Dalai Lama - Buddhism's Lance Armstrong
By Peter Tobin
DALAI LAMA – BUDDHISM’S LANCE ARMSTRONG
DADDY WARBUCKS – THE BUDDHA OF OZ –
LAMIST KAMIKAZES – CREDULOUS COSMOS
PRECONDITIONS FOR A DEATH CULT
“You blocks – you stones – you worse than senseless things!”
(Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Marullus, Act 1, Scene 1)
DADDY WARBUCKS – THE BUDDHA OF OZ –
LAMIST KAMIKAZES – CREDULOUS COSMOS
PRECONDITIONS FOR A DEATH CULT
“You blocks – you stones – you worse than senseless things!”
(Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Marullus, Act 1, Scene 1)
“Hence anyone who seeks for the true causes of miracles, and tries to understand natural phenomena as an intelligent being and not gaze at them like a fool is set down and denounced an impious heretic by those whom the masses adore as the interpreters of nature and the gods. Such persons know that, with the removal of ignorance, the wonder which forms their only available means for proving and preserving their authority would vanish also.” (Spinoza, Ethics, Pt 1, Appendix 1661)
“The really remarkable segment of the population which is absolutely parasitic and which requires for its services the labour of another immense and indirectly parasitic mass; and the semi-parasitic segment, which is so because it multiplies to an abnormal and unhealthy degree subordinate economic activities like commerce and intermediary functions in general.”
(A Gramsci, Prison Notebooks, Americanism & Fordism, p.284)
TIBET BEFORE 1950 – ‘SHANGRI LA’?
Many in South-East Asia where oppression is most intense and multi-faceted and consequently class consciousness is at a higher political level, find it hard to credit that significant numbers of people - mostly from middle strata- in the more economically, technological and largely secular West - believe that the Dalai Lama is a physical reincarnation* of his predecessor, a truly sanctified man, dedicated to peace and ‘human rights and cultural rights’ for Tibetan people. A Buddhist Pope heroically challenging the so-called invasion and continued occupation of his country by a Han Chinese, expansionist communist/atheist state.
*NB The concept of reincarnation only appeared in Tibetan Buddhism in the late 17th century with the triumph of the Gelugpa sect in alliance with the Mongol Khans over the previous, more benign Sagya system, after a series of bloody wars between and within the nobility and the four principal Tantric sects that lasted over centuries and which are co-terminus with power struggles in feudal Europe in the same period. In this respect we should not veer from believing there was some kind of sui generis Tibetan ‘Golden Age’, to seeing it as contrarily, uniquely horrible. It was a feudal system based on an agrarian mode of production which in this epoch was the highest stage that human society in specific parts of the Northern Hemisphere had reached. Tibet shared in this mode of production albeit that super structural power was expressed in religious form. Centralised despotism resided in the monastic system – which was now enclosed with enforced celibacy and more driven under the Gelugpas who exercised a dominant cultural, political and economic role. Reincarnation, divinity through spirit, was a means of legitimizing and perpetuating this new focused polity. In Europe feudalism took the form of a triangular relationship – the King, divinity through bloodline, at the apex of Church and nobility. The mass of the peasantry worked for and provided the conditions for existence of these various ruling classes under specific forms of oppression; corvee, bonded, serf, Kamiya, or slave labour &c. In Western Europe mercantile then industrial capitalism represented by a new class and social order transcended feudalism while large parts of Eastern Europe and Asia did, and have not.
That he is also the recipient of the Peace Prize was a culminating point in a long-running strategy to confirm his carefully nurtured public image. This is despite the fact that for progressive opinion it is a devalued, bankrupt and ‘Dead White-man’s’ institution which the western world’s establishment uses to reward those comprador politicians and charismatics who have served its interests in an exceptional way. Its most salient feature is hypocrisy; given the world’s greatest-living- as-yet-untried-war-criminal, Henry Kissinger, the butcher of uncounted millions in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, is prominent on its long roll of dishonor is comment enough. Had the Third Reich won the Second World War Hitler would have undoubtedly been awarded it for similar services to ‘peace and humanity’. Differences in foreign policy and imperial expansion between Hitler and Kissinger being purely quantitative as indeed are the differences between the empires they each served except that one was vanquished the other victor on the particular historical terrain of the 20th century. Real und Machtpolitik subsequently affects the allocation of either condign ‘justice’ or ‘peace laureate. (Hitlerism was only unique because it committed its crimes in Europe.)
