Jan. 16, 2017 -- At the age of 20, living Buddha Reting arguably attracts more attention than most at political meetings in Tibet Autonomous Region.
The Seventh Reting Living Buddha is also the youngest member of the Tibet Regional Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. The annual meeting of the local political advisory body, along with the annual meeting of regional people's congress, convenes every January. The six-day meeting will end this weekend.
According to Tibetan religious texts, Reting is the third highest Tibetan Buddhist after the Dalai and Panchen lamas.
The seventh Reting joined the local political advisory body in 2013, when he was just 16.
After four years, Reting is more confident in his ability and of the political role he undertakes.
"Being a political advisor is not only a new title. It brings responsibilities, bounding me to give advice and suggestions," he told Xinhua.
Reting has made more than a dozen suggestions and submitted four proposals to push for government action. "One of the proposals I made, regarding the conservation and development of Reting monastery, has become reality," he said. Roads have been expanded and the monastery is well preserved, he added.
At the conference, Reting drafted a new proposal to promote religious exchanges with countries along the Belt and Road.
There are more than 100 Tibetan buddhists in the regional political advisory body, about 18 percent of the total. All of them joined in 2013, and their tenure will run until 2018. During the meetings, Reting exchanged opinions with senior monks.
"I talked with other high monks. This year, I've heard many people talk about the Buddhism Institute in Lhasa establishing branches in far-reaching areas to meet the needs of younger monks," he said.
During the last four years, over 180 proposals related to religion were made, according to staff at the conference.
Thutop Sengge is a Khenpo at the Sakya Monstery. He drafted three proposals, regarding the registering of religious activities for smaller monasteries, protecting rural village environments and improving medical care for herders.
Though Thutop holds another post in the High-level Tibetan Buddhism College in Beijing, he spends most of time at his temple.
"I talk to the people and understand what concerns them. Then I help them find solutions. Some issues may take time and effort, but overall, I'm glad that our voices are heard," he said.
Padma Namgyel, vice chairman of the regional political advisory body, said the fact that many proposals have become realities has helped maintain religious stability in Tibet.
Many members of the advisory body proposed that more monasteries, for example, Tsurpu, Drigung, Talung and Pashod monasteries, should be brought under state protection programs, said Namgyel.
The regional relics department is reviewing the current condition of the temples before applications start at the end of this year.
"As political advisors, we should be part of the forces that drive social development and achieve solidarity of the people," said Gyatsoling, another living buddha.