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Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Dalai Lama’s Reincarnation: By Government Fiat?

Reincarnation is a difficult gig for Buddhists. Being reborn for yet another life is not a good thing; bad karma (i.e., residue from bad choices in life) keeps a soul on the wheel of samsara. Because life-after-life involves suffering, a Buddhist strives for Nirvana, or enlightenment, which releases a soul from the cycle of being reborn yet again. Reincarnation is a difficult gig for Buddhists also because unlike Hinduism, Buddhism denies the very existence of a soul (atman) as an entity. How, then, can something that does not exist go on to be re-clothed in another body for another life? Yet another problem for the devout Buddhist concerns government officials who claim that they can decide whether a certain soul reincarnates, and if so, into which body. In 2014, for example, the Chinese government made it known that it would pick the next reincarnated Dalai Lama—the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists.

The full essay is at “Dalai Lama’s Reincarnation.”