If he quit as political leader but still headed the faith, it would go against his religion’s centuries-old tenet of church-state unity.
BEIJING — As the world’s most famous Buddhist, the Dalai Lama is a monk juggling two jobs. One is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, and the other is the political head of his government in exile.
He was chosen to serve these dual callings through an arcane process based on signs that he was reincarnated from a long line of Dalai Lamas who were considered embodiments of the Buddha of Compassion, the holder of the White Lotus.
So when the 14th Dalai Lama threatened last week to resign in response to the violence in Tibet, he seemed to throw into question the ancient process that gave him power.