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The politics of reincarnation and its impact on the future of Tibet

His Holiness The Dalai Lama
His Holiness The Dalai Lama
Christopher Prentiss Michel via Flickr

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As the Dalai Lama turns 80 this July, the question of who will succeed him has taken on renewed political relevance.

The Dalai Lama, the longest-living incumbent, recently intimated that he might not reincarnate. It’s a possibility that is fraught with implications for Tibetan Buddhism and for China, which hopes to have a hand in the process to ensure its continual influence over Tibet.

The Dalai Lama will be in Orange County to celebrate his 80th birthday in July. AirTalk looks at the politics of Tibetan reincarnation and its impact.


Robert Barnett,  Director, Modern Tibet Studies Program and Adjunct Professor of Contemporary Tibetan Studies at Columbia University

Rongdao Lai, Assistant Professor of Chinese religion at USC, whose research focuses on Buddhism. She is a Buddhist nun