17 Dec 2010

Godless communists approve 'enthronement' of 5 year old boy as a reincarnated 'Living Buddha'

Deccan Chronicle - India August 3, 2010

Tibet boy 6th ‘Living Buddha’

A five-year-old Tibetan boy chosen to head a Buddhist sect in Tibet was “enthroned” as the sixth ‘Living Buddha’ on Monday with the approval of the Chinese government.

The boy was enthroned as sixth “Living Buddha” Dezhub according to Tibetan Buddhist rituals at Zagor monastery in Tibet’s Shannan prefecture, about a month after he was selected through a draw of lot, to be the reincarnation of the fifth Living Buddha Dezhub who died in March 2000.

At the inaugural ceremony, Losang Jigme, Tibet’s top official in charge of religious affairs, read out the regional government’s approval of the enthronement, Xinhua reported. As monks chanted sutras to pray for peace and happiness, the crimson-robed “Living Buddha” paid his respects to statues of Lord Buddha before he was seated on the throne. The five-year-old sat straight when he was adorned with a yellow cassock and yellow hat, the symbols of the Gelugpa school, also known as the Yellow Sect, one of the four streams of Tibetan Buddhism. The young Living Buddha, whose secular name is Losang Doje, was born in Shannan on November 30, 2005. He was chosen as a candidate after years of searching by senior monks in tune with religious practice and traditions. He was selected as the reincarnation and was tonsured by Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, the Chinese government-appointed 11th Panchen Lama.

The Panchen Lama also gave him the religious name Dezhub Jamyang Sherab Palde. Tibetan Buddhism has three most important monks, the Dalai Lama (political and spiritual he-ad), Panchen Lama (regarded as second in command) and Karmapa Lama (head of largest Buddhist sub-sect Karma Kagyu).

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  1. The little lama from Columbia Heights

    By Allie Shah, Minneapolis Star Tribune December 18, 2011

    Tibetan Buddhists see the extraordinary in this Columbia Heights boy -- a reincarnated guru

    It's morning time and a little boy with a shaved head and a face shaped like the moon chants a Tibetan prayer.

    His high-pitched voice echoes inside the Columbia Heights bedroom that his father has transformed into a lavish prayer room. In here, the 4-year-old forsakes his cartoons and toys to study scripture and learn to pray the Buddhist way.

    Big for his age, he looks bigger still perched on an ornate chair draped in crimson and saffron robes. "Only for lamas," explains his father, Dorje Tsegyal, sitting cross-legged on the floor at his son's feet.

    Jalue Dorjee, you see, is believed to be no ordinary boy.

    According to the highest authorities of the Tibetan Buddhist order, he is the reincarnation of the speech, mind and body of a lama, or spiritual guru, who died in Switzerland six years ago. Jalue is said to be the eighth appearance of the original lama, born in 1655.

    His discovery in 2009 is considered an honor and a blessing for his working-class parents. But it comes with a hefty price. Jalue (pronounced JAH-loo) is their only child -- their everything. This week, he turns 5, a critical marker on his predestined path. In just five more years, he will leave the familiarity of his parents' home in Minnesota to live and study in a monastery in India.

    Jalue is believed to be one of a very few American tulkus -- or reincarnated lamas -- and the first one born in Minnesota, which has the second-largest Tibetan population in the country. Still, the finding comes amid some controversy over the way tulkus are being identified, as some Tibetan scholars question why their number has been increasing -- to thousands worldwide.

    But Jalue's parents are faithful believers, and they look past any doubters to the work they must do to prepare their son for his destiny.

    The thought of letting Jalue go pains his mother, but she consoles herself that when the time comes, she will probably be accustomed to the idea.

    Of dreams and letters

    From the time a new life first began to stir inside her in 2006, Dechen Wangmo said she sensed there was something special about this child.

    He was peaceful inside her body. She carried him with ease. She never felt sick, not even in the mornings.

    And there were those dreams.

    One night, an elephant appeared with several little ones around it, she said. They merged into the small prayer room in the family home. Once inside, they vanished.

    Tsegyal, too, remembers having vivid, symbolic dreams at the time. In one, he said, he saw many lamas surrounded by tall sunflowers.

    So when a highly respected lama from India came to visit the Twin Cities Tibetan community, Tsegyal told him about the dreams. That night, the lama had magical dreams of his own, according to Tsegyal, (pronounced Say-jull). The lama told him he saw huge tigers, one in each room of the family home. Robust tigers are a good omen and a sign of strength and protection, according to Tibetan Buddhist custom.

