News and Views on Tibet

Rock legend David Crosby, friend of Tibet, Dalai Lama passes away at 81

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Rock legend David Crosby in an undated picture (Photo/Variety)

By Tenzin Nyidon

DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 23: Legendary singer-songwriter-guitarist David Crosby’s publicist on Thursday confirmed that he passed away aged 81. His wife, Jan Dance, told Variety that the singer passed away following a long illness. 

The rock legend considered himself a supporter of Tibet and a follower of the Dalai Lama. In an interview with Audacy in 2016, while referring to his single- ‘Time I Have’ said that the song released in 2014 references China’s treatment of Tibet. In the interview, he noted how China has tried its best to obliterate, wipe out and erase all memory of one of the finest, oldest and most beautiful cultures in the world. He subsequently added, “they have shelled monasteries, raped nuns and shot monks. They have been utterly ruthless. China will someday pay in some awful way for what they have done. It’s hideous what they did and what they are still doing.” 

Australia based Grammy nominated Tibetan composer Tenzin Choegyal wrote on his social media handle, “Today the amazing human being and super heart-warming artist David Crosby, a dear friend of Tibet and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama departed for inward and onwards journey. On behalf of all Tibetan, I send my mountain full of heartfelt prayers to his loving family his wife and soulmate Jan and son Django. Thank you for always being there for Tibet. We will meet you in all forms of life and in your songs you have left for us.”

According to Rolling Stone, the vocalist and composer helped shape the sound of sixties rock and beyond. Much of Crosby’s works are known for his brutal honesty in abstract lyrics. His music was notoriously known for speaking his mind and heart- things that matter the most to him. Throughout his career, Crosby’s music chronicled different stories. His songs told stories about his personal life and his addiction to cocaine and heroin, and his time in prison followed by financial ruin in the 1970s and 1980s.

The rock legend who is also a founding member of the enormously influential 60’s folk rock band, The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (CSNY), with his former bandmates, delivered the 1965 classic hit “Turn! Turn! Turn!”. Eventually, he also went on to become the new best artist in the 1970 Grammys. Graham Nash, the former bandmate of CSNY in Twitter wrote, “David was fearless in life and music. He leaves behind a tremendous void as far as sheer personality and talent in the world.”

