Hmm. Willingly, or under duress (more like the French in Nazi occupied France during WWII)?
At least in some cases willingly. See "Surviving the Dragon" by Ajira Rinpoche.
Thanks for the pointer. Surviving the Dragon looks interesting.
It is a very interesting book. The name is, however, Arjia Rinpoche.
from Chapter 6 Enter the Cultural Revolution, about the destruction of sutras and some statues in Kumbum monastery:
One cloudy autumn day, while we were harvesting green peas in the field, we heard a voice come over the loudspeaker demanding that we attend a meeting. We sensed that something terrible was about to happen. When we arrived at the courtyard, we saw that a crowd had gathered, including hundreds of college students; where they had come from, we did not know. They began a political study session, but the meeting was chaotic, and they began to argue among themselves. Suddenly, several college students started fighting at the front gate of the Great Hall of Golden Tiles. They looked crazed. From their shouting I realized that some wanted to destroy everything in the hall, but a woman student wearing a Red Guard armband opposed them, advocating protection of the ancient objects. Unfortunately, she had few supporters. When the majority of the Red Guards moved to enter the hall, the gatekeeper, a monk named Tsering, locked the gate. Some Red Guards went to the leader of the government work team stationed in the monastery, who ordered Tsering to open the gate. Tsering had no choice but to surrender the key. The Red Guards swarmed into Maitreya Hall next door and began to toss bundles of ancient sutras into the courtyard from the second floor of the Buddha Hall. They lit a fire, and soon the monastery was filled with the thick smoke of burning books. Some monks lost control and began to wail. Others stood motionless. Still others joined in the destruction of the sutras, spurring on the students. Panic and rage were everywhere, like demons unleashed. I watched in helpless horror as the Red Guards burned the sutras in Gyayak Rinpoche’s personal shrine. After a few hours, a cadre halted the Red Guard’s atrocities because he suspected they were stealing valuable works of art. Many students left, disappointed that their plan for total destruction had failed. After this incident, monk positivists and Red Guards destroyed many more statues and sutras on their own. According to Chinese history, the first emperor of China burned books and killed scholars more than 2,000 years ago. It was considered his great achievement. True to this ignoble tradition, burning sutras and smashing Buddhas were great achievements of the Cultural Revolution in Tibet.
The term positivist monks refers to monks doing the bidding of the PRC cadres and the Red Guards. There are many such stories.
From Chapter 9 The Sacred Tree and the Time Machine:
The original intent of the Chinese clampdown on monasteries was not necessarily to destroy them, but to reduce the power of religion as part of an attempt to gain absolute control over Tibet. However, destruction was often the result, especially of those monasteries in mountainous and fortified positions, many of which had been taken over by Tibetan freedom fighters and would be flattened by Chinese shelling and bombing. The renewed destruction of monasteries during the Cultural Revolution was conducted for different reasons, but was no less devastating. With the blessings of Chairman Mao, Red Guard units joined by fearful or traitorous Tibetans—monks and laypeople—ransacked the temples and ravaged the buildings, destroying in weeks knowledge and culture that had taken 11 centuries to evolve.
_________________Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes
"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche