Tibet protests

Today is a day of prayer for the people of Tibet and a spiritual petition for an end to suffering there. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has issued a press release which you can read here.

The authorities now governing Tibet have used strong means in their press to eliminate Tibetan cultural identity, the Buddhist and nature-loving spiritual practices, traditional beliefs and values.

A little more than a week ago — Monday, March 10, National Tibet Uprising Day — it was as if the Tibetan consciousness said, “Enough. Even if we die and suffer horribly, we must speak up against the Chinese occupation.”

Protests began and China responded immediately. There are reports of as many as 100 deaths. Buddhist monks … peaceful and nonviolent … have been seen as the instigators and have met with violent reactions from the police and Chinese military.

Even without this crisis, it is difficult to imagine the Tibetan situation. The occupation began under Mao in 1949 and came to an ugly head in 1959 with a brutal Chinese crackdown on protests against their rule. That was when His Holiness, only 24 years old, was forced to leave his beloved homeland on foot. His life in danger, he was disguised as a Chinese soldier and traveled with his family through the Himalayan Mountains to northern India, where he has lived since then.

It causes great pain to think of this man of peace today seeing his countrymen suffering again. His Holiness meditates for hours each day on compassion to help him feel others’ pain more deeply and it must be profoundly sad for him to witness the current crackdown.

Today I also read of his threat to step down as leader of the Tibetan government in exile if the protests don’t stop. He simply wants his countrymen to back down in the name of peace. It is a difficult request for him to make but his supreme goal has not changed: He aspires for a nonviolent and peaceful solution.

He has proposed autonomy for Tibet, and says it should to become an international sanctuary of nonviolence.

While violence affects the well-being of Tibetans, their culture, language and traditions are also gravely threatened and are being replaced with those of the Chinese. It evokes some shame for us Americans, for it recalls the largely European, Caucasion effort to overwhelm, remove and drain of identity the Native Americans who lived here before us.

We can do our part by praying or meditating for our brothers and sisters in Tibet, and especially for the Dalai Lama, in whatever spiritual tradition we follow … that they be happy and avoid suffering.

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