March 20th was the day that I left Sarah College for Higher Tibetans Studies for the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in McLeod Ganj. The pass five years at Sarah seem to of just disappeared never to arise again and thus “Is that not the nature of time?” It just slips right through your fingers. A quick quirk, I am right now finding it interesting to write this without an f-button. I have devised a way to do so. Anyways, so I no longer reside within the confines of Sarah College.
After Kalachakra we jumped full on into the realm of Buddhist logic studying for our first time directly the major work on Valid Cognition by Dharmakirti for a month or so. Within that time, which should have been two months, we basically studied the three bodies of the Buddha (sku gsum, trikAya) and the topic called “phyogs sgra” or “the term chog”. The study of the different bodies of a Buddha is a very huge topic and we only study the basics at this point.
In Dharmakirti’s text this study stems from the homage of “The Commentary on Valid Cognition” (tshad ma rnam ‘grel, pramANavarttika) in which the first line of the homage shows the nature body (ngo bo nyid sku, svabhavAkAya) which is equated with the Buddha’s non abiding nirvana (mi gnas pa’i myang ‘das, apratiSTita-nirvANa). This type of nirvana means that it is the end of the road in a sense since only the mental continuum of a Buddha possesses this type of nirvana because only such a being can eliminate both the obstructions to omniscience (shes sgrib, jJeyAvaraNa) and the afflictive obstructions (nyon sgrib, klezAvaraNa). Once one eliminates theses two afflictions only then can one be a Buddha, sounds easily peasy right? The method and the path to achieve this are found in the literature called the ground and the path (sa lam, bhUmi-mArga).
The second line shows the omniscient consciousness of a Buddha or her wisdom consciousness (ye shes chos sku, jJAna-dharma-kAya). These two bodies together are also called the body for one’s own benefit or purpose (rang don gyi sku) since they can only be attained by one own effort.
The last line and a half of the homage shows the complete enjoyment body (longs sku, saMbhoga-kAya) and the emanation body (sprul sku, nirmANakAya) of a Buddha. Together they are called the body for other’s benefit or purpose (gzhan don gyi sku) since it is through this that she is able to benefit others by showing and teaching the Dharma. These are also known as the two form bodies of a Buddha (gzugs sku, rUpa-kAya). The former two bodies are collectively called the Buddha’s truth or phenomenon body (chos sku, dharmakAya) plus with the latter two we have the three bodies.
There are many debates coming out this which as you can see only comes out of the homage which consists of four lines. A brief look at one of these issues which I recently stumbled upon is this: A Buddha’s mental continuum is said to possess both an omniscient consciousness and the five sense consciousness more or less like you and me. This means that objects appear to a Buddha like cups, chairs, full moons and rainbow, etc. But in the tenet system from which point of view the Commentary on Valid Cognition is written under, the Mind-only school (sems tsam, citta-mAtra), the existence of external objects are refuted. Thus the appearance of… hmm lets say an elephant to an eye consciousness that perceives it; that object is said not to be there externally outside of the consciousness that perceives it. In fact this school would assert that the direct perception of the object by the eye consciousness and the object itself are of the same essence (ngo bo gcig, ekarUpatA) or same substantial essence (rdzas gcig, eka-dravya). Now this gets us to a Matrix-type situation, just like the folks jacked into it cannot tell that their very experience of the world around them is just a projection of the mind. The difference here being that in the Matrix the sentient machines created the reality for the mind to project while in the Mind-only school it is ones previously accumulated karmic imprints (bag chags, vAsanA) from a pass life stored in a part of the sentient being’s mental continuum called the storehouse consciousness (kun gzhi rnam shes, Alaya-vijJAna) that is doing so. This very topic itself is big, complex and I am not going that route.
My idea was that if a Buddha’s omniscient consciousness is said to be an exalted wisdom that realizes directly all phenomena, meaning that the true nature of reality would then clearly appear to her moment by moment in all of its splendor and infinitude then such a being would have no use for sense consciousness since whatever it perceives is inherently mistaken based on pervious karmic imprints which a Buddha is supposed to have eliminated completely when she attained liberation. Now, there is a lot more that I am missing naturally, but I just wanted to give a taste of some of things that can come up on the debate courtyard.
