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How Sick Is the Dalai Lama?
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I expect the PRC government has a team of spooks and doctors whose main job is to monitor the Dalai Lama’s public appearances for indications concerning his health. The Dalai Lama’s April 8 visit to Tawang probably gave them something to chew on, because he didn’t look that good to me.

He was mentally acute and spirited, but whenever he walked he was supported by two monks.

Watching him struggle after he got up from the platform after two hours of religious teaching at Tawang makes me think there’s more going on than religious deference with the monk escort.

At the 2:33:00 minute point in this video you can see the Dalai Lama wrap up his talk, tuck his meds away in his little carry bag, and exit with some effort.

Last year the Dalai Lama received treatment at the Mayo Clinic for a month, presumably related to his prostate condition which I’m guessing is more like prostate cancer. It looks to me like his physical condition had deteriorated.

Talking about the Dalai Lama’s health is an unwelcome subject for the Tibetan diaspora and government in exile, since the CCP strategy is clearly to drag out any engagement until the Dalai Lama passes on, and deal with a position of strength in any talks with his successor.

The Dalai Lama has declared he’s going to live to 90 (he’s now 82), when he’ll finalize the succession issue. Maybe he’s got some supernatural insight, but you have to wonder.

The Dalai Lama’s successor looks to be an “emanation” chosen during the Dalai Lama’s lifetime to pre-empt Chinese meddling. Although there’s a possibility of an upgrade to “reincarnation” after the current Dalai Lama’s death, I doubt the successor will carry anywhere near the current Dalai Lama’s prestige and authority.

If, as is bruited about, the Dalai Lama chooses the Karmapa of the Karma Kagyu lineage as his successor, the new Dalai Lama’s clout will also be undercut by the fact that he’s not of the Gelugpa lineage that has dominated Tibetan Buddhist religion and politics for generations. The Karmapa had some of the sheen taken off him by an ugly controversy in which it was claimed he was a pretender and a Chinese Communist mole.

The rough edges have been smoothed off the Karmapa controversy by the death of the alternate claimant’s main champion, Shamar Rinpoche, and a change in attitude by the previously suspicious Indian government and intelligence service. On a broader stage, there’s a move to redefine Tibetan Buddhism as an ecumenical movement, rather than a congeries of independent-minded and ferociously contentious and occasionally murderous monasteries and religious leaders.

One sign of this was the festooning of Tawang with Buddhist flags for the Dalai Lama’s visit. The Buddhist flag I am referring to is not the traditional prayer flag but the colorful stripy thing, which is actually a relatively recent innovation. It was announced in Sri Lanka in 1885 with input from an American Buddhist (and Blavatsky Theosophist) enthusiast, Colonel Henry Steele Olcott and is supposed to symbolize the shared essential beliefs and potential for unity for a global Buddhist movement that transcends different traditions and teachings.

As a visual aid:

Traditional Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags at Tawang:

“Buddhist flag” at Tawang:

Buddhist, Tibetan, and Indian flags festooning the exterior of the Tawang monastery on the occasion of the Dalai Lama’s visit, which presumably hacked off the PRC no end:

A sign that the “all Buddhists are brothers and sisters” approach is working is the flourishing of the ecumenically oriented Tibetan Buddhist academy at Larung Gar in Sichuan inside the PRC.

Larung Gar was founded in 1980 by a rinpoche of the Nyingma lineage, but its curriculum also incorporates Gelugpa and other teachings. Perhaps its promise as a unifying, trans-lineage institution for Tibetan Buddhists—and one less susceptible to the divide-and-conquer strategy China has employed for centuries, most conspicuously in the case of its promotion of the Panchen Lama– is why the PRC government restricts Larung Gar operations and is now tearing down parts of the immense favela of student housing that has grown up around the academy.

Here’s my most recent video for Newsbud, where I discuss the Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang (and Xi Jinping’s visit to Mar a Lago!) and conclude that the next Dalai Lama will probably turn out to be more of brand ambassador for Tibetan Buddhism, a Dalai Lama Lite, rather than a galvanizing figure like the 14th Dalai Lama.

In my video, I mis-state the dessert that witnessed Donald Trump’s announcement to Xi Jinping that he was pasting Syria with cruise missiles as “chocolate sorbet”. It was actually “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake.”


(Republished from China Matters by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: China, Dalai Lama, Larung Gar, Tawang 
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  1. Zenarchy says:

    Yeah, it was Dalai Lama’s gelugpas that sold the country to the Mongols in exchange for the half Tibetan half Mongolian title of Dalai Lama. Everyone knows what happened afterwards with China and Mongolia. And Britain.

  2. DB Cooper says:

    When I read the title I thought the author meant how morally degenerate is the Dalai Lama. Turns out he mean his physical health. I don’t know whether the Dalai Lama is sick or not, but he definitely is a sick man, as in a morally degenerate man.

  3. Escher says:
    @DB Cooper

    From your Engrish I can tell you Chinese Hasbala.

    • LOL: reiner Tor, Bill
    • Replies: @Inquiring Mind
  4. neutral says:
    @DB Cooper

    No doubt you are now going to explain how Mao was a very moral man, nothing like that morally degenerate Dalai Lama.

    • Replies: @DB Cooper
    , @JGarbo
  5. J1234 says:

    Doesn’t “sick” mean good?

  6. DB Cooper says:

    Typical nonsense response. What does this have to do with Mao? Can they be both bad in a different way? Don’t try to distract the issue.

