So, the Dalai Lama has decided to relinquish his political responsibilities.
It is hard to know whether this is a good thing or not. He has been a force for moderation & peace in the World. He wasn’t democratically elected but it is a fair assumption that if there had been an election, it would have been him who would have been elected. Buddhist principles of non-violence & love & compassion & reconciliation didn’t prevent the Chinese from brutally colonising Tibet, enslaving the people, populating the place with ethnic Chinese, deforesting the country & finally introducing Western Capitalism after the Deng Xiaoping reforms, much of which has been embraced by the Tibetans themselves in fact, presumably mainly by young Tibetans. There are more ethnic Chinese in Tibet now than there are Tibetans. In spite of what his spokesperson says, it is impossible not to conclude that there is a connection between events in the Middle East & North Africa & the Dalai Lama stepping down, democratising himself as it were.
It probably won’t turn out to be a good decision for Tibet because apart from anything else he has been such a unifying figure for Tibetans in exile, the community in Dharamsala that is, at least mainly so. The only politics really is the issue of Tibet / China & there is nothing that will persuade the Chinese to leave. In fact the West allowed it to happen; the invasion, continued occupation & colonisation of Tibet that is. It was said after the first Gulf War that if Tibet had had oil, the Americans would have hurried in to liberate the country from the Chinese decades ago.
When the Dalai Lama dies, there will not be another one. He is the last of the line, chosen by a strange system of magic & superstition & omens & dream interpretation. The present Dalai Lama is in fact highly intelligent & embodies all the Buddhist qualities of compassion & wisdom. On his travels he is normally an honoured guest. Only people in hoc to the Chinese treat him with disdain.
He will continue to be the religious leader of the Tibetans but when he dies, the Tibetan community in Dharamsala will face an uncertain future. It may not continue at all.