The Lama (Buddhist) Temple is one of the most popular stops for tourists in Beijing.
The temple houses the largest Buddha in the world and gives non-Buddhists a brief glimpse into the religion.
What you won’t hear anything about is the controversy between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama. The temple is for the lamas, which are technically different from monks. The lamas can eat meat, wear leather and marry.
Even though the Dalai Lama has garnered great acclaim throughout the world, one religious scholar, an American, told me about the dangerous balancing act the Dalai Lama has played. Most importantly, he has not participated in the process to select a successor. That may allow the other lamas or the Chinese government to play a key role in choosing a new leader. Since he’s 80 years old, that selection should have taken place years ago because the education starts as a child.
Although China has no official religion, the Dalai Lama and his followers, who are only one of many Buddhist sects, play a key role in Tibet, a region where demonstrations have occurred in recent years. His decision not to involve himself in choosing a successor until he is 90 also has upset other lamas in Tibet.