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?

where is the outrage over Tibet?

(photo from ICT website)

Tibetan Monastery Surrounded by Military After Dalai Lama Award

“Tibetans in Tibet celebrated the award of the Congressional Gold Medal to the Dalai Lama last Wednesday despite a stepping up of security and severe restrictions on religious practice in Lhasa and areas of eastern Tibet.

One of the major monasteries in Lhasa, Drepung, is sealed off and surrounded by armed troops after police stopped an attempt by monks to peacefully mark the honor to the Dalai Lama last week. Another significant monastery in the city, Nechung, is also apparently closed. Tibetan sources report a buildup of armed police in the city, checkpoints on roads out of Lhasa, and an order to Lhasa citizens not to carry out any religious or celebratory activities.”

This upsets me. My teacher, Gelek Rimpoche, was among the the last generation of lamas educated in Drepung Monastery before the 1959 Communist Chinese invasion of Tibet. I am in the process of sponsoring a monk from this monastery.

Where is the outrage? Why has Tibet been ignored all these years? What is happening in Burma has been happening in Tibet ever since the 1940s.

Tibet: The Story of a Tragedy

If you want to know the story about Tibet, take an hour to watch this video.


will the real reincarnated Buddha please stand up?

Starting September 1, all reincarnated living Buddhas will first have to be approved by the Chinese government.

Excerpts from a recent news story on the website phayul.com:

“…The measures, which are deliberately targeted at one of the core belief systems of Tibetan Buddhism, reveal the Party’s agenda to undermine and supplant the Tibetan religious hierarchy and weaken the authority of legitimate Tibetan religious leaders including the Dalai Lama….

The new “management measures for the reincarnation of living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism”, which are described by the official press as “an important move to institutionalize the management of reincarnation” [emphasis added] were passed by the State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) for implementation from September 1. The Chinese authorities use the term ‘Living Buddhas’ to describe reincarnate lamas or tulkus, individuals who have consciously decided to be reborn, often many times, for the benefit of all others…

In the measures, the State Administration for Religious Affairs states that reincarnations of ‘living Buddhas’ who do not have government approval are “illegal or invalid” [emphasis added], which is intended to convey that the Tibetan system of recognizing and educating reincarnate lamas is no longer relevant, because it is the government that decides whether a reincarnation is a legitimate religious figure or not. The government intends this to apply even to tulkus who have been recognized some years ago by Tibetan religious authorities, as part of their systematic attempts to undermine the traditional religious hierarchy in Tibet….

These measures on reincarnation, and the fact that China continues to hold in custody the boy recognized by the Dalai Lama as the 11th Panchen Lama, Gendun Choekyi Nyima, are also part of the government’s efforts to ensure they are in a position of control over the next incarnation of the Dalai Lama [emphasis added]. But the Dalai Lama has clearly placed on record on numerous occasions that if the present situation regarding Tibet remains the same, he will be reincarnated outside Tibet away from the control of the Chinese authorities. Tibetans believe that individuals such as the Dalai Lama who have gained a high enough degree of meditative stabilization can choose their next rebirth…”

The notion that the Chinese government will now “govern” reincarnation strikes me as not only ridiculous but also Kafka-esque. The idea that “living Buddhas” need to be “approved” by the Chinese government would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad. It sounds like a good Seinfeld episode where instead of the Soup Nazi there would be the Buddha Nazi: “WHAT?!? YOU DON’T HAVE OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT APPROVAL TO BE A BUDDHA! GO AWAY! NO ENLIGHTENMENT FOR YOU TODAY!”

(Sigh)…don’t they know that everyone has buddha-nature?

I am curious to know what Chinese Buddhists think of this ruling. But since the number of readers from China stopped at 30 a long time ago which leads me to believe that this blog has been blocked in China, I guess we won’t be getting any comments posted from that country. That’s OK – I’ve been banned from more than a few places in my life (insert winking smiley.)

“I vow to awaken for the benefit of all beings, and to realize its immense value, and to know that it is possible in this life regardless of conditions.”




help free the Panchen Lama

Most of you know who the Dalai Lama is, but many people do not know that the Panchen Lama is the second most important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. The Panchen Lama traditionally recognises the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation. There will be consequences for Tibet if the recognition of the next Dalai Lama was to come under Chinese influence. The Dalai Lama has stated that if he dies in exile his reincarnation will be born in exile and not in Tibet.

From the Free Tibet website:

“In May 1995, Chinese occupying forces abducted the six year-old Panchen Lama from his home in Tibet. No one there has seen or heard from him since. His abduction was a crime not only against an innocent child, but against the Tibetan nation and its way of life.

The whereabouts and welfare of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima are still unknown more than 11 years since he was abducted by the Chinese authorities. China defied numerous calls on the case, including one from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to “allow an independent expert to visit and confirm the well-being of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima whilst respecting his right to privacy, and that of his parents”.

Despite additional calls from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arnour, and the UK through the EU-China and the UK-China Human Rights Dialogues, China maintains that ‘the so-called Panchen Lama was a normal child, leading a healthy and happy life.'”

Help free the Panchen Lama by signing this petition

For more information about the Panchen Lama, read this post by my gal pal in India, Sirensongs.

Let’s try. Global community, global voices.



for your consideration: Tibet

I’ll take a break from my India travelog and give you a little heads up about Tibet.