    Before Jalue was born, the family asked the lama to perform a practice known as "divination," which is used by lamas in Tibetan Buddhism to advise people on important matters. Different lamas use their own divination methods, including ones using a rosary or dice to interpret events. This lama performed a divination using two arrows and prayer, Tsegyal recalled.

    Weeks later, a letter arrived at the Columbia Heights home. In it, the visiting lama wrote that he was sure the child was the reincarnation of a Buddhist spiritual master, Tsegyal recalled. Which spiritual master, the lama did not know.

    Determined to find out, Tsegyal wrote to His Holiness Trulshik Shatrul Rinpoche, the spiritual leader of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, the oldest of the four schools.

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    Rinpoche performed another divination, also using the arrows. Soon another letter arrived at the family doorstep.

    "Your son is lucky to be a reincarnate of body, speech and mind of TAKSHAM NUEDEN DORJEE."

    Accepting fate

    Emotions filled Tsegyal: gratitude and fear, honor and pride.

    He showed the letter to Wangmo. "Let's not tell anyone right now," she said.

    What if people questioned Jalue's legitimacy? she worried.

    Besides, he was their one and only child. She could not bear the thought of sending her precious son off to a monastery far from her in just a few short years.

    But there could be consequences, Tsegyal gently persisted. Tibetan Buddhists believe that interfering with a person's destiny may cut their life short.

    "If he is a real reincarnated lama, we have to nurture him and nourish him," he said softly. "Otherwise, he will not have a long life."

    Wangmo saw that she must accept her son's fate.

    When another lama from India came to town, Tsegyal brought his newborn son for a blessing, but kept quiet about the recognition. "Your son seems to be of high birth," the lama observed.

    At Tsegyal's request, the lama performed a third divination ritual. Like the others, he quickly concluded the child was indeed a tulku. He told Tsegyal to alert the three highest lamas, and this led to more letters confirming Jalue as a reincarnated lama.

    On Jan. 6, 2009, a letter arrived bearing the seal of the greatest spiritual leader of the Tibetan diaspora. The Dalai Lama officially recognized Jalue as the reincarnation of the lama known as Taksham Nueden Dorjee. In a second letter, the Dalai Lama gave Jalue a formal lama name -- Tenzin Gyurme Trinley Dorjee.

    The boy was now 3. His life was about to change.

    Enlightened parenting

    The first thing to go was his hair.

    Buddhist monks must keep their hair no more than 2 inches long, a custom stemming from a story about Buddha snapping his fingers and instantly removing all the monks' hair, mustaches and beards.

    At the time, Jalue's shiny black hair fell to his shoulders.

    His parents timed his first haircut to the Dalai Lama's visit to the Tibetan community in Madison, Wis., in May 2010. The family traveled to Madison and the Dalai Lama did the honors, cutting a lock of the boy's hair. Tsegyal keeps that strand of hair preserved inside a blue, folded paper at home.

    Tsegyal had one more question for the Dalai Lama: How should he raise Jalue to ensure he will become a great lama?

    The Dalai Lama told him to keep the boy in the United States until he reaches the age of 10 so he can go to school here and learn good English. When he turns 10, he should be sent to a monastery in India, where he can learn as much as he can before he is full-grown.

    Jalue's father says he realizes that he is raising a lama for the 21st century. A tech-savvy spiritual leader who can easily communicate with people in the West and East. Yet someone also fully versed in the wisdom and practices of Tibetan Buddhism and able to teach those concepts to others.

    On a crisp fall morning, Jalue looks the part of a boy in two worlds. He practices reading Tibetan words, sitting on his lama chair at home. He is wearing a yellow "Highland Hawks" T-shirt and red flannel pajama bottoms, his favorite colors, and the ones that lamas wear exclusively.

    His head bowed over his workbook, he points to each word with a highlighter and reads aloud.

    Tsegyal sits next to his son. "He learns very fast," the father says, watching Jalue power through the workbook and look to his father with a "what's next?" expression. He's learning the basics -- how to say the morning and afternoon prayers and how to read the scriptures. In due time, his father says, he will also learn the meaning of those scriptures.

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    "Right now," Tsegyal explains, "it's very important to know the reading. The important words. Once he will grow up his age, he will start to understand."

    The boy lama

    There is so much more Tsegyal must teach his son before they part. How to wear the monk robes properly. How to walk and how to sit. At times, Tsegyal feels overwhelmed by his duty. Mother and father still struggle to find the right balance for shaping a holy man while parenting a 4-year-old. Once Tsegyal became stern while trying to get Jalue to recite a line in the scripture. The boy's face became serious, Tsegyal said, and he spoke in a commanding tone. "Abba, now I am small. You don't have to do that. When I am grown up, I will know it."

