Green Book

Democracy, as the Dalai Lama sees it, is perfectly in tune with the Buddha’s central principles of self-rule and responsibility; it is one of the features of the wider world that long-isolated Tibet can and should now learn from; and it only stands to reason that the voices of all Tibetans be more important than that of just one—a logic that appeals to the scientist and the natural Everyman in him. Besides, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama will be 76 this July and the Dalai Lama institution cannot function as it did now that Tibet’s exiled leaders are separated from the 98 percent of Tibetans—some six million people—who live within the People’s Republic of China in circumstances of general repression and deprivation of political rights. Beijing has already “banned” reincarnations without government approval and all but announced that the finding of a “Fifteenth Dalai Lama” will lie under its jurisdiction as soon as the current, fourteenth, Dalai Lama dies. Almost from the moment he arrived in Indian exile in 1959, the Dalai Lama drew up new constitutions for Tibetans both within Tibet and outside it, with one clause (over his people’s protests) allowing for the impeachment of a Dalai Lama, if necessary. Since then, he has carefully overseen a steady devolution of authority, setting up in Dharamsala first a parliament, then an elected Cabinet and, since 2001, a popularly elected prime minister (or Kalon Tripa, as Tibetans call it). In both the elections held so far—in 2001 and in 2006—the runaway winner has been the gentle monk Samdhong Rinpoche, whose Gandhian principles clearly meet with the Dalai Lama’s approval.


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