Tibetan lama faces scrutiny and suspicion in India

His daring escape from Tibet seemed out of a movie. Then only 14, Ogyen Trinley Dorje was one of Tibetan Buddhism’s most revered incarnate lamas, and his journey through the icy passes of the Himalayas was viewed as a major embarrassment for China. The youth arrived in India in early 2000 to a euphoric greeting from Tibetan exiles.

India, though, was less certain about what to do with him. Intelligence agencies, suspicious of his loyalties and skeptical of his miraculous escape, interrogated him and tightly restricted his travel. He remains mostly confined to the mountainside monastery of a Tibetan sect different from his own. And that spurred an idea: He wanted his own monastery. Eventually, his aides struck a deal to buy land.

Now, the 17th Karmapa, as he is known, has seen his quest for a monastery unexpectedly set off a national furor, fanned by Indian media that have tapped into growing public anxiety about Chinese intentions on their disputed border.

The Indian police are investigating the Karmapa after discovering about $1 million in foreign currency at his residence, including more than $166,000 in Chinese currency. Flimsily sourced media accounts have questioned whether he is a Chinese spy plotting a monastic empire along the border.

“Monk or Chinese Plant?” asked an editorial in The Tribune, a national English-language newspaper.

Many Tibetans scoff at the spying allegations. But the episode starkly exposes the precarious position of the Dalai Lama and the exiled movement of Tibetan Buddhism he has led since he fled China in 1959. The Tibetan cause depends heavily on Indian good will, particularly as China has intensified efforts to discredit and infiltrate their exile organization.

Tensions are rising between India and China over a variety of issues, including…

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Tibet. Sophisticated hackers, traced to China, have penetrated computer systems in Dharamsala and at Indian government ministries. China has long blamed Tibetan exiles in India for fueling instability across the border in Tibet. But now India, too, seems more wary of Tibetan activities; the Indian police are investigating new Tibetan monasteries near the border for possible ties to China, a police official said.

Meanwhile, Chinese leaders are betting that the Tibetan movement will fracture after the eventual death of the Dalai Lama, who is 74; they have even declared their intent to name his successor.

Indian suspicions about the Karmapa are a particular problem. He has a global following and, at 25 years old, he is viewed as a potential future leader of the movement — a possibility deeply compromised if Indian authorities consider him a foreign agent.

“What Tibetans must address is the idea that Tibetans could be considered a security threat to India and not an asset,” said Tsering Shakya, a leading Tibet specialist. “But the idea that a boy at the age of 14 was selected as a covert agent by a foreign government to destabilize India — and the assumption the boy will assume leadership of the Tibetan movement and eventually work against India — is worthy of a cheap spy novel.”

For the past week, Tibetans have rallied behind the Karmapa, with thousands of monks holding candlelight vigils at his residence. Tibet’s political leaders, including the Dalai Lama, have called on the Karmapa’s aides to correct any financial irregularities but have dismissed any suspicions about the Karmapa’s being a Chinese agent.

“Baseless, all baseless,” said Samdhong Rinpoche, the prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile. “Not a fraction of anything that has a base of truth.”

Many Indian intelligence agents have distrusted the Karmapa from the start. He was a unique case, since both the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government had endorsed him. He would explain his escape as an act of principle; he was being pressured to denounce the Dalai Lama, and Chinese officials also were forbidding him to study with high lamas outside China. Many investigators were unconvinced, wondering how such an important figure could slip so easily over the border.

On Wednesday, when the procession of monks arrived to offer support, the Karmapa described the current controversy as a “misunderstanding” and expressed confidence in the fairness of Indian authorities.

“We all have taken refuge and settled here,” he said. “India, in contrast to Communist China, is a democratic country that is based on the rule of law. Therefore, I trust that things will improve and the truth will become clear in time.”

Within Tibetan Buddhism, the Karmapa ranks third after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, with each man believed to be reincarnated through the centuries. After the death of the previous Karmapa, a bitter feud broke out between the high lamas charged with identifying his successor: at least two other people now claim to be the Karmapa, though a majority of Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama, recognize Ogyen Trinley Dorje.

But this dispute has complicated efforts by the Karmapa to claim the monastery built by his predecessor in the Indian border region of Sikkim. Indian officials have blocked him from taking ownership until claims from rival Tibetan factions are resolved — which is why, given the uncertainty over the duration of the legal fight, the Karmapa sought land for a new monastery, his aides say.