It demonstrates the intensity and pervasiveness of the propaganda in creating and sustaining this image over six decades that it has taken on a life of its own - creating an ideology and sub-culture among the lumpen-petit-bourgeoisie of western society. These historically illiterate, ‘Free Tibet’ adherents ** would therefore be shocked to know they are a carefully nurtured creation of the CIA and British imperial agencies’ before it. It would therefore be counter-intuitive for them to learn that Mr. Gyatso –( to give him his proper name as opposed to the more elevated, hubristic ‘Ocean of Wisdom’ accorded to one of his predecessor’s by a Mongol Khan Emperor by way cementing the new pact in the conventional, effusive nomenclature) is a Tibetan Pu Yi, (with less excuse), a charlatan and, far from being a frugal, vegetarian ‘living Buddha’, is a sybarite, a commodity fetishist with a taste for luxury brands and a jet-set lifestyle. (Even the more obviously repellent and rapacious western press baron, Rupert Murdoch, pithily limned him as: “A political old monk in Gucci shoes.”)
He is one of the richest people on the planet, arising from the heritage that he and his clique looted from Tibet and Washington’s long-standing financial support. In the US, for example, he has a string of mansions from San Francisco to Washington; each with a bullet-proof limousine tasked with collecting him from respective airports. A recent visit to the former saw some Tibetan ‘exiles’ along with similar indigenous feather-brains, (this was California!), prostrating themselves on the pavement outside the airport before this ‘living Buddha’; prior to his being whisked away by numerous security people into a steel, carbon-fibre, Kevlar chariot.
Worse still – strip away the Madison Avenue image of a kindly, avuncular, ‘new-age’ ecumenist and the reality shows he is a hard-nosed, professional political leader and in the present period is ultimately responsible for training and instigating depersonalized, psychologically programmed, mostly young people and mostly monks and nuns to self-immolate. The aim is to further his Gelugpa sect’s temporal interests and that of his Yankee paymaster’s geo-political attempt to weaken the Chinese state by causing civil unrest in the autonomous region at least, and separating it from China at best.
This proxy-war has been waged against Communist China since the 1950 by the US (with the connivance of India in providing a Lamist base, initially at Khalimpong, latterly at Dharmsala) and has taken various forms. From outright counter-revolution in the 1959 Tibetan-style ‘Bay of Pigs’ rebellion, the following Khampa armed incursions from the Mustang region in the 1980s; effectively put down by the then Royal Nepalese Army, and over-arching all these stratagems a well-funded/established and slick public relations campaign establishing Gyatso as composite Mandela/King/Gandhi – Tibetan franchise.
It has included employing his two brothers in the CIA; where the eldest, Norbu, has been a decisive influence on our young Tenzin, and who has been a crucial figure in driving the secessionist movement since the 1940s. He plays ‘bad cop’ to Tenzing’s ‘good cop’, confirming his younger brother’s status as saintly and otherworldly - playing against his genuine hard man. Norbu has always advocated and used bloody confrontation to drive Han people out of the Tibetan region; (as evidenced in the 2008 randomised racial killings in Lhasa), whereas Tenzing – for presentational purposes - wants to ‘talk’ with the ‘occupiers’. Bro 1 therefore chides Bro 2 for seeking the ‘Middle Way’, dog-whistling core Buddhist values, and while appearing to criticize, is really confirming the brand and the spin.
So Mr.Gyatso - what is the ‘Middle Way’ between immolating and not-immolating? Unleaded?
