Return of Buddha
by Shobhan Saxena, Times of India, Dec 4, 2011
Are Buddhist nations coming together to form a bloc that is as much religious as it is political? And is India ready to assume leadership of the group? If it is, China is clearly unhappy about it. But a churning has begun. Sunday Times reports from the first Global Buddhist Congregation
New Delhi, India — With the smell of incense floating above their shaven heads, the Thai monks in grey robes walked in a single file, eyes to the ground and their hands softly beating the prayer drums. Following them were the Tibetan lamas, Sri Lankan monks and Taiwanese priests – all walking elegantly, murmuring mantras under their breath and forming a circle around a chosen spot.
Video: Dalai Lama’s address at the World Buddhist Congregation 2011
Then a shiver passed down the crowd as the Dalai Lama arrived at Nehru Park and placed into freshly dug-up holes saplings of the Bodhi Tree – a cutting of the same pipal under which the Buddha had found enlightenment 2600 years ago and which was slashed and burned by King Sasanka of Bengal, an anti-Buddhist iconoclast, in the 6th century AD.
On November 30, as the first Global Buddhist Congregation in Delhi decided to form a new global Buddhist body based in India, delegates from 46 countries – from the Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions – were handed over the Bodhi Tree saplings to be planted in their countries. Many leaders received the plants from the Dalai Lama, who also gave the valedictory speech at the congregation.
The message was not missed on anyone : Buddhism is set to get more organized globally; India is to become the new centre of this unity; and the Dalai Lama is recognized as an unofficial leader of all Buddhists. “All Buddhist countries feel that in India, the land of Buddha, nothing is being done to promote Buddhism. Now, all the Buddhist organizations will be under the International Buddhist Confederation to be based here,” says Lama Lobsang, the head of Asoka Mission, which organized the Delhi congregation.
The idea seems to have been accepted. “The whole world looks to India because of Buddhism. If someone from India takes initiative, India can take leadership of the Buddhist world,” says Banagala Uptatissa , chief of Mahabodhi Society of Sri Lanka . Well, not exactly the whole world. On November 26, one day before the Congregation began, China kicked up a diplomatic storm by putting off border talks with India after New Delhi refused to give in to its demand of not allowing the Buddhist meet.
Earlier, 35 Chinese monks invited for the meet didn’t turn up, making it clear that Beijing was not happy with the congregation. “This conference had a very clear agenda to remind the scattered Buddhist communities that India is the home of Buddhism,” says Gabriel Lefitte, Australian academic and environmental activist who attended the meeting. “China has been quite vigorous in making sure that anybody with a Buddhist background feels connection with China but India has been a bit slow by comparison to restore the ‘Buddhist parivar’ .”
It’s not that the officially atheist China has suddenly fallen in love with Buddhism . China is worried about the growing stature of the Dalai Lama as a global Buddhist leader; it’s also trying to build credibility among the Buddhists so that Beijing can pick the next incarnation of the Dalai Lama without any problem. “The current Chinese leadership is haunted by the Tibetan issue as there have been many cases of self-immolation by the Tibetan monks in mainland China. There is a feeling of urgency regarding the decision of the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama,” says Binod Singh, who teaches at the India Study Centre of Peking University.
China faces an additional problem. It may have dazzled the world with its growth rate, but China has not been able to check social unrest and growth of religion at home. It’s believed that there are now some 100 million Buddhists in China, many of them followers of Tibetan Buddhism. “Of late, the Chinese leaders have been talking about a ‘harmonious society’ and they have eased restrictions on all religions.
The Communist Party takes part in the selection of reincarnation of Tibetan lamas. They want to control Buddhism to keep control on their people,” says an Indian diplomat who served in Beijing till recently. “The friction with India is over the leadership of Buddhist countries and trade interest in east Asia, which China considers its area of influence.”
Courtesy The Buddhist Channel
Still Burning: Thirteenth Tibetan Self-Immolates in Eastern Tibet
Friday, 02 December 2011
Courtesy The Tibet Post International
Date unknown, but this photo clearly shows recent Chinese supporession in Tibet, near Dhartsedho, eastern Tibet. Photo Woeser blog
Dharamshala, India: – Thirteen Tibetans since 2009, most of them monks or former monks, and most recently (Thursday, 1st December, 2011) a former Buddhist monk, have self-immolated as a form of protest against Chinese rule. Several have died as a result of injuries sustained by the flames, or by subsequent beatings by Chinese police trying to stop these protests.