The land deal led to the current controversy. On Jan. 26, India’s Republic Day, police officers apprehended two men at a highway checkpoint after discovering about $219,000 in Indian rupees inside their car — money they said had come from the Karmapa. The next day, the police raided the Gyuto Monastery and found boxes of cash from more than 20 countries, including China; officers arrested the financial officer overseeing the Karmapa’s charitable trust and continue to investigate the Karmapa himself.

“He ran from China,” said P. L. Thakur, the police inspector general in Dharamsala. “Tibet is under China. Why and how has this currency come here? For what purpose? Why was it being kept there?”

Naresh Mathur, one of the Karmapa’s lawyers, said the money was from the devotees who for the past decade had come from around the world for the Karmapa’s blessing. By custom, they leave an offering, usually envelopes of cash; the Chinese renminbi, he said, are from Tibetans or other Chinese who have made a pilgrimage to Dharamsala.

Mr. Mathur said the Karmapa’s aides were unable to deposit the money because they were awaiting a decision on their application — made several years ago — for government approval to accept foreign currency. In the interim, they say, the money is stored where the officers found it — in boxes kept in a dorm room shared by monks.

Mr. Mathur also denied any suggestion that the land deal was secretive or illegal, and he said that it was the seller who demanded cash.

On Friday, the Karmapa offered blessings to devotees who lined up to meet him in his fourth-floor reception room. Among them was a group of Chinese followers from the manufacturing hub of Shenzhen. Aides say that bookkeeping mistakes may have been made in recording the donations, but that the intent is to handle the money the right way.

“We will be making changes,” said Deki Chungyalpa, a spokeswoman for the Karmapa. “Like hiring a professional accountant who is not a monk.”

For many Tibetans, the broader concern is about the future of the Tibetan movement itself. Tenzin Tsundue is a Tibetan activist who once unfurled a “Free Tibet” banner at an appearance by President Hu Jintao of China. He says India has always been a steadfast friend of Tibetans, providing a home for as many as 120,000 Tibetan refugees, yet now he worries its support may be wavering.

“This country that we are so grateful to is alleging the Karmapa is a spy for China,” he said. “And we can’t understand that at all.”

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Groupon Superbowl ad trivializes the suffering of the Tibetan people

Groupon, an outfit that offers discount coupons online, ran what it no doubt thought was a witty little ad during the Superbowl (apparently some kind of US sporting event in which massive numbers of people celebrate physical excellence by sitting in front of TV sets for hours, consuming large quantities of calories washed down by alcoholic beverages).

The ad begins with what appears to be a serious tone, with the actor Timothy Hutton saying: “The people of Tibet are in trouble, their very culture in jeopardy.” This is of course, true. Since the Chinese occupation began, Tibetan culture and religion has been oppressed. Many Tibetans have fled the country in order to escape persecution. Monasteries have been dynamited. Buddhist scriptures have been destroyed. Ethnic Han Chinese have flooded into Tibet, outnumbering the native population and overwhelming the culture. Most seriously of all, many Tibetans have been imprisoned and tortured for trying to practice their Buddhist religion.

But then Hutton switches to a more “jovial” tone, noting that Tibetans are still able to “whip up a great fish curry”, and that “since 200 of us bought at Groupon.com, we’re each getting $30 worth of Tibetan food for just $15.”

Never mind that “fish curry” is not a Tibetan dish, the switch in tone inevitably conveys the message, “Who cares about all that suffering! Save money with Groupon!” It’s an appallingly cynical use of the suffering of the Tibetan people. Groupon appears to be saying “Tibet doesn’t matter. Their suffering is a joke.” The company’s defense of their ad actually just reinforces that impression. Groupon’s founder, Andrew Mason, is quoted in the UK’s Telegraph as saying:

So what if we did a parody of a celebrity-narrated, PSA-style commercial that you think is about some noble cause … but then it’s revealed to actually be a passionate call to action to help yourself?”

To me there’s something nauseating about “a passionate call to action to help yourself.” As if we’re not already saturated with those. Mason seems to take his job rather too seriously, apparently thinking that saving money is the highest value — higher than compassion or any of that boring stuff. It sounds like he needs to get out more, and perhaps to get in touch with more fully human values outside the grubby marketplace.