BRITAIN CREATES A ‘NATION’
Let us be clear on the history; the idea that Tibet is a nation dates back to the turn of the 20th Century. Up to that point China’s sovereignty over Tibet was never doubted or challenged by successive British governments during the course of the 19th century and all discussions relating to trade, cartographic and diplomatic activities went through the imperial government in Peking. Samuel Turner a British traveler /diplomat provides a typical account during his travels in the Tibetan region in 1800 where he made observations regarding a possible British/Tibetan military understanding only and quickly to be firmly reminded by the then Regent that such matters were exclusively handled by the Emperor. The promoting of Tibet as a ‘nation’ did not take root until a hundred years later; following the British invasion of Tibet under Younghusband (‘mad Carew’?) in 1903. This so-called ‘Expedition’ was the culmination of many British attempts to penetrate Tibet; starting with the East India Company and Christian missionaries, largely on espionage missions and geographical reconnoiters, in the 18th and with two full-scale invasions in the 19th century; the first in 1841 coinciding with the Opium Wars, the second in 1888. Each ended with the British extracting unequal treaties but the second also saw China lose large swathes of territory. With the dawn of the 20th century and the Qing empire crumbling from the centre and the periphery, British strategists’ under the Indian Viceroy, Curzon, sought to gain advantage over their Russian rivals in the near-century old ‘Great Game’ along the left flank in then Persia and roof of the sub-continent in Afghanistan and Tibet. With Russia continuing its ago-old quest for a warm-water -port on a southern sea and Britain determined to contain and roll-back its main continental enemy since the final defeat of Napoleonic France in 1815 and to consolidate and expand the Indian Raj, an increasingly important asset in its imperial project, or as its propagandists eulogized it: “The Jewel in the Imperial Crown.”
The then 13th Dalai Lama despite being nominally the head of national resistance developed an identity of interests with the invaders as he saw a means of entrenching his clique’s power after decades of bloody struggles with the supporters of the Panchen Erdeni (Lama) In this respect, with Peking’s control problematic British logistical, military and political support was fortuitous. Previous policy towards China was reversed as like vultures sensing imminent mortality they gathered to feast on the remains. “Perfidious Albion” as always, but no more or less than the rubric and motor of all empires – past and present.
Therefore over the next decade without reference to Peking the British established the illegal McMahon line grabbing more territory from China and began the serious attempt to detach Tibet from China at the Treaty of Simla in 1914; never ratified by any Chinese government. They pursued this policy up to the 1950s when they were supplanted by their replacement empire the US, even to the extent of stabbing their resolutely ‘One China’ Kuomintang ally in the back when each faced the common Japanese enemy between 1941 and 45. Following the end of the Second World War they also helped the elimination of internal pro-Chinese opposition residing in the Panchen Erdeni. These activities included the British representative in Lhasa, Richardson (re-appointed after Independence by the Indian government) in 1947 in league with the Regent Dagzha (they were between 13th and revealing the ‘living Buddhahood’ of the carefully coached present Dalai Lama at the time) in organising the torturing to death of an important, but anti-secessionist, ‘living Buddha’, Rezhen.
Therefore the notion that Tibetan civil society was of one mind in its quest for ‘nationhood’ is another calumny; to the contrary its history is littered with power-struggles in the ranks of the monastic theocracy, with the feudal nobility similarly riven and engaged. There was domestic dissension but more so were the deep divisions between what became known as the Yellow-hat faction and those of the Red-hat regarding relations with the Court of the Middle Kingdom. These struggles were manifested at differing tempi over the centuries and took political expression in the rivalry between Dalai and Panchen Lamas which continues to this day.
It had long been the situation that the forces representing incipient civil war were embodied in these two institutions. There is always going to be tension where dual power systems exist and between these two the political and executive balance waxed and waned. Equilibrium was rarely a sustainable option – tigers seek blood not grass. Mao was the last Chinese leader, and by no means the first, to attempt bringing the Dalai and the Panchen Lama together and succeeded in getting them active in the National People’s Congress of 1954. In retrospect it now appears that Gyatso paid lip service, unctuously so, while biding his time.
