Monday, April 25, 2005

2005 Is The Year of The Panchen Lama
On May14, 1995, six year old Gendun Choekyi Nyima was identified by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the 11th Panchen Lama. For those of us not versed in Buddhist tradition, I looked it up:
The Panchen Lama is the second most important figure in Tibetan culture, religion and politics, after His Holiness The Dalai Lama. The title Panchen Lama originates back to the Fifth Dalai Lama who, in 1642, gave the title Panchen Lama, meaning Great Scholar, to his teacher the Abbott of Tashilhunpo Monastery in order to consolidate Gelugpa power. Since then it has traditionally been the role of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama to act as the teacher of the new incarnation.
"Today is the auspicious day when the Buddha first gave the Kalachakra teaching. The Kalachakra teachings have a special connection with the Panchen Lamas. On this auspicious occasion, which also happens to be the Vaisaki, it is with great joy that I am able to proclaim the reincarnation of Panchen Rinpoche. I have recognised Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, born on April 25, 1989, whose father is Konckok Phuntsog, and mother Dechen Choden, of Lhari district in Nagchu, Tibet, as the true reincarnation of Panchen Rinpoche."
(from the web site)
Shortly after being identified as the 11th Panchen Lama, Gendun Choekyi Nyima disappeared from his homeland, along with his family. The Chinese government started out by denying any involvement. But in 1997 they admitted to holding him in custody to protect him from his people. It appears that there has been no news of him since that time. The Chinese government took possession of a six year old boy and his family and have held them in custody for the last ten years. For the last eight years, neither the boy or his family have been heard from.

Today this young boy turns 16.

Update 04/29/2005 -
Off and on over the days since this was first posted I have considered the actions of Chinese government and tried to understand the how and why of their taking this child. I began to reflect on the idea that a government, any government, must be able to defend itself from those who wish it harm. And, yes, 9/11 came to mind and our invasion of Iraq. And Guantanamo Bay. And Afghanistan. And I had to honestly stop and ask myself, "Are we so different?"

While I do not intend to defend any act performed by the United States against an enemy nation or individuals, I would have to say that there is at least one enormous difference: Buddhism is a religion of peace. And, despite any perceived or actual future political power the Panchan Lama might wield, the fact remains that he was a six year old child at the time of his abduction. And that his condition and whereabouts are unknown today is abhorrent.

Update 05/17/2005 (as reported this morning at
May 17, 2005 marks the 10th year disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the XIth Panchen Lama of Tibet. It has been ten long years that the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has failed to provide information on the whereabouts of the 16-year-old Panchen Lama.

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, went missing with his family since 17 May 1995 after the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, officially recognized him as the XIth Panchen Lama of Tibet. In his place, the PRC government appointed another child named Gyaltsen Norbu as the Panchen Lama but the majority of the Tibetans calls him the “fake” Panchen Lama.
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Read the entire article at
Whether you are a Buddhist, Christian or practice another (or have no) religious belief, please take a moment today to offer a prayer for this boy and his family.

Copyright©2005 jdwarrick    

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