The “so what” is that the ad trivializes suffering. In fact it invites people to actively disregard others’ suffering. The ad itself presents the suffering of the Tibetan people as a joke — something less important than “helping yourself” by saving money at a restaurant. Had the ad been focused on the problems of some fictitious ethnic group, Groupon might have got away with this emotional bait and switch game, and it might even have been genuinely funny. But trying to turn the suffering — including rape, torture, and cultural genocide — of real people into the “straight-man” lead-in to a joke about saving money is just crass and insensitive.

Update: Yes, Groupon raises money for Tibet. Although apparently not very effectively, and this ad was not even indirectly a pitch to help Tibet.

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Buddha’s not smiling: examining knee-jerk reporting about the Karmapa

‘Is the Karmapa a Chinese spy?’ ‘Is the possible successor to the Dalai Lama a Chinese mole?’ ‘Is this another clever ploy of China to take control of the border regions?’ The media have gone berserk with speculations about the Karmapa Lama. Sadly, the coverage has failed to do any groundwork research. This episode not only exposes the way the Indian media works but also jolts the Tibetan faith in Indian democracy and harms India’s long-term interests in Tibet.

The police raid found a few crore (100,000) rupees worth of cash. At most, this may be a case of financial irregularity or non-transparent dealings by the managers of the Karmapa’s monastery for which they should be held accountable. Raising questions about a person being a spy for another country is a serious matter. It destroys his or her reputation. The news stories reflect a witch-hunt and betray the lack of an understanding of Tibetan life in India.

Ogyen Trinley Dorje is the 17th Karmapa, the oldest lineage in Tibetan Buddhism and the head of the Karma Kagyu sect. He is one of the rare lamas recognised by both the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government. There is nothing conspiratorial about it. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, China was more accommodative of Tibet-based religious figures, consulting and coordinating the choice of reincarnations with the Dalai Lama and other lamas in exile. This accommodativeness came to an end with the crisis over the Panchen Lama’s reincarnation in 1995.

The Karmapa’s selection after the demise of the 16th Karmapa was not without its own controversy as there is a rival candidate, Trinley Thaye Dorje, who had the backing of a senior Karma Kagyu figure, the Shamarpa. The Shamarpa is reputed to have close connections within the Indian security establishment and bureaucracy. But most Tibetans have accepted the Dalai Lama’s choice. In fact, within China-controlled Tibet, veneration for the Karmapa is next only to that of the Dalai Lama. Even within the Gelug (the sect of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama) monasteries in Tibet, one comes across the Karmapa’s picture and it is clear that for ordinary Tibetans, the Karmapa’s proximity to the Dalai Lama adds to his sacredness.

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It is true that the Karmapa has avoided making anti-China political statements and Beijing has therefore not denounced him. Again, there is nothing suspicious about this. The Chinese had refused to openly criticise even the Dalai Lama in 1959 until he made a public statement after his exile. Beijing does not want to denounce the Karmapa and thus contribute to the creation of another globally recognised figurehead around which the Free Tibet movement will mobilise. Moreover, in recent history, Karmapas have avoided overly political positions since in the traditional Tibetan State, the Gelug sect was dominant. By focusing solely on religious affairs, the present 17th Karmapa is following the footsteps of his previous reincarnation.

It is unfortunate that without appreciating the nuances of sectarian politics within Tibetan Buddhism and Sino-Tibetan relations, the Indian media portrayed the Karmapa’s apolitical stance as suspicious. Continuing speculation about the Karmapa’s escape from Tibet in 1999 reminds me of a Japanese conspiracy theory film where the filmmaker argued that he was ‘sent’ to Sikkim to get control over the ‘Black Hat’ kept in Rumtek monastery in Sikkim. Interestingly, this film was given to me in Beijing!

Decades of repression during the Cultural Revolution has not been able to shake the belief that Tibetans have in their lamas. The Indian media’s onslaught on the Karmapa will only reaffirm Tibetan respect for the Karmapa. But it will certainly backfire for India as followers of Tibetan Buddhism in exile, in the border regions, in Tibet and in the rest of the world, will resent this humiliation of the religious figure. Had it been the Shahi Imam or Baba Ramdev, would the media have taken such liberties in going to town with such an unconfirmed story?

