Synopsis of a Fantasy Novel Concerning the Dalai Lama and Excerpts from Another Novel
Synopsis of the Fantasy Novel
The Dalai Lama reaches the end of his life and has failed to realized his wish of returning to Tibet. The Chinese Communists are still in firm control of Tibet, and the Tibetans are powerless to resist in spite of their resentment.
What gives the Dalai Lama some solace is that Gemaba has grown up and is capable now of taking up the cause of Tibetan political governance and education. When he heard, a few years ago, that Gemaba had fled to India, he realized that this was one more divine manifestation by the bodhisattvas, and that it presented Tibet with a priceless treasure.
One thing has always caused him anxiety: After he departs from this world, will the Tibetan cause fall apart and disintegrate for lack of a leader? An important issue of the reincarnation process is that each succeeding Dalai Lama should have a maturing period of at least twenty years, before being able truly to take up the cause of political governance and education. Such a hiatus would be of no great consequence in times of peace, but may have fatal effects at critical moments in history. This matter troubles him day and night, and he has even thought of replacing the next Dalai Lama with his own appointee, or of having the elders among the Tibetan clergy elect one, with a view to directly generating the next Dalai Lama and preventing the emergence of such a hiatus. He is, however, aware that such a reform will hardly be able to gain credibility in his entourage and, moreover, will not ensure the legitimacy of the new Dalai Lama among believers.
Traditions are not to be changed lightly, since Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism are held together entirely by tradition.
The coming of Gemaba has resolved this difficulty. Gemaba is not a Dalai Lama, yet before the new Dalai Lama grows up and while the Panchen Lama is held incommunicado by the Chinese Communists, Gemaba’s position as the most important religious ruler of Tibetan Buddhism is unrivalled, and it is only logical that he stands as the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and as the core of traditional cohesion. The fact that Gemaba belongs to the Geju Sect is of no importance, just as the fact that the Dalai pertains to the Gelu Sect does not prevent him from being revered by all Tibetans. The Chinese Communists had originally hoped to cultivate Gemaba as a means of opposing the Dalai Lama, and this would have given the Geju Sect an excellent opportunity for advancing itself, yet Gemaba had resolutely left China. This proved that he attaches more importance to Tibetan Buddhism as a whole than to the benefits of any single religious sect, and this has won him great prestige and popular favor among Tibetans of all religious sects.
For many years, the Dalai Lama has lavished painstaking efforts on training Gemaba, passing on his thoughts and ideas on all matters, big and small, to the young religious ruler. This process has been very much like gradually transferring his own soul into that young body and shaping, in this world, a new incarnation of himself. The difference in age between them is fifty years, and the two have developed a mutual understanding and affection as those between father and son. One might well say that they have now achieved perfect harmony of mind and thought, that they have melded into a single entity. The Dalai can now set his mind at ease. Even when he leaves this world, Gemaba’s thoughts and actions will be just as though they proceed from his own person.
Many years of purposeful training and deliberate construction on his part have conferred upon Gemaba the unparalleled status of Tibetan political leader and national representative. Once Gemaba comes of age, the Dalai Lama will, of his own volition, gradually fade from the scene, have Gemaba independently handle more and more affairs, and let the latter stand frontstage. While forging Gemaba’s political abilities, he has had him establish personal relationships in world society on the one hand and, on the other, given him opportunities to appear in the spotlight of the international media. Today, Gemaba is already an outstanding politician of world renown, and has become the incontrovertible center of the overseas Tibetan movement.
The Dalai Lama is about to depart from the world of men, and Beijing has been waiting for this day. The Dalai Lama is fully aware that, once he dies, Beijing will at once set up a reincarnated Dalai of its own. Inside information has revealed that Beijing has many years ago secretly set up a “Dalai Sacred Infant Search Team,” and has all along been making preparations to bring out a reincarnated Dalai as soon as the present Dalai passes away. Even though the majority of Tibetans may not acknowledge the Dalai they set up, the objective of the Chinese Communists is not religious, and they will certainly place no value on the purity and sanctity of religion. Their objective will have been attained if they succeed in plunging the Tibetan people in a state of mental confusion and spiritual division. The reincarnation of various Living Buddhas has been used as such a ploy. Commencing with the reincarnation of the Panchen, there have been two separate reincarnations of all the major Living Buddhas in Tibet, the one affirmed by the Dalai, and the other produced by the Chinese Communists. This has had deadly consequences for Tibet’s religion. Although the “reincarnations” chosen by the Chinese Communists can hardly stand on their own, they possess the advantage of being able to operate in Tibet itself, of occupying the temples and monasteries, of coming into direct contact with the ordinary people, whereas the living buddhas affirmed by the Dalai are either placed under strict control or simply disappear, or go into exile abroad and become cut off from the Tibetan populace. Further such ravaging of and trampling on the Tibetan religion’s sacred reincarnation system will subject the Tibetan religion and culture to annihilation.
The Dalai Lama has already set one foot on the path the reincarnation. As the leader of Tibet’s religion, what should he do, at this final juncture, to rescue Tibet from the annihilation that is already in sight? He has contributed his all to the cause and has exhausted his resources. Nothing remains of anything that has to do with his life. The only thing left to him now is his impending death.
