US Congress Recognizes Reincarnation

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US Congress Recognizes ReincarnationWASHINGTON, D.C., December 24, 2020 (Religion News Service): Among the hodgepodge of legislative loose ends that made their way into the $900 billion spending bill passed by Congress on Monday night (Dec. 21) was a significant update to the 18-year-old Tibetan Policy Act, strengthening U.S. support for Tibetan autonomy and religious freedom for followers of Tibetan Buddhism around the globe. The new legislation, called the Tibetan Policy and Support Act, appears deep in the 5,000-plus-page bill has drawn attention for weighing in on the current Dalai Lama's reincarnation, one of the few instances the Buddhist concept has been mentioned in U.S. law.

The just passed "Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021" includes on page 2,631 a "Statement of policy regarding the succession or reincarnation of the Dalai Lama."

Here are some excerpts:

"The 14th Dalai Lama said in his statement that the person who reincarnates has sole legitimate authority over where and how he or she takes rebirth and how that reincarnation is to be recognized and if there is a need for a 15th Dalai Lama to be recognized, then the responsibility shall primarily rest with the officers of the Dalai Lama's Gaden Phodrang Trust, who will be informed by the written instructions of the 14th Dalai Lama."

It cites two earlier Congressional resolutions, one in 2015, the other in 2018, similarly recognizing reincarnation in the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

It ends with a Statement of Policy:

"It is the policy of the United States that ... interference by the Government of the People's Republic of China or any other government in 18 the process of recognizing a successor or reincarnation of the 14th Dalai Lama and any future Dalai Lamas would represent a clear abuse of the right to religious freedom of Tibetan Buddhists and the Tibetan people.