama Thupten, spiritual leader at Urgyen Samten Ling, Salt Lake City’s Tibetan Buddhist Temple. "If His Holiness was to have some mental illness or physical illness, that wouldn’t negate the innate qualities that are primordial to his enlightened mind."

There are many stories of great Tibetan Buddhist masters from the past "who, in an ordinary, mundane sense, may be viewed as being incapable of functioning," Gardner says, "but they are still able to exhibit those qualities."

Gardner explains it this way: If you have a piece of gold and then someone drops it into a pile of garbage, a mud pit or a cesspool, it may become encased in the muck. We no longer see the gold, but it’s still there.

That’s how Tibetans view their leader: No matter his physical or mental condition, the gold is still there.

For centuries, though, the Dalai Lama was also the political leader of Tibet, as well as the spiritual head of Tibetans in exile. He recently relinquished his political role and, because of China’s control of the former Buddhist nation, has said his next incarnation would likely not come from Tibet.

"His Holiness is a scholar and deep practitioner," says Jean LaSarre Gardner, Jerry Gardner’s wife and fellow Buddhist. "He calls himself a simple monk. That’s how he views himself."

It is the people who give him reverence and elevate him into a form of devotion, she says. "That is not something he or his position asks for," Jean Gardner says. "If he became incapacitated physically, that wouldn’t matter at all."

When he passes, she says, "we would still see him as the Dalai Lama."

And that may be one of the big questions facing Catholics in coming months: Will they still see Benedict as the pope?

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Ensapa

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Re: Could Mormon prophet or Dalai Lama resign like the pope?
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2013, 02:36:18 PM »
Unlike the pope, the Dalai Lama is not appointed by a board of people. The Dalai Lama reincarnated into this role and responsibilities were just plopped onto him. In many aspects, the CTA still have many things where they depend way too much on the Dalai Lama when they should more independent and without the Dalai Lama, they're nothing. They will not allow the Dalai Lama to fully resign or retire because the moment HHDL does that, CTA will collapse because they would have lost their crutch.

dondrup

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Re: Could Mormon prophet or Dalai Lama resign like the pope?
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2013, 04:58:41 PM »
In samsara, everything is impermanent. The institution of the Dalai Lamas will end with the passing of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.  Prior to his passing, HH Dalai Lama may resign as the Dalai Lama, but he will not relinquish his vows and commitments of a great being, a Mahasattva, an emanation of Buddha Chenrezig that will continue to benefit all sentient beings.  HH Dalai Lama will continue to be revered as a spiritual leader that had spread the teachings of Buddha far and wide in the World in recent decades. 

HH Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had recently started to turn the Dharma Wheel in Europe and Mongolia.  The re-emergence of HH Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche will make the lineage of Dorje Shugden grow exponentially!  The ban can no longer control this force that is manifesting in the World now!

Ensapa

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Re: Could Mormon prophet or Dalai Lama resign like the pope?
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2013, 02:17:22 AM »
Another thing worth pointing out here is that although the Dalai Lama is Avalokiteshvara and he has promised to take care of the Tibetans to Shakyamuni during his time, it does not mean that he exists to babysit the Tibetans. He takes care of them by instilling Buddhism into them as the state religion and that at the end of the day he is still a monk and not a politician. The Tibetans unfortunately, of this generation, is depending on the Dalai Lama for the wrong reasons. They should rely on his spiritual guidance and not for his secular and political guidance. He takes care of the Tibetans by giving them Dharma and the being able to do the right thing themselves. This is how he takes care of them.

Big Uncle

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Re: Could Mormon prophet or Dalai Lama resign like the pope?
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2013, 02:24:50 PM »
Hang on. I thought the Dalai Lama has already tendered in his resignation right? Well, ok. I guess the Dalai Lama is both a temporal (political) and spiritual head of Tibet. I think he resigned from his political role but has not resigned from his spiritual role. That's true and for the pope, his role is if I am not mistaken, a purely spiritual role as the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

I think the Dalai Lama would never resign from his religious duties of his office. He is too kind and compassionate for that. It's not that the Pope is selfish but it is just a totally situation altogether. The catholic church is beset with huge problems from the scandalous child molestation cases that is plaguing the church for decades and also a recent money laundering investigations initiation by Rome. These are huge cases that I think is huge and is threatening to destroy the credibility of the church.

