By Tsering Choephel
DHARAMSALA, 25 Oct: The year 2025 will be celebrated as the “Year of Peace” in honour of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s life and legacy, as he turns 90 on July 6, 2025. Penpa Tsering, the President (Sikyong) of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), made the announcement last Saturday during a meeting held in the US for the Tibetan community in New York and New Jersey, as reported by tibet.net, the official website of CTA.
The meeting, which included around 30 representatives from Tibetan Buddhist centres across NY&NJ such as Bon Shen Ling, Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca, Chotrul Monlam Chenmo, Danang Trust, Sera Jey Buddhist Cultural Center, Pelpung Thupten Ling Choeling, Jonang Phuntsok Ling, Tashi Gyephel Ling, Sakya Tsechen Kunchab Ling, Karma Thegsum Choling, Tashi Lhunpo, Choephel Ling, Drukpa Kagyu, Nechung, Sere Mey, Shidey Kunyab Ling, Dolchok, Sakya Tsechen, Gashar, and Deprung Losel Ling, marked the first congregation held under the umbrella of CTA, according to the report.
The matters concerning the reincarnation of the 14th Dalai Lama were the highlights of the meeting, in addition to the commitment for the continued preservation of Tibetan cultural heritage and Buddhist traditions, along with efforts to fulfil the noble aspirations of the Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama has spoken about his reincarnation process on numerous occasions and presented more than one option for reincarnation. However, he has made it clear that his reincarnation will be born in a free country, and that “no recognition or acceptance should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends by anyone, including those in the People’s Republic of China.”
Sikyong spoke about Beijing’s politicisation of Tibetan Buddhism to consolidate its control over Tibetan lives, and to dilute and sinicize Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet, addressing the implications of China’s Order No. 5.
Order no. 5, released in 2007, enshrined the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) dangerously audacious claims to the right to select Buddhist lamas’ reincarnation into Chinese law.
In January 2021, CCP secretly assembled 25 senior government figures into a committee to begin preparing for the selection process, according to Robert Barnett. Such manoeuvres by CCP, although of great concern to Tibetans and Buddhists globally, are not surprising. CCP has declared in some reports that over 1000 ‘living Buddhas’ have been reincarnated through its approval.
In 1995, three days after the 14th Dalai Lama recognized Gendhun Choekyi Nyima as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama, CCP abducted the six-year-old Nyima along with his whole family into oblivion, to this day. In his place, they appointed their own candidate Gyaltsen Norbu as the real 11th Panchen Lama. Tibetans refer to him as “China’s Panchen,” and the absence of his photo being sold in markets like other revered Tibetan lamas attests to the standing failure of China’s handling of occupied Tibet.
Sikyong mentioned that the Kashag possesses a document by the Dalai Lama from September 2011, in which the Dalai Lama reiterated his firm decision to discuss his reincarnation upon reaching his 90th birthday.
In October 2022, Kashang released a “Position Paper” declaring its “position on the reincarnation of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.” The document affirmed Kashang’s belief in the Dalai Lama living to 113 years old, as per the Dalai Lama’s prescience, while reiterating CTA’s commitment to upholding its entrusted responsibility concerning the issue.
As Tibetans in exile and the international community celebrate Dalai Lama’s birthday and his legacy, China criminalises even the possession of his photo in the occupied land of Tibet.