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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...
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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 ( sacred-mountain@att.net) and author of "Journey: A Bicycle Odyssey Through Central Asia" (J.D. Huff & Co., 1992).

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Nichols Knows Best? 24.Sep.2003 17:11

Mother of Sam

Wow -

I had no idea that Mr. Nichols knew better than the Dalai Lama when a return to Tibet was called for..... stupid me, I thought maybe that should be the decision of the Dalai Lama himself.

oh my! 24.Sep.2003 18:36

solid gold

HOW DARE YOU SUGGEST THE DALAI LAMA(tm) DO ANYTHING!!!! DON'T YOU KNOW HE IS THE MOST PERFECT (AND PHOTOGENIC) PERSON IN THE WORLD!? i have my tibetan prayer flags outside of my newly renonvated North Portland bungalow, you know, the one with the Land Rover with the "be green" bumper sticker parked in front, and i have bought all of the dalai's books on how to be enlightened without lifting a finger. just like the beastie boys and richard gear, i am a rich enlightened white capitalist. and i owe it all to the Dalai Lama(tm). his message of peace through schmoozing and his tireless quest to free his people from suffering (without actually having to suffer himself) touched my heart, and i knew that i was truly enlightened like him, because i like to schmooz and talk out of my ass about freedom and peace, without actually DOING anything about it too! and you know, i used to be against Bush's war, but then i read that the Dalai Lama(tm) said that history might prove that Bush's wars were good and just (you know, like the Korean War), and i KNOW the Dalai Lama(tm) can't be wrong, so now i support Bush too, just like the Dalai! i just can't believe all the cynical unenlightened people who dare to question the holiness and wisdom of the Dalai Lama(tm). after all, he earned his fame and holiness by being BORN into his job and has led a nice and pampered life, just like me and my trust fund. how could you be so cynical as to judge this pure, holy, and perfect human being! all those celebrities can't be wrong!

Just what the world needs 25.Sep.2003 09:35


Just waht the world needs...another theocracy.

The principle of non-violence-- ahimsa-- is not passive 25.Sep.2003 11:21


ahimsa means among other things, to put your money where your mouth is. It is easy to be non-violent far from the locus of violence. Even a "god" like the dali lama needs to be where the action is, or he is irrelevant.

haha - funny comment from *solid gold* - so true 25.Sep.2003 13:59


The Dalai Lama supposedly lives by the Lamaist tenet of "strict nonviolence" (his own words) - yet he is still waiting to see whether the Iraqi occupation will prove to be "beneficial" to the Iraqis. He claims that WWII, the Korean War, and the current Afghani occupation all help(ed) "protect civilization and democracy." He is a shill for the USA. His worldwide China-demonising tour is CIA-backed, as was his escape from Tibet and the quite *violent* Tibetan freedom-fighting. His tenet is STRICT *nonviolence,* but I guess it's OK when he's not the one personally doing the violence. This is the kind of pure hypocrisy which comes from organised religion, especially when mixed directly with politics.


Ahem keep your eye on the ball... 19.Dec.2003 21:41


Great job on the link at the end of the previous post -- a Communist website. Did you expect them to say something positive and/or objective about the Dalai Lama? Is that little voice in your head going: "gee isn't China supposed to be Communist too?"

And if Edsel has kept up to date with anything he would realize the Tibetan people have been moving towards a democracy for sometime now.

But that doesn't count. Or the fact the entire community-in-exile was set up directly thanks to the Dalai Lama's tireless efforts. Or the fact the cultural texts, practices, and arts from Tibet are trying to be preserved. But I forgot, that doesn't count because the Dalai Lama doesn't "actually do anything."

If your going to question the Dalai Lama, please at least do the first two things:

1. Get informed of history and what's actually going on, including the selection process (he was not born "rich" like the second post suggests)
2. Learn to spell "Dalai" rather then "Dali"

Criticism without factual basis is nothing but whining. Thank you.

Peace is not always free 25.Jul.2006 13:27

Gary Dulanski freecom2@yahoo.com

The Dalai Lama is well aware of these problems that you speak of but what can a man of his stature do? There is no A-Team to help bring the vile Chinese government to its knees. If the world "superpowers" would have united against china in 1959 we would not be having this conversation now. The "Jetting around the world" you speak of brings this situation to the attention of the world This issue exsists and we as the world should do something about it. I too have certain problems with the issue, for instence I am an avid collector of star wars merchandise which the new figures are made in China, dose that make me a bad person? I am a zen Buddhist who beleives that the US is a hypocritical war factory that ignores the Tibet issue. Just ask yourself one question..."If Bush and his lackies really beleives what they are doing in Iraq is right then why don't they help tibet? Answer: Greed, Dulusion and money. Free Tibet!