Ensapa

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Re: Could Mormon prophet or Dalai Lama resign like the pope?
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2013, 05:27:09 AM »
Hang on. I thought the Dalai Lama has already tendered in his resignation right? Well, ok. I guess the Dalai Lama is both a temporal (political) and spiritual head of Tibet. I think he resigned from his political role but has not resigned from his spiritual role. That's true and for the pope, his role is if I am not mistaken, a purely spiritual role as the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

I think the Dalai Lama would never resign from his religious duties of his office. He is too kind and compassionate for that. It's not that the Pope is selfish but it is just a totally situation altogether. The catholic church is beset with huge problems from the scandalous child molestation cases that is plaguing the church for decades and also a recent money laundering investigations initiation by Rome. These are huge cases that I think is huge and is threatening to destroy the credibility of the church.

In the case of the church, there are many reasons to why the pope is too weary, mainly because his body cannot take it anymore on handling all the matters of the church. There are many issues that he has to solve and think about other than just serving the head of the Christians. The Dalai Lama on the other hand is in perfect health and he is still able to carry out his duties without much problems. The Dalai Lama is expected by the Tibetans to take care of them and I dont think so that they will give up that idea so easily although they are doing it wrongly, instead of being independent, they become too overdependent on the Dalai Lama and that is their mistake. Now the Dalai Lama cannot leave or else CTA will be nothing.

WisdomBeing

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Re: Could Mormon prophet or Dalai Lama resign like the pope?
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2013, 09:11:12 AM »
The Dalai Lama has variously said he would not reincarnate back, or that he could even reincarnate back as a woman.  The Dalai Lama is very aware that the Chinese government would want to be in control over who is the incarnation. With the Chinese government in control over the 11th Panchen Lama Gyancain Norbu, the Chinese believe they are authorised to identify the Dalai Lama's incarnation. So what is the Dalai Lama going to do about it? He could possibly step down and transfer spiritual leadership of Tibetans to someone else. The succession of the Dalai Lama could change from incarnation to elected - after all, nothing is permanent. Can you imagine if HH Trijang Rinpoche became the spiritual head of Tibetans? Dorje Shugden practice would become legit immediately.
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Ensapa

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Re: Could Mormon prophet or Dalai Lama resign like the pope?
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2013, 05:00:04 AM »
The Dalai Lama has variously said he would not reincarnate back, or that he could even reincarnate back as a woman.  The Dalai Lama is very aware that the Chinese government would want to be in control over who is the incarnation. With the Chinese government in control over the 11th Panchen Lama Gyancain Norbu, the Chinese believe they are authorised to identify the Dalai Lama's incarnation. So what is the Dalai Lama going to do about it? He could possibly step down and transfer spiritual leadership of Tibetans to someone else. The succession of the Dalai Lama could change from incarnation to elected - after all, nothing is permanent. Can you imagine if HH Trijang Rinpoche became the spiritual head of Tibetans? Dorje Shugden practice would become legit immediately.

It is not only that but if it is Trijang Rinpoche, i believe that the Tibetans would be more independent and more spiritual than now. It is time for the Dalai Lama's institution to change, at least for the people in Dharamsala as they do need a leader, a powerful one, but if they do not want to pray to Dorje Shugden, then it is hard for them to get what they want. Tibet's real essence lies in their own distinct culture as well as Buddhism. If they lose any of these then Tibet is truly lost and as far as i have been hearing, a lot of Tibetans in Dharamsala cant wait to crawl out of Dharamsala and go to other countries because the conditions there are just too bad.

vajratruth

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Re: Could Mormon prophet or Dalai Lama resign like the pope?
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2013, 06:25:08 PM »
This is rather a long article but it begs the question - will the Dalai Lama retire? Or will he remain the Dalai Lama until his passing? With the shock resignation of the Pope, it has thrown the whole tradition on its head. And perhaps it can happen for Tibetan Buddhists also. If the Dalai Lama was to step down as the spiritual head, who would replace him?



