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The Unveiling of Lhasa|
When we paraded the city yesterday, we made a complete circuit of the Potala. There was no one, not even the humblest follower, so unimaginative that he did not look up from time to time at the frowning cliff and thousand sightless windows that concealed the unknown. Those hidden corridors and passages have been for centuries, and are, perhaps, at this very moment, the scenes of unnatural piety and crime.
Within the precincts of Lhasa the taking of life in any form is sacrilege. Buddha's first law was, ' Thou shalt not kill ' ; and life is held so sacred by his devout followers that they are careful not to kill the smallest insect. Yet this palace, where dwells the divine incarnation of the Bodhisat, the head of the Buddhist Church, must have witnessed more murders and instigations to crime than the most blood-stained castle of medieval Europe.
Since the assumption of temporal power by the fifth Grand Lama in the middle of the seventeenth century, the whole history of the Tibetan hierarchy has been a record of bloodshed and intrigue. The fifth Grand Lama, the first to receive the title of Dalai, was a most unscrupulous ruler, who secured the temporal power by inciting the Mongols to invade Tibet, and received as his reward the kingship. He then established his claim to the godhead by tampering with Buddhist history and writ. The sixth incarnation was executed by the Chinese on account of his profligacy. The seventh was deposed by the Chinese as privy to the murder of the regent. After the death of the eighth, of whom I can learn nothing, it would seem that the tables were turned : the regents systematically murdered their charge, and the crime of the seventh Dalai Lama was visited upon four successive incarnations. The ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth all died prematurely, assassinated, it is believed, by their regents.
There are no legends of malmsey-butts, secret smotherings, and hired assassins. The children disappeared ; they were absorbed into the Universal Essence ; they were literally too good to live. Their regents and protectors, monks only less sacred than themselves, provided that the spirit in its yearning for the next state should not be long detained in its mortal husk. No questions were asked. How could the devout trace the comings and goings of the divine Avalokita, the Lord of Mercy and Judgment, who ordains into what heaven or hell, demon, god, hero, mollusc, or ape, their spirits must enter, according