<>We wish the Dalai Lama or “Sea Superior Man” Godspeed back to Dharamsala in India. He is winding up his very ill-considered prayer tour of Taiwan tomorrow. He shouldn't have made this trip, his third, to our flood-ravaged island to invoke benevolent power to get the dead across to the Other Shore, comfort their bereaved relatives and friends, and bless all the people. Dalai, the name given the head lama of the Yellow Hats by the Mongols, means “Sea,” which implies measureless profundity or at least incomparable wisdom of a lama, who is a “superior man.” Such a person should have been wise enough to foresee that his trek to Taiwan this time would cause us “inconveniences” that he professed to avert.

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<>As a matter of fact, the Dalai Lama wrote President Ma Ying-jeou on learning that Typhoon Morakot had struck Taiwan, leaving hundreds of people dead and swamping almost a third of the island in floodwaters and mudslides. He didn't ask to come, but seven Democratic Progressive Party mayors and magistrates in hard-hit southern Taiwan did the asking for him.

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<>The opposition party's local chief executives, led by Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu who had had a successful Chinese tour promoting the World Games that her city hosted, believed the Dalai Lama's visit was a clever trick to kill two birds with one stone to further weaken the weakened President Ma. They forced Ma to grant the Vajrayana Buddhist pope an entry visa. They were convinced Ma would be damned for denying the Dalai the visa and condemned by the Chinese, if the visa was granted. Moreover, they believed the prayer tour would help them win in local elections in December.

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<>They bet their bottom dollar that Ma would refuse to let the Dalai come. To their surprise, however, Ma readily agreed to welcome the Dalai Lama in order just to boost his sagging approval ratings, which plummeted to a record low 16 percent at one point as the rescue and evacuation operations in Morakot's aftermath floundered.

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<>Granted the visa, the Dalai Lama had to come. The one-time theocrat is globe-trotting to champion his Tibetan irredentism. His craving for restoring his papacy in Tibet — though the craving or tanha is the cause of human misery all Buddhists are taught to get rid of by the four Noble Truths that the Gautama Buddha revealed — may have tampered with his profound wisdom, compelling him to accept the politically motivated invitation to come for the publicly proclaimed “humanitarian and religious” reasons.

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<>The inevitable result is that the Dalai isn't welcome as much as he was on his two previous tours of Taiwan. In fact, many people here did not welcome him. He was heckled by a few people who wanted him to go back to Dharamsala. Taoist and Buddhist adherents as well as Christian faithful do not think the prajna paramite masses he said were adequate or suitable for the flood victims, almost all of them Catholics. Buddhists in Taiwan are Mahayanists, not tantric Vajrayana followers. They, along with the Taoist majority, do not think tantric mantras and mudras would bring peace to the dead as well as the living. They are not pleased because they believe their priests can do a much better job than the Dalai, who could have stayed in Dharamsala and said as many masses as he pleased for the people of Taiwan.

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<>President Ma's government and Kuomintang are not pleased with the Dalai lama's political sally. It caused many “inconveniences.” For one thing, China is offended by Ma's decision to let the Dalai come. Beijing has yet to announce any retaliation but is ready to make sure that the Ma decision would “have an adverse effect” on burgeoning detente between Taiwan and China. Should the Dalai Lama utter anything in a press conference that smacks of what China calls Tibetan or Taiwan separatism, Beijing would defer the negotiation and conclusion of an economic cooperation framework agreement and memorandums of understanding on banking and investment, both essential to Taiwan's economic survival in an emerging free trade zone in Asia with the People's Republic at its center. On the other hand, the initiative Chen Chu took in asking the Dalai Lama to come wasn't enthusiastically supported by her party as a whole. Many other party leaders have gone on the record saying the Dalai lama's visit isn't “timely” and is “too political.” Yang Chiu-hsing, magistrate of Kaohsiung, isn't pleased, for he believes Chen is trying to force him out of next year's election for the new mayor of an enlarged special municipality in southern Taiwan. His county will be merged with the existing special municipality of Kaohsiung that she now rules. She may run for mayor again — she can't if the county isn't annexed — and Chen, who wants to head the new special municipality, thinks he is being preempted.

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<>While he is in Taiwan, the Dalai has had to face the reality that his visit isn't appreciated much. He had to cancel or was forced to cancel the scheduled press meeting, was compelled not to talk about Tibetan autonomy, and uttered platitudes that were aimed solely at not offending Beijing. “Tibet isn't pursuing independence,” he told reporters. Nor is he advocating independence for Taiwan, he added. “In any case,” he pointed out, “Taiwan should have very close and unique links with mainland China, but at the same time Taiwan also should enjoy democracy and prosperity. Taiwan can choose its own relationship with China.”

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<>The Dalai didn't have to come all the way from India to say all these platitudes. If he is just as wise as he is believed to be — he being a reincarnation of Avalokite or the Goddess of Mercy who his tantric followers believe sired the Buddha — the Dalai should have stayed with his government in exile at Dharamsala instead of causing himself and almost all of us so many “inconveniences.”

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