Limitations on Reincarnation?! This is why I don’t live in China.

28 Aug

To follow in the footsteps of my quasi-religion-related post from yesterday, check this out.  It comes from the Belief Watch section of this week’s Newsweek.

The highlights from the article?  Well, China has decided to ban Tibetan Buddhist monks from reincarnating without government permission.  Seriously.  The article states that the true motive for China is to “cut the influence of the Dalai Lama.”  Basically, the law gives Chinese authorities “the power to choose the next Dalai Lama, whose soul, by tradition, is reborn as a new human to continue the work of relieving suffering.” 

How they plan on enforcing this is beyond me. 

The current Dalai Lama, who is 72 years old and living in India, says that he will not be reborn in Tibet as long as China has control.  What this means is that “there could be two Dalai Lamas: one picked by the Chinese government, the other by Buddhist monks.”  So, just to make sure we’re all following here, we’re going to take a symbol of peace and unity and create a great big old fight out of it.  Great.  And as for enforcing this, well, it seems they’ll just pick their own religious icon that fits the mold.   

While this is more a political move on China’s part than it is a religious or spiritual move, it’s still interesting that the Chinese government has passed laws that make it illegal for a Buddhist monk to reincarnate without proper approval.  Fascinating stuff, this.   

Personally, I’m opposed to limitations on religion, granted, every time I say that I immediately feel compelled to add the seemingly mandatory statement of, well, as long as the religion/faith/spiritual path doesn’t push people to hurt themselves or any other living creatures.  I’ve always feared that my uncompromising dedication to choice when it comes to religion will lead some crazy person to bring up some horrible made-up faith where the sacrifice of goats is mandatory and the drinking of your first born’s blood is a daily ritual, but alas, I digress. 

Where was I? Oh yes, choice in religion is a plus. Not to get too patriotic here (I am a Soldier, sometimes it happens, I can’t control it, please don’t count it as a fault), but freedom of religion is one of my most favorite things about the US of A.  I’ve learned enough about religion and faith in 23 years to know that one thing does not work for all people, and that’s okay.  I’ve learned that faith and religion are not bad things; in fact, some of my most favorite people are very, very religious and I wouldn’t want them any other way.   

What I don’t like is people telling me I’m wrong because I don’t subscribe to one particular faith, religion or spiritual path.  If one faith or religion or spiritual path does, in the end, prove to be the one and only true religious or spiritual path, well, fine.  You win.  But until then I think everyone should be allowed to bumble along, trying to find the right religious path appropriate and fitting for them and their lives.  Additionally, I think we’re supposed to make mistakes and I think we’re also allowed a few stumbles.  We’d never learn anything if it wasn’t for mistakes and stumbles along that very cliché road of life.  We are, after all, human and I think bumbling comes with that identity. 

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4 Responses to “Limitations on Reincarnation?! This is why I don’t live in China.”

  1. technobility August 28, 2007 at 2:12 PM #

    I’ve banned all unicorns and basilisks from my home.

    It’s worked perfectly well for 52 years now.

    I wonder why?

  2. Tom Awtry August 28, 2007 at 4:39 PM #

    I won’t comment on China’s intervention into Tibetan Buddhism, since I’m an avid believer in the separation between church and state, up to a certain point.

    With this be said, I sincerely wonder what the leaders of any country truly understand about the religious beliefs of a foreign country where the religion is totally different than those practiced within their own governed country; more importantly the citizens of the foreign country practicing their desired religion, which may also be foreign.

    As an example, dose the Executive and Legislative branches of our own government really understand the Muslim religion and how it’s practiced by; say the average Muslim family in Malaysia? The inverse also applies; how many Muslims in another country really understand an American family and say the Christian religion.

    I am a strong believer in cultural exchanges, especially when it comes to the aforementioned, and I firmly believe in theology classes being offered in our own high schools with a verity of different religions available to students for study.

    Should the citizens of a country have a better understanding of one another and their religious beliefs, than governments would not be able to use religion as a justification for persecution, discrimination or worse wars over religion that may last decades and without the potential of political settlements.

    Myself, perhaps to gain a perspective of where I am coming from in this posting; I was schooled and believe in an organized Christian religion, which I practice alone, since I do not trust in someone else’s interpretation of the Bible. Also, I will openly minded listen to anyone’s beliefs on their religion, as long as it is not trying to be imposed on me.

  3. instatick August 29, 2007 at 7:58 AM #

    Tom –
    You make several good points here. I agree that high schools should offer theology classes and I personally regret that I didn’t have the opportunity to take any until college.

    Like you said, I think a lot of discrimination comes from a lack of understanding, which then leads people to fear, which then leads them to hate it, simply because they don’t understand.

    Again, thanks for you comments!

  4. Tom Awtry August 29, 2007 at 5:34 PM #

    I have to apologize for the following, without offering lame excuses:

    For being to serious in commenting on your posting, that I don’t believe was meant to be as serious as perceived it.

    You’re very correct and I didn’t mean to mislead you into believing that I knew of High Schools, which offered Theology curriculums. I like you perhaps, received an educational background on religious studies while attending college.

    You’re an interesting author for me to read, please continue providing your candid thoughts on life as you see, feel and experience life.

    – Thanks,

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