The other topic called “the term chog” is a real pain in the ass and really gets into some crazy, topsy-turvy logic shit which unfortunately besides the very basics I am unable to grasp. This topic arises out of the first stanza and is also a historical debate between Dharmkirti and another Indian Buddhist called Ishvarasena. Dharmakirti is seen as the main proponent of Dignaga’s views on Valid Cognition (tshad ma, pramAna) of which the text that we study is a commentary of. But probably prior to Dharmakirti there was Ishavarasena who was also a commentator to Dignaga’s Valid Cognition views. For some reason Dharmakirti seems to have had a greater impact on Buddhist logic in particular and Indian logic in general as compared to Ishavarsena.
Anyways, the first line of this stanza is supposed to show the definition of a correct reason (rtags yang dag, samyak-liGga). A correct reason is suppose to be three things or modes (tshul gsum, trai-rUpya), 1) the property of the subject (phyogs chos, pakSadharma) 2) the forward entailment (rjes khyab, anvaya-vyApti) and 3) the reverse entailment (ldog khyab, vyatireka-vyApti). So what the fuck does this mean? The basic syllogism used has three parts, a subject, a predicate and a reason. When a subject is the reason it is the property of the subject. When the reason necessarily entails the predicate it is a forward entailment and when the negation of the predicate necessarily entails the negation of the reason it is a reverse entailment. E.g. the common syllogism used is: The subject sound is impermanent because it is a product. Sound is obviously the subject and we actually say the word subject (chos can, dharmin) in debate. Impermanent is the predicate and product is the reason. Since sound is a product it is the property of the subject. If it is a product it is necessarily impermanent is the forward entailment. If it is not impermanent then it necessarily is not a product is the reverse entailment. Now there is a problem with the translation due to the differences of both languages. Tibetan does not employ any articles like, the, a, it, etc where in English they are necessary but hopefully the point can still be made.
Here syllogisms goes to someone and are not formal or correct in and of themselves. A consciousness is required, obviously not one of a Buddha since they possess omniscient consciousnesses. This consciousness or its possessor must be at a certain stage in her understanding. Using the previous syllogism she must know that sound is a product through valid cognition, meaning a correct clear perception of the object, she must also know that products are necessarily impermanent but what she does not know is whatever sound is impermanent or not. She must have this doubt whether the subject is the predicate. For then through the correct reason/ the three modes mentioned above, her doubt is eliminated and she is said to have had an inferential cognition (rjes dpag, anumANa).
Now back to the first line of the stanza, the main issue lays around whether the first mode should be called phyogs chos, pronounced chog choe, because there are different chogs and that would be ambiguous. Since chog choe is a condensation of chog gi choe (phyogs kyi chos) i.e. the chos phenomenon of phyogs then what chog is one talking about. Ishvarasena’s camp asserts this because there are many chogs. The general meaning of chog, which in colloquial Tibetan means side or direction, is the syllogism’s subject and predicate taken together e.g. The subject sound is impermanent and so if chog meant that then there would not need for a correct reason since that person has already realized that the subject is the predicate and like I said earlier, for a correct reason to work doubt in that area is essential. This camp suggests that a new terminology be coined which they called choe chan gi choe (chos can gyi chos). They used the term choe chan subject and choe phenomena for this new term thinking that it will eliminate any confusion. But the same problem of ambiguity arises again because there are three different types of choe chans (chos can) and so which one is not ascertained from the new terminology and thus many gnarly and vertigo inducing debates are born as we students try to reconcile the differences of opinion.
Are you still with me? I hope so! For part of the Tibetan New Year break, which was not celebrate this year by the Tibetan community in exile because of self-immolations that have happened in Tibet, I was invited by the Emory study aboard program to travel with them to Rewalsar on pilgrimage to a lake called Tso Pema (Tsho Padma) where the tantrika, the Guru Padmasambhava is known for meditating in the many caves up in the mountains surrounding the lake. Briefly, the legend states that Guru was practicing meditation in the caves which then were in the Kingdom of Zahor and he took as his consort the Princess Mandarava the daughter of the King. Obviously the King was not too happy with the idea of his regal daughter knocking boots with a tantrika. Tantrikas are kind of seen as very freaky nasty ass people, they normally cover themselves in the ashes collected from cremation grounds and they hang out there too. They don’t shower, walk around openly buck naked, have wild looking unkempt matted locks, eat shit, vomit and other such delectable snacks.
