Update, 12:30pm EST, December 19th: Read the response of China’s chairman of ethnic and religious affairs.
Tuesday night, the Dalai Lama appeared on BBC Newsnight, discussing whether or not he would have a successor. The question follows an interview the Dalai Lama gave with the german paper Welt am Sonntag in September, in which he suggested he may be the last in his line.
In last night’s interview, the Dalai Lama reaffirmed that possibility, explaining that there is little need for a Dalai Lama, as the position no longer holds political power.
“The Dalai Lama institution will cease one day,” he said. “These man-made institutions will cease.”
The reincarnation system has been put into jeopardy by threats from China, which has insisted that the Dalai Lama must reincarnate. The Dalai Lama believes that China could co-opt the position for political gain.
“There’s no guarantee some stupid Dalai Lama won’t come next, who will disgrace himself or herself. That would be very sad. So, much better that a centuries old tradition should cease at the time of a quite popular Dalai Lama.”
Reuters reports that, on Friday morning, China’s chairman of ethnic and religious affairs, Zhu Weiqun, responded to the Dalai Lama’s remarks in an interview with the state-run Global Times:
“Only the central government can decide on keeping, or getting rid of, the Dalai Lama’s lineage, and the 14th Dalai Lama does not have the final say… At the same time, the attention of public opinion in the West to the Dalai Lama is going down by the day… The Dalai Lama also has no good ideas. All he can do is use his religious title to write about the continuation or not of the Dalai Lama to get eyeballs overseas.”
The Dalai Lama has said that, before he dies, he will consult with the Tibetan people to decide whether it is appropriate for there to be a successor.
Watch the interview on BBC.com.