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An image of pure devotion:

feet

The feet of Hua Chi, who believes he is about 70 years old, are seen next to footprints he has made in wood by praying in the same place for decades, in a monastery near Tongren, Qinghai Province

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Visiting Chinese official on Thursday asked Nepal to control possible anti-China activities in the upcoming months on its soil, according to media reports.

March 10 this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising, which forced Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetans to flee into exile in 1959.

In 1959, anti-Chinese and anti-Communist revolt erupted in Lhasa leading to the deaths of 86,000 Tibetans and the Dalai Lama was forced to flee into exile, according to figures of the Tibetan government-in-exile in India.

Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue arrived arrived in Kathmandu with a 13-member delegation on Wednesday. The delegation met with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, and other senior government officials and urged them to curb possible anti-China demonstrations.

During the meeting with Nepali officials on Thursday, Zhengyue said that the year 2009 was a “sensitive year” for China and urged increased surveillance to curb anti-China activities on Nepali soil, ekantipur.com reported.

During the visit to Nepal in December, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi had also expressed concern regarding possible “Free Tibet” protests in Nepal in 2009.

Prime Minister Dahal reaffirmed Nepal’s commitment to adopt strong measures to control anti-China activities, media reports quoted his Press Advisor Om Sharma as saying. Defence Minister Thapa also reportedly told the delegation that the government would beef up security along Nepal-China border to prevent the “Dalai Lama’s supporters from entering Tibet.”

“We are committed to addressing the national security concerns of China,” Thapa told reporters after meeting the delegation. He, however, maintained that the matter was “more than a bilateral issue” between Nepal and China. “The issue of Tibet is a tripartite issue between Nepal, India and China. So the three countries must work together to solve it,” Thapa told reporters.

According to media reports, the delegation also met with Home Secretary, Chief of Nepal Police and Chief of the Armed Police Force jointly and held an hour’s discussion on ways to control anti-China activities.

Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister described the development as being “regular and normal exchange” of the visits.

As usual, the exchanges have, however, come not without Beijing’s favour to increase its aids to the economically-starved landlocked Himalayan country. The Chinese envoy reportedly told the Nepalese counterparts that his government was going to increase its assistance to Nepal in various fields.

Nepalese foreign ministry spokesman Suresh Pradhan said Prime Minister Dahal will make an official visit to Beijing by the end of April or the first half of May.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Dahal also reportedly requested the Chinese side to fund the construction of the 400 MW Narsinghgad Hydropower Project in Jajarkot as a “gift project.”

It is also reported that during the Nepalese prime minister’s trip to Beijing, both governments would finalise a landmark Peace and Friendship Treaty, which would redefine the relationship between China and Nepal.

The Chinese delegation is scheduled to leave for New Delhi on Friday, media reports said.

Tibetans in Kathmandu and elsewhere in Nepal staged some of the most sustained and regular anti-China protests last year after unrest against Chinese rule in Tibet faced brutal Chinese military crackdown.

A group of self-proclaimed Tibetan activists on Wednesday, which marked the first day of Tibetan New Year, hoisted a Tibetan National flag on the wall of Chinese Embassy’s visa office in Kathmandu and painted “Free Tibet” on its main gate.

The district administration in Kathmandu, which last year witnessed continuous protests by Tibetans for almost eight months, has prohibited all protests near the Chinese embassy and its visa office from Saturday, IANS reported today.

According to the report, the indefinite curb extends to all areas within 200 metres of the Chinese embassy.

Nepal had come under international criticism last year for its brutal treatment of Tibetan protesters, and was accused of acting under pressure from China.

Nepal police this week arrested twelve Tibetan nationals, including four women, who entered the country through Nepal-Tibet border and were handed over to authorities in kathmandu.

Every year, many Tibetans escape via Nepal to India, often after undertaking incredibly risky journey across the harsh Himalayan terrains.

I am just one person. I have been posting news articles in this blog for 2 years, including my trip to Dharamsala in 2007. I find it hard to post reports on the Tibetan issue because I feel my view is not valid or taken into account. I am a Westerner and as such have no place getting involved in the affairs of Tibetans.

But, I just want to help. Tibet and her people are very close to my heart–for many, many reasons that go back to my childhood. Another part of this, is that I know what it’s like to be beaten and abused, I know what it’s like to be imprisoned, and I know what it’s like to lose my country.

But, I am just one person.

One small person who does what she can but whose actions change nothing. Sure, my videos are “nice” and “supportive” and my words are thrown out into the chasm of cyberspace, but I can change nothing.

And it frustrates me. Chinese people tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about, Tibetan people tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about–because I’m foreign to their worlds.

