Monday, March 14, 2011

Dalai Lama "Abdicates"

The Tibetan government-in-exile today announced that HH the XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet has submitted his abdication or resignation from his political role as the monarch of Tibet, head of the government based in Dharamsala, India. Speaker of the Parliament Penpa Tsering read out the letter from the fourteenth incarnation of Kundun asking the government to relieve him of his position in politics.

"I want to acknowledge here that many of my fellow Tibetans, inside and outside Tibet, have earnestly requested me to continue to give political leadership at this critical time," the letter stated.

"My intention to devolve political authority derives neither from a wish to shirk responsibility nor because I am disheartened."

The Dalai Lama reiterated his long-term goals for the Tibetan people and encouraged them to continue to press for "meaningful autonomy" from the People's Republic of China. Communist China had ruled Tibet for 52 years, most of the lifetime of the 75-year old Dalai Lama.

"It is extremely important that we ensure the continuity of our exile Tibetan administration and our struggle until the issue of Tibet has been successfully resolved," the letter continued.

"If we have to remain in exile for several more decades, a time will inevitably come when I will no longer be able to provide leadership. It is necessary that we establish a sound system of governance while I remain able and healthy, in order that the exile Tibetan administration can become self-reliant rather than being dependent on the Dalai Lama."

In Tibet the Dalai Lama was the temporal and spiritual ruler of Tibet, an absolute monarch effectively, though the current Dalai Lama had planned for reforms at the time of the Chinese invasion. In exile he continued to lead the government but in 2001 the prime minister, Lobsang Tenzin or Samdhong Rinpoche, has effectively had the final word in political affairs.
Additional note: It is not a sure thing, according to the prime minister, that this resignation will be accepted. He also warned of a political dead-lock being a possibility over this between those more traditional and religious forces and those supportive of a more "modern", secular and totally democratic government.


  1. I am Ambivalent to this news. While I will mourn the loss of yet another Monarchy from its proper Role, and fear the Democracy ideal has taken on yet another Host, on the other Hand he’s Right. If he does, how do they pick another Dalai Lama in a Nondivisive Manner?

    I still find it poor news though.

  2. Well I am very disturbed by it as I fear it will mark the end of the government-in-exile as a monarchy. It is still argued that the Dalai Lama cannot abdicate his spiritual duties (and he had not) but it could mean that his potential successor will have no part whatever in political affairs. As to how the successor is chosen, I completely understand the urgency in not allowing the communists to control that process but it seems to me that it would be enough to say that the reincarnation will only happen in India or Mongolia rather than Tibet.

  3. The only reason Modern Democracies don’t dissolve instantly into a ravenous gang of self interested parties fracturing into oblivion is National Identity and a shared boarder. Without that, Tibetans have only their Shared Culture, Lineage, and the Dalai Lama. In that way you are right. If the Government in Exile becomes a Democracy, there’s a good chance it will dissolve completely.

    That said, is this move actually permanent though? Or can it be reversed upon the Ascension of the Next Dalai Lama? If it is reversible then perhaps its simply preparation for His Holiness to resume the Cycle?

    But I fear its just another giving in to our new god Democracy.

    We age as if it is a self evident good, but its Fruits have been bitter indeed, and society seems less fit form eating them.

    Still, even the Pope praises Democracy now, and we all know how Past Popes viewed the Revolutionaries…

  4. Tibet will certainly not get the attention it once did if they have a president -sorry folks, but a 'god-king' is just more interesting. If the people revere the next Dalai Lama (assuming there is one) sufficiently he could reverse anything but it would be exceptionally difficult. Like Pope Benedict XVI trying to have a coronation, for a new Dalai Lama to try to re-gain his political power after his predecessor gave it up would cause the masses of the world to accuse him of ambition and wanting to be a tyrant. This, and the lead-up to it, is why many "traditionalists" (for lack of a better word) have had some major problems with this incarnation. I find many of his actions problematic but, as I always try to stress, my support for him is unshakable because it is dispassionate and based solely on the fact that, no matter what he does, he is the legitimate sovereign of Tibet and nothing can change that.

