This week, The Huffington Post featured an article that I thought was straight from The Onion, the pre-eminent newspaper of satire. The headline was: CHINA BANS REINCARNATION WITHOUT GOVERNMENT PERMISSION.
So, how would that work, exactly? Before one dies, they have to sign a government application regarding their future life?
I'm not sure how to take this, because on one level, it shows the paranoia of the Chinese government towards the Dalai Lama's legitimacy. The Chinese communists are die hard atheists, which is no surprise. When you impose one ideology on a population, you don't want competition from other ideologies.
This move by the Chinese government to "control" the uncontrollable might be good for some laughs around the water cooler, but it has an actual sinister reason behind it. I've read articles a few years ago that talk about what might happen when the current Dalai Lama passes on to the spiritual realm. According to the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, a group of monks trained in knowing the personal details of the Dalai Lama will be tasked with finding the person that the Dalai Lama has incarnated into for his next life. This process includes dreams and visions to find the prospective child, and ultimately a series of tests on the likely candidates to learn which one has correctly identified the personal effects of his previous incarnation.
Those who don't believe in reincarnation will likely find it all a bunch of hooey, but this post isn't meant for those people. I find it to be a fascinating process and you learn much about how reincarnation works when you read about the Tibetan process for identifying their reincarnated Lama. The current Dalai Lama is in his 70s and has stated that he will not be reborn in China, due to the occupation of Tibet. The Chinese are expected to select their own Dalai Lama, claiming that he is the legitimate reincarnation in an attempt to bring the Tibetan Buddhist under Chinese control. Their selected Dalai Lama will likely be a brainwashed communist from childhood onward. It will be sick and cynical display by a group of unspiritual, soulless communist party hacks. Hopefully, no one will accept the Chinese-chosen Lama. Think of that person as a sort of "Anti-Lama" (and we thought the Anti-Christ was bad!).
It is kind of absurd to think that anyone can control the reincarnation of a soul. The spiritual realm is not interested in the petty political considerations of our world. The spiritual world is one without national boundaries. There are no divisions among religion, politics, race, age, ethnic groups, gender, economic status, political views. There is a theory in some reincarnation circles that one becomes what one hates. Thus, if a person was a Nazi party member who hated the Jews, chances are likely that he might have been born Jewish in this lifetime to learn from the experience of the opposing group. If a Klansman hates black people, watch out! He might have to live his next life in a person of the race he hates so much.
Reincarnation is actually a dangerous concept to allow governments to control or define. India created a caste system around the reincarnation belief, assigning people to various castes and claiming that they had no hope in this lifetime of improving their status, thus they had to be obedient in order to have a better future lifetime. Truth is, no spiritual belief should be allowed to be co-opted by a government, because they will distort it for their own purposes, much like Christianity has morphed into a sort of "Capitalistianity" in this country. People might go to church on Sunday to learn about the Sunday School Jesus, who is every bit the socialist, hippie, vagabond going around giving free health care to the poor and outcast people on the margins of society. But from Monday through Saturday, Americans really worship the Almighty Dollar at the temples of mass consumerism. The Capitalist Christ serves mammon, encouraging our every materialist desires.
When those Chinese government officials die and learn the truth about reincarnation, they will probably be shocked that they have zero ability to control where souls end up. Its all a mystery, actually. Based on the numerous books I've read, there is no consensus on it. The point of reincarnation is that we are here on earth to learn, for better or for worse. The families we're born into are meant to give us the grounding necessary for our life experiences. We may make these agreements to incarnate together or we might select our parents, competing with other souls for the specific individual. Personally, I like the idea that souls sometimes compete for the same life experience in a particular individual. It means that my soul earned the right to live as me and I had better make good use of my time and learn the lessons I'm meant to. Would we be more responsible with our lives if we knew that our souls chose our circumstances?
Reading about the Chinese law, though, I don't think they have to worry much. I'm one person who hopes never to incarnate in China in a future lifetime. This is likely my last lifetime as an American. I'd like to be Australian next, or even French...again.
At any rate, I really hope I'm still around in my current incarnation when this Dalai Lama passes and the search for his reincarnation begins. It will be interesting to watch and learn just how this ancient Buddhist practice is carried out. Long live the Dalai Lama, in all his incarnations! China can go suck it.