By Brooke Hines
“Peace is not a relationship of nations. It is a condition of mind brought about by a serenity of soul. Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind. Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people.”
Jawaharlal Nehru (Indian Prime Minister. 1889-1964)
|Tibetan prayer flags can be found covering the Dharmsala
region. They are said to promote wisdom, strength, peace,
There is more to India than meets the eye.
One of the roles this land embodies is the role of safe-haven for Tibetan refugees. The area surrounding Dharamsala in the hills of Himachal Pradesh is a temporary home to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan refugee population that has been escaping from China since 1959. The Tibetan society functioned as a sovereign, independent state until the communist government of China attempted to “liberate” the Tibetan people from their theocratic system. The succeeding Tibetan National Uprising in March of 1959 resulted in massive Tibetan bloodshed and a widespread escape of Tibetans to India.
The turmoil has continued since the exile. The Chinese government has worked vigorously to compromise what remains of the Tibetan culture to assimilate it into the rest of China. Over 6,000 monasteries and countless artifacts have been destroyed in order to limit Tibetan influence in the now Chinese occupied land.
One of the other tragedies of the plight of the Tibetans is the capture of the Panchen Lama in 1990 by the Chinese government. The Panchen Lama is declared the second-highest monk in Tibetan Buddhism. There are a series of tests that determine which child has been blessed with a reincarnated spirit of the past leader, who then is charged with the duty of leading the Tibetan people.
After the capture, the Chinese government appointed their own Panchen Lama, declaring him to be the true incarnation of the past leader. Nobody has seen the Tibetan Panchen Lama or his parents since the arrests and there is great unrest as to their whereabouts. Anxiety is increasing because of a recent holiday. On July 6, 2010, the stronghold of this nation in exile celebrated his 75th birthday with his Tibetan community. Some regarded this as a bittersweet celebration because of the underlying tone that His Holiness may not live to see reconciliation with the Chinese government. After the celebrations, a meeting was arranged with the Dalai Lama and the Prime Minister of India. It is suggested that the future of Tibet was the subject at hand. With one leader aging and another held captive by the Chinese government, an unspoken worry surrounds the Tibetan community.
Tsering, a twenty-year-old Tibetan living in India, shows more hope and compassion than worry for the future of Tibet. “In my mind, the Chinese people are very good. I don’t think that most Chinese people like their government. I think they have compassion and love and caring for other people, but the red government is very bad.”
When in Chinese school, Tsering and his classmates were not allowed to wear their necklaces symbolizing their allegiance to His Holiness. “What we want is a free human right. Because now, we do not. If you have a photo of the Dalai Lama, you will have at least three years in jail. Why? There is no reason.” He softly explained.
He described cities scattered with night clubs and street girls and trouble that he was getting into. At the age of sixteen, he followed the steps his mother trod years before to his new home in McLeod Gang, where he is now a waiter and a student. This description is nearly unimaginable when sitting across from the soft-spoken twenty-year-old who speaks with the conviction of a man twice his age.
“What we Tibetans believe is truth, justice, and tolerance because truth and justice cannot be hidden by anyone. As we can see now, there have so many world people of His Holiness. Why? Because we have truth and justice and they are all educated. Western people are very educated and what they believe is truth.” Tsering explained. “Truth is truth and it never can be changed. Even the Chinese are economically high and powerful country, but if they have no truth, then no one supports (them). Not only Tibet and also the Chinese will demand truth.”
When asked about the future of his people, Tsering spoke of hope, peace, and a middle way. “I think we hope for a middle way. His Holiness says, “Do not worry. It will happen when I’m in heaven.” If we get a middle way, then we can all get help. I think we Tibetans will become the leaders of peace. What we carry is love, compassion and tolerance for others.”