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Posts Tagged ‘reincarnation’

Mirror, mirror, on the wall …

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

“Living an ethical life is not a case of adhering to a set of regulations imposed on us from outside, such as the laws of a country. Rather it involves voluntarily embracing a discipline on the basis of a clear recognition of its value. In essence, living a true ethical life is living a life of self-discipline. When the Buddha said that ‘we are our own master, we are our own enemy’, he was telling us that our destiny lies in our own hands.”
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

There’s something quite comically absurd – as well as horrific – about a government declaring a new law governing something it professes not to accept as ‘real’. Even more so when it transcends the bounds of earthly existence. But this is what the Chinese government have just done in respect of the Buddhist traditions of Tibet.

From September 1, any of Tibet’s present living incarnations of the Buddha have been denied reincarnation without government approval. “The so-called reincarnated living Buddha without government approval is illegal and invalid,” states the order.

Potala Palace

What appears to be the latest move in China’s longstanding campaign to take control of Tibetan Buddhism is reported in an article – China tells living Buddhas to obtain permission before they reincarnate – in yesterday’s Times.

The article makes for disturbing reading, though it has to be said that the emotive idea of the Chinese ‘banning’ living Buddhas from reincarnating is a distortion of the edict which simply gives the status of “illegal and invalid’ to a reincarnation which the PRC don’t approve of. Reincarnation can hardly be ‘banned’ by decree …

The comments submitted to the article are a bit more interesting, featuring a wide range of opinion from many nationalities, including several Chinese. Some people point out that this is no more than a continuation of established tradition (from the 14th century onwards), and others in a similar vein note that the Archbishop of Canterbury has to be approved by the Prime Minister.

Predictably, several call for a boycott of Chinese goods and/or the Beijing Olympics. Many condemn China’s actions, taking its government to task for bullying, invading sovereign states, ‘disappearing’ those opposing their agenda, stamping out ancient cultures, denying the spiritual dimensions of existence, exerting control by terrorising people, and ignoring ethics and morality in the pursuit of material wealth.

Wait a minute. Doesn’t that all sound just a bit too familiar? Too right it does – the most cursory glance at the history of the West, up to and including what the US and UK are doing in Afghanistan/Iraq and to their own people right now, could hardly be a more accurate reflection of what the Chinese are up to in Asia. Any attempt to pretend otherwise is just dissembling and hypocrisy. This is not about one side being ‘right’ and the other ‘wrong’. The moral high ground was lost to both long ago. We’re all guilty. Human beings, wherever they are, have an unfortunate trait of believing that the limited view they have of the world is the only one that’s valid; in fact, is the ‘best’ possible one, and hence one that should be held – for their own ‘good’ you understand – by everyone else.

Perhaps it’s only when we finally take on board what religious teachings of the past several thousand years, not to mention the conclusions of science in the last century, have been trying to show us – that unity is the fundamental, eternal and indestructible substrate of limitless creative diversity, and that we ALL have a piece of the truth – will we realise that there is no need to worship uniformity or abuse each other in its name. Paradoxically, religions (whether of spirit or political/scientific ideology) will then no longer be so necessary.

“This I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.”
John Steinbeck



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smeddum.net - Blog: Confessions of a Serial Prover. Weblog on homeopathy, health and related subjects by homeopathic practitioner Wendy Howard