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by Joe Mickey/Founder/Tibetan Photo Project
Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2003 at 11:19 PM
The Tibetan culture has enriched the West. We need to return the favor
monks_debate.jpg, image/jpeg, 353x311
Left in the dust of the human race are tiny remnants of tattered cultures trying desperately to hold on to the keys that unlock the great mysteries of life. Did the American Indians understand things that we will never know? And what of the Aborigines of Australia? Did one ever find proof of the existence of the human soul while on a walkabout? One of these keys also belongs to the Tibetans.
The concept that solutions to the ills of the world lie within the content and quality of each individual's heart are now lost on the "me" generation. Bigger weapons, faster computers and wireless technology are the answers and things have become the gods. More money, more power, more...that is the new sound of Om, the new amen, the new shalom.
"Free Tibet" is a cause that has risen on the world stage to the level of the Nobel Peace prize for the Dalai Lama in 1989.
For most who know their plight of human annihilation and cultural desecration by the Chinese over the past 50 years, the soul of Tibet is embodied in the Dalai Lama. Every Tibetan seems to contain a portion of that soul.
While life holds little mystery, those who have come in personal contact with the Dalai Lama can at least recognize that his gentle presence is powerfully felt‹like a mystery of life. To the ingrained Judeo-Christian sensibilities of the West, in its understanding of the Tibetan cause, the Dalai Lama is ironically seen as the symbolic representation of Tibet1s soul. Ironic because Tibetan Buddhism does not recognize the existence of a permanent human soul, but rather a transitory spirit trying to find its way to being nothing more than truth. What is it about the Save Tibet effort that seems to maintain a hold on the one element of human nature that we cannot define in DNA or through technology? Do we recognize that we can not let another culture be swallowed up lest we lose all chance to find and prove there is something greater within us than DNA, cells and bone and flesh?
Why will the concept of saving Tibet not stop nagging at the collective conscience? A Tibetan monk, when asked what he thought was in it for those in the West who were trying to help Tibet, said there is nothing in it for us, except that it is right. When asked about becoming a Buddhist, one Lama answered that religion should be a choice that follows one1s own tradition. A person should pick a religion that matches their nature because religion is there to make people better.
China is rising on the world stage as a military and economic force. China could save Tibet with a slight change in policy and in doing so it would rise above all other great nations. Their current path is to gut the Tibetan culture, while leaving a corpse dressed up to attract tourist dollars as a sort of Tibetan amusement park. Parading the image of the Tibetan culture will undoubtedly part of the propaganda gained when China presents the 2008 Olympics.
But realistically, there will be no great change coming from China. That leaves it to us to do what ever we can, large or small, to help the Tibetans save their culture. Individually we will gain nothing from the effort, but in saving Tibet we prove the existence and power of the human spirit.
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