emails from a Buddhist nun


I sponsor a Buddhist nun named Tenzin Pema who lives at the Jamyang Choling Institute in Dharamsala, India. in the last two days I’ve received emails regarding the protests in Tibet.

Her first email read: “…am sure you know what is happening in Tibet at the very difficult time. It is very worrying and saddened to see that many Tibetan already killed and many imprisoned.

May peace and happiness become reality in Tibet and world very soon. Monks nuns and general public gathering at the Temple to do prayer and also doing peace march here in Dharamsala same as everywhere.

Metta and peace…”

The second email contained this attachment, a BBC interview with the Dalai Lama. nothing has been edited…

“Dalai Lama ‘helpless’ amid protests

As Tibetans make their most forceful demands for independence in years, their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in exile in Dharamsala, India, outlines his concerns to the BBC’s Chris Morris.

The Dalai Lama says he does not control the Tibetan people

“Am I early?” asked the Dalai Lama, as he ambled into the room. He sat down and coughed, and thanked us for coming.

“This is a critical time for us,” he said, as he waited for the interview to begin.

He compared it to 1959, an iconic date for many Tibetans, when a huge uprising against Chinese rule was suppressed, and the Dalai Lama himself was forced to flee into exile on horseback.

Eventually, he made his home here, in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas, in this small town which is known to some as Little Lhasa.

It is awash with thousands of Tibetan activists-in-exile. As unrest in Tibet itself has escalated, there have been daily protests in Dharamsala throughout the week.

Cars waving Tibetan flags weave through the pedestrian traffic, leaflets are pressed into passing hands, and a hunger strike is taking place outside the entrance to the Dalai Lama’s temple.

I’m a spokesman for the Tibetan people, not the controller, not the master – Dalai Lama

And when the sun sinks below the mountain range, marchers – chanting Buddhist prayers for the souls of the dead – walk through the streets carrying candles.

“We have to do our bit,” said one of the marchers, who gave his name as Tenzin. “We have to support those who are struggling in Tibet itself, in our homeland.”

Emerging patience

But beyond the slogans there is not much that most people here can do except watch and wait, as accurate information about what is happening in Tibet becomes harder to find.

Many of the activists take a more radical line than the Dalai Lama himself. For years now he has campaigned for genuine autonomy in Tibet, not for independence. But a new generation seems increasingly impatient with nuanced diplomacy.

Dharamsala is now home to many Buddhist nuns and monks

“I’ve already received a request from Tibet,” he said. “Don’t ask for the demonstrations to stop.”

“I’m a spokesman for the Tibetan people, not the controller, not the master. It’s a peoples’ movement, so it’s up to them. Whatever they do, I have to act accordingly.”

Tibet’s spiritual leader is also appealing to the Chinese authorities. “Stability is important” is his message – but it must come from the heart, not simply from the use of physical force.

There is not much sign, though, that Beijing is listening.

“Of course I feel helpless,” the Dalai Lama admitted. He is particularly worried about the deadline given by China, for protestors to surrender by midnight on Sunday night or face the consequences.

But the one thing Tibet’s spiritual leader does have – here and around the world – is moral authority.

That is why President Bush met him in Washington recently, where the Dalai Lama was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal, America’s highest civilian honour.

It infuriates China, but it is something that the authorities in Beijing cannot control.

And even if this spate of demonstrations peters out, even if they are successfully suppressed, it seems unlikely that we will have heard the last of the Tibetan issue in this Olympic year.”

The photo below was taken today (Sunday) by my gal pal in Nepal, Caroline aka Sirensongs.

Go to her blog to read her first-hand account of the attacks on Buddhist monks by Chinese thugs in Nepal….”This afternoon I witnessed a Tibetan monk beaten, along with two other protestors, during a nonviolent anti-China protest at Boudha Stupa.”

Also see my post on my sister blog that contains two posts from Vanessa on boycotting the Olympics.

Ironically this week the US saw fit to remove China from its list of human rights abusers.

Are you going to stay silent?

addthis_pub = ‘yogagal60510′;

every picture tells a story: saving Tibet




(Tibetan protesters in exile held a candlelight vigil as part of an anti-China demonstration at Boudha in Kathmandu on Friday.
Photo: Prakash Mathema/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)


(photos nos. 1, 2, 4, and 5 originally uploaded by The Buddhist Blog)

If you don’t know what is happening in Tibet, please visit my sister blog.

every picture tells a story.

addthis_pub = ‘yogagal60510′;

how does one stand up to evil?

On Christmas night I watched the movie 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama. The movie’s director appropriately called the Dalai Lama a “rock star for peace”. Nice.