And so the King thought of teaching ole’ Guru Padmasambava a lesson. A version of the legend states that he caught the Guru and his daughter and burned them at the stake. What was interesting was that the pyre continued for a couple of days where it should have extinguished itself naturally by then. But what ended up happening was that the ashes from the pyre turned into water creating a lake and in the middle of the lake was a large lotus bud. When the flower bud opened it contained the Guru in union with the Princess. At that point the baffled King and his retinue prostrated themselves to the Guru and this why the lake is called Tso Pema, The Lotus Lake and why the Guru is called Padmasambhava, the one born out of a lotus. He is particularly important to Tibetan Buddhism because he, under the invitation of the then King of Tibet Trisong Detsen, subdued all the land deities who were attacking the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet and turned them into protectors of Buddhism in Tibet. And so I spend this time with these students, who impressed me lot, half the time I had no clue what they where talking about so bright and intelligent they were and clue to chill with.
After that, led to what I called the bardo (bar do, antarAbhava), the intermediate state between Sarah and IBD. By the time classes had resumed at Sarah I had, with the great help from my German friend Sebastian (thanks again man!), moved most of shit to my new apartment in Da Ganj and boy! Have I accumulated a lot of shit! There was a problem because since we had to stay at Sarah for most of March we were required to pay tuition there but also many of us had to start paying rent on our new apartments for that month. This only applied to the international students since we are not allowed to live in the IBD dorms. Me, being a broke ass bitch could not deal with that. Some had planned on moving out before the Tibetan New Year vacation and to stay in the college guesthouse for the remainder of time at Sarah; this was mainly because no one was willing to give us, at the time, a definite date of departure. The principal got word of this and came into our class, disrupted the lecture and seriously chewed our asses out for it. He told us that he felt sad that folks would not talk to him directly about their situation and that he would feel embarrassed if folks stayed in the guesthouse because it will seem like Sarah does not care about its international students and students in general. While I was in the Tsamjor course I have seen him chew out the students before but this was at a whole other level. So, those folks who had planned to stay in the guest house changed their tune quickly. I spoke with him about my financial situation and since landlords of apartment and administrators of IBD and the mother school of Sarah are one and the same we worked out a deal.
Prior to leaving we had our final class picnic, with our Morpheus-like teacher who had quickly led us through the various landscapes and rabbit-holes of Buddhist philosophy, at a spot by a river close to the Norbulingka Institute in Sidhbari. We played games, met some of the new students, all of them are Monpas and pretty young, ate some dank ass grub, and chatted with Genla. We also had a more solemn farewell in the Sarah temple were Genla gave us some advice about practice and the motivations for studying philosophy, we offered him a gift as a class and many students gave suggestions and experiences about the pass few years.
The night of the 19th I packed the remainder of my shit and the next morning of the 20th the spring equinox we all moved up the hill. Our class had rented a big ass truck to haul our shit and all of it wouldn’t fit in. Luckily, Ani Shiwa from Korea had ordered a separate smaller truck which could haul the extra baggage. And thus I bade farewell to Mother Sarah Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies (ma yum sa rah mtho slob) who had nursed me on Tibetan language and philosophy for five years and who has now weaned me to go deal with the IBD big dawgs!
We had to act fast once we arrived, to unpack, to fix our rooms and to get prepared for the next day because class was about to start. We all helped each other. We were thrown immediately into everything, not knowing up from down. IBD is a lot smaller institute compared to Sarah. Everything is tightly compact and it is quite a labyrinth to navigate. It took me until midnight that day to get things livable in my apartment and semi-organized. My pad is really close to IBD and I can see the school, Namgyal Monastery, the Main Temple and a nice view of the valley from my balcony as compared to my Sarah room where I had a great view of the mountains. I have my own bathroom but it is separate. The main problem with my room is that it leaks during monsoon which really sucks and the school is slow, slow, slow in fixing the roof. The guy who lived here before me, a monk from Israel lived here for years with the roof leaking like that.