Torture and suppression is the same the world over. I know what I’m talking about… and I want to help.

But, I’m just one person.

This blog has come to be my only avenue for spreading the word about Tibetan issues. I’ve been part of other movements, but they always contain too much ego. Too many “big men” looking for fame and risking the integrity of the cause. I don’t know what to do. I have no money. I have no skill other than compassion and a desire to right the wrongs.

I’ve taught myself some Tibetan, but I live far from any communities where I can offer even basic assistance. Part of me feels that I am not wanted in the cause–only my money is wanted. That’s harsh to say–but, when I’ve been told that I am the wrong ethnicity to “understand” how am I supposed to feel??

Do Tibetans really feel that way? That Westerners are not welcome in their fight? I know already how the Chinese feel about me from comments left on this blog and my youtube and facebook accounts as well as threatening emails and viruses sent to me.

I don’t know. Maybe I’ve got all of this wrong–but maybe I’m not welcome, and I’d rather know now….

PARIS – The former partner of Yves Saint Laurent, who is selling the art collection he built up with the late fashion designer, said he would hand over two sculptures claimed by China — but only if Beijing agreed to free Tibet.

Pierre Berge, Saint Laurent’s former business partner and companion, is organizing the biggest private auction of art seen in Paris for years, selling the huge collection built up by the two in a three-day auction next week.

Among the works of art are two Chinese bronze sculptures of a rabbit and a rat head, taken during the Opium Wars of the 19th century that the Beijing government said earlier this month belonged to China and should not be auctioned.

Berge said he was not concerned by a claim due to be heard by Paris judges on Monday seeking to have the bronzes returned.

“I acquired them and I am completely protected by the law, so what the Chinese are saying is a bit ridiculous,” he told Reuters Television on Friday. “But I am prepared to offer this bronze head to the Chinese straight away.”

“All they have to do is to declare they are going to apply human rights, give the Tibetans back their freedom and agree to accept the Dalai Lama on their territory,” he said.

“If they do that, I would be very happy to go myself and bring these two Chinese heads to put them in the Summer Palace in Beijing.”

“It’s obviously blackmail but I accept that,” he said.

Chinese troops marched into Tibet in 1950 and the region’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled into exile in 1959 after a failed uprising against Beijing’s rule.

The official Xinhua news agency said earlier this month that the two sculptures, estimated to be worth 8-10 million euros ($10-12 million) each, were taken from Beijing’s Imperial Summer Palace, burned down by invading French and British forces in 1860.

Xinhua said China and France signed a 1995 convention on stolen or illegally exported cultural objects, “which stipulated that any cultural object looted or lost because of reasons of war should be returned without any limitation of time span.”

The Berge-Saint Laurent collection, gathered over decades, ranges from the two Chinese bronzes to paintings by Picasso, Matisse and Degas as well as art deco treasures and ancient Roman and baroque sculptures.

Saint Laurent, whose clothing designs revolutionized women’s fashion, died at the age of 71 last year and bequeathed his share of the collection to the charitable foundation he set up with Berge.

Auctioneers Christie’s expect the sale to raise up to 300 million euros, which Berge has said he will donate to AIDS research.

Dharamsala, February 19: A communist Party in Official in Tibet has warned Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns against political activity in the run-up to the first anniversary of last year’s massive unrest against Beijing’s rule in Tibet, according to a report by AP Thursday.

The warning also comes just little less than three weeks before the 50th anniversary of the abortive Tibetan uprising against China’s rule which forced Tibetan leader Dalai Lama to flee into exile in India in 1959.

The warning from Lobsang Gyaincain, published in the China’s official Tibet Daily on Thursday, followed a reported crackdown earlier this week on Tibetan protesters in Lithang, a volatile traditionally Tibetan region of Sichuan province.

Lobsang Gyaincain, who is a member of the standing committee of the regional Communist Party, also demanded that monks and nuns recognize what he called the “reactionary nature” of the Dalai Lama clique, as well as plots to use temples and clergy to carry out “infiltration and disturbances,” Tibet Daily reported.

Clergy must “refuse to take part in activities aimed at splitting the motherland, and not take part in illegal marches, demonstrations and other activities that disrupt social order,” it quoted Lobsang as telling a meeting of clergy on Wednesday.

The official also heads the regional party committee’s United Front Work Department, which is in charge of directly supervising Buddhist temples and clergy.

Chinese authorities in Tibet have also come with a fresh order calling on local nuns and monks to reject the Dalai Lama and separatist activities at an annual meet this week, Chinese state news agency Xinhua said on Thursday.