A former monk from the Karma monastery has set himself on fire in Chamdho in eastern Tibet on Thursday, 1st December and his condition is unknown, reports coming out of Tibet say. Tenzin Phuntsok, who is in his 40s, set himself on fire in Chamdo. He was taken away by the Chinese police and his whereabouts is not known. He and his wife Dolma have two sons and a daughter.
12 Tibetans who self immolated earlier this year have called for religious freedom, Human Rights and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet to his people.
Reports say that monks from Karma monastery in Chamdho were not allowed to leave the monastery at the time.
The Chinese government has enforced intense security restrictions in Chamdho since the widespread peaceful protests shook Tibet in 2008, a US-based human rights organization said.
In response, Tibetans and supporters around the world have created a series of events to increase awareness and pressure international governments to take action.
The region has become a front-line for the security forces and the imposition of ‘patriotic education’ to stifle the genuine grievances of the Tibetan people, it added.
The Central Tibetan Administration has been urging the Chinese government to stop it’s repressive policy on Tibetans and allow more freedom of religion and speech.
The Tibetan administration in Dharamshala had appealed to China that it should accept independent delegations and media to travel to examine the situation and allow medical teams to give treatment to those hurt after self-immolations.
US and European lawmakers have expressed concern over the human rights violations in Tibet and condemned recent crackdowns in the region and called for respect for the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people and for their distinctive cultural.
iNewsp.com, 28 November 2011 Courtesy The Buddhist Channel
The Global Buddhist Congregation
New Delhi,. India — The four day long Global Buddhist Congregation meant to celebrate 2,600 years since Siddhartha Gautama became Enlightened turned into an unexpected, major obstacle for the entirely separate, 15th round of Special Representative talks regarding matters between the countries of India and China.
The Global Buddhist Congregation is scheduled to start festivities in New Delhi, a timing which coincidentally coincided with the now cancelled 15th round of SR talks. When the Chinese government got the news that the Dalai Lama would be attending the Global Buddhist Congregation and giving an address, it started demanding unreasonable things from India.
Ever since the Chinese government marched into Tibet with its military in 1950 and effectively ended Tibet’s autonomy, the Dalai Lama’s relationship with China has been sour and full of incredible, one-sided hostility from the Chinese government.
After a failed uprising in 1959, the Dalai Lama was forced to flee Tibet and set up a government-in-exile near India’s border with China.
For decades, the Dalai Lama has been traveling around the world raising awareness and support for what he calls “greater autonomy” for Tibetans who are dissatisfied with Chinese rule.
Meanwhile the Chinese government has been venomously trying to stamp out the Dalai Lama’s influence by forcing monks to live in “reeducation” camps, refusing to deal with other governments who invited the Dalai Lama to their countries or even “warning” others of a strain in relations, like with the United States when President Obama invited the Dalai Lama to the White House.
Many are outraged that the Chinese government has audaciously claimed the right to choose the Panchen Lama, who is to be the next Dalai Lama, as they see Tibet as just another province of China just as the Chinese government sees the virtually independent Taiwan as a Chinese province.
The Han Chinese ethnicity has also been recently clashing with other ethnic groups, such as the Uighurs, who lament that their cultures are being stifled by the overwhelming presence of Han Chinese.
Regarding the Dalai Lama’s presence in New Delhi, the Chinese government demanded the India bar the Dalai Lama from giving his address. The Indian government refused the demand saying that there is no restriction on the freedom of speech in its country.
After that demand failed to go through, China instead demanded that the Global Buddhist Congregation be canceled. Of course India refused this as well.
India also asserted that this event was religious and “not political” and that the Indian External Affairs Ministry’s Publicity Division is only co-sponsoring a book fair and a film festival that will play Buddhism-themed films.
Chinese government officials still threw a tantrum and announced that the 15th round of talks cannot be held while the Dalai Lama is near them making this the first time that the talks have been postponed.
YC. Dhardhowa, The Tibet Post International Tuesday, 29 November 2011
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Dharamshala, India: – Despite strong objections from China, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, left Dharamshala today to address the Global Buddhist Congregation in New Delhi on November 30.
Indian officials say a meeting between Indian and Chinese diplomats has been canceled, after China attempted to interfere in India’s internal affairs.
