You may laugh at this system, but it works. At least it worked in the case of the current Dalai Lama, who strikes everybody as a wise, nice guy who looks good in orange. He is unemployed, but that is because he is supposed to rule Tibet. The Chinese Communist Party has publicly said "Oh no you don't," to that, so the Lama has spent almost his whole life in exile, which he has done in great dignity, winning a Nobel Prize along the way. I mean, a lesser man might have shrugged when he saw which way the winds of fate were blowing, changed his name to the Deli Lama and opened a chain of sandwich shops, but not this guy.
Now he is saying "That's it." No more rebirths for him. He is refusing to get squeezed out of yet another vagina for another tour of duty here on this earthly plane, preferring to hang his spiritual spikes up on the Cosmic Wheel, and wait for induction into the Transmigrated Soul Hall of Fame. Oddly, the only people that are p-oed at this are the Chinese, who are threatening to find their own reincarnated Dalai Lama when this one purchases the agricultural acreage.
This is like the Corleone family demanding to pick the Pope, because the Chinese are godless (and Buddha-less) Communists. It makes even less sense than that, because the Corleones are at least nominal Catholics, although since they are fictional characters, maybe I overstated the bit about making sense. The Chinese plan to pick their own Dalai Lama, who no doubt will tell the Tibetan people that it is wise to obey the will of the Chinese because it is identical to the will of the Buddha, and may diplomatically add "Also there are a billion of them, so get out of your monasteries and get cranking on making stuff for Walmart to sell.
The Tibetans will think to themselves resentfully "All billion of you are full of shit, especially the Chinese Lama, and we're still hoping that someday you'll just leave us alone." That won't happen. What will happen is some bunch of monks will also ignore the Dalai Lama's promise to stay put in Nirvana, and pick a Dali Lama of their own, who will have a long career being a pain in the ass to the Chinese. Also at least a hundred schizophrenics a day world-wide will realize that they are the reincarnated Lama, and refuse to wear anything but orange until they get some well-deserved medication.
Fortunately, the current Dalai Lama, although eighty, appears to be in excellent health, and since the next one will get picked after he's dead and will be mere boys, it will be years before the next Lama or Lamas grows into full Lamahood and starts making trouble, and I and many others of you will probably be dead by then.
And certainly if I'm in Nirvana myself, I plan to look the guy up.