Monks and nuns should “safeguard social stability, the socialist legal system and fundamental interests of the people”, and should “consciously keep themselves away” from separatist activities and illegal demonstrations that impair social order, Xinhua quoted the new order as saying.

It asked Tibetan Buddhist monks to “see clearly that the 14th Dalai Lama is the ringleader of the separatist political association which seeks ‘Tibet independence’, a loyal tool of anti-China Western forces, the very root that causes social unrest in Tibet and the biggest obstacle for Tibetan Buddhism to build up its order”, the agency said.

The authorities had also awarded 36 monks and nuns and 10 monasteries with the title of “patriotic and law-abiding” models,Xinhua said.

China, which sent military troops to forcefully occupy Tibet in late 1949, regularly vilifies the 73-year-old Dalai Lama, who remains widely popular among Tibetans 50 years after fleeing to India and is revered by them as their supreme leader.

Beijing accuses elements of the Dalai Lama’s self-proclaimed government in exile of organizing last year’s anti-China unrest in Tibet, and claimed they “clear evidence” to prove the allegations.

Dalai Lama and the Tibet’s Government in exile rejected the accusations as baseless and unfounded, and openly challenged Beijing to produce evidence, if any. The Tibetan government also repeatedly urged Beijing to allow international monitoring body to independently assess the situation in Tibet and the nature of the unrest.

However, Beijing did not show any response to such calls, despite some international insistence also.

Wednesday’s meeting is a further sign of official nervousness ahead of the protest anniversary, particularly as next month also marks 50 years since the Dalai Lama’s flight abroad, AP said in its report.

Chinese security forces on Sunday and Monday swiftly broke up the protests in Lithang. At least 21 people were detained and troops were reportedly searching for others who might have joined in the demonstrations in which protesters shouted slogans calling for Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet and demanded “independence for Tibet.”

According to media reports, Lithang, like other Tibetan regions, has been practically sealed off from the rest of China by road blocks and travel bans.

Students for a Free Tibet: Our Nation Episode 4

It appeared to be a typical New Year in Rebkong county, a remote part of Qinghai province in western China where the countryside is dotted by Tibetan monasteries and white stupas.

At Gomar monastery, colourful prayer flags flapped in the wind and the faithful spun rows of large brass prayer wheels and tossed pieces of coloured paper squares from a tall stupa, sending countless prayers swirling into the sky. Meanwhile, a steady line of pilgrims carried out an exhausting circumambulation of the temple, prostrating their bodies fully across the ground after every three steps.

But not everyone was joyful. Losar, the Tibetan lunar new year, comes 11 months after unrest broke out in Tibetan areas of China last year, and despite government attempts to erase the memories, few families seem in the mood to celebrate.

Calls for a boycott of the Tibetan New Year began spreading months ago via blogs, mobile phone messages and word of mouth, travelling from Tibetan communities in Dharamshala, India, London and New York to rural villages and towns in western China. Some Tibetans celebrate the New Year according to the Chinese lunar calender, which began on Jan 26 this year, while others follow the Tibetan lunar calendar, which marks the first day of 2136, the year of the Earth Ox, on Feb 25.

The sense of fear is palpable in this area, which saw disputes break out between Muslims and Tibetans last February and then again in March. But those who are willing to talk essentially tell the same story.

“It wasn’t a joyous New Year,” said a Tibetan farmer standing in the courtyard of the Nyentog Temple, dressed in a black Tibetan robe with a red sash tied around his waist. “Last year was not a good one,” he said. He then slowly brought his two fists together to express his meaning before disappearing into the crowd.

“Few people celebrated the New Year this year,” said one outspoken monk, standing in the corner of another monastery. “A lot of young people were killed last year and people are sad. There is no feeling of happiness.”

A former monk who produces tankas, Tibetan religious scroll paintings, said most people chose to remember those who lost their lives in last year’s melee rather than mark the new year.

“We didn’t set off any fireworks, bathe, or put on our best clothing,” he said. “We didn’t sing, play music or dance. We didn’t put couplets on the doors. We normally give gifts at New Years, but we didn’t do that either.”

Woeser, a popular Tibetan writer, said the Chinese government is pressuring Tibetans to celebrate the holiday. “This is to give an impression to the outside world that Tibetan areas are calm and harmonious, and that people are happily celebrating.” She described how local cadres demanded farmers sign or put their fingerprint on a statement saying they will hold festivities.

In other areas, officials offered bribes and gifts and distributed fireworks, lanterns and couplets, more a part of the Chinese New Year than the Tibetan one.

Woeser said the government effort has been a failure, describing how some 2,000 Tibetans showed up at one temple wearing old and worn-out clothing, a clear sign of civil disobedience. Monlam Chenmo, the Great Prayer Festival, went ahead this year in Qinghai much as it has since it first started in 1409.

