He told them to “be grateful to the Party, listen to the Party, follow the Party, promote the Party.”
by Lopsang Gurung
The Tibetans know the story and readers of “Bitter Winter” know it too. In the Tibetan Buddhist Gelug tradition, the Panchen Lama is the second most important figure after the Dalai Lama. The 10th Panchen Lama died in 1989. The real 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, was kidnapped by the CCP at age six in 1995, immediately after having been recognized by the Dalai Lama. If he is alive as the CCP maintains, his present whereabouts are unknown.
Having kidnapped the genuine 11th Panchen Lama, the CCP proceeded to install a false 11th Panchen Lama of its own, a Tibetan child educated in Beijing called Gyaincain Norbu. The false Panchen Lama is now also Vice President of the CCP-controlled China Buddhist Association and member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
November 4, 2023, corresponding to the twenty-second day of the ninth month in the Tibetan calendar, was the day of the Lhabab Düchen festival. It celebrates the descent of Buddha back to earth from heaven, where he had ascended at age 41 to impart teachings to the gods and liberate his mother from Samsara.
The false Panchen Lama selected this sacred day to ordain, for the first time, 28 monks in the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Shigatse. The monastery is the traditional seat of the Panchen Lamas, which he unlawfully occupies.
Assisted by other monks subservient to the CCP, Norbu gave his usual instructions to the newly ordained young men. In his sermon, he instructed them to “be grateful to the Party, listen to the Party, follow the Party, promote the Party.” He also told them that they should thank the Party every day because the world is full of wars and crises, and they are fortunate to live in a happy, peaceful, and well-governed country.
With some naiveté, the China Buddhist Association press release distributed through social media claimed that “This ordination shows that the Panchen Lama has the ability to accept disciples and ordain, signalling a further improvement in the Panchen Lama’s Buddhist achievements and religious status. The peaceful and successful ordination ceremony also demonstrates the Panchen Lama’s prestige in the religious world.”
In fact, it demonstrates nothing of the kind. These ceremonies are only performed under the protection of the Chinese Army. Very few Tibetans would attend them if not compelled or threatened by the Chinese.
Tibetan Buddhists believe that on the day of Lhabab Düchen, the effects of positive or negative actions are multiplied ten million times. Perhaps the false Panchen Lama should consider that, if this is true, he may soon be in serious trouble.