Now he can only make use of his own death.
Many years ago, the Dalai Lama had announced to the external world that if he were unable to return to Tibet during his lifetime, his reincarnation, too, would certainly not take place in Tibet. When he made this announcement, he had not yet given up hope in negotiations with Beijing, but he was laying the groundwork for the eventuality that Beijing would refuse to negotiate with him, or that negotiations would ultimately prove to be fruitless. His announcement implied that the Dalai reincarnation produced by Beijing would inevitably be a spurious one–one that he, as the preceding Dalai, could not acknowledge.
Simply announcing that the Dalai found by Beijing was untrue would be insufficient. Beijing would not care. Nor would such an announcement deter Beijing from carrying through the deception to the end, since its objective was not to seek the truth, but to pass off the false as the true and to create confusion. At this time, the best defense would be to go onto the attack.
As he lies on his deathbed, the Dalai Lama has Gemaba read, in the presence of all the religion’s elders, his prediction and instructions concerning his own reincarnation. These are quite simple. They merely indicate that he will be reincarnated in a new body in the most powerful country in today’s world, so that the Buddhist doctrine might be propagated to the whole world and to the whole of humanity.
The concepts of ethnicity and national borders do not exist in Buddhism. That the Dalai’s reincarnation will not take place in Tibet, or in a Tibetan, presents no theoretical obstacles. Instead they only go to show the breadth and profoundness of the Buddhist religion, the omnipotence of Buddha, and the fact that the Dalai Lama is to be the leader of humanity as a whole. The elders of the religion raise no objections to the Dalai Lama’s instruction.
That night, the Dalai Lama passes away. Gemaba, who has all along kept vigil by the Dalai, draws people’s attention to the peculiar position of the Dalai’s hand as he dies. It points at a globe on a table beside the bed. The Dalai’s index finger is extended and points at the city of Los Angeles. Everyone at once understands what this means—that is where the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama will take place.
With such a clear-cut instruction, the searchers sent out by Gemaba are very soon able to locate and identify the sacred baby. It is an American child born in Los Angeles a few hours after the Dalai Lama’s death.
The child’s mother had once been one of the world’s most popular singers, with millions of fans in every country. She had converted to Tibetan Buddhism many years ago and suddenly renounced her artistic calling just as she had reached the peak of her career, to devote herself to studying the Buddha dharma and practicing the Buddhist tenets. However, she has all along retained her influence in the world. When the news that her newborn child has been confirmed as the Dalai’s sacred reincarnation spreads, the world explodes. Hundreds of reporters and journalists form an impenetrable wall around her house, and two billion viewers the world over follow developments on television. A sensation of such magnitude is unprecedented in the history of world news reportage.
When the flabbergasted Beijing government manages to collect its wits, it immediately sets in motion all of its propaganda machines in a fierce counteroffensive. They assail the reincarnation announcement as a plot against religion and to betray China, that it is a scam perpetrated by the 14th Dalai Lama together with Gemaba. Beijing even goes so far as to sacrifice one of its undercover agents who has been at the Dalai’s side for many years, and uses information sent back by this agent to show that the singer has previously maintained single-line contact with the Dalai, that she has many times disguised herself and held secret meetings with the Dalai and Gemaba, that everything she has done over the past years has been in preparation for this reincarnation scam. The details made public by Beijing include such things as the singer promptly having the fetus examined after she became pregnant and the Dalai’s expressing much gratification when the fetus turns out to be a boy. That after the Dalai learns that the singer has gone to a hospital in preparation for giving birth, he grasps Gemaba’s hands and announces that the time has come for him to leave, and predicts that Buddhism will shed its light forever on the world. And that Gemaba kneels, weeping, beside the Dalai refuses to get up. Based on these details, Beijing asserts that the Dalai has died by “occluding the channels to his own heart,” so that he would not die before the singer’s child is orn and thereby cause his reincarnation scam to lose plausibility.
Beijing also raises questions about the singer’s family background. The singer’s father ranks seventy-seventh among the world’s richest men, and his wealth rivals that of some countries. The singer’s personal fortune is also worth hundreds of millions. And her elder brother is a star among the new generation of American politicians, was elected state governor at age forty-four, and is generally acknowledged to be a strong candidate for the next American presidency. Would Buddha, who advocated cleansing one’s heart and limiting one’s desires, show such deference to money and power? Would he seek reincarnation in such a family? The only possible explanation for such a choice is the presence of crass, worldy objectives!
Beijing’s attacks produce an enormous response among the Chinese public. Most Chinese believe that this reincarnation is part and parcel of the overall scheme of the United States to dismember China, that the Dalai has merely been a pawn in this scheme.
However, Beijing’s voice is completely drowned out in the world at large, where practically no one pays attention to it. The United States as a whole, and even the Western world, is wildly elated.
Reveling in this wonderful story of the merging of East and West, people believe its romantic and legendary aspects and reject any taints of worldliness. That is because Beijing has in the past given the world the impression that it lies all the time, so that its words are viewed with skepticism even if they do contain some truth.
