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China gets weirder every day.

Via LA Times:

In China, it’s not easy to become a “living Buddha.” First come the years of meditation and discipline. Then comes the bureaucracy.

“The highest level of living Buddhas must be approved by the central government,” Phurbu Tsering, the abbot of Sera Monastery near Tibet’s capital, Lhasa, said at a meeting of China’s rubber-stamp legislature on Monday. “Other Living Buddhas must be approved by local governments.”

China is laying down the law on reincarnation, as Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama — Tibet’s enormously influential spiritual leader — enters his twilight years with no successor in sight. Although the ruling Communist Party is an officially atheist organization – officials are barred from practicing religion – it is perennially uncomfortable with forces outside of its control, and has for years demanded the power to regulate the supernatural affairs of Tibetan Buddhist figures, determining who can and cannot be reincarnated.

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