How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

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How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby Nilasarasvati » Thu May 30, 2013 10:44 pm

Similar to the crisis of faith I'd imagine many Jews would have after the Holocaust (how can we be called God's Chosen?)

How did practitioners of the Dharma rationalize the murder of thousands, the destruction of so many major monasteries of their religion, the execution and imprisonment of teachers and the subversion and neutering of their entire culture into a tool used by the Communist establishment? For anybody, I think, those kinds of experiences tend to erode everything one once believed about reality; what about for people who's reality was based on an often literal belief in Dharmapalas and tenmas and all sorts of magic that supposedly protected the teachings, the monasteries, the practice itself? How did/do Tibetan Buddhists come to grips with what happened without losing faith in the power of the Dharma?

Logically I'd be thinking

A. We were doing it wrong
or
B. The Teachings are wrong

Robert Thurman has an interesting rationalization in his book Essential Tibetan Buddhism where he talks about postulations that Mao was actually an emanation of Vajrapani sent to absorb all the evil karma that would be incurred by any ruler who did what he did, but it's definitely a really bizarre explanation.
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Re: How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby Ayu » Thu May 30, 2013 10:57 pm

Yes, it is Karma, within a dark age. Dukkha.

I can imagine that this is also the pain for the tibeteans if they are prevented of practice what they could do for the recovery.
To do practice correctly would help and that is inhibited.

But that there are dark times coming and going is not a new wonder. It is normal samsara. This needs no rationaliszation.
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
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Re: How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby Konchog1 » Thu May 30, 2013 11:02 pm

Karma. Also, protectors only protect the virtuous. Tibet wasn't a Shangri-La. The protectors protected the Dalai Lama and so forth.
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Re: How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby Nilasarasvati » Thu May 30, 2013 11:34 pm

Yeah I guess I remember Dzongsar Khyentse mentioning something to the effect of "if they had real devotion, they were protected." And of course I'm remembering the story where in spite of his powers, Maudgalyayana being killed as the ripening of his karma.

It makes me sad to think that statement "Tibet wasn't Shangri-la" is so hard for some Westerners I've known to accept.
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Re: How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu May 30, 2013 11:58 pm

I wonder on this sort of thing alot.

The thing is, Karma isn't the same thing as justice, and i'm not sure it's so easily understood as to make judgements about the rise and fall of cultures, and all things related to those as being a kind of meting out of cosmic justice...I think it's not for me to even form an opinion about "well this/that/our Karma led to this/that/the other thing", it's enough to understand that like follows like and not try to read into world events what might just be my own projection.

To look at it as if there are these self-contained societies with separate Karma or something is maybe not the most accurate thing it seems, society in general, people in general are constantly generating karmic seeds that lead to lots of bad stuff, the entity of "Tibet" is no more real than the entity of "China", and the Karma of both those designations would be involved, and lots of other things i'm sure we couldn't even comprehend. I know it is common to read stories in Mahayana and Vajrayana that work this way, where this event leads to this thing etc... but it is one place where I kind go 'hmmmm'' as they seem like awfully simple, convenient explanations of Karma that are there simply because we can't grasp the real causal chains underlying most things..at least I doubt the vast majority of us can.

Doesn't Abhidharma literature list laws other than karma that also govern changes within the world? Immensely complicated task to even try figuring out how those interact with the law of Karma and what sort of results would result from what sort of combinations.

I know the question was actually on how Tibetans view it, but I find the subject an interesting one, sorry to depart from it.
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Re: How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby Nilasarasvati » Fri May 31, 2013 12:41 am

Oh yeah I totally agree with you: Karma isn't some kind of universal retribution tit-for-tat thing. It's just cause, condition, effect. Unseeable. Unknowable until omniscience, and yet undeniably patterned.

However I think that all samsaric, dualistic phenomena are none other than karma.

And in terms of "the karma of nations" or something yeah--that's a totally oversimplistic monolithic way of viewing things. However, there is such a thing as shared karma. Our ability to both converse in English, for example, is part of our shared karmic phenomena. The fact that we both see the relatively similar phenomena, etc.

Also in no way should anybody think "well if a Lama died or was imprisoned they didn't have real devotion." or "Only unvirtuous people died." or something like that. Unfathomable individual circumstances, including highly noble and meritorious ones, doubtless led to many deaths and imprisonments of both laypeople and teachers.
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Re: How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby smcj » Fri May 31, 2013 12:51 am

The lamas I've heard say anything on the subject agree that it was karma. They don't agree on what the karmic problem was.

