Time for the Dalai lama to Return to Tibet
While the Dalai Lama is jetting around talking of peace and happiness, his people are dying. Ahimsa is not a dogma in exile but a practice...
Time for Dalai Lama to return to Tibet
Alan H. Nichols Thursday, September 4, 2003
To his holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama: Welcome again to San Francisco.
More than 25 years ago at Dharamsala, we talked about Sacred Mountains and your return to Tibet.
Since then, you have made rich and powerful friends all over America and Europe (politicians, movie actors, industrialists, philanthropists); received many honors, including the Nobel Peace Prize; been feted and publicized everywhere; and published, copyrighted in your own name, more than 20 books, some best sellers.
Since our meeting, because of my admiration for you (with detachment, of course!), I have heard you charm many audiences; studied your books and the Tibetan Bulletin, the publication of your government in exile; and spent months with your people in Tibet, especially at the holy Mount Kailas (as the first foreigner to circumambulate it and Lake Manosarowar after China opened Tibet, and to bicycle there on my 3,300-mile journey from Unumchi, Xinjiang across Tibet).
All this time, your people have suffered and are still suffering genocide, environmental catastrophe, population transfers and marginalization -- more than 1.3 million deaths from China's occupation (173,240 prison deaths by 1996); children (including 6-year-olds), women, monks and nuns jailed, tortured and killed for their loyalty to you; 6,259 monasteries exterminated; 7.5 million Chinese shipped into Tibet (with only 6 million Tibetans); and denial of civil rights, education and even employment for Tibetans. The Tibetan Bulletin, Tibet Press Watch, Amnesty International and many government and private agencies continually report examples of the atrocities.
You live comfortably in exile and jet travel around the world promoting Buddhism and your books. You write and say you are happy. But still it must be hard for you to realize your policies for the last 50 years have failed to alleviate your people's suffering.
For 50 years your peace plans, delegations, letters and appeals to Beijing are ignored except for increased Chinese violence in Tibet and in spite of your praise for their humanness, and goodwill, even referring to China's Chairman Mao and Deng as your "friends" (the same men who ordered Tibet's genocide).
For 50 years, your promises that the Chinese, their leadership and their attitudes will change have been illusory.
For 50 years, your worldwide public relations have not produced a single government or international organization that does anything to assuage your people's pain, but only creates false hope.
For 50 years, your absentee ahimsa (nonviolence) creates no social change, but only encourages continuing Chinese outrages. Ahimsa is not a dogma in exile but a practice -- the leader faces the same peril, the same pain as the sufferers from injustice: Gandhi on the march to the sea; Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma; Mandela in South Africa; Jesus in Jerusalem; even Mohammed and Arjuna in battle; and Martin Luther King Jr. in Alabama.
What should you do?
If you won't risk yourself in Tibet, don't expect American troops to risk their lives or the United States, the United Nations, or any of your friends to rescue your people.
You must return home. With the white scarves, you promised that night when you fled in 1959 to return. You told a Yale audience in 1991, "I am considering a visit to Tibet as early as possible."
Time is short. Now 64, you prophesied your own uselessness between 60 and 70. China's genocide will be complete when it finishes the railroad in your country -- bringing more troops, more Chinese and more dominance. Your inaction is Tibet's doom -- China is kidnapping Tibet as it abducted your 11th Panchen Lama (age 6) who hasn't been heard from since.
Your people love, revere and need you with them in their suffering, the same people who died by the thousands (at least 87,000) to protect you when you fled in 1959 and died in firefights on the way, who live in terror in and out of prison, who are beaten, jailed and tortured just for having a picture of you, and who still peacefully demonstrate their love for you.
Cycling across Tibet, outside Lhasa, at Mount Kailas and numerous other villages, tents, towns and passes, I've wept to see your people's tears at the mere sight of the picture of you I always carried outside the pack on my handlebars.
The Chinese are unlikely to risk the Olympics, world trade, international disrepute -- not to mention activating your worldwide support -- by mistreating you. As you say, "With a sincere and open heart there is no need to fear others," and facing an enemy "is one of the most important teachers."
Along with thousands of others, I stand ready any time, any place to support your return home. Then we can celebrate Tibet's freedom at Mount Kailas, where Padmasambhava brought victory for Buddhism to Tibet.
Alan H. Nichols is president of Sacred Mountain Foundation ( firstname.lastname@example.org) and author of "Journey: A Bicycle Odyssey Through Central Asia" (J.D. Huff & Co., 1992).
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