China says it has approved 1300 Tibetan ‘Living Buddhas’, including 60 under a 10-yr-old regulation

A living Buddha at the Tibetan Uppasilutan Monastery, northeast Qinghai, Tibet. (Photo courtesy: Robertharding)
A living Buddha at the Tibetan Uppasilutan Monastery, northeast Qinghai, Tibet. (Photo courtesy: Robertharding)

(, Dec12, 2017) – China’s communist party leaders, who are atheists, have approved 60 reincarnations of Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders since 2007 under a 10-year-old government regulation, reported the official Dec 10. Altogether there were 1,300 approved “living Buddhas” in the People’s Republic of China in 2016, the report said, citing the official news site

The report emphasized that a regulation issued by China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) a decade ago on standardizing governance of living Buddhas’ reincarnation gave the government decisive rights on reincarnation issue.

The regulation is, of course, a flagrant violation of a religious belief system; but China insists that the Tibetan people’s religious belief system should be so interpreted, practiced, and controlled as to conform to the system of communist Chinese rule.

The regulation, known as ‘Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas’ and which took effect on Sep 1, 2007, requires that succession of what China calls a “living Buddha” should be carried out under the guidance of Buddhist associations and religious groups headed by Chinese government appointees and supposedly conform to religious ritual and historical convention. And the succession must be approved by departments of religious affairs or government authorities above municipal level.

The report also cited the China News Service as reporting late last month that the Tibet Autonomous Region government had completed the training and education of seven “living Buddhas” who were under the age of 16.

China has set up special schools to groom “living Buddhas” to ideologically mold them to become loyal supporters of the communist Chinese rule.

In 2016, China launched a “Living Buddha” inquiry system. This system, which can be found on SARA’s official website, the Buddhist Association of China, and the news site, gives detailed information on “Living Buddhas” approved by the government, including their photos, legal names, monastic titles, and links to religious schools.

The regulation on the reincarnation of living Buddhas has institutionalized the central government’s management of the reincarnation of living Buddhas, and gives the government decisive rights on the matter, Zhu Weiqun, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference’s Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee, was cited as saying.

“The rule has successfully prevented the Dalai Lama from using the reincarnation of living Buddha to conduct activities that threaten Tibetan Buddhism and national unity,” he was quoted as saying.


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