We have new rules and schedules to get used to. There are morning prayers from 6 to 7am, but they are optional for those of us who live off-campus. Then breakfast and then mandatory memorization time for an hour I presume, for those who live on-campus. In the mornings from my balcony I can see the guys pacing back and back forth on the roof downloading texts in the morning sun. Here we have to take memorization exams once a week every Wednesday. 11am to 12pm is our lecture period. Our new teacher, Geshe Tsering Gyurmey la, is hard as nails. A classmate of Geshema Kelsang Wangmo la, he is known for being at the top of his class from day one. Where Gen Lodroe was very laid back, this guy definitely carries himself like a scholar. One can tell that he prepares before class, where I doubt that Gen Lodroe ever did, beside maybe a few times. We also share him with the other Perfection of Wisdom Class (phar phyin). Some students from that class attend ours.
He is a relativity new teacher who first starting teaching a few years ago with the above mentioned class and it is his first time teaching ‘The Presentation of the Interpretable and the Definitive meaning of the Sutras’. Like our first year in the Perfection of Wisdom this topic arises out of the homage of the ‘Ornament of Manifest Realization’ but the main text used is Je Tsongkhapa’s, the founder of the Geluk school, ‘The Essence of Good Explanations’ (legs bshad snying po) which is a hard ass text. In a nutshell, this topic is about ascertaining which of the Buddha’s words are the ultimate meaning requiring no further explanation and which words are not meaning that those teachings are not of the ultimate view or meaning. This work is in two main sections by tenet system. We will look at the first one which is on the Mind-Only school for a few months.
Though he speaks very clearly and elegantly, he speaks fast as hell and it is hard to follow his logic. He also has an incredible memory quoting things from various the different Tibetan schools. The commentary that we study on “The Essence o f Good Explanations” called the “Garland of Utpala Flowers” by Panchen Sonam Drakpa is also hard to follow. And so most of us are very confused right now or have not a clue what the fuck is going on. I know that even many of the guys from the upper class still struggle after two years with him. Lunch and dinner are just like at Sarah 12:30 and 5:30 respectively and we have to pay a nominal fee per month for them.
The first debate session unlike at Sarah is from 2pm to 3:30pm. The debate courtyard is on the lower yard of the main temple. Since there are many classes, Perfection of Wisdom, Middle Way (dbu ma, mAdhyamika), non-sectarian or ecumenical (ris med), etc, we are spread out. The upper classes get to debate in front of HHDL’s throne, while we at the lower rungs debate on a grass and shale courtyard, a traditional indication marking a debate courtyard, off to the side. Where at Sarah our debates were more or less private, here they are in front of everyone. In fact it is a tourist attraction. Our first day was nerve-wrecking as an ass ton of Indian tourists were just snapping away with their camera, westerns too and since I am particular looking (tall black dude with dreads screaming in Tibetan) I definitely get tons of stares. Once I noticed out of the corner my eye some white lady stand right next to me in a state of disbelief. So far I have been trying to abscond myself by sitting either in the middle of courtyard or on the way far side of the fence.
Not only that but Tibetans off streets sometimes join in; one never knows who was an ex-monk. I saw a guy in a black leather jacket totally tear into one of my classmates and I came to find out that he is one of the local shopkeepers. Generally though debate is kind of a spectator’s sport in Tibetan society despite the fact that most of them don’t understand what is going on. Our disciplinarian (dge bskos) is supposed to keep an eye out for tourist intervention but he ain’t done that great of a job so far besides schooling us in debate. Another incident was how some Punjabi guys wanted to debate and a classmate told them that they could and with the imitation of a handclap and foot stomp stated, “What is your name?” “Where are you from?” at which my friends where looking at these Punbajis like they were cuckoo for coco puffs.
A few days out of the week we have for the last half hour of the debate session a damja within our own classes. Some times we finish a debate session by reciting some chapters out of “The Ornament of Manifest realization”. From four to five thirty there is a Tibetan grammar class, but many of the international students, like myself, have opted not to attend finding the schedule a bit tiring as it is, though we don’t have the mandatory study period like at Sarah.
