The current Dalai Lama says he could be the last, and it could be for the best. "The Dalai Lama institution will cease one day. These man-made institutions will cease," he told the BBC in an interview. "There is no guarantee that some stupid Dalai Lama won't come next, who will disgrace himself or herself. That would be very sad. So, much better that a centuries-old tradition should cease at the time of a quite popular Dalai Lama." The decision, he said, is a matter for the Tibetan people to decide after his death.
It's not the first time the longest-serving Dalai Lama—who has held the post since he was 15 and is now 79—has said he could be the last, the Independent reports. He has said he won't be reincarnated without a free Tibet. China, however, says it's in charge of choosing the next Dalai Lama, with a spokeswoman arguing that the current one "has ulterior motives, and is seeking to distort and negate history." In the interview, the Tibetan leader called for a greater international effort to spur democracy in China, which "very much wants to join the mainstream world economy." The country "should be welcome, but at the same time the free world has a moral responsibility to bring China into mainstream democracy—for China's own interests," he said. (The Dalai Lama recently implored Buddhists to stop killing Muslims.)