One of the questions the Dalai Lama was asked was how does one continue to practice non-violence when faced with evil. A monk who was arrested and tortured by the Chinese told the director that when he was let out of jail he hated the Chinese. He said he told the Dalai Lama that his message of peace and non-violence is outdated, it does not work, and that the Tibetans must take up arms against the Chinese government. He said that after talking with His Holiness for two hours the monk was a changed man, that he returned to his Buddhist convictions of peace and ahimsa.

Unless you’re a jazz fan, you might not know who Oscar Peterson was. This jazz great died just the other day. He had this to say about peace:

…My vision of peace encompasses an awareness of the rights of our fellow man irrespective of race, color or creed. Words spoken and repeated many times on many occasions, political or otherwise, and by many individuals; but so often only used to fill spaces on paper. I believe that if mankind could honestly embrace the true embodiment of those misused words, the world would be much farther along the road to good health….

Pictures of the Dalai Lama are not allowed in Tibet. If I visited Tibet and wore my pendant containing the Dalai Lama’s likeness, any number of things could happen to me — if a Chinese guard or soldier saw it, it would be taken from me and that would be the easiest thing I would have to endure. Would my American passport protect me from a government that shoots Tibetans in the back when they try to cross the Himalayas into India?

When the Chinese army marched into Tibet, the Dalai Lama, then a young man, asked the US for help. The American government did nothing because there was nothing to be gained by helping a country that has no oil.

and so the genocide continues.

Where is the outrage over Tibet?

Why there’s blood on the Olympic rings

Boycott 2008 Olympics : Free Tibet & Darfur
http://lads.myspace.com/videos/vplayer.swf

why there’s blood on the Olympic rings

The Nangpa La Shootings

From Wikipedia:

“On September 30, 2006 75 Tibetan refugees, among them many young children, and their 2 guides were trying to enter Nepal illegally via the Himalayan Nangpa La pass (5,700m). Chinese Border Security soldiers opened fire on the group and killed Kelsang Namtso, a 17 year old nun, just before the pass. Kunsang Namgyal, a 23 year old man, was hit in the leg twice, then taken away by the Chinese borderpolice and is believed to have died later. The Chinese claimed that their soldiers fired in self defence. Only 41 survivors reached the Tibetan Refugee Transit Center in Kathmandu, Nepal. Two weeks later they arrived at their destination in Dharamsala, India….

The following list of people were part of the original group and have been missing since the shooting. It is believed they are held by Chinese authorities. The names were forwarded by Students For A Free Tibet.

* Tenwang, age 7
* Lhakpa Tsering, age 8
* Dhondup Lhamo, age 9
* Dechen Dolma, age 10
* Wangchen, age 11
* Tsedon, age 12
* Sonam Wangdue, age 12
* Ming Shomo, age 13
* Lodoe Nyima, age 15
* Jamyang Tsetan, age 16
* Karma Tsetan, age 16
* Lodoe Namkha, age 16
* Karma, age 19
* Samten, age 19
* Sonam Palzom, age 20
* Dhondup Palden, age 21
* Kusang, age 22
* Lobsang Paljor, age 35″

Chinese officials have yet to release information about the detainees’ whereabouts or well-being.

Look at the ages of these prisoners and think about what it would be like if your child was detained by soldiers after witnessing a woman being shot in the back.

And this is what happens when you try to do the right thing.

“Luis Benitez, who had grown increasingly disturbed by the silence, broke the news via an e-mail sent to an expedition news Web site. Luis, a mountain guide working for the commercial outfit Himalayan Experience, had watched the chilling event unfold days before. His began his e-mail with “The story not being told here in Tibet,” and went on to describe the killing. Understandably, he asked his name not be used….

Benitez confided to fellow guide Paul Rogers that he was the one who broke the news. Rogers immediately informed their boss Russell Brice, owner of Himalayan Experience, of what Benitez had done.

Benitez claims Brice, Rogers and Henry Todd, a guide from another commercial outfit, angrily confronted him at base camp. Todd went so far as to make mafia-style threats….

Confronted with the choice of protecting business verses reporting human rights violations, they’ve chosen money. Ironically, the clients of these companies, who are generally very sympathetic to the culture of Tibet, are now unknowingly helping to destroy it.

In contrast, Benitez put his career on the line instead of selling his silence for blood money. Even if Benitez is allowed back into China, he’s likely to be blacklisted by guiding companies, many of whom operate around the world. He has made some powerful enemies while trying to do the right thing.”