For the evenings we have an hour of prayers right in front of HHDL’s throne starting at 6:30 and then debate until 9:30pm. One night I wondered if HHDL could hear us (his pad is near by) screaming, yelling and clapping, and if could was he laughing at our lack of understanding. On Fridays there are interclass debates, in which the previous one I was given the task of starting the debate. It was tough going though because the defenders were from the upper class. Two of the three groups from our class were spinning wheels with their defenders. One group had H.H. Taklung Shabdrung Rinpoche, one of the heads of the Taklung Kagyu School, sitting as a defender who I know is sharp and good as hell. As all this was going on that night, I thought about how many years ago when I first came to Dharamshala and I stumbled on one of these debates sessions with Jason Fults and an English guy named James. I will never forget the shenanigans that I saw that night and now here I am doing it myself, badly I might add but here regardless; I had could only smile, while we couldn’t get the defender who sat in our group to budge an inch on his position.
On Wednesday night there are no debates but everyone must attend prayers. This pass Wednesday Gen Umze la welcomed our class with so advice and the sad events of the day. The special thing about IBD is that during the last week of every month we only have to attend class (chos mtshams) but also with living in McLeod impromptu cancellation of classes and or debate arises. Classes here are six days a week with no second Saturday of the month off. But our first Saturday was off which I think was due to folks who wanted to attend the last Tibetan Opera concert (lha mo) at TIPA that has been going on for a month I think. This pass week saw some cancellations too but for sad reasons. With McLeod being the hub of Tibetan politics and activism there is always some candle light vigil, protest and what not. And actually there is a guy (I call him McLeod’s CNN) who walks or is on occasion driven around town with a loudspeaker giving announcements for the Tibetan community on news, events, marches, protests, prayers, etc.
Well one day after having dinner at IBD and on my way to da crib, I saw a bunch of people in front of the entrance way reading something. I was naturally curious and I went to see what was up. It was a picture of some Tibetan guy on fire running down a street and a picture of a letter. At first I thought that the picture must have been photo-shopped and that it could not be real. Then I read the letter that was written by the burning guy in the photo Jamphel Yeshi. I did not know what to think. At that point folks were saying that he was still alive, barely though since over 90% of his body was burned.
I came to find out later that many photos of this incident have been spreading around cyberspace like the fire that consumed this young man. At first, from what I can tell from the pictures, the dude ran a good ways in front of many and folks were just standing there taking pictures and videos watching the dude burn. Something ain’t right, but then I thought many of the folks there must have been in utter shock and in disbelief at what was happening in front of their eyes. This happened in New Delhi, where the President of the Peoples Republic of China, Hu Jintao, was in da house to attend some conference with other world leaders to talk about blah, blah, blah and the Tibetan activist naturally threw a demonstration to welcome him.
The young man was only 27 years old and had come to India in 2006 from Kham, I heard and was living in Majnukatilla, Delhi which cannot be fun place to be for a new arrival from Tibet. Supposedly he made the decision on his own to self-immolate himself and he wrote a letter about his motives. That day I saw a loud protest march creeping up the hill from Gangkyi from my balcony. Then the next day that evening I heard McLeod’s CNN telling people to gather at the main temple to pray for Jamphel Yeshi but as we found out he passed a way that morning and thus that day classes were cancelled. Yesterday a memorial funeral to honor his death was held at the main temple. A massive crowd of people crammed in there. His body was brought in coffin wrapped in a white cloth, draped with the Tibetan flag and people silently threw white kataks at it as the bearers carried his coffin to the front. Afterwards, a huge procession chanting the supreme compassion prayer accompanied his body to the cremations grounds for Mr. Yeshi’s final taste of fire. I sat on the roof of IBD chatting with some classmates about the self- immolation watching the smoke rise into the sky and the beyond.