Hardline officials in China must be laughing their heads off at the Indian media circus. They know that this will not only create confusion in the exiled Tibetan community in India, but will also create a disenchantment about India among Tibetans inside China. India has let the Tibetans down on many occasions since the late 1940s when the latter sought help and support in making their claims for independence internationally and in 1954 when the Panchsheel agreement was signed with China over the old Tibetan State. India has provided refuge to more than 100,000 Tibetan exiles. But we must not forget that the exiled lamas provide a stability and keep the people in the borderlands pacified in a manner more effective than the Indian military. Tibetans are over-generous with their gratitude to their Indian hosts and are hesitant in reminding India of a small inconvenient truth: until 1951, the disputed border regions were neither Chinese nor Indian but Tibetan. In return, the very least Indians could do is not malign Tibetan religious leaders before they are even proved guilty of their misdemeanour. Is that too much to ask?

Dibyesh Anand is an associate professor of international relations at Westminster University, London and the author of Tibet: A Victim of Geopolitics
The views expressed by the author are personal

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Tibetan Buddhism can solve global conflicts: Karmapa

The four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism are trying to find common ground to carry forward Lord Buddha’s teachings in way they can be used to resolve geo-political conflicts, says Thrinley Thaye Dorje, the 17th spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.

‘The awareness that the four schools have to find common ground is getting stronger. It will happen because unity among the Buddhist sects is crucial to world peace,’ 27-year-old Thrinley Dorje told IANS in an interview in Bodh Gaya, the seat of Gautama Buddha’s enlightenment.

‘It can solve conflicts because the teachings of Buddha are based on bringing inner and outer peace,’ he added.

The four schools are the ancient Nyingma tradition, the Karma Kagyu school, the Sakya school and the…

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Gelug school. The last three are relatively new when compared to the eighth century Nyingma tradition.

The Karmapa (the high monk) was in the town to preside over the commemoration of the 900th anniversary of the Karma Kagyu school of Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet. The order traces its lineage to north Indian monk Tilopa and was formally founded by Dusum Kyenpa (1110-1193) – known as the high monk with the black crown. The Karma Kagyu sect manages the affairs of the Rumtek monastery in Sikkim.

Thrinley Dorje believes that although traces of Buddhism have existed in the Himalayas for a long time, globalisation and modernism have helped it spread on a larger scale.

‘Globalisation has brought the world together. Even 45 years ago, Buddhism was not heard of outside East and Southeast Asia,’ he said.

He said, ‘In general, all the four (Tibetan) Buddhist schools are built on the same foundations’.

‘They believe in carrying the teachings of the Buddha forward. The difference is in the way of interpreting and teaching the tenets of the Buddha. Our way of teaching is transmission which emphasises on meditation. Our lineage is one of meditation,’ the Karmapa said.

The seat of the 17th Karmapa of the Karma Kagyu sect has been a subject of controversy. After the death of the 16th Karmapa in 1981, two young masters, 27-year-old Thrinley Dorje and 25-year-old Ogyen Trinley Dorje, have been contenders to the post. Both have been enthroned as the spiritual heads.

The Chinese government and the Dalai Lama however approve of Ogyen Trinley Dorje. Born in Tibet, both the lamas fled to India in the 1990s and have been identified as reincarnations of great Buddhist spiritual masters.

Thrinley Dorje does not miss his homeland or feel distanced from Tibet.

‘There is not much of a distance because globalisation has strengthened bonds between Tibet and India. My bonds are stronger from the perspective that when I meditate, the physical gap becomes a relative thing – it’s nothing more than an idea,’ said the Buddhist master, who was born in Tibet.

‘In our state of meditation, we (Tibet and I) are very much connected. It is like the way I connect to my students at the opposite side of the globe through meditation,’ he added.

Thrinley Dorje has meditated in isolation for 12 years before being deemed fit for the post. He was identified as a holy reincarnation at the age of two and a half by a monk of the Sakya Pa school in Tibet, who informed the Karma Kagyu monastery in Nepal about the ‘boy and his previous life’.

He was led through the rites of passage after an early initiation by a Kagyu red hat lama, Shamarpa Mipham Chokyi Lodro, who traditionally instructs the Karmapa on the complex doctrines of the sect.

‘Tibet has four major schools of Vajrayana Buddhism (that incorporates tantrik Buddhism),’ he said.

Thrinley Dorje said he was ‘trying to make Buddhism relevant to youth’.

‘The awareness about the faith is rising worldwide and it is one of the ways to reach out to the people. The world finds it easy to emotionally connect to Buddhism,’ he said.

