Monday, July 14, 2008

The war between Chinese guns and Tibetan hugs

From McLeod Ganj, where the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-In-Exile reside, Tashi Delek! I'm in the eye of the cyclone that is the ultimate David and Goliath battle of the 21st century.

This battle is different from any that I've ever come across...cos it's a social experiment of the highest order...and I'm wondering whether, in my lifetime, or the Dalai Lama's, we'll be blessed enough to see the outcome. China is pummelling Tibet with anger, violence, torture, human rights abuses, insults against the Dalai Lama, threats of annihilation...and the Dalai Lama and his loyal Tibetan people have been responding with an innovative approach to international relations of active, yet non-violent, resistance for almost fifty years now.

Violence begets violence. It is a neverending cyclic nightmare that has never truly worked to solve the world's problems in the past. The Dalai Lama and his people are the only ones doing something to try to change the way people have been conditioned to behave towards each other for centuries. The world turned its back on them a while back, but they continue to fight on peacefully regardless, with or without the world's support.

Though the materialistic world generally thinks China will win cos of its economic might, Tibet knows better. China is going through a massive identity crisis, and, as a result, is behaving like a petulant, immature teenager. Communism is disintegrating before the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP's) very eyes, and it is trying to hold onto an ideology that is no longer relevant in China or the 21st century. It is now clutching at power through other, more desperate means...the booming economy and xenophobia...since when did Communism embrace consumerism??? And since when did non-religious Communists decide to pick who would be Tibetan Buddhism's next Panchen Lama, attempting to sabotage the Dalai Lama's job? All of China's actions smack of desperation, and it goes to bed at night cuddling its economic teddy bear, thinking that this will keep it safe from the world community's reprimand.

Think about it another way... in terms of numbers. The CCP has been clinging to power in China and various outlying "minority" areas such as Tibet that it has "liberated" for about 60 years. The Dalai Lama has been the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people for about 600 years. The CCP and the world have seriously underestimated how far the roots of spirituality and religion go in the Tibetan people's psyche, and no amount of economic bribery that China is supposedly providing to them in Tibet will buy their acceptance of CCP rule (whether this economic bribery is actually reaching the Tibetan people in Tibet, or in fact the Han Chinese people, whom the CCP is trucking over to Tibet in the millions - the effective "sinocization" of the Land of Snows - is open to debate).

Most of us are so brainwashed by economic wealth, by concrete, tangible factors and materialism, that we assume that, since the world's not listening to Tibet due to China's economic might, it means that Tibet has lost. The Dalai Lama can play the waiting game for years...he knows the psychology of patience inside out, Tibetan Buddhism being equal parts science, religion and philosophy...and if the CCP doesn't crumble in his lifetime, then it will in his reincarnation's lifetime (assuming, the Dalai Lama says, that the next generation of Tibetans still wants a Dalai Lama). The Tibetans have never really desired material forms. Westerners are, on the whole, materially rich, but spiritually poor. The Tibetans have always flipped life the other way around...they are, as they profess to me, simple people leading simple lives, with few material possessions...for it is not material possessions that make them happy and whole. Tibetan Buddhism has already taught them how to be happy...they have the greatest inner strength and mental calm of any people I have ever known. They crack a mean joke and laugh straight from the heart.

That's why I know they'll be alright. No matter what Tibetan material forms die out, their spirit will always live on in some form...long past the CCP's demise...and it will, one day, flow right back into Tibet.

Right, on that note, I'm off to the weekly McLeod Ganj candle march.