Admiration for the Dalai Lama

July 24, 2017

The brutal treatment of Tibetans, the violent overthrow of Tibet by China in the 1950s, a plea for help to the US – all things I never learned in high school or college history classes. Add it to the list of things we don’t learn, likely because the US wasn’t involved and in our arrogance – if we didn’t care about it then, well then it isn’t worthy of study.

10 Questions for the Dalai Lama is an older documentary (2006) but still worthy of watching. The cinematography alone is worth your time. The beauty of these barren places in Asia is breathtaking.

Rick Ray, the documentarian, leads the viewer through his interview with the Dalai Lama (the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people) by taking them through a history of Tibet, through the Dalai Lama’s current plight and insistence on non-violence as a means of protest. It is an incredible history and one every American should consider and study. I have, of course, heard of the Dalai Lama and his struggle for independence from China for his people, but that’s about it. This film absolutely opened my eyes.

  • China’s overthrow of Tibet was, and is, incredibly violent. Tens of thousands of Tibetans were brutally tortured and murdered in the struggle.
  • Literally hundreds of Buddhist monasteries were destroyed when Tibet was occupied in 1951. (It remains occupied today.)
  • The Dalai Lama insisted on non-violence and met extensively with Chinese leaders. He wanted to keep Tibet its own entity, but agreed to demands by the Chinese.
  • During the 1959 uprising in Tibet, 87,000 Tibetans were killed.
  • Tibetans then, and now, were not permitted to participate in religious or cultural ceremonies. It is illegal to possess a picture of the Dalai Lama in China.
  • The Dalai Lama was welcomed in India, where he remains in exile to this day.

The interview with the Dalai Lama, and other footage of him speaking, is unbelievably uplifting. He absolutely insists on non-violence and he refuses to accept any violence in his name. Although the Chinese government is unbelievably violent, he refuses to initiate violence in response. He is also a firm believer in democracy, and he speaks quite frankly to the US about how he does not believe in our violence and our way of using guns, etc.

Also interesting is that the Dalai Lama is a huge fan of the internet (particularly because he is against the censorship that takes place in many places including China) and he believes that Tibet should be a part of the current era. In other words, he really believes that some old customs should be dropped in the name of progress. He also really loves studying physics and taking things apart to see how they work.

Most of all, I greatly admired his firm belief in non-violence. His only exception really was in the case of defending onself from violence. He firmly believes that peace and co-existence with China is a possibility, and he refuses to allow his followers to reply to them with guns. He also believes that everyone deserves peace and freedom, and love. Listening to him talk was so inspiring to this Christian. I wish that many of my fellow believers would take up his cause for freedom, peace, and love. Didn’t Jesus teach love for all neighbors?

I couldn’t take my eyes off this documentary and I learned so much about recent history and the plight of the Tibetan people. I have preached non-violent protest for a long time and will continue to follow his example. His hero is Mahatma Gandhi, and one of mine too. I am now also a big fan of the Dalai Lama and I appreciate his gift of speaking and humor, and his insistence on love and peaceful protest. You will not be disappointed in this film. It is stunning in its beauty.

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (NRSV): Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

Serve all with love.

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