    His mother remembers the day when Jalue took issue with her discipline. "I'm the reincarnate of Taksham," he told her. "You have to talk slow and in a good manner. Otherwise, I'll be shamed."

    Other times, he appears no different than any other 4-year-old. At home, he sucks down his favorite beef soup and rice dish. He runs around the house in his Power Ranger mask, makes action figures soar off the kitchen table, builds a garage out of Legos for his toy cars. He giggles while watching "Mr. Bean" videos or play-wrestling with his dad. He carries his eagerness to learn to preschool. He often sits near the front of the class, and when his teacher, Kathy Anderson, asks a question, he stretches his hand as high as he can, waving frantically.

    Jalue stands a full head taller than his classmates. A gentle giant, he grins at a blond-haired boy named Ryan and punches him playfully on the arm. "You want to play with ME?" he asks excitedly, then leads Ryan to a tub full of Legos. At preschool he's just one of the kids, but at the local Tibetan center, Jalue is viewed with great respect and awe. He stopped at the center on Saturday to celebrate his birthday with cake, candles and singing. Jalue appeared stoic, in his monk robes, standing in front of dozens of other Tibetan-American children. They craned their necks to get a better view of the boy, introduced to them as "rinpoche," meaning "precious one." Then, they sang "Happy Birthday" to him in Tibetan. At the end, the headmaster of the Tibetan center's weekend school leaned down and touched his forehead to Jalue's -- in order to receive blessings from the little lama.

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    A mother's dilemma

    Dechen Wangmo is 40 years old now, and says she won't have any more children. She isn't sure what will happen in five years, when the day comes for Jalue to join the monastery. Sometimes she thinks she will move to India, too. Other times she feels she must stay because her job and her family are here in Minnesota. "Right now she thinks so many things," said Thinly Woser, a family friend and longtime Tibetan community leader who agreed to translate. "Of course, she would like to go to India with him. But she needs to be here. She is in a dilemma."

    She avoids taking him to shopping malls or Tibetan community events and steers clear of crowded places. Were he an ordinary boy, she would take him everywhere. But in Tibet, lamas must be kept clean and away from bad pollution so that they may have a clear vision. On the rare times she has taken him out in public in his monk robes, people have barraged her with questions. Is this a lama? Who is he? Why do you keep him here? Why don't you take him to India? Then she feels shy. She points to Jalue's father and tells the people: "Ask him."

    Her heart clings to her baby, but her faith tells her she must let go. "Since His Holiness is our guru and he says he has to go to the monastery, then of course he has to go to the monastery," she said.

    On a recent morning, Wangmo makes breakfast.

    She spreads peanut butter on warm naan and pours a cup of chai tea. "Jalue," she calls.

    He nibbles his bread, then pushes away from the table and rushes back to the living room to watch Elmo on TV. His mother inspects his teacup and frowns. "Jalue, are you done with this?" she calls to him again. He returns, tilts the blue and white porcelain cup, and gulps the last of the tea.

    "Whoa, good boy," she says, as she wipes his mouth.

    Knowing their time together is short has made Wangmo value every minute with her son. It's also made her realize that to be ready to separate from him, she must practice. When it's time for preschool, Jalue trots down the stairs dressed head to toe in maroon with a pair of Spider-Man sunglasses over his eyes and a backpack over his shoulders. He leans against his mother as she helps him put on his sneakers.

    Outside Jalue points at the yellow school bus making its way down his street. "Bus coming!" he yells. He lifts his face to receive a goodbye kiss. She bends down, cups his face and nuzzles him. The bus stops at the end of the driveway, and the whooshing sound of the doors opening tells her that it's time to let go. She follows Jalue with her eyes, watching as he climbs each step, cheerfully greets the bus driver and takes a seat. She stands in the driveway and waves to him and to the other little faces looking out the windows. She waves until she can't see him anymore. Then she walks up the driveway toward the house. Not once looking back.


  5. Tibets epidemic of self-immolation

    By Patrick Brown, special to CBC News February 14, 2013

    In Canada, the recent hunger strike by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence jolted the country into a national reflection about the issues for which she seemed willing, symbolically at least, to put her life on the line.

    In China, a more dramatic and horrifying form of protest has become almost commonplace

    At six o'clock on the morning of Feb. 3, Lobsang Namgyal, a 37-year-old Tibetan monk strode up to a police station in Zoege in the Tibetan area of Sichuan province, drenched himself with gasoline and set himself on fire.