This is shown in the events following the CPC government decision after victory over the by now US supported, comprador Kuomintang (KMT) regime and at Mao’s insistence turned its attention to Tibet and the task of reunifying the region with China by dispatching PLA forces and putting the feudal theocracy under notice in 1951. The Dalai Lama – as noted above already a canny operator became an enthusiastic supporter of the reforms to end feudalism, even writing a laudatory poem to Mao praising him for rebuilding the Chinese nation in this fashion.
The subsequent uprising in 1958 was confined to a few thousand monks, Khampas and nobles. It was easily put down by the PLA with the active support of the population, including a sizeable number of a third of progressive feudal nobles, and all who saw freedom from slavery, serfdom, and the 'land to the tiller' programme as a more congenial proposition than the former brutal and parasitic monastic despotism.
REALITY – A SLAVE THEOCRACY
Far from a Shangri La the reality for ordinary Tibetans even under this Dalai Lama was where a peasant was always a slave, was always somebody’s property, where youths were forcibly conscripted for life as monks. Life for ordinary Tibetans might be short – but it was always 'nasty and brutish’ and where the Gelugpa sect fashioned a society as cruel as that of the Catholic Church of the European Middle Ages, the present American-backed Salafist regime in Saudi Arabia or the vile caste system which presently applies in ‘democratic’ India and pollutes parts of Nepalese society.
As late as this Dalai Lama’s ascension to ‘living Buddhahood’ people were still being pressed to death for debt, you could be declared a slave by a religious or aristocratic authority and every monastery had its own court, jail, torture chamber and could act autonomously and with impunity. (Unless challenged by another monastery and this was not unknown – a river of blood runs through the centuries arising from violent confrontations between rival monasteries giving and receiving no quarter.)
Gyatso’s role co-opting and distorting Buddhism it for reactionary political ends commenced seriously after the failure of the CIA-backed counter-revolution. He was allowed to flee to India where Nehru granted him and his Lamist supporters a refuge at Dharmsala which quickly became the biggest CIA facility outside its Langley HQ in Virginia, USA and where he was able to consolidate his reactionary alliance with the US providing the dollars and the makeover, which lasts to this day.
Chinese communists kicked down the rotten system he presided over, freeing over two million slaves and brought Tibet into the modern world. It was a far more comprehensive emancipation than that of Lincoln's 1863 post-Gettysburg settlement regarding African slaves during the American Civil War because it involved personal and economic freedom; land reform and ownership for the former slaves and serfs; hundreds of thousands of whom received land certificates. Freedom became an economic reality and not just an empty bourgeois abstraction. Whereas in post-civil war America feudal bonded labour, share-cropping, slavery by another name, returned to the Southern states after the stumbling failure and corruption of Yankee ‘Reconstruction’
Chinese communists will earn the plaudits of history for freeing all the peasantry of China and particularly those in the Tibetan region whose oppression was even more systematic and capricious. Along with the Soviet Union’s decision to collectivise land in 1927 it ranks in this modern era as an equally heroic and daring historical leap. The consequences we are living with today in the shape of modern China as, like industrialisation in the USSR, the commune system, five-year plans and state dirigisme provided the primitive accumulation that provided the springboard for further industrial and technological advance
O MONEY GIVE ME SOME - BUDDHA I CAN SPARE A DIME
Many in the credulous West know nothing of this history- they believe that prior to 1950 Tibet was some kind of idyll, a Shangri La where peace and harmony were entrenched, protected by a holy monkhood, overseen by a wise, crinkly abbots, given to pithy and gnomic Zen apercus, until it was 'invaded' by the malign forces of Chinese expansionism– a process, they claim, that continues to this day and which the Lamists, and their American advisers have designated, among other things, 'cultural genocide'.
