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NPC & CPPCC 2024: Tibetan Buddhist master's ambitious vision brings change to iconic Lhasa monastery
update:February 28,2024

Feb.28, 2024 -- A Buddhist master in China's Xizang autonomous region, known as Tibet in the English-speaking world, is spearheading efforts to bring religious education in line with the times and promote its teachings to more visitors. Zhaxi Jiancai is a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the nation's top political advisory body. Guo Tianqi talks to the tutor to learn more about his ambitious vision.
Zhaxi Jiancai is a highly respected tutor at the Sera Monastery in Lhasa. Together with the Ganden and Drepung Monastery, the temple is recognized as one of the most important in Tibetan Buddhism's Gelug School, known for its historic role in the governance of Xizang.
ZHAXI JIANCAI Tutor, Sera Monastery "Sera Monastery was built in the Ming Dynasty, more than 600 years ago. The founder, QIANGQIN QUJIE was invited to meet the Chinese emperor, and awarded the title of Imperial Teacher. We've preserved lots of gifts from the Emperor. The thangka and murals are all highly precious cultural relics."
Led by reformist masters like Zhaxi Jiancai, Sera Monastery is the first to open its hundreds of years' old debate courtyard to visitors, giving them an insight into the mysterious learning traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. But now, he wants to open the doors even wider.
ZHAXI JIANCAI Tutor, Sera Monastery "We have a 108-part Chinese-Tibetan bilingual Tripitaka presented by the Yongle Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, which is not open to the public, and the huge thangka, which is only displayed every year at the Shoton Festival. I hope to build a special exhibition hall for the Sera Monastery. So more visitors, especially overseas visitors, are able to have a more intuitive understanding of the long history of cultural exchanges between the Han and Zang people."
In line with the autonomous region's socio-economic development, Zhaxi Jiancai says the management and academic systems at the monastery should also be reformed.
ZHAXI JIANCAI Tutor, Sera Monastery "Our study and living conditions have improved a lot. We have libraries and multimedia classrooms for monks, and they don't just learn the scriptures, but also history, fine arts, sculpture, Chinese and English. I've always encouraged my students to study hard, cherish opportunities, and carry forward the compassion of Buddhism."
Among 2,000-plus member of the 14th CPPCC National Committee, nearly 70 represent the diverse religions of China, including Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and other religions. GUO TIANQI, CGTN, Lhasa, Xizang Autonomous Region.
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