Gemaba’s swift affirmation of the reincarnation has thrown Beijing’s plans of first finding a new Dalai into confusion. In any case, Beijing’s choice of a Dalai would have lacked legitimacy, and if it had claimed to have found one before anyone else, it might have drawn some attention and even cornered some of the limelight. But now is has fallen behind, and it will only arouse ridicule and aversion if it tries to put on a farce of finding its own “sacred infant.”
The coming of the Dalai’s incarnation to the United States makes Tibetan Buddhism even more the rage in the West. Previously, Buddhism had already developed in the West at a greater pace than any other religion, and now ever more people flock to it. Belief in Tibetan Buddhism becomes the vogue in society, and the number of its believers gain rapidly on those of the Protestant and Catholic faiths, to become a social community that politicians in all Western countries must carry favor with.
The singer’s father—the Fifteenth Dalai Lama’s grandfather—devotes vast sums of money to building, in the depths of the Nevada Mountains, a Lamaist temple that will ultimately rival the Potala Palace. A massive delegation of Tibetan monks, dispatched by Gemaba, give guidance to the construction work and take charge of the temple’s religious activities. The golden-haired, blue-eyed Fifteenth Dalai conducts a Sitting-In Ceremony in the first scripture hall that is completed. This will, in future, become his fundamental base of operations in that country. The delegation of Tibetan monks will be constantly be by his side and will give him rigorous training in accordance with the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Fifteenth Dalai Lama’s Sitting-In Ceremony becomes a matter of rejoicing among the multitudes in the Western World. It is attended by the American president and many heads of state in the West. In face of the Chinese government’s angry denunciations, the responses from the foreign ministries of all countries are surprisingly similar — the heads of states are participating in an American citizen’s religious activity which has nothing to do with China’s affairs.
Beijing negates the “White Dalai” from two angles. From the angle of tradition, it insistently claims that the affirmation of the Dalai Sacred Infant must be approved by the Panchen, and that the latter, who resides in Beijing, refuses to recognize this “White Dalai.” From the angle of ethnicity, it admantly affirms that the Dalai Lama cannot be anything but a Tibetan, and that Tibetan Buddhism can be based nowhere if not in Tibet. However, Beijing’s first card has landed it in a pitfall: The Dalai and the Panchen indeed have always had to confirm one another’s reincarnation, but it is precisely Beijing that some years back deposed the Panchen Sacred Infant confirmed by the Fourteenth Dalai and set up its own Panchen. The Panchen Beijing now brings forth has not been confirmed by the Dalai, so what entitles him to confirm the Dalai? Indeed, based on this, people are demanding that Beijing bring out the Panchen earlier confirmed by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, since only that Panchen is qualified to make any pronouncements about the Dalai’s reincarnation. As for the ethnic claim raised by Beijing, Gemaba rebuts it with the humorous remark that Marxism could say “workers have [the working class has] no motherland,” so why can’t Buddhism do the same thing? Religion has never drawn ethnic lines. Why, then, have you communists mutated from internationalists into racists?
Behind Gemaba’s humor one indeed sees the Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s thoughtful and farsighted vision. His reincarnation in the United States was not merely a ploy for present-day politics, it is also a long-term disposition for expanding the realm of Buddhism. If Tibetan Buddhism is confined within the borders of Tibet itself, it will only be suffocated and throttled by communist rule. It can find a new lease on life only if it goes out into the world and integrates with the mainstream of modern humanity. In this sense, Tibetan Buddhism is suffering unprecedented misfortunes, yet perhaps only to find rebirth on a greater scale.
However, because of this, a new anti-U.S. and anti-West tide is sweeping the Chinese mainland. As a consequence of years of replacing the communist ideology — now a mere empty shell — with nationalism, and by constantly misleading people with biased and false information, the Chinese communists have effectively channeled social resentment toward hatred for the West. The controversy over the Dalai’s reincarnation has undoubtedly poured oil on the flames of the Chinese people’s already restless mood, and anti-American incidents begin to break out in some large cities.
Beijing persists in its attitude of “disregarding evil influencess.” Acting on its own, it finds a baby in a sinicized Tibetan family in Dege of the Tibetan district of Sichuan province and announces that this baby is the sacred infant–the reincarnation of the Dalai. To offset the “White Dalai’s” influence in the world and in Tibet, Beijing decides to hold for its sacred infant an unprecedentedly grand and lavish Sitting-in Ceremony in Lhasa. The ceremony is presided over by what the Tibetans call the “Han Panchen.” Beijing’s announcement is widely criticized by the public, the media, and religious and political leaders the world over. Transmitted to Tibet via radio broadcasts, the Internet, and underground channels, these criticisms further upset the restive Tibetans.
