Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Goodbye, Dali Lama?

The Dalai Lama, the world's best-known Tibetan Buddhist, stirred things up this week with an interview in which he seemed to suggest that he should be the last to hold that title. “The 14th Dalai Lama now is very popular. Let us then finish with a popular Dalai Lama,” he told a German newspaper, which interpreted it to mean he did not want a successor.

Lots of people had lots to say, even Stephen Colbert.

Tricycle explicated the politics and tradition -- it could be a way to thwart China, to further remove the position from politics, to express the traditional humility of the position.

HHDL has speculated before about his return, saying he would reincarnate in the west, maybe as a woman.

While this obviously has a lot of meaning for Tibetans, those with an interest in geopolitics, and Richard Gere, what does it mean to you?

Some western Buddhists see the Dalai Lama as an anachronism, a symbol of an institution and tradition that doesn't translate to this culture, a way of keeping the teachings in the hands of a few and away from the masses. (Although HHDL has offered previously secret teachings to large crowds.)

Others see him as him as their guru, a teacher with whom they have a special relationship -- even if they've never met him. And others see him as an example of an enlightened being in human form, an inspiration, a for practice.

The outer guru is like the key, but when we open the door we discover ourselves, our true guru. (Yonge Minyur Rinpoche)

This 14th incarnation of the lineage has done a lot to explore the connection between science and Buddhism, to support women, and to be an ambassador of Tibetan Buddhism to the world, bringing  his ready smile and willingness to wear a local baseball cap around the globe.

What do you think?

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