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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."

Tibetan religious heads congregate in Dharamsala

May 5, 2008

Phayul
Saturday, May 03, 2008
By Phurbu Thinley

Dharamsala, May 3: Tibetan religious heads, including that of ancient
Bon religious tradition, have congregated here for a two-day conference
to discuss and build an overview of the ever flourishing Tibetan
Buddhism and to upkeep its traditional practices.

Heads and representatives of four major sects and sub-sects of Tibetan
Buddhism and Bon are taking part in the conference that began yesterday
at Surya Hotel. The exiled spiritual leader of Tibet His Holiness the
14th Dalai Lama presided over the inaugural meeting and also spent first
half of the day meeting separately with the different religious heads
and representatives. Sakya Trizin, the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa and Menri
Trizin, throne holder of Bon, are also attending the conference.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other spiritual heads from the four main
schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the traditional Bon religion during the
special prayer congregation at the Tsuglagkhang (main temple),
Dharamshala, India, May 3, 2008. (Photo by Tenzin Choejor / OHHDL)
Earlier this morning, the spiritual heads and senior officials of the
exiled Tibetan Government briefly gathered at the Main Tibetan Temple
(Tsuglagkhang) to offer prayers for the Tibetan victims of recent unrest
in Tibet and for peace. The special prayer congregation, led by the
Dalai Lama himself, was joined by hundreds of people, including members
of monastic communities and Buddhists devotees from different countries.

During the two-day meeting, the senior lamas, or Trulkus (‘Living
Buddhas’), will engage in a substantive discussion on the issue of
reincarnation tradition in Tibetan Buddhism.

The meetings will also find ways to withstand timely challenges to keep
traditional Dharma practices intact and to avoid degrading influences
from pervading into Tibetan religious traditions.

In recent times the issue of reincarnation of “Living Buddhas” became a
thorny issue for China. China's State Administration of Religious
Affairs implemented a new law called the order no. 5, containing 14
articles on Management Measures for the Reincarnation of 'Living
Buddhas' in Tibetan Buddhism.

The new law bans Tibetan lamas, or trulkus, from reincarnating without
Chinese government approval and says anyone outside China cannot
influence the reincarnation process and only monasteries in China can
apply for permission.

Many Tibetans denounced the move as another attempt by communist Chinese
leaders to undermine Tibetan culture and even absurdly to control the
religious afterlife. Dharamsala based Tibetan Government-in-exile and
Tibetan Buddhist heads, now mostly based outside of Tibet, have
repeatedly repudiated the order as Chinese Communist government’s
blatant interference to tighten its control over Tibetan Buddhism and
its unique tradition.

In his inaugural talk yesterday, the Dalai Lama urged the other Tibetan
religious heads to find ways to retain the healthy practice of Buddha
dharma and not to be tarnished by political and worldly associations.

“Dharma should be purely spiritual,” he told the gathering. He described
Buddhism as an emerging spiritual practice in the world with immense
potential to contribute to the spiritual wellbeing of humanity and
insisted fellow religious heads of the need to maintain religious
practices in an orderly and healthy manner.

The Buddhist leaders’ meeting is being organized by the Department of
Religion and Culture of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. Senior Tibetan
Government officials were also present at the opening of the two-day
conference.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
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