The world was outraged over the events in Burma. Where is the outrage over Tibet?

what did I say about peace?

Sometimes one image is juxtaposed against another to bring home a point.

“Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.”
Thich Nhat Hanh — Vietnamese Buddhist monk, nominated in 1967 by Martin Luther King for the Nobel Peace Prize

This image is taken from ko htike’s blog who continues to write, post photos, and YouTube videos of the situation in Tibet*. There is also a link to Burmese Bloggers Without Borders if you want current information about the situation.

Thousands dead in massacre, bodies of monks dumped in the jungle
October 1, 2007

Yangon, Myanmar — Thousands of protesters are dead and the bodies of hundreds of executed monks have been dumped in the jungle, a former intelligence officer for Burma’s ruling junta has revealed….

Reports from other exiles along the frontier confirmed that hundreds of monks had simply ‘ disappeared’ as 20,000 troops swarmed around Rangoon yesterday to prevent further demonstrations by religious groups and civilians.

Word reaching dissidents hiding out on the border suggested that as well as executions, some 2,000 monks are being held in the notorious Insein Prison or in university rooms which have been turned into cells.

There were reports that many were savagely beaten at a sports ground on the outskirts of Rangoon, where they were heard crying for help.

Where are Myanmar’s monks?
October 2, 2007

Thousands of Buddhists have been arrested and scores killed, observers say, but no one can find them

BANGKOK, Thailand — After paying a heavy price for their uprising, Myanmar’s monks are nursing their wounds and hoping for international action against the military junta that crushed their peaceful protests with bullets and tear gas.

A new estimate by a well-connected dissident group has concluded that 138 people were killed and about 6,000 detained, including about 2,400 Buddhist monks, when the regime smashed the anti-government protests last week….

Another report said many of the arrested monks are being held at a former race course, where they were forced to give up their robes and change into civilian clothes.

Several monasteries, brutally raided by police and soldiers last week, are nearly empty now.

From the above story: “Monks in northern Burma who spoke to the Associated Press confirmed that many of their colleagues were killed or beaten and taken away by the military. But they predicted the monks would not give up.

“I want our demands to be fulfilled. I want peace,” said one. “The best thing is to have balance and equality and peace.”

Bush appeals to China to pressure Myanmar
September 27

President George W. Bush reached out to China to exert its influence on Myanmar on Thursday, an admission that new U.S. sanctions alone will not be enough to stop the ruling junta’s crackdown on protesters.

Trying to rally the international community against Myanmar’s generals, Bush met Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and asked Beijing “to help bring a peaceful transition to democracy in Burma,” the White House said….

A leading European Parliament lawmaker suggested that European countries should boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics unless China does more to resolve the Myanmar crisis.

The White House played down any prospect of the United States staying away from the games or Bush canceling plans to attend if China fails to put pressure on Myanmar. But Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino reiterated the president’s view the “world is going to be watching” in the run-up to the Olympics.

Tibet*
If you were paying attention in the first paragraph, you would have noticed that although I was thinking Burma I typed the word “Tibet.” That was an honest mistake, I’ve changed nothing except to add the asterik. I went back to proofread and saw that while I was writing about Burma, I was thinking about Tibet.

So what about Tibet? I was thinking of a pithy post to write about the similarities of Burma and Tibet when I saw this post on the Precious Metal blog. The similarities are striking when one thinks about how China marched into Tibet. Chinese soldiers raided and ransacked Buddhist temples in Tibet. Chinese soldiers jailed and killed Buddhist monks in Tibet. Buddhist monks are “reprogrammed” in Tibet, that is, made to listen to Chinese government propaganda in their temples.

And now Pres. Shrub is “appealing” to China to pressure Burma? Where is the outrage for Tibet?

Hollywood celebrities are speaking out about Burma. Where is the outrage for Tibet? Is Richard Gere the only actor who knows where Tibet is?

Don’t get me wrong — I am not saying one should be given precedence over the other, but do you see where I’m going with this?

Free Burma. Free Tibet. Free all beings from oppression.

Boycott the 2008 Olympics

aung san who?

Did you know that a Nobel Peace Prize winner has been held under house arrest for 11 years by her government? Did you know this woman is considered a modern day Gandhi? Did you know that Burma (also known as Myanmar), a country where the population is primarily Theravadan Buddhist, is ruled by a military regime?

Or is the only thing you know about Burma is that “The Bridge on the River Kwai” was built there?

Aung San Suu Kyi is the Asian Nelson Mandela. She has become an international symbol of heroic and peaceful resistance in the face of oppression.

