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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Will the Dalai Lama retire in six months?

December 8, 2010

December 6, 2010

Claude Arpi
Rediff

The Dalai Lama is not only an institution, but also a 'private' human being. Tibetans will certainly ask him to continue to guide their destiny for the years to come, believes Claude Arpi.

The Dalai Lamas of Tibet traditionally wear two hats, a spiritual and a temporal one.

Recently the present Dalai Lama, the 14th, said that 'he was contemplating retirement within months'. He, however, quickly added that the 'final decision will be taken after consultations with the (Tibetan) political leadership and parliament-in-exile'.

He later explained: 'I want to inform them about my intention although I briefly mentioned (about it) already.'

When requested to give a date, he said: 'I do not know; may be next few months.' The Indian and foreign media immediately declared: 'The Dalai Lama to retire soon.'

But retire from which job?

Spiritually, the Dalai Lamas are the incarnation of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion and Saint-Patron of Tibet. Ages ago, they have taken the vow:

For as long as space endures
And for as long as living beings remain
Until then may I too abide
To dispel the misery of the world

It is said the present Dalai Lama still takes this vow every day. Therefore, there will be no spiritual retirement for the Dalai Lama.

As far as 'political' retirement is concerned, the present Dalai Lama has regularly expressed the 'wish' to retire.

The main reason for this is that he considers that as a political system democracy is far superior to theocracy. Over the years, he had to struggle against his own fellow countrymen to impose democracy to the Tibetan Diaspora.

As early as 1963, he had stated: 'Even prior to my departure from Tibet in March 1959, I had come to the conclusion that in the changing circumstances of the modern world, the system of governance in Tibet must be modified and amended so as to allow the elected representatives of the people to play a more effective role in guiding and shaping the social and economic policies of the state. I also firmly believed that this could only be done through democratic institutions based on social and economic justice.'

The democratic system entered gradually into the Tibetan psyche; first with the election of a Parliament-in-exile, then with the direct election of a Kalon Tripa or prime minister for the Central Tibetan Administration located in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh.

The present Kalon Tripa, the eminent monk-scholar, Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, is due to retire early next year and a first round of voting has already taken place.

Early 2011, six candidates will fight for the coveted post during a second and final round.

The experiment has generated a lot of excitement and hope in the Tibetan community.
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