Well Wisdom being, it does not seem like the Dalai Lama plans to retire any time soon nor is His Holiness planning on going into clear light in the near future [see this article: http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/news/dalai-lama-to-decide-on-reincarnation-at-age-90/]. We certainly hope the Dalai Lama lives a long life and continue to turn the wheel of Dharma.

I wonder why the Dalai Lama mentioned age-90 specifically. Is there a significance or perhaps His Holiness expects the Tibetan issue with China to have unfolded sufficiently by then for him to play a strategic card. Until the Dalai Lama enters clear light, the Chinese government would not have any basis to recognize, enthrone or even elect the next Dalai Lama. I would think that by the time the Dalai Lama reaches 90 years of age, should Tibet still be unable to secure favorable terms for their autonomy/independence, then the Dalai Lama would "elect" not to be reincarnated so as not to provide the Chinese with the opportunity to enthrone the 15th Dalai Lama and by that, have their influence over the Buddhist world. Sadly whether the emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom is to return or not appears to be be based significantly on political considerations.

Wisdom Being is right and it would be ideal for the Dalai Lama to personally reverse the Shugden ban for it to have the widest acceptance but it may not be up to the Dalai Lama entirely. As more and more Shugden lamas come of age and begin to effect their sway, the Dalai Lama's influence on Tibetan Buddhism will probably be eroded somewhat, especially over the Dorje Shugden issue.

Ensapa

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Re: Could Mormon prophet or Dalai Lama resign like the pope?
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2013, 04:28:53 AM »
This is rather a long article but it begs the question - will the Dalai Lama retire? Or will he remain the Dalai Lama until his passing? With the shock resignation of the Pope, it has thrown the whole tradition on its head. And perhaps it can happen for Tibetan Buddhists also. If the Dalai Lama was to step down as the spiritual head, who would replace him?



Well Wisdom being, it does not seem like the Dalai Lama plans to retire any time soon nor is His Holiness planning on going into clear light in the near future [see this article: http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/news/dalai-lama-to-decide-on-reincarnation-at-age-90/]. We certainly hope the Dalai Lama lives a long life and continue to turn the wheel of Dharma.

I wonder why the Dalai Lama mentioned age-90 specifically. Is there a significance or perhaps His Holiness expects the Tibetan issue with China to have unfolded sufficiently by then for him to play a strategic card. Until the Dalai Lama enters clear light, the Chinese government would not have any basis to recognize, enthrone or even elect the next Dalai Lama. I would think that by the time the Dalai Lama reaches 90 years of age, should Tibet still be unable to secure favorable terms for their autonomy/independence, then the Dalai Lama would "elect" not to be reincarnated so as not to provide the Chinese with the opportunity to enthrone the 15th Dalai Lama and by that, have their influence over the Buddhist world. Sadly whether the emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom is to return or not appears to be be based significantly on political considerations.

Wisdom Being is right and it would be ideal for the Dalai Lama to personally reverse the Shugden ban for it to have the widest acceptance but it may not be up to the Dalai Lama entirely. As more and more Shugden lamas come of age and begin to effect their sway, the Dalai Lama's influence on Tibetan Buddhism will probably be eroded somewhat, especially over the Dorje Shugden issue.


Perhaps when HHDL is 90, China would have been so immersed in Buddhism that they will no longer see the Dalai Lama issue as an issue in any way, shape or form. As we have seen with the recent years, Buddhism has been endorsed by the Chinese government over the past decade more than ever, with China recognizing their own Panchen Lama and also letting him be in charge of Tibet in addition to organizing Buddhist councils and restoring temples and Buddhist artifacts. All of these look very promising for China to actually be a Buddhist country in the near future, transitioned from communism/maoism to commercialism (deng xiaopeng era) and now to being a normal government that endorses Buddhism as their main religion. 

