Heritage Day—Saturday 24 September—while South Africans recognise the heroes of their liberation struggle and commemorate years in exile, the pending visit of the Dalai Lama struggles for recognition.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, addresses the Biannual Conference of Tibetan religious leaders on 24 September 2011 in Dharamsala, India. He spoke about his own reincarnation, past and future lives, and how rebirth takes place.
I did not intend to write another blog, at least not this week, but recent developments around the Dalai Lama prompted today’s response. Two items stand out:
The first is the pending visit of His Holiness to South Africa for the 80th birthday celebrations of Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town on 7 October. The second, most notably, is the Dalai Lama’s own statements on the issue of his reincarnation (24 September).
While the former has been well reported already (see Mail&Guardian 28 August), it was the introspective article by Guy Lieberman that first drew my interest (DailyMaverick 20 September). Here Lieberman asks the question we’ve all wondered about: “What’s behind the friendship between Tutu, Mandela and the Dalai Lama—beside them all being Noble Prize laureates?”
Reporting on the Dalai Lama’s first-ever meeting with Nelson Mandela in South Africa, already in August 1996, Lieberman continues: “I asked the Dalai Lama if he would comment on that encounter. He was silent for a few moments, considering the question, and then responded by saying that he had had the good fortune to meet some of the world’s greatest leaders; kings, spiritual notables, presidents, social icons, his fellow Nobel Peace Laureates, luminaries from the sciences, as well as captains of industry and human rights activists. In preparing to meet with all of these people, he would study their stories in-depth and take into account the nature of their reputations.”
To which the Dalai Lama himself concluded: “In most cases, the reputation of that leader would always be very large. However, every time I would meet the individual, I noted that the reputation was always far bigger than the person. Now, as I was preparing to meet Nelson Mandela, I considered that his reputation was in fact larger than anyone else’s. But in only this case, was the individual much larger than his reputation.”
For Lieberman, the wisdom of His Holiness is too close in form and character to that of Tata Madiba for us to ignore: “We have to allow ourselves to see this obvious comparison, and all the related associations regarding the freedom struggles of both Tibet and South Africa.” Yes, this is both obvious and true: when they first met Madiba was an African leader with a moral code, a state president who expressed an intrinsically African integrity and political will.
But this was not their first meeting, at least not the first in their eternal past. According to their karmic biographies, Tenzin Gyatso and Nelson Mandela were among four feuding brothers in thirteenth-century China, being known to history as Kublai and Mongka—heirs of the notorious Genghis Khan, then their grandfather. Together they expanded the Mongol empire, politically and culturally, until Mongka (Mandela) died campaining with Kublai (Gyatsa) in China. Readers can pick up the karmic thread for themselves.
The extraordinary relationship between these great men has been eloquently described in Knot of Stone, wherein Kublai Khan (Gyatsa) says of Mongka (Mandela):
“It is not of these conquests that I, Kublai Khan, now speak, but of our contrasting temperaments and differing ideologies. Mongka believed that his destiny was to keep the Mongolian Empire united under his rule and to bring the world under one dispensation. He believed law and order was the way to create political conditions necessary to unite all peoples under a common welfare of peace and prosperity. He practised no racial or religious discrimination… He believed in one God, but in no particular form of worship. He attended religious ceremonies of all the great faiths—Buddhist, Christian and Muslim equally—and religious freedom was well tolerated by him. But he never could tolerate dissension and was ruthless with those who pitted themselves against him.”
Clairaudient message cited in KoS, pp.423-424.
Left to Right: His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso), Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
As for the two other brothers—Boka and Hulagu—these are today Thabo Mbeki and Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Desmond Tutu, it seems, was with then them too. So, seen from a karmic perspective, any visit to South Africa by the Dalai Lama is an auspicious affair. Looking at the matter realistically, his proposed visit next month is unlikely to be sanctioned.
However, today Jacob Zuma plays a pivotal role, as he did in the thirteenth-century under the name of Ahmed Uzma—then a misplaced minister at court. As a corrupt court official renowned for his many wives, Uzma was charged for capitalizing on arms-deals during Kublai-Boka’s civil war. And herein lies the real test of integrity for South Africa.
Whatever happens, I believe we need not despair over South Africa’s future as we all have to prove ourselves again in other lives.