Hi guest, Register | Login | Contact Us
Welcome to Phayul.com - Our News Your Views
Sun 20, Oct 2019 09:51 PM (IST)
Search:     powered by Google
Photo News
Statements &
Press Releases

Book Reviews
Movie Reviews
News Discussions
News Archives
Download photos from Tibet
 Latest Stories
US House passes three bills in support of pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong
Tibetans, Hong Kong activists protest at the Nets vs. Raptors NBA preseason game
Coalition of activists urge Apple to stop colluding with China’s censorship
The arrest was extremely undemocratic: Tenzin Tsundue
Denouncing the Dalai Lama a criterion for government jobs in occupied Tibet
Lebron James on the firing line as Twitterati accuse him of undermining human rights for China's money
All Tibetan activists except Tsundue released from jail in Chennai
Tibetan court rules in favor of Penpa Tsering in case no. 20
Dalai Lama urges India’s stewardship in promoting secular ethics in modern education
Respite for Tibetans in Nepal as extradition treaty with China shelved
 Latest Photo News
Shrutika Sharma from Nainital, Uttrakhand, wins the Miss Himalaya Pageant 2019, seen with her are first runners up Shalika Rana and second runners up Sapna Devi. Oct. 13, 2019 Phayu Photo: Kunsang Gashon
Nearly 3000 Students from eight countries listened to teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Three day annual teachings for youth began today. June 3, 2019. Phayul Photo: Kunsang Gashon
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is being escorted to the teaching site at Tsuglakhang temple, May 13, 2019. Phayul Photo: Kunsang Gashon
more photos »
Celebrating Exile-II: Our religion and the struggle
Tibetan Review[Saturday, February 05, 2005 03:01]

Tibetan Review, February 2005

By Tenzin Tsundue

Many of my non-Tibetan friends get quite disappointed when I say that I don't do prayers, prostrations and other rituals. They wanted me, not only me, all Tibetans to be staunchly Buddhists; wearing a rosary around our neck, saying prayers all the time and meditating in the mornings and evenings. I don't do all these and yet I boldly claim that I am a Buddhist.

Much of these expectations and images of Tibetan's are mostly our own making and partly their imagining. It is interesting to note that some Tibetans seem to describe the Tibetan people as non-violent, traditionalist and compassionate to the core - just as the way westerners do. Such reverse education and insistence of identity!

That's why the reality disappoints them: Tibetans in jeans, enjoying discos, monks on motorbikes, doing the things they do in their lives. Their imagined glass idol is broken. For me kindness and sincerity are guiding principles of Buddhism in life. Ones service in action for society is true worship.

This is my last article for this column called Semshook. For the past one year, every month, in this one-page column I have tried to raise my concerns and share my opinions on different issues relating to our freedom struggle and also on our community in transition. In this article, continuing to talk on reasons to celebrate our exile, I would like to discuss our religious perspectives, old customs and new habits, our ideas and their implications on our freedom movement.

In exile Tibetan schools, children do their regular prayers as per the school curriculum, sitting in the neat lines in the school hall, singing sacred lines set to poetry in praise of hundred thousand deities that us children never really understood. In school we were quite religious making prostrations every night before going to bed. Later in college, these habits slowly wore out after the first year.

What remained with us is this spiritual strength, which helped us in the most difficult psychologically and morally challenging situations. In the years of loneliness, being the only Tibetan in a sea of foreigners, our Buddhist spiritual upbringing helped us, took care of us, guided us.

Religion, if not taken with a spade of skepticism could become quite a dictated routine. During the public rituals initiated by monasteries like the Kalachakra or the boomtsok, why do people fight, physically, rushing over each other's shoulders to grapple for the blessed string - sungdue and sweet ball - tseril. If people's lives would be longer or healthier just by relishing these trivias, then where is Karma, the basic philosophy of Buddhism?

His Holiness the Dalai Lama repeatedly advises us to understand and know the meanings of what we do as religious practice. Much of our rituals are done without any contemplation on the significance of these religious acts. It has been centuries since there have been attempts to separate rituals from pure religion.

In the past ten years, exile community has been seeing monasteries mushrooming with all grandeur becoming more like museums for tourist attraction and show of monastic power, than any place of worship.

"Big monasteries with no monks,
lot of monks with no discipline"

So goes the casual public talk. This not an unfounded public tongue. Yes, still these days there are hundreds of monks and nuns who are strict disciplinarians, devout and exemplary followers of the Buddha, but it is those few of them who roam the streets in this brash manner and bring bad names to all red robed. This is one reason why there are only few takers among the youngsters when it comes to "rinpoches" and their big mansions, foreign trips, rich lives sodden with controversies.

I am a staunch believer in Non-Violence. In Violence, the tension lasts temporarily causing harm to the self, the other and the surrounding, for example in an outburst of Violence involving a killing, one dies but only once. In Non-Violence however, there is no at-a-go shot to take. It is a process, in prevailing the Truth, and while on the journey, the practitioner suffers, dying everyday. This is a difficult path, and there is no shortcut available. That is why when people give up they take up Violence as a last resort.

