‘It’s mine, it’s mine’: How do you find a Dalai Lama?

By Matt Wade, Sydney Morning Herald – 15 July 2021

He’s been at the helm of Tibetan Buddhism for eight decades. But the Dalai Lama reckons he’ll be around for at least two more. The spritely 86-year-old often cites an 18th century prophecy that he, the 14th Dalai Lama, will live to the age of 113. Other spiritual signs back up that divination. “I’ve had dreams about living long,” the Dalai Lama told followers in 2019. “In one dream, I was climbing steps, 13 steps, which I interpreted to relate to the prediction that I could live to the age of 113.”

Despite these assurances, there’s speculation about what will happen when the time comes to find the Dalai Lama’s successor. The answer is not so simple. A process steeped in mysticism, which once played out in relative obscurity on the Tibetan plateau, will next time attract global attention. The Dalai Lama’s death is likely to herald a struggle between China and Tibetans over who controls Tibetan Buddhism. And, while the Dalai Lama describes himself as a “simple Buddhist monk”, even the anticipation of his reincarnation can get superpowers squabbling.

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