China Begins to Test Its New Monastic System in Tibet, Part One

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Beside a single painting of Buddha and his two disciples, photos show that inside of the Tibetan Buddhist Theology Institute is completely absence of any statue of lamas and Indian masters that normal Tibetan Buddhist monasteries must have. The shiny white pillars and carved and golden colored ceilings make it look more like a five-star hotel lobby in Beijing than a Tibetan monastery. Yet, after two years of training 150 selected monks, including Beijing selected reincarnation of Radring Rinpoche, Dedrup Rinpoche and 20 others, the Chinese officials are now ready to put its effectiveness in changing the Tibetan monastic system to the test. On June 22, TAR officials opened a branch office of the Tibetan Buddhist Theology Institute in Sera Monastery. Tibet Radio reported on June 26 that the institute will replace the Sera Monastery’s teaching system. Thus, the monks in Sera Monastery are now to attend their daily classes under the branch of Tibetan Buddhist Theology Institute. One week later on June 29, the Chinese officials inaugurated a branch of the institute in Samye Monastery, Tibet’s first Buddhist monastery built in the 9th century. The official news also said “eventually” there will be branch offices of the institute, which Dharamsala views as a center to launch a “Second Cultural Revolution”, in all the monasteries in TAR. In this program, Tibet in Review looks at the possible effects of the new system and larger picture of struggle that the Chinese government engages in minimizing the influence of the Dalai Lama in the Tibetan monastic system.