    It was the hundredth self-immolation since 2009 when this wave of suicides began in the aftermath of widespread protests the previous year. Security in the region is so tight that it took 10 days for news of this grim milestone to reach the outside world.

    Eighty-two of the 100, including Lobsang Namgyal, have died. And on Wednesday, police in Nepal, outside China's jurisdiction, reported another Tibetan exile was in critical condition after setting himself alight at the foot of Kathmandu's Boudhanath Stupa, a revered Buddhist shrine.

    Far from provoking a national reflection on what life under Chinese rule is like for Tibetans, this wave of self-immolations has met with a predictable reaction from Chinese authorities.

    It consists of a propaganda campaign accusing the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, of instigating the protest, as well as ever-tighter security measures, including harsh prison sentences for those accused of abetting the suicides, or trying to stop police from seizing the remains.

    When the Chinese parliament meets in a few weeks, Tiananmen Square will be lined with fire extinguishers and police snatch teams.

    The chance of another suicide by fire is, in itself, of no particular concern to China's rulers. But they are determined to prevent such an event in the political heart of the country from being captured by the world's media.

    Publicly committing suicide in this most excruciating and extreme form of protest can have a powerful impact.

    Fifty years ago in Vietnam, a Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Duc became the first person in modern times to burn himself to death for a cause.

    He set himself on fire on June 11, 1963, to protest the harsh treatment of Buddhists by the regime of the Roman Catholic president Ngo Dinh Diem.

    The New York Times' David Halberstam, the greatest of Vietnam War reporters, witnessed the event and filed this unforgettable report:

    "Flames were coming from a human being; his body was slowly withering and shriveling up, his head blackening and charring. In the air was the smell of burning human flesh; human beings burn surprisingly quickly …

    "I was too shocked to cry, too confused to take notes or ask questions, too bewildered to even think … As he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, his outward composure in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him."

    The images of the burning monk, coupled with the callous and distasteful reaction of the Diem regime, were so shocking to U.S. president John Kennedy that he authorized the removal of Ngo Din Diem a few months later.

    Since then, politically motivated self-immolations have occurred in dozens of countries. Inspired by Thich Quang Duc's example, a student named Jan Palach set himself on fire in Prague's Wenceslas Square in 1969, a martyrdom that Czechs see as an important stepping stone towards the overthrow of the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia 20 years later.

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  6. Two years ago, a Tunisian street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi became the catalyst for revolution in Tunisia and beyond when he set himself on fire in protest against a life plagued by injustice, harassment and humiliation.

    In each of these instances, the unexpected and dramatic death of a single individual — all the more powerful because the violence was directed inward and harmed no one else — had a significant impact on events.

    But that is not always the case.

    So far, Beijing has remained unmoved by one hundred such deaths in the Tibetan areas of its western provinces, and in Tibet itself, the supposedly autonomous region that China controls.

    International awareness of the situation has been muted because many of the areas where the suicides are happening have been closed to foreign reporters for years.

    In Tibet, decades of Chinese rule have created a bottomless well of resentment in which Tibetans feel that they lack the freedom to practice their religion, and that their language and culture are under threat.

    Brutal paramilitary policing, environmental depredation, careless economic development and an influx of Han Chinese carpetbaggers have made matters worse.

    That said, we know distressingly little about the precise motives that have led so many Tibetans to take this drastic and often final step of burning themselves to death. Only a few have left behind a clear statement.

    Those few testaments that have been left express a yearning for the return of the exiled Dalai Lama. And they implore their fellow Tibetans to protect their language and religion, but make no specific demands of China.

    General discontent is not sufficient to explain the epidemic of suicides.

    Very few of the self-immolations have taken place in the Tibetan heartland, which China calls the Tibetan Autonomous region.

    Almost all have been in the Tibetan areas of neighbouring provinces, which suggests that regional issues may be playing a role as well.

    Many, including the most recent, have been associated with one particular monastery, Kirti, in Sichuan. It's likely that the phenomenon of emulative suicides, known as the Werther effect, named for the wave of suicides that followed the publication of Goethe's novel The Sorrows of Young Werther, is also playing a role.

    In terms of effectiveness, self-immolation is particularly vulnerable to the law of diminishing returns.

    One martyr with a clear message provides a rallying point for the cause he or she died for. When a hundred people burn themselves to death, they become, sadly, statistics.

    This protest has become a futile waste of young lives.

    China's accusation that there is a campaign orchestrated by the Dalai Lama is quite unfounded. The Dalai Lama has said nothing to encourage the self-immolations.

    At the same time, by saying nothing more than "what's happening is very sad; it brings tears to my eyes," he has not used his enormous authority to discourage them either. It may now be time for him to do so.