One way that could help youth harness the power of the Buddha in them was to ‘remain close to the family’, the master said.

‘Youth must respect their parents and remain devoted to them. Respect and devotion to parents are vital to Gautama’s teachings, especially in modern times,’ Thrinley Dorje said.

‘The modern times are very exciting and interesting. And if one does not engage in the right way, it can be quite harmful. The transition to modern times must be peaceful,’ he added.

He advocated ‘compassion, tolerance and patience for the monks in Tibet, who were being persecuted.’ ‘If we have compassion, tolerance and peace, situations change because you will not repeat history,’ he said.

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Dalai Lama speaks — at Universal Studios

LA Times: The exiled Tibetan leader speaks to an audience of thousands in what some might consider an incongruous setting. But his message is unchanged: The path to happiness is not paved with stuff.

In his first major public appearance in Los Angeles in more than three years, the Dalai Lama spoke to a crowd of several thousand people Sunday about his hopes for Tibet, the need for dialogue in resolving conflicts and the importance of spurning the material world to cultivate compassion.

People today are “too much concerned with exterior material values and not our inner values,” the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said.

Happiness, he said, touching his heart, “ultimately depends on here.”

The event was a benefit for Whole Child International, an L.A. nonprofit that trains caregivers in orphanages. It took place at Universal Studios, in the same amphitheater where the Teen Choice Awards are held, and singer Sheryl Crow performed.

Kristen Deem, sitting on a bench outside the theater practicing meditation breathing techniques before the talk began, said she found the juxtaposition strange.

“This place is like Vegas, and here is this spiritual entity,” said Deem, 45, who lives in North Hollywood. She gestured to the crowd of people streaming into the auditorium, some clutching sodas and buckets of popcorn. “A lot of these people don’t go to meditation centers,” Deem said. “They’re Hollywood yuppies.”

But Lamu Stadler, a Los Alamitos resident who was born in India to parents who were Tibetan exiles, said she didn’t find the setting incongruous. The theme park, she said, “is a beautiful, happy-feeling place where families have fun together.” The Dalai Lama’s message, Stadler said, was similarly upbeat.

“Whenever we are under the same roof, I can feel something very good,” said Stadler, 53, who was wearing traditional Tibetan attire.

Tibetans like Stadler consider the Dalai Lama both their spiritual and their political leader. “His Holiness,” as they call him, fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

In recent years, the Dalai Lama has scaled back his demands for Tibetan independence and now calls for “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet within China.

Sunday was his first public appearance since a private meeting with President Obama last week that provoked objections from Chinese officials, who accuse the Dalai Lama of trying to orchestrate a rebellion.

Sitting cross-legged in a chair onstage, the Dalai Lama did not discuss that meeting. In a meandering and at times humorous hourlong talk, he spoke about Tibet and his belief that all social change must begin on the individual level.

“External disarmament” first requires “internal disarmament,” he said.

“At the fundamental level, we are the same human being,” he said. “Mentally, emotionally, physically — same.”

Later, as attendees streamed toward the parking lot, Redondo Beach resident Ralph Cooper walked to his car with a smile.

“Right now, I feel like I’m reconnected to my purpose,” Cooper said.

His goal, he said, was to live like the Dalai Lama and to “positively affect as many people as possible.”

He put his hand on his heart. “You’ve got to start right here at the root.”

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Obama administration in talks with Dalai Lama

The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama today confirmed that discussions between the Dalai Lama and a senior US Government delegation took place in Dharamsala on September 13 and 14. The delegation was led by Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement, and included Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs (designated to serve concurrently as Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues) and other US Government officials.

According to a statement posted on the official website of His Holiness the Dalai Lama (https://www.dalailama.com/news/432/htm), Ms. Jarrett personally conveyed the commitment of President Obama “to support the Tibetan people in protecting their distinct religious, linguistic, and cultural heritage and securing respect for their human rights and civil liberties” as well as the US President’s commendation for the Dalai Lama’s consistency in seeking genuine autonomy for Tibetans within the People’s Republic of China through his middle way approach.”

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Movie Review: ‘Unmistaken Child’

Detail of Unmistaken Child poster, showing a Tibetan monk and child standing by each other, looking into the distance.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: For Tenzin Zopa, a young Nepalese monk, finding the reincarnation of his dead Tibetan master, Geshe Lama Konchog, is more important to him than his own life.