The Sitting-In Ceremony held in Lhasa become a clarion call for uprisings by the Tibetan people. First of all, the monks in all monasteries stage collective strikes, which prevent the conduct of religious ceremonies and rites. Confronted with the media cameras of various countries, the mortified Lhasa authorities attempt to make the monks come to heel, but the measures they take only trigger more conflicts, which soon spread like wildfire and turn into disturbances and sustained protests in the streets of Lhasa. The disturbances spread to all parts of Tibet and, in localities where the authorities’ control is weak, evolve into riots.
The first victims are Hans who have come to Tibet to engage in construction work or commerce. These Hans are cruelly massacred by the rioters and their bodies dragged behind horses. As the hate killings spread, the Hans in Tibet flee in large numbers to the interior regions of China. In an effort to restore order, soldiers and police open fire to suppress the rioters. Rumors about Tibetans being killed fly around and no one is able to cite accurate figures, but this only provokes greater hatred and resistance among the Tibetans. Chinese airborne and mechanized troops are ordered to move into Tibet, but are helpless to prevent the further spread of the snowballing riots. The Tibetan regions in Qinghai and Sichuan provinces also become involved. Whole groups of Tibetan exiles abroad slip back into Tibet to take part in what they call the “holy war for the liberation of Tibet.” Han-Tibetan ethnic clashes occur with increasing frequency and ferocity in regions contiguous upon China proper and Tibet. Tibetan guerillas mysteriously appear and disappear in the broad expanses of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Chinese troops sent to encircle and suppress them are kept constantly on the run and frequently come up empty-handed. The suppressors, who are becoming more and more anxious and impatient, resort to bloodbaths of increasing severity.
News, transmitted through various channels, of the massacre of Tibetans raises the ire of the Western general public, most notably among the Americans. The pulse beat of virtually every American is linked to Tibet by the so-called “White Dalai,” and the blood shed by the Tibetan people is tantamount to their own blood. Tens of thousands of people parade and demonstrate in the larger cities of practically every Western country to demand that the United Nations and their own governments take measures to halt China’s barbarous actions against the Tibetans.
On the other hand, the Chinese public is infuriated by what it sees as excessive bullying by the West. Organized protests, which at first proceed under government control, very soon depart from the track laid down by the authorities and evolve into explosions of emotion that give simultaneous expression to many kinds of contradictions, that become progressively more violent, and the spearheads of which are directed at all Western institutions and individuals. Pernicious incidents take place in quick succession. Terrified Westerners flee China, and large quantities of foreign capital leave the country.
Ordinary Chinese people who have been pressed down to the lowest levels of the social scale begin, under the banner of nationalism, to square accounts with all officials and entrepreneurs who have links with foreign capital, calling them traitors to the country. This wave of retributions very soon washes at the doors of all wealthy families, whose properties are regarded, without exception, as the proceeds of selling out national interests or of corruption. The slogans “rebellion is justified” and “deprive those who deprive others” regain popularity. Society is rife with beatings, smashing, and looting. The Chinese government senses that it is increasingly losing control over the demons that it has created.
At this juncture, the United States, which has long been waiting for a chance to destroy the Chinese Communist regime, takes the opportunity to intervene. To all appearances, it is merely responding to Gemaba’s calls as it joins the Western world in applying economic sanctions against China—rescinding orders, halting exports, refusing to grant loans, banning investments, and so forth, but in reality it is starting to close a wide net that it has spent many years laying down.
Ever since China has implemented the policy of reform and opening to the outside, the United States and the West have never let up on their efforts to drag China into the “globalization pitfall,” and now they have succeeded in landing China in that pitfall. Today, China’s economic system to a great extent depends on support from the so-called “big international loop” in which “both extremities are on the outside.” So when the Western world closes its doors on China, the “loop” is immediately severed and both “extremities” cease to exist. The effects are instantaneously felt in all quarters. First, large numbers of factories stop production and go out of business, unemployment figures rise sharply, and refugees roam the land. Then the finances of governments at all levels dry up, prices soar, people rush the banks to withdraw their savings, and financial institutions that rely on transfusions of foreign capital go bankrupt one after the other. Finally, government credit collapses, the country goes into a full-blown economic crisis, and ingrained, never-resolved social contradictions that could previously be held in check only by armed might now explode all at once.
The economic collapse of China’s interior regions has a fatal effect on the Chinese army units stationed in Tibet. Modern armies are entirely dependent on logistical guarantees, and since there are no logistical resources in Tibet itself, all supplies must be brought from China’s interior. The economic crisis and social unrest have disrupted the supply system in the interior regions and, once logistical support breaks down, the Chinese armed forces stationed in Tibet lose their ability to conduct mechanized warfare, become immobilized, and hole up in their barracks for protection. In consequence, the Tibetan insurrection grows and expands. Local governments at all levels collapse in quick succession and are replaced by interim governments set up by the Tibetan rebels. When the United Nations is eventually pressured by the Western nations to send a “peace force” to Tibet, substantial areas of Tibet have already fallen into the hands of the insurrectionists.