The Shangri La metaphor is illustrative; it almost appears as if the CIA took it as a template for manufacturing Gyatso’s image and that of a make-believe Tibet. They didn’t need to do very much as it was pre-conditioned at the level of popular culture beginning with James Hilton’s 1933 novel, Lost Horizons, after turned into a hugely successful film directed by the populist and fabulist director, Frank Capra. Such was its impact that many are unaware that the name ‘Shangri-La’ is Hilton’s invention – there is and never has been such a place. It another facet of what Edward Said observed in his insightful work, Orientalism, where the West invests the East with mysterious, ineffable spiritual powers that have become ‘lost horizons’ for modern man, where quaint societies exist in prelapsarian innocence and social harmony, protected by or guardians of an inexplicable Truth, a ‘thing-in-itself’, outside history and denied one, fit only to be rendered by white man’s patronage as an anthropological/zoological exhibit, preserved in that condition to redeem him and restore his alienated soul, withered by his ‘modernity’. The reaction of the Id(iot) before the incomprehensible.
Tibet was apparently Hilton’s model for Shangri La and the CIA and Gyatso’s Madison Avenue public relations operators were already touching an exposed nerve, with many witless ‘lost souls’ ready to suspend disbelief and to put what critical faculties they did possess into cryogenic state, to be swept along by a vision of exotic faraway Utopia that offered salvation needing liberation in the first place from ‘Han occupiers’ and secondly preserved from the curses of contemporary western civilization outlined above.
Nepalese geographically entwined with Tibet and knowing the historical reality does not accept this infantile distortion of history. Over the centuries between them they have had periods of peace, cultural exchange and trade and others of territorial disputes and wars. The last serious one launched by the expansionist son, Bahadur, of the builder of the Nepalese nation, Prithvi Narayan Shah, who attempted to seize Sikkim, then part of Tibet and was only prevented when the Tibetans, under the Touhd Lama, called for Chinese support in successfully repelling the Nepalese invaders. Tibet, Nepal and China then signed the 1792 Treaty of Nuwakot which recognized the sovereignty of the Middle Kingdom over the Tibetan region of China. There has never been any serious question of accepting the claims of the separatists; even the reactionary status quo parties, like the Ranas and Shahs before them are committed to a 'One Nation' policy in respect of China. It is a matter of historical reality which informs practical politics.
It is unfortunate that Tibetan renegades and terrorists who flee to and through Nepal abuse its hospitality, using the country as an Anti-Chinese platform, backed by their paymaster in Washington. The latter, for example, has made several attempts to bully Nepalese governments by threatening curtailment of fund-aid, if they don’t observe the ‘human rights’ of transients. The Chinese government, whether it is socialist or a state-capitalist, has history
on its side when it expresses serious concerns at a neighbouring country being used as a base by separatists funded by CIA dollars threatening its national integrity. De Lisi, the outgoing American ambassador in his valedictory address calls this policy one of ‘basic human rights’ demonstrating that US public relations is slightly more sophisticated than its Third Reich anti-communist predecessor. Now, obviously with tacit CIA approval, the Lamists have commenced self-immolations in Nepal to the disgust of the Nepalese people and all their political parties, thus upping the ante of American pressure on this small nation struggling for independence.
The self-immolating monks and nuns are no more than pawns in this ruthless power struggle. It shows that long before the 20th century organized religion developed psychological conditioning – brainwashing - to a fine art with prayers, mantras and moronic chants to “buzz the minds of men” and so deadening or extirpating the capacity for rational thought. It is further proof that there is no end to things people will believe and do in the name of religion and also that there are no depths to which religious or charismatic authorities will not plunge to in order to further their earthly powers and influence.
Communists, among many would be the first to throw a blanket over the physical and psychological flames engulfing these misguided individuals while dealing ruthlessly with the atavistic forces that reduce them to such a condition, where they are barely aware they are alive as individual human beings, prior to sending them to a revolting and excruciating death.
He is typically Janus-faced in relation to this campaign; on the one hand he has to pay lip-service in deference to a residual Buddhist core philosophy of reverence towards life; on the other he needs to show his Washington paymasters that he still has clout on his home soil among intensely indoctrinated acolytes. Thus while querying the utility of self-immolations in bringing pressure on Beijing he nevertheless describes these unfortunates as ‘courageous’ and ‘heroic’. It is a cynical nudge-wink exercise in condemning in such a way as to condone and continue the stratagem. Make no mistake though – he is a murderer as surely as if he had personally dowsed and ignited the petrol.
