Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Dalai Lama and Peace

I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we all are seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness… His Holiness the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama has his own web pages here at Emory University.
A few years ago he spoke at graduation.
Last October, he came for several days to accept a professorship.
The Drepung Loseling Monastery’s North American seat is an affiliate of Emory University and here in Atlanta.

So, I was not surprised when I received this email yesterday:

At 5 pm today through Friday on the Quad, Tibetan monks will be holding prayer vigils for peace and for their fellow monks in Tibet during this turbulent time.

This past week Tibetan monks and citizens protested the continuing oppressive rule China holds over Tibetan religious rights. The demonstrations quickly escalated as Chinese military police quelled the protesters. Violence ensued. Some reports claim 80 Tibetans died in the turmoil.

Each vigil will last about 20 minutes. All are invited to attend, observe, and respectfully offer support. Thank you!

No, I was not surprised. I turned and looked out my window at the steady rain, the cold gray day, and was sad.
I pictured the monks in their bright ochre robes, standing with bowed heads, and a wet dispirited turn-out of a few students.
I forwarded the email to a friend with the comment that it made me sad.

Morning Edition, March 18, 2008:
The Dalai Lama made a startling threat Tuesday, saying he would step down as the leader of a Tibetan government in exile if protesters in Tibet continued their violent protests.
Later, one of his top aides clarified the Dalai Lama's comments…
Tenzin Taklha said, "He would resign as the political leader and head of state, but not as the Dalai Lama. He will always be the Dalai Lama."

I had heard this sound bite as I did my morning asanas.
The Dalai Lama would step down? How could that be?
And then those words, almost sounding childlike in the trust they held, “He will always be the Dalai Lama.”

Of course! The Dalai Lama is too sweet to be other than who and what he is… at least to me.
Then this morning, as once again I did my asanas, came the next sound bite:

Morning Edition, March 20, 2008:
Chinese officials are ignoring calls for a dialog with protesters in Tibet.
Instead, they have labeled the Dalai Lama a "wolf in monk's clothes" and a "monster with a human face and an animal's heart."

Monster, wolf, animal?

How long does it takes for non-violence to win out?
How can it ever be?
It seems almost a logical impossibility.
And yet, sometimes it does.

My friend emailed me back today.
She had heard from a friend she trusted.
He added this bit of news and a suggestion:

Dear Friends,
On a personal note, my daughter Julie is married to a Tibetan refugee and is now living in Dharmsala, India, residence of the Dalai Lama.
In a call two days ago, she told me that they are getting what seems to be reliable information through family networks about Chinese atrocities that are far worse than what is being reported in the media.
I encourage you to sign this petition and share it with others.

There was this logic offered:
China does care about its international reputation.
Its economy is totally dependent on "Made in China" exports …
it is keen to make the Olympics in Beijing this summer a celebration of a new China

So, I signed.
And I am sharing the petition.
They hope to raise a million voices in unison for peace.

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