Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, Shigatse, Tibet
OPEN FOR DEBATE
Young monks at monastery learn through open debate. They discuss truths of faith and buddhist philosophy by trying to neglect them. Sometimes the discussion seems to be pretty aggressive, but there’s a little bit of theatre in this as well.
The monastery is the traditional seat of Panchen Lamas, the second highest ranking (after Dalai Lamas) tulku lineage in the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. You may say that Dalai Lama takes most important part in finding and recognising new incarnation of Panchen Lama and vice versa. But this won’t be the case when present, XIV Dalai Lama dies, as he didn’t recognise the boy who now plays the role of 11th Panchen Lama. The "original one” „disappeared” over 20 years ago. Just google the story of 10th and 11th Panchen Lamas, it’s fascinating.
The monastery itself was pretty lucky. During cultural revolution well over 90% of Tibetan temples were destroyed, many of them completely. But 10th Panchen Lama didn’t escape to India, instead he decided to cooperate with Chinese, doing as much as he could for his people. That may be the reasons why „only" two-thirds of the monastery buildings were destroyed - mostly residential part for 4,000 monks.