Confronted with the grim reality of loss of social control, Beijing has no recourse but to make concessions to the West. Although the calls of nationalism are still strong, everyone in China’s ruling group understands that the most important danger at this juncture is no longer merely the loss of Tibet, but the disintegration of China as a whole. Whether or not the collapse of China can be averted hinges upon whether the economic crisis can be curbed without delay, and the only possibility of doing so depends on the Western nations lifting their sanctions. Hence, securing the termination of Western sanctions in exchange for Tibet is no longer a matter of choice, but has now become an imperative that brooks of no other alternative.
However, when the Chinese government expresses willingness to resolve the Tibet issue in accordance with the Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s “Five Principles,” Gemaba, now leader of the Tibetans, recognizes that this presents a golden opportunity. He firmly discards the “middle road,” once proposed by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, in favor of a demand that Tibet be given complete independence. Enumerating the travails suffered by Tibet under Chinese rule, he argues that China is only making temporary concessions, and that it will go back to its old ways as soon as there is the slightest let-up in its circumstances. One of the examples he cites is the fact that decades of peace proposals by the Fourteenth Dalai failed to secure the least concession from China, so how can Tibet believe that a future China will stick to its promises? Only complete independence will forever free Tibet from Chinese persecution!
The general public in the West fully agrees with Gemaba’s statements and urges its own governments to support Tibetan independence. The governor of California — an uncle of the “White Lama”—also vigorously promotes this line at the highest political level in the United States. Meanwhile, dismembering China is precisely one of the United States’ long-term strategic objectives. The American government is therefore the first government to approve of Gemaba’s proposal. With the United States taking the lead in this matter, international pressure on the Chinese government increases, and amid the daily intensifying turbulence in China’s own society, Beijing is finally compelled to sign a treaty in which it agrees to Tibetan independence.
On Tibetan Independence Day in the golden autumn season, Lhasa’s population throngs the streets to welcome Gemaba’s return to Lhasa. No sign of any Hans is to been seen in the entire city; all have been driven out of Tibet. Meanwhile, Tibetans flock to Lhasa from the grasslands, villages and cities, erect outside the capital a city of tents similar to the military encampments of ancient times, and together celebrate this great day. Mixed in among the Tibetans are Westerners of many different descriptions. Now, at last, they may visit, freely and without any hindrance, this sacred, snow-covered land.
Standing in an open limousine, Gemaba enters Lhasa. A cavalry escort clears the way, followed by a convoy of automobiles that stretches out as far as the eye can see. Everywhere on both sides of the road scripture banners and colored flags flutter aloft, the smoke of exploding fireworks swirls in the air, conchs and religious horns blare, and people sing and dance. Westerners hold up portraits of the “White Dalai.” With the Fifteenth Dalai serving as a link, Tibet is henceforth closely integrated with the Western world, and even if China succeeds in restoring internal stability some day, it will not dare take action against Tibet again, now that Tibet has the backing of the West. Besides, Gemaba knows that the United States has made up its mind to dismember China. At this very moment, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia are following in Tibet’s footsteps and striving for independence. The international society will continue to press concessions from China. China is certain to decline as a world power and will no longer constitute a threat to the world and to Tibet.
Huge portraits of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Dalai Lamas hang side by side at the Potala Palace against the backdrop of golden roofs and an azure sky. As Gemaba gazes at the two—one old and one young, one Tibetan and one Western–he marvels at the miracle wrought by this reincarnation—a reincarnation that has saved Tibet, extricated Tibet from its misfortunes, brought about its rebirth, and caused the Buddhist religion to shed its light over the whole of humanity.
Although the Fourteenth Dalai Lama was not able to return to Tibet during his lifetime, he used his reincarnation to give back to all the Tibetan people their homeland. Gemaba is convinced that by the time of the Dalai’s next reincarnation, he will be born again on this snow-covered plateau, back in the Tibet and among the people he so loves.
Excerpts from Another Novel
The Han brought along by “J” did not stick to the formal etiquette that other people strove so hard to observe when meeting the Dalai. In his handshake and direct gaze, the Dalai Lama discerned a forthright earnestness as between equals, and this gave him a good “first impression.” When he had heard that this Han was seeking an audience, the Dalai Lama had had some misgivings, but the Han was, after all, being brought here by “J,” undoubtedly on a matter for great importance. “J” was a high-level secret contact placed in Beijing by the government-in-exile, and would only be used for missions of crucial importance. This time he had suddenly flown in person to Dharamsala, at the risk of revealing his identity, and had brought along this Han. Nothing like this would have been possible unless the matter were of the utmost consiquence.
However consquential the Dalai Lama imagined the matter to be, he had never thought it would be of such great consequence. This Han had come as the common representative of various political forces in China for the purpose of inviting him to a China tottering on the verge of total collapse. Not to tour the country, nor as a guest, nor even to conduct negotiations on the Tibet issue that had dragged on so interminably without resolution, but to serve as the head of state of China — of the whole of China!
The Han frankly admitted that this request did not, of course, spring from moral considerations, nor was it for the sake of the Dalai Lama or even for the sake of Tibet, but for the sake of China. Of course, as China drew benifit from this, so would Tibet. He then proceeded to explain the reasons why China needed the Dalai Lama to serve as its head of state.