But the Tibetan Buddhist understanding of Non-Violence is extreme. Tse-med-shiwa literally could be translated as "non-harming Non-Violence", even for a new tree to grow, the seed must die, from the heart of that dying seed grows the new shoot.

Such a conceptual creation of Non-Violence maybe for those who have renounced the world and are seeking Buddhahood, but in our exile community this definition of Non-Violence is the basic principle of our Exile Government. One of my teachers in critique of it says so succinctly: "We look for freedom IN the world and not freedom FROM the world."

Seeking Buddhahood is one thing and freedom for a country is another. "Chosi-Sung-Drel" the dual policy of Tibet - a harmony of Spiritual and Temporal principles - may sound wonderful but is it working? It might have worked in that isolated "independent"
Government of Tibet before 1949. The Spiritual has mainly meant Buddhism; does it then provide secularism that the charter of the Exile Government promises?

And yet, I love the Lhabsol, the ancient ritual where after a public prayer we throw tsampa in the air and
shout: Lhagyal lo! Victory to
gods! I love the bright colours of the prayer flags, the poetic act of sending prayers in the wind on windhorses - Lungta, the folk songs and dances, so rich and colourful; my eyes well up in tears when I watch such cultural performances. And our Buddhist culture, which we have carefully studied and nurtured for the past 14 centuries, is so incredibly profound.
All this gives us a cultural identity, a sense of belonging, even though as refugees every evening we return to our rented houses, and have no home to live in.

It's a matter of great celebration that even though we lost our land to foreign invasion and suffered catastrophic destruction, we never gave up. With the care and leadership of His Holiness we have rebuilt our community and culture in exile. Our resilience gave us the strength and we survived the Cultural Revolution, while it proved catastrophic in China.
Today, with the new spiritual awakening, as the new generations of Chinese look for their cultural roots, do they find much in the morally corrupted and capitalistic country that China is today, being run by the CCP in the name of communism.

For the past two months I have been simultaneously working with seven writers and poets in Dharamsala translating a long poem "Secret Tibet", originally written by a Tibetan woman poet Woeser in Chinese, into Tibetan and English. I look at her act of writing the poem as an effort to reach to the common Chinese people to make them understand how much the Tibetan people suffer under their occupation.

Next month, the Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jia Bao is scheduled to visit India. Here is another opportunity for us to make the Chinese know of our earnest desire for freedom and how much we are ready for it. The Chinese are very conscious of their newfound image as the fastest developing nation in the world. And this time when their Prime Minister comes to India to talk business and border, we must remind him that he has been eating out of Tibet, and raise the issue that China cannot dance on our backs and yet shake hands with India. This is not only a duty but also our rights. This will make the Chinese ask themselves "Why do the Tibetans shame us?" Just as the Americans asked after 9/11 "Why do they hate us?"

Tsundue is a writer and activist for Free Tibet. He can be contacted at tentsundue@hotmail.com
Print Send Bookmark and Share
 Related Stories
Celebrating Exile-I : Education and Outlook
Our Bond with India
Diplomacy and Deterrence
Tibetan Swaraj
Mangtso: Our Democratic Vision
SONTSA:Tibetan Youth Power
GYAMI: Our Chinese Imagination
TRUTH: The Strength of Our Struggle
Semshook : Lathi Charge and Dal-Roti
  Readers' Comments »
exile tibetan writers (writers)
Religion and struggle (Choephel)
kill Wen Jia Bao (aku tenpa)
western scholar pretends (aku tenpa)
Hollow Article (Sila)
cause for celebration (jamps)
A differnce between being a lama and being culturally Tibetan (Gyaltsen)
Re: (RangzenRoblang)
Great! (Karma)
Beware (Terton)
Did not hit bull's eye (Ashang)
Feedback (Lhawang)
A wake up call to all of us (dolma)
great article~ (P3M)
PERFECT (Kalsang)
Expecting! (Freelance)
Your Comments

“THE SWEET REQUIEM” Conveys the Universality of the Tibetan Experience
Bells of Shangri-la : A review by Thubten Samphel
How free speech got trampled upon in Sonam Ling settlement
The Dalai Lama on Why Leaders Should Be Mindful, Selfless, and Compassionate
Madro: Review of Tendor's Music album by Jamyang Phuntsok
Here on Earth - Review of Tenzin Choegyal's limited edition EP
Democracy sans political parties and way forward
Refugees: A poem by a Gaddi
The Formulation, Backlash and the Continuing Commotion of Tibetan Women’s Day
Tourism in Tibet: China's Money Making Machine
Photo Galleries
Phayul.com does not endorse the advertisements placed on the site. It does not have any control over the google ads. Please send the URL of the ads if found objectionable to editor@phayul.com
Copyright © 2004-2019 Phayul.com   feedback | advertise | contact us
Powered by Lateng Online