As the tour agent in Kathmandu (Nepal) gave me my Tibet Entry Permit, he cautioned: “the surest way to get into a Chinese prison is to talk about the Dalai Lama 14th or have his picture on you in Tibet. China hates him”. Sure enough, from the moment I had landed in Tibet’s capital, Lhasa, I saw Chinese soldiers and checkpoints everywhere. I was overwhelmed by a pervading sense of intimidation and fear that’s difficult to put into words. Tibet has been occupied by China since 1950. For Tibetan Buddhists, the Dalai Lama is their spiritual leader.
Tibet has maintained a distinct religion and political system, a unique culture, written and spoken language for centuries. In 1950, the Chinese regime invaded Tibet, which has many natural resources and a strategically important border with India. During the 1959 uprising against Chinese occupation, the Dalai Lama 14th feared for his life and fled to India where he currently lives as a refugee. According to the Chinese government, the Dalai Lama 14th has a “face of a man and the heart of a beast who wants to destroy China”.
China has done its utmost to destroy Tibet. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) more than 97 percent of monasteries in Tibet were destroyed and the Tibetan language, dress, customs and habits were considered backward, filthy, and useless.
This year the Dalai Lama 14th is turning 85. The Chinese are preparing perhaps the most despicable act yet against the soul of the Tibetan people. We should know first that the position of the Dalai Lama dates back to 1391. The Dalai Lama is found rather than chosen. The successor to the Dalai Lama is traditionally located by senior monastic disciples based on spiritual signs and visions. However, China has made clear its intention to appoint its own candidate as the Dalai Lama 15th when the Dalai Lama 14th dies. China clearly feels it can interfere in the affairs of Tibetan Buddhism and disregard 600-year-old traditions. It’s like having the Amazonian Yanomami people decide who becomes the next Catholic Pope.
In April 2019, a US Senator warned that Congress would not recognize a Dalai Lama chosen by the Chinese communist party.
There are times when certain events make us understand how much of this world is evil. What China intends to do is however beyond belief. The institution of the Dalai Lama doesn’t belong to the Chinese communists, but rather to the Tibetan people.