On Thursday at Gomar monastery, monks prepared for the traditional mask dance, donning their yellow hats and other elaborate accessories worn on special occasions. They played three-metre long horns, clanged large brass cymbals and beat drums. Crowds of Tibetans arrived continuously from the surrounding countryside, wearing elaborate costumes and silver jewellery embedded with turquoise and coral stones, watching as monks emerged from the temple, wearing demon-like masks as they performed their dance to exorcise ghosts.

The next day monks at the Nyentog Monastery held the Sunning of the Buddha ceremony, in which a massive tanka was shouldered to the mountainside by dozens of people, where it was unfurled down the mountain, exposing a huge image of the Buddha in the bright afternoon sun.

The call to cancel Losar celebrations kicked off an outpouring of comments on Tibetan blogs, with most expressing support.

A blogger named Lobsang, supported the boycott, arguing that Chinese injustices have not stopped.
“Why should we put on this fake smile on Losar? Why should we give the Chinese government the satisfaction of their decades of brutality on us by smiling and celebrating Losar as if nothing cruel has happened to us.”

Gelek Badheytsang opposed the idea in a commentary posted on the Tibet Talk blog, saying one way to resist Chinese oppression “is to be happy”.

“Happiness is a force that buckles the steely reins of dictators and seeps effortlessly through the shackles and cloaks of oppression,” he wrote, adding that by celebrating Losar every year, it “is a victory for a small nation of people numbering less than two per cent of China’s total population”.

Scuffles broke out between police and protesters at a pro-Tibet demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in London.

The protest was organised to coincide with a state visit by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7863707.st

French President Nicolas Sarkozy defied China on Saturday by meeting the Dalai Lama and said Europe shared the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader’s concerns over the situation in his homeland.

China called the meeting an “opportunistic, rash and short-sighted approach to handling the Tibet issue,” despite Sarkozy saying he regarded Tibet as part of China and that there was no need to “dramatize” his encounter.

“The meeting went very well … The Chinese authorities knew perfectly well this meeting would take place before the end of the year,” Sarkozy told reporters after his talks, which lasted about 30 minutes.

China called off a summit with the European Union last Monday in protest against Sarkozy’s plan to meet the Dalai Lama, branded by Beijing as a “splittist” for advocating self-determination for his mountain homeland.

On Saturday, China condemned the meeting. “This development is indeed an unwise move which not only hurts the feelings of the Chinese people, but also undermines Sino-French ties,” its official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary.

“The French side … took an opportunistic, rash and short-sighted approach to handling the Tibet issue.”


Sarkozy said the Dalai Lama, who welcomed him by draping a ‘kata’ or traditional Tibetan white scarf on his shoulder, had said at the meeting that he does not seek independence for Tibet. “I told him how much importance I attach to the pursuit of dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese authorities.”

Asked about the situation in Tibet, Sarkozy said: “The Dalai Lama shared with me his worries, worries which are shared in Europe. We have had a wide discussion of this question.” The Dalai Lama and other supporters of Tibetan self-rule say China is strangling the mountain region’s cultural and religious traditions and subordinating Tibetans to an influx of Han Chinese migrants and investment, charges Beijing rejects.

STAYING CALM

The two met in the Polish port of Gdansk where they joined 25th anniversary celebrations of Polish pro-democracy leader Lech Walesa’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Playing down any possible negative impact on Sino-French ties, Sarkozy said: “There is no need to dramatize things.”

Beijing’s unusually vocal criticism of Sarkozy’s plan to meet the Dalai Lama is linked to the fact that Paris holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, diplomats say.

In Paris, an official said there had been no sign yet of any Chinese boycott of French products. The EU is China’s biggest trade partner and supermarket chain Carrefour employs tens of thousands of people in China and is the biggest purchaser of Chinese goods in France.

French companies were subjected to Chinese boycotts and demonstrations earlier this year after the Paris leg of the Olympic torch relay was disrupted by anti-China protesters.

Earlier on Saturday, the Dalai Lama called for dialogue and compassion to solve the world’s problems.

“Warfare failed to solve our problems in the last century, so this century should be a century of dialogue,” he told delegates, including Walesa, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

The Dalai Lama, who met Tusk privately on Saturday, praised Polish courage in resisting past oppression.

The 73-year-old monk is a popular figure in Poland, where some see in his struggle with China’s communist authorities echoes of their own battles under Walesa against Soviet-backed communist rule that ended in 1989.

The Dalai Lama fled into exile in 1959 after a failed insurrection against Chinese rule in Tibet, occupied by People’s Liberation Army troops from 1950.