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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Tibetans reject China's attempt to choose Tibetan spiritual leaders

September 3, 2007

Dharamshala: While addressing reporters at a press organized by Central Tibetan Administration yesterday at Tibet Museum, Kalon for Religion and Culture Tsering Phuntsok said the so-called order no. 5, containing 14 articles on Management Measures for the Reincarnation of 'Living Buddhas' in Tibetan Buddhism by China's State Administration of Religious Affairs is replete with contradictory statements and wild claims.

He further said, the document reflects the ulterior or true motives of the Chinese leadership. It will serve as a big tool for the Chinese government to brutally repress the innocent Tibetans under their tyrannical rule - and will also be recorded as a gross historical misrepresentation.

Religious freedom, as it is universally accepted or practised, means that all citizens can believe, or not believe, in any religion; that a believer can, according to his or her will, practise and propagate his or her religion; and especially that there should be no state or political interference whatsoever in religious affairs. These days, it is generally observed that in all countries - save the theocracies - the state does not meddle, or exercise control over, any of its citizen's religious activities, said Kalon Phuntsok.

He further added, the People's Republic of China (PRC) does not only claim that it is an atheist state, but has also included freedom of religious belief among the fundamental rights of the people in its constitution. And yet it continues to forcibly interfere in the religious activities of all religions of the country, according to its political needs. This is something that all humanity, and especially all religious believers, should take great care to confront with.

He said, the document says that it guarantees the " citizens' freedom of religious belief" and "respect Tibetan Buddhism's practice of inheriting 'Living Buddha' positions". This is a shameless statement, since it is very obvious that the order is but a means to trample upon the Tibetan people's religious freedom, as well as Tibetan Buddhism's practice of inheriting "Living Buddha" positions. During the last many centuries since the recognition of Tulkus (or the "Living Buddhas") came into being, the principal disciples of the concerned lamas and the responsible officials of their spiritual seats have freely recognised their reincarnating beings, based on the latter's faith in and spiritual bond with the former. Never was there an occasion when they had to seek approval from the state or its functionaries. Recognition of Tulkus is something that can neither be appointed from above, nor be elected by the general populace, or be bestowed upon someone as "titles" or "positions". Since the task involved is to search for the place where the previous being has taken rebirth, it must be recognised through the prognostic signs demonstrated by the concerned reincarnating beings, in consultation with the lamas or protective deities gifted with intuitive powers, and through other traditional or religious methods of testing. Going by the religious and social norms, it is crystal clear that this cannot be done at all by the state or any political organisation.

Kalon Phuntok added that the highly-realised beings take rebirth for the benefit of the Dharma and sentient beings. As such, their meritorious service is not incumbent upon the state's approval, or the formal recognition accorded by it. Therefore simply by issuing an order on measures for the recognition of Tulkus, it cannot fulfil the order's twin purpose of undermining or diluting Tibetan Buddhism, and exercising control over the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people through state-sponsored "Living Buddhas". This will soon become clear to those who call the shots in Beijing, for today it is quite obvious to all whether the Tibetan people accept, or how much respect and devotion they have for, the high lamas anointed by the Chinese communist government.

He said, the document says that "the 'Living Buddhas' who have historically been recognised by drawing lots from the Golden Urn shall have their reincarnating souls recognised" by this very tradition. This shows the means employed by Communist China to meet its selfish ends. To cite an example, the Chinese government has - while disregarding history or tradition, and acting according to the political needs of the times - made two different decisions by firstly, trying to determine the reincarnation of the 9th Panchen Lama without resorting to the Golden Urn method; and secondly, even though the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama was already determined through the traditional or religious system, China had issued strict instructions that the Golden Urn method be evoked, but even then the rituals associated with the Golden Urn were not properly followed. Moreover, they did not include in it the names of all the candidates and forced their own list of candidates. Everybody knows that the whole selection procedure was a farce, devoid of even the semblance of religious, traditional, historical and moral considerations.

He further said, the document further says that the "reincarnating living Buddhas shall not be interfered with or be under the dominion of any foreign organisation or individual". This reflects the principal objective of the order, as does the ultimate motive of the Chinese government. At present His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the supreme leader of the entire Tibetan Buddhist world and the heads of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism as well as the traditional Bon religion are all residing in exile. If a system is instituted, whereby all of them were to be denied the right to offer guidance, and have the ultimate say, in matters relating to the recognition of Tulkus in their respective schools, it will completely jeopardise the unique tradition, or the religious system, of recognising Tulkus. It will also increase the number of fake Tulkus, enjoying the so-called state recognition. This, in turn, will erase the great faith and respect the common people have for the Tulkus, thus greatly contributing to the destruction and dilution of Tibetan Buddhism. Moreover, through the implementation of this order, the Buddhist followers in Tibet will be estranged from their lamas. It will, in particular, pave the way for the state to anoint fake reincarnations of high-ranking Tibetan lamas, disregarding those true incarnate Tulkus who are born outside the country, or in other country. It must, however, be emphasised that anyone would know that this evil design of theirs will never lead to fruition; they are simply engaging themselves in wishful thinking.

While implementing these measures, the most important thing to note is that the document does not specify the basis on which the decisions in granting approval to, and recognition of, Tulkus will be taken. As such, will the concerned officials of the Religious Affairs Bureaus of the National People's Congresses of the provincial and regional levels, the National Religious Affairs Bureau and the State Council - who are supposed to be the competent authorities in this respect - give approval to recognise, and accord state recognition to, a Tulku after having determined confidently that the inheritance lineage of the Tulku is real; that his lineage has continued to the present day; and that he is the true reincarnating soul of the previous lama? Or will they follow their whims in giving approval and according state recognition? If the former is true, then does it not prove that those at the helm of China's communist government have accepted, and are actually practising, the Buddhist philosophy. In which case, they must categorically state that they have abandoned their communist ideology of viewing religion as opium that obstructs the development of society and that it is a blind faith. Whereas if the latter is true, then is it not an incontrovertible evidence of the fact that the PRC's overall policy on religion, including these measures for managing Tulkus, is nothing but a deceitful lie. However, this lie will not at all be able to fool the Tibetans and the people of the world, said Kalon Tsering Phuntsok.

He further added, due to the reasons cited above, the heads of all the religious schools of Tibetan Buddhism; the monks, nuns, mantra holders and other lay followers of the respective schools and the Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration collectively issue this statement repudiating the so-called order no. 5 of China's State Administration of Religious Affairs that it is against the United Nation's Declaration of Human Rights and the PRC's constitution; that it is against history and the aspiration of the broad masses of people who believe in Tibetan Buddhism. Furthermore, it is a new weapon employed by the Chinese government to undermine Tibetan Buddhism, and to insult and oppress the Tibetan people.

At the same time, we would like to make an emphatic appeal to the Tibetans in general; and especially to the Tibetan leaders, officials, party cadres and the general public in the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region as well as other Tibetan autonomous prefectures and counties that as provided for in the PRC's Law on Regional National Autonomy: "If a resolution, decision, order or instruction of a state organ at a higher level does not suit the conditions in a national autonomous area, the organ of self-government of the area may ..... cease implementing it after reporting to and receiving the approval of the state organ at a higher level," they should impress upon their legitimate authorities that this order is not in keeping with the actual prevailing situation of the Tibetan autonomous areas, and so they should be allowed to repudiate, and halt the implementation of this order, said Kalon Phuntsok.

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