I’ve always had a BA – Buddhist Attitude – but it hasn’t been until the last few years when someone asks “what are you?” that I do not hesitate to say “Buddhist”. My dharma name is Sama (meaning “harmony”, and the hard part is living up to that ideal), that I received when I participated in my Five Precepts Ceremony — or as my husband called it, my Buddhist confirmation. Back in the day I read many books on the Eastern wisdom traditions, but it was not until I dove deeper into Tibetan Buddhism and wrapped the teachings around me like a cozy shawl that I felt comfortable. For some reason Tibetan Buddhism resonated with me more than any other form, such as Zen for example, and I don’t try to analyze why, because what’s the point? It just is. After all these years I finally found my spiritual teacher in Gehlek Rimpoche. I would give up all my future yoga trainings to study with him, no second thoughts, no hesitation. I also have fourth row seats when HH the Dalai Lama comes to Madison, Wisconsin to give his teachings and empowerment — sweet! By the way, the Dalai Lama is not allowed into Kenya or Cambodia, just so ya know…

Gehlek Rimpoche grew up in one of the most upper-crust families in Tibet, being the grand-nephew of the 13th Dalai Lama. At the age of four he was recognized as the reincarnation of an important lama, so he was taken from his comfortable life to the harsh life of training as an incarnate lama. The Communist Chinese invaded Tibet in 1950 and finally overran Lhasa in 1959. During those years hundreds of thousands of Tibetans were killed, imprisoned, and tortured, and monasteries were destroyed. Rimpoche lost his family, his teachers, his society, his country. His stories about his escape from Tibet are powerful lessons on impermanence and suffering, on how our lives can change in the blink of an eye or at the end of a gun.

At his last workshop he spoke about standing chest deep in a freezing swamp all night long, holding hands with the other Tibetans who escaped with him. He pointed to a man sitting in the back row and said that when they escaped, that man was a baby on his mother’s back on that dark night in the swamp, hiding from the Chinese invaders. His group eventually crossed the Himalayas into India, escaping the bullets of the Chinese planes that were strafing them. Rimpoche painted a potent image with his words.

The Chinese are still in Tibet, and many more have come since 1959. The US has never sent troops into Tibet to save anyone as we “saved” the Iraqis from Saddam. Rimpoche told us how when he took a group with him to visit Tibet last year, they could only visit the monastaries – the few that the Chinese left standing – in the morning because the afternoons are dedicated to the “re-education” of the monks – in other words, listening to Chinese propaganda. He told us how the monks accept what is, because no matter how much propaganda they listen to, the Chinese can’t really change what is in a monk’s mind or heart. What is the Chinese word for “blah blah blah”? If you look over at the global meter at how many visitors from different countries have viewed this blog, you will see that China is number 3. Maybe one of those visitors can tell us….

As my Buddhism deepened, I began to really notice how much of what we buy here says “made in China.” Almost everything. I am one of those weirdos who reads every label on everything I buy, and it just doesn’t feel right to me to buy Chinese, but it’s very difficult to find something that doesn’t have a Chinese label. It’s my own little one person boycott, but change starts with one person. Yeah, I’m just an old hippie who still believes that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, so go ahead, call me stupid, I don’t care…but maybe you might want to start noticing, too.

I know more than a few people who have visited China. When they hear I’ve been to India, they tell me that they’ve been to China or that they are planning a trip to China. I know that one can’t blame the people of a country for what their government does – I heard plenty of Bush-bashing in India and felt compelled to tell people “but I didn’t vote for him, twice! You can’t blame me!!” – but something in me just wants to tell them please don’t go, can I tell you about Tibet?

You don’t have to believe me…you can read this story, The End of Tibet, from Rolling Stone magazine. The opening sentences describe a young woman who is a former Buddhist nun, as she vomits blood in a concrete room that smells of urine. She’s recovering from an operation on her stomach, an operation to repair the injuries inflicted on her by her Chinese guards.

Rimpoche told us about a monk he knows who was imprisoned and tortured, but is now free. He said he asked him if he was ever afraid. Yes, the monk told him, he was afraid. But not afraid of his captors or the tortures they put him through, after all, the body is impermanent…he was afraid that he would develop hatred for them.

Click the links that I have provided for the Tibet news forum and the International Campaign for Tibet. And think about where your next T-shirt comes from.

om mani pedme hum

may all beings be free from suffering

what about me, what about you?

What about me?

Don’t we go through our days with that mantra constantly playing in our head? We’re stuck in a line…hey, what about me?!? The kid at Starbucks messes up our order…hey, what about me?!? I wanted a DOUBLE SHOT, you idiot! We’ve been sitting in the doctor’s waiting area for 45 minutes and a mom runs in with a screaming two year old with a peanut stuck up his nose…hey, what about me?!? We’re stuck in a traffic jam…hey, what about me?!?

“We are all on this planet together. We are all brothers and sisters with the same physical and mental faculties, the same problems, the same needs. We must all contribute to the fulfillment of the human potential and the improvement of the quality of life as much as we are able. Mankind is crying out for help. Ours is a desperate time. Those who have something to offer should come forward. Now is the time.” HH Dalai Lama

What about us?

Mipham records albums, runs marathons and oh yeah….just happens to be a Tibetan Buddhist Lama. He is the dharma heir of his father, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who was instrumental in bringing Buddhism and Shambhala to the West.

The Shambhala tradition believes in the inherent wisdom, compassion, and courage of all beings. It holds that these qualities are ultimately more stable than aggression and greed, and shows us how to use this worldly life as a means to ripen our spiritual potential.

become a spiritual warrior….