Buddhism is under tight control and surveillance in China, no surprise. The second-highest ranking figure in Tibetan Buddhism, recognized as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, disappeared 25 years ago when he was a six year old boy.
The boy was identified by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who lives in exile in India. Beijing rejected the Dalai Lama’s choice and put forward its own candidate for whom it claims is the real Panchen Lama. Panchen Lama is a title for a religious and political leader of Tibet.
On Tuesday, China announced he was a college graduate with a job living a normal life. This was likely China’s response to the US Secretary of State asking about the individual’s whereabouts.
The government of Tibet in exile had this to say on the 25th anniversary of the disappearance: “China’s abduction of the Panchen Lama and forcible denial of his religious identity and the right to practice in his monastery is not only a violation of religious freedom but also a gross violation of human rights.”
The most important job that the Panchen Lama has is to identify the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, who is revered as a living god by by Tibetan Buddhists. The current Dalai Lama is 84. China wants to control his successor.
The atheistic Chinese government said “”Reincarnation of living Buddhas, including the Dalai Lama, must comply with Chinese laws and regulations and follow religious rituals and historical conventions” last year. A 2007 law says the reincarnation of a living Buddha is “subject to an application for approval.”
The Catholic Church in China now ordains bishops with the joint blessings of Beijing and the Vatican. Seems that Beijing wants control over all types of belief.
Eventually the leaders in Beijing will meet the Living God, meanwhile pray for the folks living under tyranny.