1. "We broke our bodhisattva vows by excluding foreigners." (I think HHDL said that.)
2. "We became too sectarian". (I forget)
3. "We brought samsara into the monasteries with us". (Kunga R.)
4. "We practiced motivated by wealth, power and prestige". (I forget)
Etc.

Once negative karma ripens in mature form there's nothing even a Buddha can do.
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Re: How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby Nilasarasvati » Fri May 31, 2013 2:40 am

I find it sort of disappointing that Tibetans never seem to recognize the grain of truth the Communists endlessly harp on as their lame justification for genocide: the whole feudal system was built on the backs of serfs and the monastic/noble/tulku caste was generally about as corrupt as the pre-reformation Catholic church.
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Re: How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby Indrajala » Fri May 31, 2013 3:02 am

I've heard various explanations. Some blame samaya breakers. Other insist it was sectarianism. I also recall hearing about collective karma being discussed in this respect.

Interestingly, at least some Bhutanese (maybe this is a national myth?) believe their Dharma protector saved them because Bhutan was never invaded.

I've never heard a Tibetan blame the bad political decisions of the Tibetan government for what happened (maybe they'd see that as insulting to HHDL).

If Tibet had established embassies in numerous foreign countries and invited foreign scholars and diplomats into the country while embarking on moderate infrastructure development they might have been able to deter a Chinese invasion through international pressure, but as we know that didn't happen. They just rolled in without much of the world really caring. For most westerners at the time Tibet was simply a mythological kingdom in the Himalayas.
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Re: How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby Nilasarasvati » Fri May 31, 2013 3:07 am

Yeah its certain that their isolationism didn't help them at all; it's also ironic to think that the Vietnam war dragged on endlessly just a decade or so after the invasion of Tibet ostensibly to combat the same Communist hegemony; even more ironically in a nation where the communists (I believe) had much more support among the common people.
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Re: How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby Seishin » Fri May 31, 2013 2:02 pm

I don't think genocide can ever be rationalized. Plus I was taught that not everything that happens is due to karma. Sometimes s *%t happens.
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Re: How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby Sherlock » Fri May 31, 2013 2:11 pm

Indrajala wrote:Interestingly, at least some Bhutanese (maybe this is a national myth?) believe their Dharma protector saved them because Bhutan was never invaded.

In particular, a worldly protector by the name of Queen Victoria. Bhutan was essentially a British, then later Indian protectorate. The present monarchy was installed by the British to displace the former Chosgyal. Bhutan is also on the southern side of the Himalayas, much harder for the Chinese to reach. What is more interesting is how it never got incorporated into India like Sikkim did.

I doubt anyone here has the siddhi to see the causes and fruits of all karmic actions so all of that is purely speculation. What is more important, for practitioners in Tibetan traditions, is to ask ourselves what can be done to preserve Tibetan culture in the present.
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Re: How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby CrawfordHollow » Fri May 31, 2013 3:41 pm

I heard a quote from Trungpa once where he said that the Chinese did what the Tibetans had failed to do themselves. Of course, this is in no way justifying the atrocities committed against the Tibetans, but it is interesting that Chinese takeover in many ways acted as a catalyst for the Dharma to spread throughout the world. Please don't think that I support the horrible actions committed against the Tibetans in any way. I am not sure where I read that quote, if anybody has the source I would be interested in seeing it. It was a powerful statement.

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Re: How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby Indrajala » Fri May 31, 2013 4:32 pm

Sherlock wrote: Bhutan was essentially a British, then later Indian protectorate.


I recently helped a Bhutanese monk write a letter in English to the Bhutanese Embassy.

Apparently official communications are in English... :?
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Re: How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby tingdzin » Tue Jun 11, 2013 8:41 pm

It should be kept in mind that "Tibet" was not a single entity before the Chinese invasion. There were large area populated by Tibetan speakers and culturally Tibetan where the Dewa Zhung (Dalai Lama's government) had little authority. The centralized feudal/serf-labor model harped on by those who think the Chinese genocide is karmic comeuppance was not really very applicable to much of Khams or Amdo. It is extremely simplistic to say that misfortunes can all be blamed on wrongdoing, especially on a societal level. Karma is much more complex that that.

