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Title: The Mortality of the Dalai Lama and its Scriptural Sources
Subtitle: More on Tibetan Political Theology
Author(s): MACCORMACK, Ian
Journal: Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies
Volume: 45    Date: 2022   
Pages: 205-251
DOI: 10.2143/JIABS.45.0.3291580

Abstract :
This article completes a two-part study of the divine kingship of the fifth Dalai Lama, based on the writings of his successor, the Desi Sangyé Gyatso. It examines arguments about the mortality of the Dalai Lama as a human being who appears to suffer and die. At the heart of those arguments is the concept of residual karma, which names a kind of suffering experienced by already perfected beings but still attributable to their own past actions. In the Desi’s writings, this concept functions as an interpretive key for assembling a larger body of scriptural sources on karma and its purification, which I survey here. I argue that it also gave the Desi a way of acknowledging and coming to terms with the social and practical dimensions of divine kingship, insofar as it articulated the need for some public recognition of and response to the divine Dalai Lama’s suffering and death.

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