With the Dalai Lama nearing 74, Chinese officials and Tibetan spiritual leaders are steeling for the possibility of competing successors after his death. Historically, the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama has been found within Tibet, which has been controlled by China since 1951. Chinese officials insist on adhering to tradition, but the current Dalai Lama has expressed a willingness to break with custom, reports the New York Times.
The Chinese have already passed a 2007 law demanding approval of all Lamas by the Chinese government, but they have struggled to find spiritual leaders who both support their rule and command respect from Tibetans. The Karmapa, another Tibetan spiritual figure, could presage the problems that may lie in store for the Dalai Lama selection. Groomed by Chinese leaders, he fled to India at the age of 14 and now is a disciple of the current Dalai Lama.