A Vatican without the Pope? Any Islamic Republic of Iran without a supreme leader Ayatollah? That is the future that the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, seems to point to a religion they profess between 10 and 20 million people in Tibet and abroad. The fourteenth Dalai Lama has stated that his death could not be reincarnated and not have a successor, which would end a tradition of almost five centuries. His remarks have generated little sympathy in Beijing, which claims the right to appoint the fifteenth Dalai Lama.

In a recent interview with the German weekly Welt am Sonntag , the religious leader, 79, said that “the institution of the Dalai Lama became something important for their political power, but that no longer exists.” Since the sixteenth century, the Dalai Lama was not only the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, but also his political boss. That tradition ended in 2011 when the Nobel Peace Prize 1989 – “for his struggle for the liberation of Tibet advocating peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect” – formally renounced any earthly power.

According to the Dalai Lama, if not reincarnated “voluntarily will end a tradition of almost five centuries.” As Tibetan spiritual leader Tenzin Gyatso is considered an incarnation of Buddha, the highest spiritual perfection. The other living beings is bound to go through a round of successive lives, with greater or more fortunate, as has been their past behavior, reaching the supreme state of perfection, which are left behind all needs and desires. The Dalai Lama, who has reached the state of enlightenment, may choose not to reincarnate more or, on the contrary, continue the cycle to help other living beings to attain knowledge.

The religious leader believes that, in any event, Tibetan Buddhism will not suffer for lack of a Dalai Lama. “Tibetan Buddhism is not dependent on a single individual. We have a very good organization, very capable monks and scholars, “he says.

It is not the first time the spiritual leader suggests something. In the past and suggested proposals such as allowing the Tibetans to decide their next religious leader. Or that he is in life, who appoints a successor. A break in any case, with the traditional procedure, which may last years. According to custom, on the death of the Dalai Lama his best disciples begin a search process. Through visions, dreams and hunches identify potential candidates, children who were born in the dates of death of the spiritual leader. Who pass a series of tests, including recognizing objects that belonged to his predecessor, is proclaimed new Dalai Lama and begins a hard process of academic and religious training.

For Tenzin Gyatso this procedure was followed exactly. On the death of the thirteenth Dalai Lama, his followers spotted the child through visions

Little Tenzin in 1937, two years old, born to a humble family in the Tibetan region of Amdo, correctly identified the Dalai Lama’s possessions, like his drinking cup or rosary, and was proclaimed successor. In 1959, after the failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese troops, disguised as a beggar fled to Dharamsala, in Indian Territory, where he has since resided.

“Tibetan Buddhism does not depend on an individual. There is an organization with very capable monks, “says Nobel laureate

According to Professor Jean-Pierre Cabestan, Baptist University of Hong Kong, with the Dalai Lama claims “you may want to put an end to the traditional way of electing the Tibetan spiritual leader. At the end of the day, the institution of the Dalai Lama is not so old and can be replaced by any other, with regard to Tibetan Buddhism. He may want to prepare the transfer of political power to a secular leader and representative. In fact, this process began when he gave up his political powers and yielded to an elected prime minister in Dharamsala. “

One option that’s unthinkable for Beijing, for which the religious leader is “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” that promotes Tibetan separatism. The Dalai Lama, for his part, stressed that only seeks more autonomy for their people and respect their cultural traditions. Many Tibetans bemoan what they see as the suppression of their language and customs by Beijing.

The Central Government has strongly disavowed statements of the Dalai and has made clear that, at his death, is responsible for appointing a successor. “The title of Dalai Lama is conferred by the central government”, said the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hua Chunying. China “will follow the historical and religious customs procedures” to designate the fifteenth Dalai Lama. This is not anything new. Explains Cabestan email from Taiwan, “Beijing wanted to have a voice in the selection of new Dalai Lama, to participate in the process of deciding who will be the new spiritual leader” from the time of Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799), Qing Dynasty.

Qin Yong Zhang Ethnologist, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, wrote last week in the state newspaper Global Times that “Tibetan Buddhism does not belong to the Dalai Lama, and can not end a 500-year tradition with a word “. In his opinion, since the eighteenth century, “the right to regulate, supervise and have the last word” in the selection of the Dalai Lama has been responsible for the Chinese central government.

“Beijing has wanted to have a voice in the selection of new Dalai Lama” explains Professor Cabestan, Hong Kong

The Government officially atheist, is already involved in other cases. In the case of the Catholic Church does not recognize the authority of the Vatican, with which it has relations, and he himself is responsible for appointing bishops branch has established the Patriotic Catholic Church. In the case of Tibetan Buddhism has also done their own appointments. In 1995, the Dalai Lama appointed Gendun Chokyi Nyima child as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama. The Chinese authorities obliterated the small and his family, which has not been heard. Instead, Beijing appointed another boy, Gyaltsen Norbu, who spends most of his time in Beijing and many do not recognize as Tibetan spiritual leader.

It is unclear what reception outside of a Dalai Lama would be appointed by Beijing. The current has a strong prestige abroad and has acted for decades as an ambassador for the Tibetan cause. Not only rubs shoulders with world leaders, but also won over to his cause showbiz personalities like Richard Gere or Gwyneth Paltrow.

In Tibet, or in regions of Tibetan people in other Chinese provinces, many residents consider him a representative of heaven on earth, although the mere fact of having his portrait may involve harsh reprisals. As in the case of the Panchen Lama, it is unlikely that someone appointed by Beijing would receive the recognition of believers. Such a situation would only help to exacerbate the sense of grievance of the Tibetan population in China. “If weak Dalai Lama come one, would be a disgrace to the institution,” he declared the spiritual leader in the interview itself.