First it was the London Times, now the New York Times: In the wake of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s tenure, will dueling Dalai Lamas appear? Here’s an excerpt of the NY Times article by Edward Wong:

On the windswept Tibetan plateau, his closest aides look for divinations in a sacred lake. A mountain god transmits oracular messages by possessing a high lama. Monks scour villages for boys precocious in their spiritual attunement.

All that is about to change, as the current Dalai Lama and his followers in exile here in India compete with the Chinese government for control of how the 15th Dalai Lama will be chosen. The issue is urgent for the Tibetans because the current Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of all Tibetans and the charismatic face of the exile movement, has had recent bouts of ill health. He turns 74 in July.

Both the Chinese and the Tibetan exiles are bracing for an almost inevitable outcome: the emergence into the world of dueling Dalai Lamas — one chosen by the exiles, perhaps by the 14th Dalai Lama himself, and the other by Chinese officials.

In 1995, shortly after he was recognized by the Dalai Lama, the Panchen Lama, considered by many to be Tibet’s second highest ranking lama, disappeared into Chinese “protective custody.” Meanwhile, Beijing made a competing claim by recognizing a Panchen Lama of its own. It is likely they will name their own Dalai Lama, too.

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