09/24/2015, 00.00
TIBET - CHINA
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Tenzin Gyatso: I may be the last Dalai Lama, but Tibetan Buddhism will not end

The Tibetan spiritual leader returns to issue of his succession, which China would "control": "The teachings of the Buddha have survived even when there was a reincarnation, for many centuries." Islamic extremism: "Do not forget that there are extremists in all religions." China "can be of benefit for Tibet, but they have to respect our cultural and religious autonomy."

London (AsiaNews) - The Dalai Lama has readdressed the question of his succession and explained in a television interview that could be the last human being to fill the role of spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. Tenzin Gyatso, the Nobel Peace Laureate and supreme leader of the "cult of yellow caps" of Tibet, spoke with CNN before a nine-day tour in Britain.

The role of the Dalai Lama - the "‘Lion throne holders’-  might end. For 2,600 years the teachings of the Buddha survived without a reincarnation. I could name a successor before my spiritual death, and so that will end this centuries-old tradition”.

The religious leader ‘s positions are a result of China’s direct interference.  Beijing authorities have repeatedly claimed to be the only ones with the power to recognize the next leader of Tibetan Buddhism. Despite it being an atheist government, Beijing claims to have the last word "on all reincarnations" of the various "living Buddhas" of the Tibetan tradition.

Tenzin Gyatso has repeatedly rejected this interpretation and has opened up a range of possibilities about his succession: from direct appointment to a possible "conclave" similar to Catholics. However, the Chinese central government has already "warned" to "avoid meddling in a matter that is rightfully" that of the Beijing executive.

Tibetan Buddhism is still very deeply felt and practiced in Tibet and the rest of the country, and the figure of the spiritual leader  is very popular, though he was forced to go into exile in India in 1959. Since then the Chinese government has been trying to undermine his role and stature, but without success.

In a further attempt to control the situation, in 1995 Beijing broke the contiguity between the Dalai and the Panchen Lama ("number two" in the Tibetan lineage) abducting the young  child who had been identified as the legitimate XI Panchen  by the current Dalai and appointing its own. Moreover, the Communist Government hopes to do the same with the next leader of the "sect of the yellow hats."

In any case, Buddhist leader clarified, "Tibet is not seeking independence from China. We can benefit from the development we get as part of the People’s Republic of China, but we must be able to preserve our language, culture and Buddhist traditions”.

The Nobel Laureate has also responded to a question on the rise of Islamic extremism: "There is an impression in many people’s minds these days that Muslims are especially militant. However, we have to remember that there are militant Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jews and Buddhists too. The Muslim community that lived in Tibet was a very peaceful community and meeting them in exile I am reminded of the pure Lhasa dialect they still speak".

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