One. Autocratic rule was foundering in China. The accumulation of many years of social contradictions threatened to blow up all at once, society was on the verge of going out of control, and total collapse was in the offing unless a radical reconfiguration of the present social system were implemented. On this matter, all political forces in China were in agreement. Social reconfiguration had therefore been placed on the agenda of the most urgent things to be done.
Two. To avert any threat to its own position, the autocratic regime in China had for many years extirpated or stifled any leader or any force that could have united China. Such leaders or forces, even if they were given room now to grow and mature, would not take shape or emerge for a considerable length of time to come. Meanwhile, today’s China could neither wait for them to grow and mature, nor could it undertake social reconfiguration in a “vacuum” where there were no leaders of forces capable of uniting the country, and the only result would be an even more serious lack of control. Hence, China’s most pressing task now was to find a force that could unite China and elect a leader who could lead China during its social reconfiguration.
Three. Such a leader should be acceptable to all political forces in China, and should be acknowledged in the international society, and especially by the Western world, since political and economic support from the West was of the utmost importance if China’s social reconfiguration were to proceed safely and smoothly.
Only the Dalai Lama conformed to these requirements. No one in China could compare with him in terms of international prestige, not to mention his connections in the West. Even where China’s internal political forces were concerned, only the Dalai Lama was acceptable to all concerned. For instance, the democratic factions had some good ideas, but they themselves lacked moral resources. They enjoyed too little prestige in other countries and, internally, were too divided for any one person to command general respect. The Dalai Lama’s democratic image and social prestige made him acceptable to the overwhelming majority of the people.
Furthermore, could the reconfiguration on the mainland serve as an opportunity to resolve the Taiwan issue? This, too, was being taken into consideration by people of insight. Taiwan had consistently stated that it would be willing to discuss reunification only if mainland China were to become a democracy. In concrete implementation however, the issue would inevitably be focussed on who should be dominant factor. The one side would feel resentment and distrust if the other side were to assume principal charge over the unification process. Needed now was a third party whose interests were not involved in the reunification issue, and the Dalai Lama was manifestly most suitable for that role.
Then there was the even more important ethnic minority issue. National divisions were most likely to occur during the transfiguration from totalitarianism to democracy. That, in fact, was the greatest challenge and obstruction to China’s social reconfiguration, since democracy meant democracy not only for the Hans, but for the ethnic minorities as well. What could one do if practicing democracy among the ethnic minorities resulted in demands for independence and actions to break away from China? Send in planes and tanks to exercise suppression? That would only mean going back a state of no democracy and ending up with a vicious circle. The new democratic regime would, of course, promise ethnic harmony, but would the ethnic minorities believe such statements? They had been tricked and deceived all too often in the past. So, having the Dalai Lama serve as head of state might well be the key to resolving this all-important issue, since there could be no greater expression of sincerity, on the part of the Hans, for resolving the ethnic contradiction. Moreover, doing so would dispel the doubts and fears evinced by the minorities and build up their confidence. Tibet, needless to say, would no longer have to seek independence, and in its wake, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia become stable as well. Only on the precondition of maintaining China’s territorial integrity would China’s social reconfiguration proceed smoothly and a win-win situation created for everyone concerned.
The Dalai Lama, who had all this time been listening silently, now smiled and inquired: “You have not mentioned the most important factor—the Chinese people. What will they think? In its propaganda, the communist party has all these years been describing me as a separatist. How can the Chinese accept such a ‘scoundrel’ as their head of state?”
The Han was prepared for this question. He knew, of course, that it was the most important one, and had left it to the last. He now said:
Indeed, with the exception of a small number of liberal intellectuals, the Han elite and the various officials currently in power are emotionally the most likely to reject the Dalai Lama. Not the least reason, apart from the distorted perceptions created by many years of official propaganda, is the fact that the Dalai’s prestige has not been established in their minds. That being the case, why would they agree to letting the Dalai Lama occupy the highest post there is in China?
The Han continued: When looking at this issue, the most important thing was to see that their way of thinking had changed. Emotions or ideology no longer took first place in their considerations. Deng Xiaoping’s philosophy to the effect that “good cats are those that catch mice” had already changed the Communists from a faith-based to a interest-based group of people, and such pragmatism had become the common foundation for the thinking of practically all Chinese. Principles did not matter anymore. Advantages and disadvantages were the sole criteria for any judgments, and this gave them so much flexibility that, if the need should arise, they would find no difficulty in making one-hundred-and-eighty-degree turns. As for the power elite, their willingness to accept the Dalai Lama was based on a common understanding. They knew, better than anyone else, that all persons, good and bad, would be destroyed if China collapsed, and that no one would derive any individual benefit from such an eventuality. It was this common understanding that enabled them to cast aside their prejudices; anyone was acceptable, so long as that person might be able to preserve China from that fearsome prospect. Besides, they were also aware that there was no one among them whose international prestige and moral image would enable them to qualify as a leader. Inviting a “monk from afar to chant the sutras” would at least avert internecine fighting and struggles. The Dalai Lama was such a “monk from afar,” was he not? He was a monk in the true sense of the term, and he lived in distant India.
