Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dalai Lama speaks out on China rule; Tibet’s worst days under military yoke



NALIN VERMA


The Dalai Lama today asked people across the world to visit his country under the “military occupation” of China to see for themselves the “sufferings” of Tibetans, as his five-day peace lectures ended with an “emphatic political” appeal.

“I request all of you to make a visit to Tibet to have your assessment of the situation. Particularly after 2008, the situation has turned worse in Tibet and your Tibetan fellow human beings are undergoing the worst-ever suffering under Chinese military rule,” the Buddhist monk told a gathering that included hundreds of westerners.

The condemnation of Beijing’s “dictatorship” has come despite a condition Delhi had set the Tibetan leader: that he wouldn’t make any political statement against China.

However, once in a while, the Dalai Lama has been making statements bordering on the political to address concerns of his people, and Delhi is unlikely to make it an issue, especially against the backdrop of friction between India and China over visas for Kashmiris and Arunachal Pradesh.

Observers described the Dalai Lama’s statement as an “emphatic” comment that may have been prompted by the presence of so many people from non-Asian and non-Buddhist countries.

The five-day lectures at Bodh Gaya, the place of the Buddha’s enlightenment 2,500 years ago, drew some 4,000 visitors from Australia, Africa and Europe apart from the nearly 30,000 domestic audience.

The Dalai Lama’s impassioned plea came within a year of his appeal last March to the UN and other international agencies to “inspect the violation of human rights” in Tibet. The agencies, however, did not respond to the spiritual leader’s appeal from Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile, apparently because of China’s clout.

Today, in the presence of visitors from nearly 50 countries, the 74-year-old monk asked the non-Buddhist world to verify if what “China has been propagating” was true.

“The Chinese government’s propaganda agencies tell that 50 to 60 per cent people in Tibet are happy for they have no objection to living under Chinese rule. If after visiting China you find truth with what China has been propagating, I will have no objection. But visit the place under the military dictatorship of the worst order to make an assessment of the truth on your own,” he said.

“If you do not have money, please borrow it,” he added in a lighter vein, to applause from the crowd. “Or buy Tibetan antiques to do business and earn money to see the sufferings of your fellow human beings in Tibet.”

He thanked the people from the West for turning up for the lectures in such large numbers.

“You may be different in colour and nationalities. But all human beings are the same for they share the same emotion, same intelligence and the same sensory organs. The mind cutting across human beings feels the sufferings and happiness in the same manner,” he said, striking an emotional chord with the gathering. (The story first appeared in The Telegraph on January 10, 2010)

Dalai magnet for global youths



Martin
Wislon






NALIN VERMA


Bernard Wilson (top) and Martin. Pictures by Deepak Kumar

Bodh Gaya, Jan. 5: At 74, he is an unlikely “destination” for youth. But ask  Bernard Wilson, and the 22-year-old will say he has come all the way from Melbourne just to see the Dalai Lama.

He isn’t the only one who has crossed oceans to hear the spiritual leader.

Among the 30,000 who have gathered in Bodh Gaya for the Tibetan monk’s annual World Peace Lecture that began today, at least 1,000 — most of them between 20 and 40 — are from non-Buddhist countries like Australia, Italy, the Czech Republic, Spain, England, Brazil and several African countries.

The number is over three times more than the 300 from western countries who had flocked to Sarnath last year for the lecture, says Jigme Tsering, a senior official in the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh.

Some 350 westerners had gathered for the discourse at Dharamsala three years ago.

“Look, His Holiness attracts the youth because he never asks them to change their mother religion,” says Tsering, explaining the presence of so many westerners at the five-day lecture. “Buddhism does not advocate conversion or baptism. He simply says Buddhism is more relevant in this age of distress.”

Martin, a mechanical engineer from the Czech Republic, agrees. “Though born a Christian, I am an atheist,” says the 31-year-old. “But I have adopted the Buddhist philosophy for it is simple and practical.”

How practical, the Dalai Lama explained today. “You do not have to depend on prayer to something eternal or non-visible to get rid of your sufferings…” he told the gathering. “Just meditate to free your mind from the illusion of impermanent attraction. Believe in yourselves… your own mind than in something supernatural which does not exist in the teaching of Gautam Buddha.”

Martin is among over 30 visitors from Czechoslovakia, where the Dalai Lama had delivered a lecture in November 2008, one of the many the spiritual leader has given across the globe.

So what is the secret of the 1935-born monk’s global appeal among the young.

Observers say it has been a “gradual process” that began in 1989 when the Dalai Lama received the Nobel Peace Prize. It was the year the Berlin Wall collapsed, in another blow to communism after Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms to “restructure” the Soviet economic and political system.

While the appeal of communism waned, Buddhism drew youths in a tension-fraught world in flux.

“It teaches you the way to live a life free from suffering, particularly in this age of stress and tension,” says Lucy, a librarian from Boston and a Buddhist for five years now who has come to Bodh Gaya, the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment 2,500 years ago.

“And the Dalai Lama is the best equipped to teach you how to,” says the 41-year-old.

Lucy says “stress at the workplace” aggravated her problems caused by Lyme disease, a common tick-borne infection that can affect the nervous system, joints, skin and heart. “Eventually, even doctors declared me sick beyond recovery,” she recalls.

Then she came into contact with a Buddhist monk. Did he cure her ailment?

“No,” says Lucy. “The monk cured more than my ailment. He cured my imperfect mind.”

Yuri Jesus, who lost his job last year in the wake of the downturn, and his girlfriend Delphing have come from Brazil. “Job is a temporary thing. If it has gone it will come again. I should be positive. This is what Buddhism has taught us,” he says.

Marisa Galasso, 40, from Italy, feels disease and stress are “temporary”.

Her compatriot, former footballer Roberto Baggio, is a Buddhist, too, though Raimondo Bultrini, an Italian expert on the religion, explains that the ex-World Cup star adheres to the Sogakki sect, which is a bit different from the Gelugpa school of though that the Dalai Lama preaches.

“But still, Buddhism is Buddhism, and it has attracted Baggio the way it has attracted other youth across the globe,” says the veteran journalist. (The story first appeared in The Telegraph on January 6, 2010)

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