Ah, beloveds. Once again, your kindness and generosity are truly touching. We’ve met our goal to get my translator on the road and back to a normal, relatively untroubled life. I know times are lean and so much greater, therefore, is my gratitude. As is hers – “speechless and rejoicing in their virtue” as she put it to me – and you’ll hear personally from her soon.
For those of you who are crushed that you missed the chance to exercise your plastic, you could do worse right now than to support the International Campaign for Tibet, Students for a Free Tibet, or Free Tibet UK.
Our Dharma group met today, and for the short talk at the end, I discussed with them Mongolia and Tibet. I started the way my lamas always start, by reminding them that there really is no spiritual path unless it’s guided by loving-kindness and compassion toward all. Then I brought up the ancient and unique brother/sisterhood between the Mongols and Tibetans, sharing as they do cultures utterly transformed by the Buddha’s most profound teaching, the Vajrayana.
From there, we jumped to contemporary history, with the Mongols choosing in 1990 to shake off Communism and restore basic rights such as religious freedom. This catalyzed many in the group to share stories about their parents and grandparents and the lengths some of them went to – in most cases quite ingenious – in hiding prized Buddhist texts and images from the prying eyes of potential government informants.
And all of this was a preamble to highlighting the current plight of the Tibetans in Tibet itself; Tibetans yearn for the religious freedom that Mongolians now enjoy. It’s been much in the news, of course, that this coming March 10 marks the 50th anniversary of 1959’s Lhasa Uprising. Then, as now, the Chinese showed no compunction about massacring Tibetans to achieve their Potemkin version of ‘stability.’ Having banned foreign tourists and, more importantly, journalists from entering Tibet, I and many others fear more bloodshed at whatever crossroads relentlessly repressed Tibetans and amped-up Chinese bureaucrats, soldiers and police may meet.
In the Buddhist view of global geography, Tibet is seen as the enlightenment field of Chenrezig (Skt. Avalokiteshvara), the Buddha of Limitless Compassion; His Holiness the Dalai Lama is revered as Chenrezig’s physical incarnation. As such, I urged our group, as I wish to urge you now, to consider accumulating many repetitions of Chenrezig’s well-known mantra – Om Mani Padme Hung – and dedicating the calming virtue to Tibet just now. I pray the anniversary comes and goes without the spasm of violence everyone expects.
My Brazilian friend Haroldo, based temporarily near Paris, has just published a piece about Tibetan activism in Europe around the March 10 date for the journal Epoca – it’s here if you read Portuguese or just want to glimpse the photos. But he also sent me a file of the English translation, which you can download here: A New Fight for Tibet . I see that he also has a really cool new site as an Epoca columnist, which you really should visit for his astounding photography, including these images from Danzan Ravjaa's Khamar Monastery in Mongolia.