  5. The Dalai Lama as you say constitutes the sovereignty of Tibet. Abdication is neither possible nor legitimate. This in many ways is a tonic for the illegitimate Communist regime which has NO legitimacy in China or Tibet. Give the Red Chinese an inch and they take a mile. You cannot compromise with evil.

  6. MM-

    “find many of his actions problematic but, as I always try to stress, my support for him is unshakable because it is dispassionate and based solely on the fact that, no matter what he does, he is the legitimate sovereign of Tibet and nothing can change that.”

    This, in a nutshell, is the principle reason Monarchy is superior to Republicanism. No one says this of Presidents. Obama is not in command of the Loyalty of those who voted against him, nor could he be. His power rests on the Consent of the Governed and being the Will of the People. If you are part of the people who did not support him, or if you changed your mind about him, you by definition cannot be Loyal to him, especially if you are active in trying to remove him in 2012.

    His Authority is derived solely from being elected by 51% of the people, and that’s it.

    Meanwhile, you can disagree with a King, despise his personal Morals, and think him stupid, slothful, or corrupt, you can oppose all of his Policies, all of his machinations, and everything he holds dear or stands for, and yet remain unmovable Loyal to him. For his power is not in winning a Popularity contest, and doesn’t exist because he is able to outmanoeuvre another candidate and win support of certain mobilised segments of societies and command significant Voter Blocks, but in a Right that he holds.

    One can have Loyal Opposition in a Monarchy, but not a Republic, and in that is Unity, and in Unity Strength.

    SubDeacon Gould- Yeah but, the Reds don’t like this and have, Ironically, protested his move, claiming it’s a Trick or purely Political. In a way, I agree with the Reds this Time. The Dalai Lama can’t Abdicate, and His Holiness’s Role in the matters of Tibet is simply not something one can lay aside. I also agree with them in that this is likely his attempt to gain support from the World Community, as well as to show how modern and fair he is, by embracing Democracy.

    He wants to Embrace Democracy to reflect the Wisdom of our Age, and That will, in the eyes of the world, make him modern and up to date.

  7. That is the difference between having a "sovereign" and having that nebulous thing called "popular sovereignty". The Reds have been banking on being in control of the next Dalai Lama, this move would mean that if they put up one of their own, not only would few accept him (as would be true in any case) but even if there is no Dalai Lama in exile there will still be a government to be a thorn in their side. The problem is, the GiE will get scant attention without the Dalai Lama leading them and if they go totally secular and start racing down the 'modernism' path they will soon be in a position where there would be little to distinguish the governments in and outside Tibet; at least as far as preserving Tibetan culture, traditions and what Tibet had always been based around -lamaistic Buddhism.

  8. Hold on! What is he saying? Isn't he saying that he is just staying out of politics, but is continuing his religious duties?
    That's not so bad.
    The first Christian (Christ) siad the same thing. Staying out of the politics of this world is a good move isn't it, because politics is generally just powermongering and greed for more land, control and power. A true religious leader needs none of that.
    The fact that the Dalai Lama moves out of politics officially, does not mean that he is not a leader of the 'religion' (rather the way of life)- you are right - he will be a King or ruler of his followers because he is only giving up PART of his duties. The fact that the Reds don't like it immediately tells me that it is a good move - somehow it's putting a spanner in their works.

  9. Whatever Christ did or didn't do has no bearing on Tibetan politics or the Tibetan Buddhist religion. In the old days, the political role was more central to the Dalai Lama than even the spiritual role, at one time it was the Panchen Lama who was seen as the more purely spiritual leader and the Dalai Lama the more purely political leader. For 400 years the Dalai Lama has been the ruler of Tibet, politically, and that is nothing to shrug off lightly. The Tibetan parliament also seems to see it that way as they have asked the Dalai Lama to "reconsider" his decision -effectively rejecting his resignation. So, as it stands now, the situation remains unchanged.


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