Hello, where's the Living Buddha registration counter?

by Ngakpa Duddul Trogyal Dorje, The Buddhist Channel, Sept 3, 2007

American Buddhist to report to Chinese Embassy in San Francisco for instructions under new Chinese Regulations for Living Buddhas

San Francisco, California (USA) -- A controversial 54 year old performance artist and American Buddhist yogi named Dennis Conkin will report to the Chinese Embassy in San Francisco, California on Wednesday, September 5 at 10 a.m. to comply with new Chinese regulations that require Living Buddhas of the Tibetan Buddhist religion to register with the Chinese government.

"I am aware of the new regulations, so I am reporting as required to the Embassy for instructions on how to proceed. I'm not sure if the Chinese government wants a dossier of  my relevant past lives or whether I'm just supposed to show up. Maybe they'll  have some spiritual experts already available at the Embassy to look at my past life aura or something," Conkin said. "Maybe they can clear up some confusion I have about a couple of recent incarnations. That would be so helpful to me. And much cheaper than going to Tibet."

"I'm encouraging everyone who possesses Buddha-nature to go to their nearest Chinese Embassy and register for recognition. Validation is so important to a healthy sense of self-esteem and well being," Conkin said

The new regulations were instituted by the Chinese government effective September 1, 2007 and are aimed at curbing the spiritual and political power of His Holiness The Dalai Lama and other Tibetan religious leaders , The regulations are also aimed at preventing the recognition of the next Dalai Lama by Tibetan religious leaders.

Conkin, a full time student at San Francisco City College, is sanguine about the prospect of being recognized as a holy incarnation by the Chinese government. He says he's had little success being recognized by authentic Tibetan Buddhist teachers as well.

"Well, so far the only recognition I've ever had is from the Universal Life Church who said that  If I send them the required fee, they will send me a certificate that says I'm a Lama," Conkin said. "They haven't made one that says Living Buddha, yet." he said. "They should. It would be a best seller."

Reaction from Tibetan Buddhist Lamas has been mixed, Conkin says. "Some of them have gotten quite pissed off with me, others just crack up and laugh a lot. It's been a really great meditation about the nature of self-delusion and deception," he said.

Conkin says the Chinese government might consider a similar form of meditation.

"Whoever in the Chinese government cooked up this absurd plan to require TIbetan Buddhist tulkus or incarnate Lamas to seek their approval and registration might consider such a meditation," Conkin said   "Or at least start watching their breath, they need to get a serious grip on reality."

Conkin is available for interview and comment at 415 756 1546