The pictures of Jamphel Yeshi’s self- immolation were hung almost everywhere. Now everyday, every time I go to IBD, I see the pictures, blown up in two huge posters that hang in front of the street entrance to the temple. The epithet Martyr is added to his name now like he has been knighted or the Tibetan equivalent Pawo (dpa’ bo) literally hero. It is hard to look at these images; they just don’t sit right with me. Maybe it is just because I am American since we are sheltered from such graphic images. Though, I thought it is interesting that I can watch horror movies, slasher flicks with all kinds of violence and gore in them without batting an eye but something like this just feels weird and I don’t know how to name or classify the sensation. The first time I saw images this graphic was during the 2008 protests where pictures of folks who had been killed or severely injured were blown up to huge posters that hung all around town, then as now that sensation arouse; then just recently in Bodh Gaya, the pictures of the charred up corpse of the rinpoche from Amdo who self-immolated himself hung on the outer circumambulatory walkway of the Mahabodhi Temple.
These pictures would not be allowed on national TV or in the newspapers in the States that is for sure. Definitely they couldn’t be hung in any public space stateside. Shit, I remember when it wasn’t allowed to publish the picture of all the coffins being shipped back from Iraq, of all guys who died in an unjust war. They were just coffins, you can’t see what’s inside them draped with the US flags and all. But here it is a whole different story; even the daily Indian newspapers show corpses all the time.
Now, as many of you might know about 29 or so self-immolations have happen in Tibet within the pass year, mainly in areas outside of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (T.A.R) which the Chinese government concerns to be Tibet proper. These outer areas which have large Tibetan populations are spliced up between the Chinese provinces of Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan if I am correct. Actually, after Jamphel Yeshi’s self-immolation, another one happen in Amdo by a young monk named Sherap I heard. This one in India, which is not the first here, is the first one that happened in front of a shit ton of people like this and that has gotten some attention due to all those cameras snapping away. One video (warning this video is graphic!) came out of Tibet of a Tibetan nun standing perfectly still while she was totally engulfed in flames and that is on YouTube. I think the first Tibetan self-immolation started in exile with a guy name Thupten Ngodup who did so April 27, 1998 and some how since last year many in Tibet mostly monastics have taken to the practice. I wondered if they had some how read about the American War in 1963 Vietnam where several monastics self-immolated themselves due to the oppression of Buddhist by the then staunchly Catholic President of South Vietnam Ngo Dinh Diem who was installed by the U.S. government to counter the Communist North.
One of these self-immolators in particular, Ven. Thich Quang Duc, received a lot of media attention in those days. I remember seeing it in a documentary (warning!) about the American war in Vietnam. His body was perfectly still in meditation as he burned. In fact, any of you Rage Against the Machine fans who has their subtitled album have seen his self-immolation since they used that picture for the cover of their album. One of my Vietnamese ex-classmate Ani Thanh, a nun wrote of him in her doctorate dissertation called “Compassion in Buddhism (Based on Tibeto-Vietnamese sources) from which she received her Ph.D from the Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan University in Kolkatta, she wrote of him:
Seeing a dark destiny for his people and concerned about the danger of the destruction of Buddhism, the Most Venerable Thich Quang Duc secretly prepared a letter full of compassion with words from the core of his heart. His last compassionate message expressed his concerns for the destiny of the country: “I am Thich Quang Duc, Abbot of Avalokitesvara Pagoda. I am a monk and a disciple of Lord Buddha. Realizing that many people have suffered and continue to suffer, I cannot sit here and witness the destruction of Buddhism. Therefore, I am happy to vow to offer my impermanent body to the Buddhas and dedicate this merit for the preservation of Buddhism…”
Then, the Most Venerable Thich Quang Duc performed his heroic deed to highlight Buddhist demands for religious equality in South Vietnam. On 11th June 1963, he sat down at a busy intersection in Saigon in the meditative position. He then poured gasoline all over his body and set himself alight.
Now, I am not comparing Tibet with Vietnam but they do sure a key similarity, a seen oppression of Buddhism, severe human rights violations and most of the self-immolators were monastics. In the case of Tibet freedom or self-determination is also a key factor. I have spoken with another Vietnamese nun in my class who told me that Ven. Thich Quang Duc is now seen as a saint, a bodhisattva of types and that something like a miracle took place because his fire totally consumed his body but his heart supposedly stayed perfectly intact and it is currently on display in some museum in Vietnam. She told me that she understands the Tibetans pain and reasons for this drastic act since it reminded her of her own country.
