Come again?

A Tibetan mandala represents many things, including the impermanence of life. On that, and only that, China and Tibet agree: we die. What happens next, though, is now in hot dispute.

The government of China, which claims dominion over Tibet, vows to pick the reincarnated spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism—the Dalai Lama—after this one dies. However, the current Dalai Lama, 80, has stated he might opt not to be reincarnated, to prevent his replacement from becoming a stooge of China’s atheistic Communist government. Party officials say the Dalai Lama is being “frivolous” with his words. The Dalai Lama shot back: “There is no guarantee that some stupid Dalai Lama won’t come next, who will disgrace himself or herself… So, much better that a centuries-old tradition should cease.”             —Diane Richard, writer, March 11

Image: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters Source: Chris Buckley, “China’s Tensions With Dalai Lama Spill Into the Afterlife,” The New York Times, March 11, 2015