BBC Documentary about Reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
Many in the West may not be able to locate Tibet on the map but a majority of them are familiar with Dalai Lama. They know him from his witty and rational statements in the Western media. But, only a few know that he also strongly believes in reincarnation of the past heroes into the present times.
Thus, according to such sources, an informal line of succession of the present Dalai Lamas as incarnations of Avalokiteśvara stretches back much further than Gendun Drub (1391–1474). The Book of Kadam, the compilation of Kadampa teachings largely composed around discussions between the Indian sage Atiśa (980–1054) and his Tibetan host and chief disciple Dromtönpa and ‘Tales of the Previous Incarnations of Arya Avalokiteśvara’, nominate as many as sixty persons prior to Gendun Drub who are enumerated as earlier incarnations of Avalokiteśvara and predecessors in the same lineage leading up to him. In brief, these include a mythology of 36 Indian personalities plus 10 early Tibetan kings and emperors, all said to be previous incarnations of Dromtönpa, and fourteen further Nepalese and Tibetan yogis and sages in between him and the first Dalai Lama. In fact, according to the “Birth to Exile” article on the 14th Dalai Lama’s website, he is “the seventy-fourth in a lineage that can be traced back to a Brahmin boy who lived in the time of Buddha Shakyamuni.”
If the agnostics, the atheists, the Muslims and the Christians are allowed to debate reincarnations, seventy four times in Dalai Lama lineage, in front of the Tibetan Buddhists, they could perhaps set the record straight.
The Christian Europe gave birth to the modern biology during the renaissance, but, still a majority of the devout believers not only believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who according to them was perfect man and fully divine, from the dead, but also others as described in the Bible, for example, Lazarus. A stinking corpse can be restored to life, despite all the biology that has gone in the wrong direction in the process of death and decay! Believers are amazing people they can believe things against all odds when they want to, while quizzing others of their irrational views. But, the agnostic, the atheist, the Muslim and the Buddhist biologist can perhaps rescue those who have not been strongly indoctrinated in an obsession with the person of Jesus Christ.
The Muslims take pride in Islam and the Quran being rational and logical, but, when the Mullahs tell the masses that the prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, went to some unknown destination in heavens on a flying horse named Barak, and other similar miracles, they agree in total submission. One wonders, why NASA has not looked for that horse yet, and saved herself all these missions to moon and mars! But, more seriously, the Uighurs of China don’t need to be put in camps. Just the leaders need to be brought, to universities in Beijing and Shanghai for sabbaticals, served elaborate dinners for their leadership and given a few injections of rationality and secularism.
These days we often read about crack down of China on the Tibetan Buddhists, the Christians and the Muslims, for example: With Vatican Talks and Bulldozers, China Aims to Control Christianity, Muslim minority in China’s Xinjiang face ‘political indoctrination’: Human Rights Watch, Rare Tibet Trip Shows China Only Wants a Dalai Lama It Can Control and China restricting online religious activities.
China as the next superpower needs not be timid. It needs not be afraid of present day Islam, Christianity or Buddhism. Just needs to find out what is good in them and what is wrong with them and to take the South Korean development in the last century into consideration, how Christianity could not be contained and created a strong foothold in the country.
According to the results of the census of 2015 more than half of the South Korean population (56.9%) declared themselves not affiliated with any religious organizations. Korean shamanism (also known as Sindo or Muism) is the native religion of the Koreans, and it may represent a large part of the unaffiliated. Indeed, according to a 2012 survey, only 15% of the population declared themselves not religious in the sense of “atheism“. Of the people who are affiliated with a religious organization, most are Christians and Buddhists. According to the 2015 census, 27.6% of the population were Christians (19.7% identified themselves as Protestants, 7.9% as Roman Catholics), and 15.5% were Buddhists.Other religions include Islam (130,000 Muslims, mostly migrant workers from Pakistan and Bangladesh but including some 35,000 Korean Muslims,) the homegrown sect of Wonbuddhism, and a variety of indigenous religions, including Cheondoism (a Confucianizing religion), Jeungsanism, Daejongism, Daesun Jinrihoe and others. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution, and there is no state religion.Overall, between the 2005 and 2015 censuses there has been a slight decline of Christianity (down from 29% to 27.6%), a sharp decline of Buddhism (down from 22.8% to 15.5%), and a rise of the unaffiliated population (from 47.2% to 56.9%).
Religions like Christianity and Islam will continue to infiltrate and the key to Chinese success would be not to try to crush them but to modulate them through universities, modern media and other means, including how Europe is trying to modernize and modulate Islam. In letting the religions debate each other, China may find panacea for its secular and economic agenda.
If the unaffiliated that in South Korea are a strong majority, the agnostics, the atheists, the Christians, the Muslims and the Buddhists sit and talk together, in peace, China wins and the Muslim Times is there to facilitate the social discourse.
We have saved the above BBC Documentary about reincarnation in Tibetan Buddhism for the posterity in the Muslim Times: