Management Measures for the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism
Issued by: State Administration for Religious Affairs on July 18, 2007
The term Living Buddha(Tulku) emerged in the early Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) when Emperor Kublai Khan honored Pagba, head of the Sagya Sect, by granting him the title “Buddha of the Western Paradise.” Thereafter, eminent Tibetan monks who distinguished themselves in the practice of Buddhism were referred to as ”Living Buddhas.” However, the term Living Buddha was not recognized as a special title for a monk who became the successor of the deceased leader of a monastery until the eventual introduction of the Living Buddha reincarnation system [Ministry of foreign affairs People`s republic of China]
The above view may not be supported by Dalai Lama exciled in India
Order No. Five
These “Management measures for the reincarnation of living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism” were passed at the administrative affairs conference of the State Administration of Religious Affairs on July 13, 2007, and will be implemented on September 1, 2007.
Bureau Director, Ye Xiaowen
July 18, 2007
Article 1: These measures have been formulated in accordance with the “Regulations on Religious Affairs” in order to guarantee citizens’ freedom of religious belief, to respect Tibetan Buddhism’s practice of inheriting living Buddha positions, and to regulate the management of living Buddha reincarnation affairs.
Article 2: Reincarnating living Buddhas should respect and protect the principles of the unification of the state, protecting the unity of the minorities, protecting religious concord and social harmony, and protecting the normal order of Tibetan Buddhism.
Reincarnating living Buddhas should respect the religious rituals and historically established systems of Tibetan Buddhism, but may not re-establish feudal privileges which have already been abolished.
Reincarnating living Buddhas shall not be interfered with or be under the dominion of any foreign organization or individual.
Article 3: Reincarnating living Buddhas should have the following conditions:
(1) A majority of local religious believers and the monastery management organization must request the reincarnation;
(2) The inheritance lineage should be real and have continued to the present day;
(3) The monastery applying for the living Buddha reincarnation must be the monastery at which the living Buddha monk is registered, it must be registered as a Tibetan Buddhist place of religious activity, and it must have the ability to train and raise living Buddhas.
Article 4: Applicants to be reincarnating living Buddhas who have any of the following conditions may not be reincarnated:
(1) Reincarnations which are not regulated by the religious doctrine of Tibetan Buddhism;
(2) Those in city-level people’s governments and above with delineated districts, which ordered no reincarnations to be permitted.
Article 5: Reincarnating living Buddhas should carry out application and approval procedures.
The application and approval procedure is: the management organization at the monastery applying for the living Buddha reincarnation where the monk is registered, or the local Buddhist Association, should submit applications for reincarnations to the local religious affairs departments at the level of people’s government above county-level; once the people’s government above county-level has made suggestions, the people’s government religious affairs department reports upwards, and examination and approval shall be made by the provincial or autonomous regional people’s government religious affairs department. Living Buddha reincarnations who have a relatively large impact shall be reported to the provincial or autonomous regional people’s government for approval; those with a great impact shall be reported to the State Administration for Religious Affairs for approval; those with a particularly great impact shall be reported to the State Council for approval.
Verification and authorization of the living Buddha application should solicit the opinions of the corresponding Buddhist Association.
Article 6: When there is debate over the size of a living Buddha’s impact, the China Buddhist Association shall officiate, and report to the State Administration of Religious Affairs to be put on the record.
Article 7: Once an application for a living Buddha’s reincarnation has received approval, depending on the size of the living Buddha’s impact, the corresponding Buddhist Association shall establish a reincarnation guidance team; the management organization at the monastery where the living Buddha is registered, or the corresponding Buddhist Association, shall establish a search team to look for the reincarnate soul child, and search affairs shall be carried out under the leadership of the guidance team.
The reincarnate soul child shall be recognized by the provincial or autonomous regional Buddhist Association or the China Buddhist Association in accordance with religious rituals and historically established systems.
No group or individual may without authorization carry out any activities related to searching for or recognizing reincarnating living Buddha soul children.
Article 8: Living Buddhas which have historically been recognized by drawing lots from the golden urn shall have their reincarnating soul children recognized by drawing lots from the golden urn.
Requests not to use drawing lots from the golden urn shall be reported by the provincial or autonomous regional people’s government religious affairs departments to the State Administration of Religious Affairs for approval; cases with a particularly large impact shall be reported to the State Council for approval.
Article 9: Once a reincarnating living Buddha soul child has been recognized, it shall be reported the provincial or autonomous regional people’s government religious affairs department for approval; those with a great impact shall be reported to the State Administration for Religious Affairs for approval; those with a particularly great impact shall be reported to the State Council for approval.
Reincarnating living Buddhas who have been approved by the provincial or autonomous regional people’s government religious affairs departments or by the autonomous regional people’s government shall be reported to the State Administration of Religious Affairs to be put on record.
Article 10: When the reincarnating living Buddha is installed, a representative of the approving authority shall read out the documents of approval, and the corresponding Buddhist Association shall issue a living Buddha permit.
Living Buddha permits shall uniformly be issued by the China Buddhist Association and reported to the State Administration of Religious Affairs to be put on record.
Article 11: Persons and units who are responsible for being in contravention of these measures and who without authority carry out living Buddha reincarnation affairs, shall be dealt administrative sanction by the people’s government religious affairs departments in accordance with stipulations in the “Regulations on Religious Affairs”; when a crime has been constituted, criminal responsibility shall be pursued.
Article 12: When the reincarnating living Buddha has been installed the management organization at the monastery where he is registered shall formulate a training plan, recommend a scripture teacher, and submit the plan to the local Buddhist Association, which shall report upward to the provincial or autonomous regional people’s government religious affairs department for approval.
Article 13: Provinces and autonomous regions which are involved in affairs of reincarnating living Buddhas may formulate and implement detailed measures in accordance these measures, and report them to the State Administration of Religious Affairs to be put on record.
Article 14: These measures shall be implemented from September 1, 2007.
第五条活佛转世应当履行申请报批手续。申请报批程序是：由拟转世活佛僧籍所在寺庙管理组织或者所在地佛教协会向所在地县级人民政府宗教事务部门提出转 世申请，由县级人民政府提出意见后，人民政府宗教事务部门逐级上报，由省、自治区人民政府宗教事务部门审批。其中，在佛教界有较大影响的，报省、自治区人 民政府批准；有重大影响的，报国家宗教事务局批准；有特别重大影响的，报国务院批准。
Source: International Campaign for Tibet (ICT)
Note: The tradition of reincarnation is rooted on a Buddhist belief system wherein all sentient beings are bound through a cycle of birth and death. The cycle is broken when through rigorous training and practice one could attain enlightenment. The Sankrit term for Tulku is Nirmanakaya.It is difficult to assert and establish the origin of tulku system in Tibet. However, traditional Tibetan sources suggest that tulku system began with Karma Phakshi (1206-1283). He was the second hierarch of the Karma branch of the Kagyu School. Karma Phakshi is later recognized as the reincarnation of the Dusum Khenpa (1110-1193) and that of Avalokitesvara (Kuijp, 2013). By the lifetime of the third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339) in the thirteenth century Tibet, the belief in reincarnation was well established in Tibet (Gamble, 2018). The current Karmapa is the seventeenth reincarnation of Karmapas of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.[Central Tibetan Administration Dharamshala-176215 H.P., India]