Yeah, that’s Jim Carrey in the video, the guy from the movie “Dumb and Dumber” talking about political conditions in Burma, a country on the other side of the world from the USA. He doesn’t sound too dumb.

Why am I telling you about Aung San Suu Kyi? Because I believe that we as Americans need to be reminded more than occasionally about what goes on in the rest of the world — and be outraged by it. Like about what’s happening in Tibet and has been happening there since the Chinese marched in. Or about the only Nobel Peace Prize recipient who is imprisoned by her government. Or to be reminded that some of the athletic clothes you buy for your children are made by another mother’s child working a 15 hour shift. Think about your own child working in a sweatshop next time you buy the latest Nikes.

Soon we’ll be seeing clothes with the 2008 Olympics logo and people will be snapping those up right and left. From the CleanClothes.org website: “…the Yue Wong Cheong company’s Shenzen (China) facility, where 50 different items are produced under license for the 2008 Olympics, included paying workers 50% of the minimum wage, 13 hour days, health and safety problems, and using fake salary slips to hide violations from auditors sent to inspect conditions.”


Have we become so insular that we are afraid to look beyond our own comfortable backyards? We get our news in nightly soundbites from the talking heads and then move on to the next thing that captures our monkey minds for three seconds.

Or are we afraid that if we really investigated and examined what happens in the rest of the world on a daily basis it would be too horrible for us to comprehend?

This is a beggar girl and her pup that I ran into in Pondicherry, India. She’s holding the rupees that I gave her. I told her to also feed the pup, but I’m reasonably sure the pup is dead by now, and the girl is still living on the street. It’s just the way it is. Every day. I would rather be poor in America than anywhere else in the world.

To change the world we must first change ourselves.

Be the change that you want to see in the world.
Mohandas Gandhi

obama’s response about China

Some time ago after I watched a debate between the Democratic presidential candidates where they discussed the situation in Darfur, I wrote letters to my US Senators, Dick Durbin and Barack Obama. The debate angered me because all the candidates were sanctimoniously decrying China’s human rights abuses, how China was somehow linked to the conflict in Sudan, and because of that, the US should boycott the Olympics. Of course, none of the candidates came out too strongly about the last point, just gave it passing lipservice, and moved on to the next talking point.

It made me angry because while what is happening in Sudan is a tragedy, no politician that I know of EVER mentions the cultural and human genocide that has been going on in Tibet since the 1950s.

So I wrote to Durbin and Obama via their websites, reminding them of the situation in Tibet and that I believe the US should boycott the 2008 Olympics. Below is the email response I received from Obama.

Dear Linda:

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about human rights in the People’s Republic of China. I appreciate your perspective on this issue.

As the world’s most populous nation, China’s influence and power has been growing steadily over the past several decades. This is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, and presents America with challenges and opportunities to seek change.

In particular, China’s treatment of ethnic and religious minorities and political dissidents, as well as its relationships with Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Tibet are very troubling. Despite progress over the last few decades, China must do much more to comply with modern human rights norms. I look forward to working with my colleagues on these difficult issues and am deeply committed to promoting human rights in China and other countries.

As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the East Asian Subcommittee, I will keep your thoughts in mind as the discussion on this subject continues.

Thank you again for contacting me. I hope you will continue to keep in touch on this or any other subject of importance to you.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama
United States Senator

hmmmmmm…why don’t I believe him?

I am not naive enough to believe that this came from Obama directly. I know this came from a staffer who merely filled in the blanks. But at least this is a better response than the one I got from Durbin’s office. Durbin’s “personal” email response was a fill-in-the-blank, stock response to a constituent’s concern about Darfur, I kid you not. Whoever responds to the emails sent through Durbin’s website did not even bother to read my letter but sent me a canned response about Darfur. There was not one mention of Tibet, it was all about Sudan. My tax dollars at work. Needless to say I swiftly sent a scathing response — which I doubt anyone read.

Sorry if I sound jaded and cynical, but Obama’s (staffer’s) response to me doesn’t mean very much. Frankly, I think it’s a joke. He’s too busy running for president to give 2 rupees about Tibet. Do any of these candidates even know where Tibet is?

Don’t get me wrong, I think Obama is a great guy and he’s been a good senator for my state. But the actions of this government never fail to disappoint and disgust me. You can read one example here in Vanessa’s blog. I know a few die-hard conservatives who truly believe that this government has slipped dangerously close to Fascism — and these are died-in-the-wool-life-long-registered-Republicans talking.

In India people feel free to talk to me about US politics and this country’s actions around the world. I love this country, but sometimes all I can do is shake my head.