The Dalai Lama has inspired comic artists in Taiwan and Hong Kong with his recent comments that he may be reincarnated as a “mischievous blonde woman” with an attractive face or “nobody pay much attention”.
More seriously, the Buddhist figure reaffirmed his stance since 2004 to the UK newspaper The Sunday Times that he may not even be reincarnated at all, given the Beijing government's plan to meddle with the reincarnation of the 15th Dalai Lama.
Tibetan Buddhism believes that the soul, after biological death, can begin a new life in a new body. The current Dalai Lama, who turns 80 this year, is considered the political and spiritual leader of Tibet, as have all other previous Dalai Lamas stretching back 369 years to 1642. The reincarnation of religious leaders in Tibet, which has been under China's repressive rule for 60 years, is a sensitive process, one that Beijing has manipulated in order to exercise its control over Tibetans.
To address the controversy and express support for him, comic artists in Taiwan and Hong Kong started a Facebook page, the Blonde Dalai Lama. They drew a number of images and wrote stories of the future 15th Dalai Lama as a blonde woman. The premise of their stories is usually that “one day, it was revealed to me that my sister/my neighbor/the new student was the 15th Dalai Lama.”
The current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, who has lived in exile in India since 1959, has repeatedly hinted that he might not be reincarnated. Beijing claims that “the Dalai Lama had, essentially, no say over whether he was reincarnated” and that the ultimate decision lies in the hand of the Chinese government, while the Karmapa Lama, Tibetan Buddhism's third highest religious leader in exile, said that “it is up to the Dalai Lama to decide whether he will be reborn.”
China is officially atheist, but that hasn't stopped Beijing from intervening in Tibet's religious matters before. The reincarnation of the 11th Panchen Lama, the second most important leader in Tibetan Buddhism, is one such example. In 1995, the Dalai Lama recognized the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, and then Beijing detained him and replaced him with a boy of their choosing.
Judging from Beijing government's track record in manipulating the reincarnation process, comic lovers at least just might prefer the “mischievous blonde woman” to any other candidate.
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