There was another important reason why the Chinese could accept the Dalai Lama, and that was the fact that only the Dalai Lama could provide China with the maximum benefits at this time. The China’s economic lifelines were entirely controlled by the West, and whether or not the Western nations would help China, or how energetically they would do so, and how much money they would be willing to contribute were matters of life and death for China. There was currently no one in China who had truly good connections in the West, whereas the Dalai Lama was like a brilliant light there. He had innumerable believers and worshipers as well as high-level relationships in political and economic circles. If he were to be China’s head of state and lead China’s social reconfiguration, he would undoubtedly gain the greatest trust and support in the West, and would thus be able to obtain the maximum amount of resources from the West. This was precisely what China needed most at the present time. In this sense, the Dalai Lama would be able to “catch mice,” and would be a good cat as far as the Chinese were concerned.
As for the common people, they had always been under the thumb of the elite. Without being incited or organized by the latter, they would not create any trouble, nor could they do so. And once the elite explained to them why it was necessary to ask the Dalai Lama to be head of state, they would have even less reason to come out in opposition. Neither political fanaticism nor nationalistic fervor were things that the ordinary people had or needed; all they wanted was a felicitous life for themselves and their families. Social unrest and economic recessions had long since made life impossible for the Chinese people and they would support anyone who could bring them hope of security and happiness, be that person from another planet, an ET.
Every time the Han paused in his discourse, he would take a sip from a cup of yak butter tea, although merely as a symbol of respect for Tibetan custom. He would then set down the cup and continue talking. It was obvious that he had many times rehearsed his line of thinking.
The Han began to describe the work the Dalai Lama would be doing as head of state. First of all, he could rest easy on the fact that his duties as head of state would not impinge on his religious activities. He could still do everything that was required of him as a living Buddha. However, the Han said he was confident the Dalai would not mix politics with religion—this was a basic principle in today’s world as well as a wish that the Dalai Lama himself had many times expressed.
(Everyone could tell that this was said in the nature of a subtle reminder and a caveat.)
The government that was currently to be organized was the result of consultations among various political forces. Since it was being formed within the framework of the original system of centralized power, there was as yet no participation on the part of the popular will, nor were there any corresponding legal procedures. Hence, it could only be a transitional regime for the period of reconfiguration., and the Dalai Lama would be assuming the position of an “interim head of state.” The mission of this transitional regime was to lead China’s society until the reconfiguration process had been smoothly completed, so that no loss of control would take place during that process. The first thing the transitional regime would do was to lay, from top to bottom, a free and democratic social foundation for China, and then, on that foundation, build up, step by step and from the bottom upward, various institutions for the expression of popular will, which would include the defining of relationships among the various ethnic groups and the formulation of corresponding legislation. When this process was completed and the institutions of popular will had been set up and could begin to function, social transfiguration would also be completed and the transitional regime would have ended its mission. At that time, the Dalai Lama could return to Tibet and concentrate his energies on religious activities.
The highest institution of the transitional regime would be a committee formed of representatives of different regions, ethnic groups, and political forces. The fundamental policies would be determined by that committee and would be specifically implemented by a cabinet elected by the committee. The Dalai Lama would, therefore, not be bothered with too many everyday matters. The things he would be required to do were two: Make a final ruling when the committee was deadlocked on an issue, and handle international relations.
“Why not say outright that you want the Dalai Lama to ask the world for money for you people!” exclaimed Jinmei Gelun in exasperation. He had been sitting to one side and listening to the Han. He continued: “If the Dalai Lama is able to ask people for money, why shouldn’t he get some for Tibet, instead of for your China? Moreover, what does it matter to Tibet what happens in China and whether or not China is able to reconfigure itself? Why should the Dalai Lama have anything to do with that? For so many years, you people have turned a deaf ear to all the calls issued by the Dalai Lama, but you think of him now that you have come to a dead end. All you people want is to turn him into a tool!”
Jinmei Gelun’s words were uttered for the Dalai Lama’s benefit as well as for the Han’s. Lately, Tibetans in exile had all been rejoicing over the prospect of China’s total collapse. The long-awaited opportunity was is the offing, and Tibet should grasp this opportunity to sever its ties with China once and for all. They had been urging the Dalai Lama to make up his mind on this matter.
The Han did not try to argue about whether the Dalai Lama would serve as their tool. He merely expressed his views on how things in China might affect Tibet. He said:
“If Tibet demands independence after China’s social reconfiguration, that would provide the totalitarian regime with the best excuse for refusing to carry out the reconfiguration. China is different from the Soviet Union in that it cannot implement a reconfiguration using the dismemberment model. There had been few obstacles to the Soviet Union’s breaking apart, partly because the Russians, who constitute fifty percent of the population, got over seventy percent of the territory. But Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia together make up more than half of China’s territory, and if China breaks up, the Hans, who make up more than ninety percent of the population, would be left with only some forty percent of the land. That would be unacceptable to them. No country can break up peacefully without the consent of the majority ethnic group, and war will become inevitable. Is Tibet confident of winning such a war?