The Buddhist Congregation is now into its second day, with religious scholars debating the finer points of Buddhist philosophy and morality.
Yesterday, China reportedly objected to His Holiness’ attendance and warned India to cancel the conference, which is being attended by around 900 Buddhist scholars and others from 46 countries.
Speaking from Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said, “We oppose any country that provides a platform for his anti-China activities, in any form.”
The Global Buddhist Congregation has been organized by the Asoka Mission, to commemorate the 2,600th year of Sambobdhi Prapti (the enlightenment of the Buddha).
His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Ugyen Trinley Dorjee addressed the conference’s second day. Speaking on the Buddhist view of the environment and the natural world, he stressed the importance of a clear understanding of nature and the interdependence of all things.
He added that environmental problems are man-made – a result of human self-centeredness.
Speaking at one of the conference venues, Hotel Lalit, Mr Tempa Tsering, the representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Indian capital New Delhi protested against China’s attempts politically colour a religious event, saying that India “has done the right thing” by refusing to cave in.
He commented, “The conference delegates have no other motive than to bring Buddhist scholars together to discuss Buddhist philosophy and share experiences of how the Buddhist teachings can help humanity.
“India is a free, democratic society. China is a closed society. That’s why they are reacting in a paranoid manner.
“His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been a guest of India for the last 52 years. It would have been unusual if His Holiness, who is regarded the world over as a spiritual leader and the head of Tibetan Buddhism, will not attend this conference.”
The Asoka Mission has also objected to the politicization of the event by China. Its president, Lama Lobzang, said, “The world is dealing with…violence, social and economic disparity, environmental degradation and discord between and within communities and nations.
“The objective of the congregation is to stand united when it comes to sending their collective message to the world on such issues.”
Among the countries represented at the conference are Taiwan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Mongolia, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar.
According to the 2001 census report, India, where the Buddha attained enlightenment, is home to nearly eight million Buddhists.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is also scheduled to give a talk on The Power of Compassion in Delhi, as part of the Penguin Annual Lecture Series, to be held at the India Habitat Center on December 3.
He will then leave for Gyurmey Tantric monastery, in Gurupura (Hunsur), to give teachings on the Commentary on the Five Stages by Nagarjuna, written by Panchen Lobsang Choegen, from December 5 to 7.
China on Saturday warned the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama not to interfere with the “reincarnation” process to select a successor after his death, saying the selection cannot be influenced by any group from outside the country.
“The top official of Tibet, Chen Quanguo, on Saturday warned the exiled Dalai Lama group not to interfere with living Buddhas’ reincarnation affairs, a tradition of Tibetan Buddhism that also concerns who will replace the current 14th Dalai Lama, 76, once he dies,” state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.
The warning came as tensions prevailed in Tibetan populated areas like southern Sichuan province where nine Buddhist monks and two nuns have attempted to commit self immolations, demanding return of the Dalai Lama from his exile in India.
Another monk set himself on fire in Nepal two days ago against Chinese rule in Tibet.
The Xinhua report said China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs in 2007 issued regulations on reincarnation of Tibetan living Buddhas.
It stated that the selection must adhere to the principle of upholding the national unity and solidarity of all ethnic groups and that the selection process cannot be influenced by any group or individual from outside the country.
The reincarnation should respect the rituals and traditions of Tibetan Buddhism but reincarnated living Buddhas (Monks) are barred from retaining the old feudal theocratic powers, which have been abolished since Tibet’s democratic reforms half a century ago, according to the regulations, the report said.
The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet following a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, has been described by the Chinese leadership as “splititst” seeking to destroy the unity of the country.
Chen, the newly appointed secretary of the Communist Party of China Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region, told a regional congressional meeting held in Lhasa that the authorities in Tibet will continue to protect religious activities, religious venues, and the legitimate rights of the followers in accordance with the country’s laws.
Chen also underlined the importance of building the Tibet Buddhist Theological Institute into an organisation that trains well-educated monks and nuns for Tibetan monasteries across the country and explains the doctrines of Tibetan Buddhism in ways that can keep the religion at pace with the times.
The institute, Tibet’s only regional-level Buddhist theological academy, opened in the county of Quxu near Lhasa in October.
One hundred-and-fifty people from various sects of Tibetan Buddhism were enrolled to study religion, culture, and law courses as the first batch of students.
Posted on: November 12, 2011 3:56 pm
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