WASHINGTON, May 4, 2001 - In a highly unusual call-in program, Radio Free Asia (RFA) this week linked a Tibetan listener calling from Tibet with the Dalai Lama?s private secretary in India for a three-way discussion of contemporary Tibetan Buddhism. The Tibetan caller, who declined to identify himself, complained that "in Tibet, people offer money to the Chinese government and purchase the title of Lama," or reincarnated spiritual leader. "Once they receive the Lama's title, they extort money from the people and then misuse the same money," he said. Lobsang Jimpa, private secretary to the Dalai Lama, responded that Tibetan Buddhism's exiled spiritual leader determines the validity of a reincarnation following notification by a local monastery. "A reincarnate lama is born for the benefit of Buddhism and sentient beings, and not for oppression," Jimpa said. "If any lama doesn't have the necessary qualities of a reincarnated lama, the people should expose them. The people should also verify whether the lama is worthy of respect or not. The people should watch the lama's activities and check before believing in a lama." The caller also complained that many Tibetans "don't know how to practice Buddhism" because they lack "basic knowledge" about their faith. "The main reason is that there are no qualified religious teachers in Tibet, and Tibetan studies have no important place," the caller said. RFA broadcasts to Tibet eight hours daily, including a one-hour call-in program hosted in Washington, DC. RFA's Tibetan programming is now available on the World Wide Web at www.rfa.org. Radio Free Asia is a private, nonprofit corporation broadcasting news and information to those countries in Asia where full, accurate, and timely news reports are unavailable. Created by Congress in 1996, RFA aims to deliver such news reports - along with opinions and commentaries - and to provide a forum for a variety of voices and opinions. RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Laotian, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan, and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest journalistic standards and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content.