“Even if China were plunged into turmoil and became otherwise preoccupied, so that Tibet could temporarily rid itself of Chinese rule, as it had done during the 1911 Revolution, the Chinese would be “back in business” in Tibet the moment there was a temporary lull in the disturbances. The same thing had happened under both the Nationalist and Communist governments. No matter what the Tibetans think, the billion plus Chinese now regard Tibet as an inseparable part of China. No one in power can afford to ignore this “consensus.” Once incensed by the loss of Tibet, the Chinese public might even choose to place in power fascist elements that will call for war. The result will be a disaster, not only for Tibet, but for China as well. This would be a major setback for the democratic forces in human society as a whole.
“Any notion that Tibet and China have nothing to do with one another is mere wishful thinking. Actual life is not a figment of the imagination. You might think there is no relation between Tibet and China, but the truth is that no hard and fast line of demarcation exists between Tibet and China. Tibet is no longer a ‘perilous place,” as far as the Chinese are concerned. Roads have been opened up, planes fly in its skies, and countless people have traveled back and forth for more than a century. Can you hold back the restless feet of millions of Hans? Not unless you are able to erect a Great Wall of iron and bronze. But is it anyone’s power to do that? There are six million Tibetans. Can every adult male be put to defending the frontier? And what to do about the hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of land inhabited by both Tibetans and Hans? Will you pull the Tibetans out of these areas, or will you drive out the Hans? Unless absolute isolation can be achieved, it will never be possible to sever all relations between the Hans and the Tibetans.”
The Dalai Lama listened to the two men arguing. Although Jinmei was a highly trusted subordinate, the Dalai Lama knew in his heart of hearts that the Han was right. Tibet could not repeat its past folly of believing that it could shut itself up behind its snow-covered mountain peaks and ignore the rest of the world. It was precisely such fully that had brought later misfortunes down on Tibet. Now, when the world was undergoing globalization, any thought of walling the country off from international exchanges was a mere fantasy, a recipe for self-destruction. Tibet must examine its circumstances by placing itself amid the world of nations if it were to find a correct path for its own survival and development.
The Han now uttered this prophesy: “Even assuming that you can indeed keep the Hans out of Tibet by relying on money from the West and manpower from India, you would be creating a calamity that will ultimately force both China and the world to descend upon Tibet. For, Tibetan independence will inevitably cause Xinjiang to break away from China. But since there are many more Hans in Xinjiang and the forces are equally divided there, unusually severe ethnic hate killings and even ethnic purges will certainly break out, and will unavoidably bring about the involvement of the Middle Eastern countries and the Islamic world. Nor will there be peace in Inner Mongolia, where events will embroil the Buryat Mongols in both Mongolia and Russia, and so drag Russia in. Today’s China is like a glass container filled with sand. Any shock somewhat stronger than usual will shatter the glass and send the sand flying in all directions. International order and the world economic system will not be able to withstand the impact of hundreds of millions of refugees. The West will no longer be able to help Tibet, which in turn will at once lose its ability to defend its thousands of kilometers of common border with China. When that time comes, Chinese refugees will surge toward Tibet, and if only ten million of them get there, you will be submerged.”
Here, the Han stared at the Dalai Lama. An earnest and heartfelt plea crept into his voice: “Dalai Lama, you are the incarnation of Guanyin the Benevolent and Merciful. You have come into the world of men to disseminate the Mahayana Spirit of saving all living beings. Can you sit by and watch while disaster overtakes the world? The destiny of mankind hinges on your person. If you agree to come and head China, China will not fall into chaos but will successfully carry out its reconfiguration. That will bring happiness to one billion three hundred million Chinese, and will be tantamount to eliminating the world’s greatest root cause of trouble. The world will thus be saved, and Tibet will find peace and security. You will be granted the Nobel Peace Prize, and a monument to you will stand forever on the Tiananmen Square. You will go down forever in history and forever light up the world of men. Moreover, millions of Chinese whom you have saved will be converted and become devout believers in Tibetan Buddhism. Dalai Lama, as an expression of my sincerity, I shall prostrated myself before you and formally acknowledge you as my highest teacher.” So saying, the Han rose from his seat to prostrate himself.
The Dalai Lama stopped him, and asked humorously: “Is it the practice of you Hans to ‘embrace Buddha’s feet and seek help only at the last moment’?”
The Hans were indeed a utilitarian nation; from religion, they always looked for recompense in the present world. That, however, was not the way he saw the Han standing before him. This Han was merely play-acting and trying to put him on the spot.
The Dalai Lama would not accede to the Han’s request for the time being. The awards and monuments of the secular world could not sway him. When had the Buddha ever needed “merits” and recognition of achievements? It was true, however that the Buddha advocated mercy and benevolence. If he could prevent one billion three hundred million people (although they were Chinese) from falling into the Sea of Bitterness and save the world from disaster, would that not be his mission in coming to the world of men, born as he was as the Merciful Buddha? He had already waited for a lifetime without having accomplished anything. Had things perhaps been so ordered, that he might bring his mission to fruition at this final, crucial moment in time?
( Translated by Ted Huimin Wang)