Since he was 6, Tenzin Zopa dreamed of becoming a disciple of Lama Konchog. While his parents hoped that he would marry and work someday, Tenzin envisioned a life of meditation.

As a young boy, he asked Lama Konchog to take him in, abandoned the material world and learned the rules of the monastic life from one of the most revered monks of Tibet. Twenty-one years later, the death of Lama Konchog left a glaring void in Tenzin’s heart.

In Nati Baratz’s captivating documentary “Unmistaken Child,” we follow a heartbroken Tenzin as he embarks on a four-year search to find the person who gave his life a sense of purpose and direction. How difficult such a journey must be for someone who already feels lost.

‘Unmistaken Child’
Rating: Not rated but PG in nature.
In English, Tibetan, Hindi and Nepali with English subtitles.

As Tenzin travels from village to village, looking for a child 12 to 18 months old, he is faced with disappointment, worry and joy. Presenting Lama Konchog’s rosary beads to child after child, he finally encounters one who won’t let go.

The sense of relief and contentment that follows shows that the film is not only about a journey to find a “special child,” but also about Tenzin’s ability to cope with a devastating loss. As he grows closer with the child, Tenzin is revealed as a humble, compassionate and sensitive person, ready to give the rest of his life to continue serving his long-lost master.

“Unmistaken Child” presents us with a remarkable search for spiritual balance, juxtaposed with shots of beautiful mountains and “dancing” trees.

The scenery is breathtaking but it is not enough to account for the film’s only flaw — its informational holes. For those unfamiliar with Buddhist thought, Baratz’s documentary may generate more questions than answers.

After four years, the search comes to an end, and the child is accepted as the reincarnated Lama Konchog. His parents agree to give him up and he must now live the rest of his life as a monk, in meditation and with the purpose of saving all sentient beings.

In one scene, the boy is faced with a portrait of the departed Lama Konchog and, after staring at it, he eerily says, “That is me.” The moment seems to be as surprising to Tenzin as it is to the audience. But, then again, it’s hard (and perhaps this is simply a foreign outsider’s reaction) not to see the child as any other normal young boy, wanting only to play and be held by his grandmother.

Original article no longer available.

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PTSD treatment for monks

NPR: Dr. Michael Grodin discusses his experiences treating Tibetan monks who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. Many of the monks were imprisoned or tortured because of their resistance to the Chinese presence in Tibet, and now some of them experience “flashbacks” while meditating. Read more and listen here.

Grodin hypothesizes that meditation may reduce the brain’s ability to inhibit unpleasant thoughts and memories. His treatment combines elements of Western and Tibetan medicine and therapy. Grodin wrote about his findings in the March issue of Mental Health, Religion, and Culture.

A professor of health law, bioethics and human rights at Boston University School of Public Health, Grodin is the medical ethicist at Boston Medical Center and the co-director of the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights.

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A not-so-fine romance

Nicholas KristofNicholas Kristof writes in the New York Times: In the aftermath of the Tibet upheavals, the complicated romance between America and China is degenerating into mutual recriminations, muttering about Olympic boycotts and tensions that are likely to rise through the summer.

It would be convenient if we could simply denounce the crackdown in Tibet as the unpopular action of a dictatorial government. But it wasn’t. It was the popular action of a dictatorial government, and many ordinary Chinese think the government acted too wimpishly, showing far too much restraint toward “thugs” and “rioters.”

China and the U.S. clash partly because of competing interests, but mostly because of competing narratives. To Americans, Tibet fits neatly into a framework of human rights and colonialism. To Chinese, steeped in education of 150 years of “guochi,” or national humiliations by foreigners, the current episode is one more effort by imperialistic and condescending foreigners to tear China apart or hold it back.

Read more here

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Monks’ protest disrupts media visit to Tibet

London Guardian: A China-organised media trip to Lhasa was interrupted by protesting monks who accused the government of lying to the outside world. More than 30 monks at Jokhang Temple – the most sacred in Tibetan Buddhism – burst in on a briefing during the first foreign journalists tour since riots erupted in the Tibetan capital on March 14. Interrupting a speech about inter-ethnic harmony by the head of the temple’s administrative office, the lamas surrounded the journalists and said, “They are tricking you. Don’t believe them. They are lying to you.” Read more here.

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