Many Westerners are in opposition to this act and some if not many straight up demand that it be stopped and I am presuming the most people back at home who do gives a rat’s ass might think that it is a waste and think that Tibetans should think of another strategy or if they don’t that Tibetan should just capitulate like the natives did on Turtle Island. But what other strategy? Besides diplomacy? Besides hunger strikes? Besides peace marches? And the list goes on. When it comes to activist movements the Tibetans have tried almost everything, next to suicide bombings and straight-up terrorist tactics Al Qeada style. Some fear that it might go that way. Anyways, the truth is that Tibetans though generally uneducated aren’t stupid and know that no nation is going to do I god-damned thing towards China in relations to Tibet or anything else for that matter. Too many countries are dependent on all that cheap shit that they make. All one has to do is to take an inventory of all the shit you own and see how much of it says ‘Made in China’ on it, a lot isn’t? Imagine not having all that shit.
Most of the self-immolations in Tibet are not happening in front of cameras or huge crowds. Golok Tulku Sobha Rinpoche from Amdo did it in front of a police station, and that is what makes this one in India so different.
Do I agree with tactics of Tibetans lighting their own asses on fire? Hell nah!!!! It makes me fucking cringe, but at the same time, the questions that arise in my mind are: How bad does shit has got to get for me to light my ass on fire? What would it take for me, seriously, to light my ass on fire? Is there any cause out there that could generate within me the courage to do such an act? And if you can mentally get yourself there then I think one can reach a place of true solidarity if one truly supports Tibetans and their rights to self-determination and other solidarity movement too! If you cannot do so, like I can’t, then I you are most likely a privileged person who is not aware of those privileges. But we the privileged must try!
Many of us have passports, can go to almost any country we want, have a certain amount of power (real or contrived) as a citizen of whatever country we belong to, you can say whatever the fuck you want when you want, hang whatever picture we want in our home without fear of imprisonment or worst. For those of us who have these things since forever, it is hard to imagine being without them. I can’t imagine it, but what about those people in the opposite situation like many Tibetans in Tibet and other fucked up places in the world? How can we say jack shit without truly understanding where they are coming from? When one does not even possess the experiences necessary to understand? I know this is just a rant but I have just been tired of hearing Westerners saying what Tibetans should and shouldn’t do when they themselves cannot see beyond their own cultural baggage boundaries. Like late comedian Richard Pryor once said, “… [they]should just have a coke and a smile and shut the fuck up!”
I could only imagine, if there were people telling such non-sense to Black folks during the Civil Rights movements. “Y’alls Niggas shouldn’t protest!” “The white man is going to beat yo ass good!” “ ’em water canons is going to kill you if ‘em dogs don’t first!”. The fact is that regardless of how bad shit got for those folks, dog bitten, being shot at, facing white supremacist ass police’s billy club, no matter what one said, that did not prevent them from going out the next day do the same shit all over again with pride and determination knowing full well the risks. And although these are two very different situations in different countries and eras, it still come down to the same thing, those folks without the capacity for generating a real honest feeling of solidarity cannot prevent nothing, only those who understand and have lived that experience can possibly prevent it and probably once understanding is met one might see ones place in the big scheme of things and act accordingly. I am sure that not every single Tibetan is down with the self-immolation thing. But like Dead Prez said “freedom ain’t going come ‘til we regulate it” and in the case of Tibet can you guest who these regulators must be? But heh! I could be totally wrong!!
And so, I am dogged tired, it‘s late and I somehow manage to write all afternoon this Saturday. This is as good as a therapist!!! I seriously, only wanted to write a few pages; especially without an f-key typing is a royal bitch. I hope that you don’t mind this big ass rant on this but it has been something that has been on my mind for quite some time now. A quirky anecdote; It’s funny in a way, Tibetans activists are screaming, “Da roof! Da roof! Da roof is fire…. Meaning here of course Tibet a.k.a the roof of the world, while probably the Chinese officials in Beijing somewhere are finishing that hook, “We don’t need no water let the motherfucker burn! Burn motherfucker! Burn!” Chill the fuck out it’s a joke, hahaha! Kangpa Tshapo you are just not funny.