By the way, Bhutan has so far not been claimed by China mostly because the Bhutanese whipped an invasion by Gusri Khan's Mongols and hence was never incorporated into the Dalai Lama's state at the time most of Central Tibet was. Nevertheless, I have heard that on some "internal-distribution-only" (nei bu) maps of China, Bhutan is duly incorporated into the Motherland.
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Re: How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby Sara H » Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:29 pm

It seems really interesting, that the obvious example is simply the Law of Change.

The world was changing outside of Tibet, and the Tibetan's simply didn't want to accept the reality of it.

The same thing happened to Japan, when they stayed isolated for too long.

Eventually, being cut off, they blinded themselves to the fact that military technology was advancing elsewhere, and that meant that their neighbor nations suddenly (it seemed) had the ability to invade them and take what they wanted, (or in the case of japan, force treaties that the Japanese didn't like, as in the Meiji era).

When, in reality, it wasn't a sudden change at all, it happened over time, naturally, but by being so cut off from the rest of the world, they blinded (deluded) themselves to the reality of it.

Destruction was a natural consequence of that. They were no longer strong enough to defend themselves against external threats.

Essentially they were fighting, or ignoring the natural Law of Change.

The 13'th Dalai Lama saw this, and tried desperately to get his country to modernize, with no effect, and in vain. The powers that be, in his country at the time simply didn't want to face external realities of the changing world around them.

It was fear of change, and the unknown that that brings, and clinging to the status quo, plain and simple. (the cause of suffering is clinging rooted in ignorance)

Change, and constant change is a basic Buddhist teaching.

Trying to keep things the same when things are changing is delusion.

The Tibetan leaders were simply deluded, and a few, like the 13'th Dalai Lama, were trying to point that out to them.

They willfully refused to listen, and acknowledge and act regarding the changing world around them, and they got the consequences.

It's really that simple.
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Re: How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jun 12, 2013 4:30 am

Indrajala wrote:
I've never heard a Tibetan blame the bad political decisions of the Tibetan government for what happened (maybe they'd see that as insulting to HHDL).



You haven't been paying attention then.
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Re: How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby tingdzin » Wed Jun 12, 2013 3:58 pm

To those, Tibetan and otherwise, who persists in trying to see the Tibetan tragedy as a morality play, there is another thing to be kept in mind: even if the Tibetan leaders had all been forward-looking, intelligent individuals with no stake in the existing power structure, they could not have retained their independence in the face of the world situation at that time. India was sucking up to China, seeing China as another victim of European colonialism, and was not realistically equipped to fight China in Tibet anyway. America had its hands full in Korea, and could not really have projected power that far away. Mongolians (another subject people of the Ching Empire) are only independent today because they had powerful Russian friends.
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Re: How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby LionelChen » Sat Jun 15, 2013 7:13 am

Somewhat attached to the various rationalizations i've heard is an idea that was voiced by Robert Thurman, the Tibetan Buddhist scholar (and incidentally father of the actress Uma Thurman).

This was all bound to happen because of negative Karma...but....he contends that the most compelling theory regarding Chinese motivations and actions during the period is that the Buddha Vajrapani decided to incarnate himself as Mao ZeDong because he knew that the Chinese were preparing an invasion of Tibet

Why?

to prevent other, ordinarily human, materialists from reaping the consequences of such terrible acts, to challenge the Tibetan Budhists to let go of the trappings of their religion and philosophy and force themselves to achieve the ability to embody...their teachings of detachment, compassion, and wisdom
....along with facilitating he spread of Tibetan Buddhism world-wide.

Thurman said this wasn't an original idea of his, assigning the origin to on Tseten Sangpo.
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Re: How do Tibetans Rationalize the Tibetan Genocide?

Postby Adamantine » Sat Jun 15, 2013 2:40 pm

There's also an elephant in the room cause, generally
widely referenced by Nyingma masters
but it's not an open topic according to our TOS. Suffice it to say its an
issue the 5th and 13th Dalai Lamas took very seriously and warned about .

Aside from that, certainly there's many karmic
causes, and even in Dudjom Rinpoche's Big Red Book
The History of the Nyingma he briefly references
the so-called bad luck of the Nyingma as related to karmic
effects of the actions of the Royal Dynasty of King Trisong Deutsen
in the purge and violence against Bonpos. Of course, things like this are collective
karma, motivations aside .

Also re: the virtuous Lamas were protected and everyone else was not. Let's not forget
all the great masters who lived in Chinese prison for 20 years or more . Garchen Rinpoche? Yangthang Rinpoche?
Kusum Lingpa? And many more of the best masters of our time.
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