    • Replies: @Anonymous White Male
  7. @DB Cooper

    Well, how is he “morally degenerate”? Declaring an opinion is not the same as truth.

    • Replies: @DB Cooper
    , @Alden
  8. “I doubt the successor will carry anywhere near the current Dalai Lama’s prestige and authority.”

    And yet, every time a Pope is elected, he does carry all the previous “Vicars of Christ”‘ prestige and authority, doesn’t he? Organized, structured religious belief is a strong delusion among large populations. I don’t think the Tibetans are any different in this.

    • Replies: @Joe Wong
  9. DB Cooper says:
    @Anonymous White Male

    WikiLeak has revealed the DL has for years been sending orphans under his care to go to war against Pakistan for India. These are underage kids made into child soldiers who do not have choice of not going.

    There are other morally degenerate things too. If you are interested I can tell you more.

    • Replies: @Anonymous White Male
  10. @DB Cooper

    Go for it. But, first I think you should read your links. The first goes to a site that has links about the Dalai Lama’s consent going to another site that is in Spanish. The second really doesn’t have anything that links the Dalai Lama to these actions. It is usually someone else that is quoted, often the DL’s brother. Plus, it is from the CIA. They are notorious for evil.

    Claiming the DL is “morally degenerate” requires a series of acts that are well documented. Others have tried to point out that Nelson Mandela and MLK were “morally degenerate” as well. And there is more convincing proof for them, by the way.

    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
  11. @DB Cooper

    Great comment

    BUT not…

    So he’s the most mentally sick– quiet man i ever seen, 😉

  12. @Anonymous White Male

    I’m at the point where I believe that all great men are also terrible men.

    • Agree: Alden
    • Replies: @JGarbo
  13. jim jones says:

    Prostate cancer is no big deal nowadays, the treatment is a bit of radiotherapy and then androgen blockers

  14. JGarbo says:

    Rather silly non-comparison. The DL, a CIA asset for 60 yrs, ruled a medieval fiefdom that condoned slavery, sodomy, pedophilia. Mao freed Tibet of this beast, though his own excesses cannot be excused. Still, I’d have thought that anyone the CIA endorsed had to be rotten – when did they ever back a good guy? Is the DL suffering from guilt?

  15. JGarbo says:
    @Daniel Chieh

    Obviously, you need to redefine “great”. You’re safe with “very very big”. Any further is tricky.

  16. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    From your English I can tell you are a ‘God-fearing’ morally defunct evil ‘puritan’ who has been committing war crimes, crimes against peace and crimes against humanity since they can sail out of the Mediterranean Sea.

    • Replies: @neutral
  17. @Escher

    Chinese Hasbala? I thought only Japanese and Korean Hasbala post in Engrish?

  18. Alden says:
    @Anonymous White Male

    He means Tibetan diaspora young men are encouraged to join the Indian army at 17 or 18, the same minimum ages for enlistment in every army in the world including ours. US 17 year olds can sign up but must wait until their 18th birthday to actually enter the military.

    England accepts 16 year olds in the army.

  19. Why does he get so much attention? He’s not the Buddhist Pope, he’s the ethnarch of a state that will likely never be independent, who adopts a monk persona.

    Buddhism has no hierarchy.

    • Replies: @neutral
  20. Biff says:

    Dali Lama goes into pizza shop and says:
    “Can you make me one with everything?”

    • LOL: Z-man
  21. Z-man says:

    The Dalai Lama has declared he’s going to live to 90 (he’s now 82)

    Man I thought he was older, he seems to have been around for ever!

  22. neutral says:

    From your geographical knowledge, I can tell you don’t know much about the Puritans.

  23. neutral says:
    @The White Muslim Traditionalist

    Tibet has always captured the popular imagination of many people, probably because of its distant isolation (both in culture and its difficult access) from the rest of the world. And I know that some Chinese hasbara will counter this by saying that Tibet had slavery, child abuse, etc, and thus had to be conquered by Mao.

  24. Joe Wong says:
    @Anonymous White Male

    Pop carries all the previous “Vicars of Christ” prestige and authority because he was elected through the due process. The next Dalai Lama can carry previous Dalai Lama’ prestige and authority if he is elected through the due process. Mind you the due process of electing a Dalai Lama has to be approved and supervised by the Beijing authority as well as the elected candidate has be blessed by the Beijing authority in order to become a Dala Lama, this due process is hundreds years old ritual and as sacred as Jesus and Cross.

  25. Cortes says:
    @DB Cooper

    Reminds me of the old one about the hungover guy phoning his boss on a Monday morning asking for sick leave…

    Boss: Come on, man, we’re short staffed here. We need you! How sick can you be?

    Employee: I’m lying here naked in my bed with my granny…

  26. denk says:

    One of the very first English proverb I learned was,
    People who live in glass house shouldnt throw stones !

    Modi should stop playing the Tibet card cuz he is staying in a gigantic glass house. India’s ethnic conflicts make Tibet looks like child’s play.

    Two can play at this game.
    If Beijing decides to reciprocates, it has so many cards to play on
    Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripuna, …..the Naxats, the Dalits etc etc.

    For the time being Beijing seem not interested to stoop to Delhi’s level
    , but if Modi goes too far in in its Tibet./Xinjiang destabilisation, then he shouldnt complains when Beijing decides to return the favor !

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