One Response

  1. Through the peaceful and fun loving nature of our people, Tibet gained many friends all across the board. Of course the key to winning many friends for Tibet was without a doubt the prestige and serene nature of the Dalai Lama. His Buddhist philosophy of love and compassion for all beings without discrimination owing to religious affiliation, racial, colour, sexual orientation, social back ground or cultural differences encompassed all humanity. This was the secret of the Dalai Lama’s philosophy which originates from the Lord Buddha was responsible to win the hearts of millions of admires and sympathisers. Pop icons like David Crosby, Irish U2 from Dublin, Adam Yauch of Beastie Boys fame were the big hitters! The high profile of The Dalai Lama on the world stage helped Buddhism to mushroom around the world in most of Europe, America, Australia, Canada and Russia where Buddhism hitherto was unknown. This created the opportunity for hundreds of Tibetan Buddhist Lamas, Geshes, monks and nuns to go to the west. Tibetan Buddhist centres spread across world which in turn created the conditions for the Dalai Lama to come and teach for the faithful in different countries. This is the greatest soft power Tibet had in its arsenal that brought thousands to hear the Dalai Lama in western countries. The more the Dalai Lama became popular, the more the support grew for Tibet in the western world which culminated in awarding the coveted Nobel Peace Prize in 1989!
    The Lamas and Geshes supported their respective monasteries by finding sponsors for the new recruits in the monasteries who came from Tibet from a trickling since 1979 until it became a flood until the early 1990s. Since the monasteries had to provide accomodation, food and all other basic necessities, getting sponsors for the new recruits became crucial. The Tibetan Government did provide help but it was only for those who came from Tibet. This assistance was just sufficient to pay for the food bills but there was no help for health except giving concession on Tibetan medicines. So, whatever, the assistance they were able to receive from abroad was very helpful in providing other necessities such as health care and clothes for the monk students.
    The more students joined the monasteries, the more they had to expand in order to accomodate all the monks/nuns in their custody. The monasteries like Sera, Ganden, Drepung became like cities with thousands of monks who were studying the five great treatises (གཞུང་ཆེན་བཀའ་པོད་ལྔ་). Each student would study from basic logic རིག་ལམ་ to higher studies of Paramita ཕར་ཕྱིན་ U-ma དབུ་མ་ Vinaya sutra དམ་ཆོས་འདུལ་བ་ Abhidharma Kosa མངོན་པ་མཛོད་ and Pramana ཚད་མ་ or metaphysics which would take fifteen to eighteen years depending upon how academic one is. If the student is bright, it would take more time to complete the Lharam Geshe examination since Lharampa candidates have to undergo rigorous study, both oral, debate and written examinations for seven years. The others who are not Lharampas such as Tsokrampa, Rurampa and Lingsel could stand for examination during the designated months of summer, autumn and spring. The Lharampas have to stand for examination during the great Monlam Festival in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet when thousands of monks from all the three great monasteries and other surrounding local monasteries would gather in the great prayer festival (ལྷ་ལྡན་སྨོན་ལམ་ཆེན་མོ་ The name Lharam derives from ལྷ་ལྡན་ which is a honorific name for Lhasa- the land of the Gods.
    The same institutions were re-established by the Dalai Lama in exile in South India. It is unfortunate that some ignorant people in Switzerland have been insulting the Geshes, especially Geshe Lharampas and the monk community as a whole. They have no idea what it takes to study the great five treatises by first memorising the root text རྩ་བ་ such as མངོན་རྟོག་རྒྱན་ (paramita) དབུ་མ་འཇུག་པ་ Entering the middle way, མཛོད་རྩ་བ་ Abhidharma, འདུལ་བསྡོམས་Vinaya sutra. There are very few who are able to memorise the འདུལ་བ་མདོ་རྩ་བ་ because it’s a massive text. Instead, monks memorise འདུ་བསྡོམས་ or summarised version of the འདུལ་བ་མདོ་རྩ་བ་ All in all, its a a massive undertaking of endless memorisation and study of the great treatises which have many commentaries by Tibetan scholars. All these studies are through debate and discussion for years. The memorisations of the root texts and debate through logic sharpens the mind. This makes the monks very erudite debaters! My information is there are two Tibetan men who are known as Sangye and Paksom – སངས་རྒྱས་དང་དཔག་བསམ་
    These two louts have insulted Tibetan Lamas, Geshes and the monk community by making disparaging remarks about the monks in a play. I don’t believe these people even know how to read and write Tibetan. The fact they had the temerity to blaspheme the custodians of Tibetan culture, language and religion speaks for itself the kind of people they are. They are making sacrilegious comments against the monks to fulfil their political agenda. It is not about protecting the Dharma but to discredit the monk community for their political agenda. They don’t have the slightest knowledge of the Dharma and see everything in a negative way just like Dev Dutta (བདུད་ལྷས་སྦྱིན) who saw only fault in the Buddha but not a single goodness. ཇི་སྐད་དུ་ས་སྐྱ་ལེགས་བཤད་ལས་
    སྐྱོན་རྣམས་འབད་པའི་འཛིན་བྱེད་ཅིང་ ཡོན་ཏན་རྩ་ནས་མི་ཆགས་པ་ སྐྱེ་བོ་ངན་པ་ཆུ་ཚགས་བཞིན་
    ངན་པ་འཛིན་གྱི་བཟང་པ་འཆོར།། The great Sakya Pandit said: Those who see only fault and never see any goodness, They are like sieves, which collects only dirt and let the goodness filter through! This is an apt description of those incorrigible people. FOOLS RUSH WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD as the saying goes, it will only damage themselves. Instead, look closer to home where you live and try to do something good. Rumours have been swirling for years that there are Swiss Tibetans who attend the CCP party in the Chinese embassy on the 1st October every year! Why don’t you expose the wrong doings of these people or are you actually part of them?

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