This NPR article starts out innocently enough discussing a Buddhist ritual being performed for the first time in tiben in a half century, and then gets into the mindbending convolutions of the officially atheistic Communist government of China making official statements on the transmigration of individual souls, in this case, that of the lamas who also wield political power in Tibet i.e. the Dalai, Karmapa and Panchen. So it begins:
“The Panchen Lama — the second highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism after the Dalai Lama — is performing an important ritual that has not taken place in Tibet for half a century, Chinese state media are reporting this week.
“In this elaborate, 12-day event, known as the Kalachakra Initiation, some devotees visualize themselves exploring a five-story palace. At the center of the palace is a green lotus petal, and on it is said to reside the Kalachakra deity, with blue skin, four faces and 24 arms.
“On Friday, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported that some 50,000 faithful are expected to attend the Kalachakra Initiation at the Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Xigaze, Tibet, the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama.
“The ritual, which ends on July 24, is apparently being conducted with the blessing of China’s ruling Communist party, despite the fact that the government is officially atheist and has traditionally held the Marxist view that religion is the “opium of the people.” Previously, the ritual was forbidden to take place in Tibet but had taken place in Tibetan areas outside Tibet.”
and then it’s down the rabbit hole…
thanks to Soror Hypatia for the tip!