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Re: Could Mormon prophet or Dalai Lama resign like the pope?
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2013, 04:41:12 PM »

Perhaps when HHDL is 90, China would have been so immersed in Buddhism that they will no longer see the Dalai Lama issue as an issue in any way, shape or form. As we have seen with the recent years, Buddhism has been endorsed by the Chinese government over the past decade more than ever, with China recognizing their own Panchen Lama and also letting him be in charge of Tibet in addition to organizing Buddhist councils and restoring temples and Buddhist artifacts. All of these look very promising for China to actually be a Buddhist country in the near future, transitioned from communism/maoism to commercialism (deng xiaopeng era) and now to being a normal government that endorses Buddhism as their main religion.

The Chinese Panchen Lama has influence with the Buddhist community in China but I doubt he has much sway outside the country, and especially not when a Dalai Lama is around. The Chinese government is looking for a way to control the Tibetans both inside and outside China and given the Tibetan's view of the Dalai Lama as almost a god, it is important to have a handle on such a powerful resource.

The position of Dalai Lama extends beyond Buddhism and is also an effective way to influence the people around the world. After all, China has witnessed how the present Dalai Lama, without a country and without an army and any financial clout have managed to get the world to keep an eye over the China-Tibet issue. Therefore, somehow the Chinese do want to control the next Dalai Lama.

As for whether the Dalai Lama can resign from his spiritual duties, it would be a difficult one to pull off. Isn't that going to be a bit like the Buddha of Compassion "resigning" from his Bodhisattva duties? The Dalai Lama is literally not seen as an ordinary being which is unlike a Pope whom is God's representative on earth in only symbolically. 

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Re: Could Mormon prophet or Dalai Lama resign like the pope?
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2013, 04:52:44 AM »

Perhaps when HHDL is 90, China would have been so immersed in Buddhism that they will no longer see the Dalai Lama issue as an issue in any way, shape or form. As we have seen with the recent years, Buddhism has been endorsed by the Chinese government over the past decade more than ever, with China recognizing their own Panchen Lama and also letting him be in charge of Tibet in addition to organizing Buddhist councils and restoring temples and Buddhist artifacts. All of these look very promising for China to actually be a Buddhist country in the near future, transitioned from communism/maoism to commercialism (deng xiaopeng era) and now to being a normal government that endorses Buddhism as their main religion.

The Chinese Panchen Lama has influence with the Buddhist community in China but I doubt he has much sway outside the country, and especially not when a Dalai Lama is around. The Chinese government is looking for a way to control the Tibetans both inside and outside China and given the Tibetan's view of the Dalai Lama as almost a god, it is important to have a handle on such a powerful resource.

The position of Dalai Lama extends beyond Buddhism and is also an effective way to influence the people around the world. After all, China has witnessed how the present Dalai Lama, without a country and without an army and any financial clout have managed to get the world to keep an eye over the China-Tibet issue. Therefore, somehow the Chinese do want to control the next Dalai Lama.

As for whether the Dalai Lama can resign from his spiritual duties, it would be a difficult one to pull off. Isn't that going to be a bit like the Buddha of Compassion "resigning" from his Bodhisattva duties? The Dalai Lama is literally not seen as an ordinary being which is unlike a Pope whom is God's representative on earth in only symbolically.

As time passes by, we can see that the presidents of China has become increasingly open and increasingly spiritual. I dont think this is a coincidence. China's paranoia will dissolve and she will soon be open minded like the US and the rest of the world and when that happens, they will grow. From being a totally communist regime, to a capitalist and now to a more modern regime, China truly has evolved over time. As Trijang Rinpoche has predicted, China and India will be the world's superpowers and their influence over the world will be great. And both nations are increasingly embracing Buddhism...slowly but surely as they repair more temples and promote them as tourist spots, seeds are planted for Buddhism to explode from these 2 countries.