If he had any humanity, if he was indeed a real Buddhist he would use his undoubted authority to stop this campaign. However, it is a bit like asking the Pope to return to the simple teachings of Christ. History and realpolitik has led each of them into a cruel and twisted parody of their founder’s respective world-views.
TIBETAN BOOK OF THE BRAINDEAD OR YOU’VE GOT ME IN A STUPA
This option however of changing course is not open to Gyatso, he is not fiscally independent as is the Papacy and his financial appeal is limited to essentially a distinct cosmopolitan sub-culture not quantitatively sufficient to sustain his separatist polity. This makes US taxpayers money crucial and why the Lamists must always march in step with Washington and why Tenzing never goes off-message. Otherwise the flow of dollars would dry up – his jet-set lifestyle would be compromised, no more tele-conferencing love-ins as recently and sickeningly seen with the other empty-headed narcissist, Archbishop Tutu, (at least a principled fool and 'useful idiot' who can get it right, as on Apartheid and more recently on the rights of Palestinians languishing under US/Israeli fascist occupation) over the South African government’s laudable decision not to give him a visa to attend the said chatter-box’s birthday celebrations. There would be no more hug-ins with the dim Hollywood star, Richard Gere**and no more Gombah constructions - such as the kitsch monstrosity of Amitabh – to desecrate the hills around Kathmandu (Why do they always build on hilltops? Certainly there is proof of weapons stored in these establishments.) Think of the modern hospital or college you could build in a city and country that is crying out for modern facilities instead of this vulgar, trashy, waste of money, human effort and creativity.
** ‘American Gigolo’ – Paul Schrader’s chilling, iconic dissection of elite Americas’, Armani-dressed angst. This was a career defining and perhaps ideologically formative, film for our budding mystical/human-rights activist - perfectly cast as a blank, pretty-boy clothes horse. Going to guess that greedy Gyatso’s glitzy Guccis were gifts from gorgeous, gormless Gere’s gaudy grab-bag gotten from Gigolo while guzzling his Gelugpa Guru’s gobbledygook? Easy to say I know.
Finally: It is no accident that so many western NGOs in Nepal are Lamists. While I appreciate that in a former times low intelligence - particularly among the British ruling and middle- class indicated suitability for Church or Army and that this mantle for a softer, ‘user-friendly’ imperialism in these not-really-so changed-days has devolved to them. They are the missionaries de nos jours. A hundred years ago their predecessors where here pushing people around – ideologically and militarily– now they patronise them revealing ‘imperialism with a human face.’ In terms of their exalted mission statements and function they have collectively been about as much use as a one-legged man in an arse-kicking contest - as recent reports have devastatingly shown. (Presently there are 46,000 of them in Nepal – 1 for every 840 Nepalese!) The fact that imperialism can find a role for individuals suffering from this particular delusion is interesting in many ways.
It reflects a cultural, crisis at the heart of the metropolitan empires where the ideology of a hegemonic civil society has irreparably fractured and where subsequently many potential recruits exist for exotica, particularly among the itinerant, uninformed, intellectually lazy, socio-economic stratum produced in the conditions of Western urban life. Looking for simple answers they become prey to a plethora of quack nostrums; millenarian ‘Heaven’s Gates’ style cults, creationism, homeopathy, reflexology, astrology, ersatz nationalisms and imagined ethnicities &c. ad nauseam. Gramsci described such phenomena as “morbid symptoms” of a society in decline where ‘the old is dying and the new cannot yet be born’. Lamism in the developed world is an example of this syndromic effluvia. They all set out in their various ways to reduce the higher brain functions concerned with reason and proof in favour of irrational and unsustainable assertions based on intense personal faith.
Every man is indeed an island when locked into these solipsist contortions – whatever their proselytising pretensions. It is as if the Tibetan Book of the Dead has metastasized into one for the brain-dead of the developed world producing disassociated inadequate people, a percentage of whom are exported back to the underdeveloped world - like a socio-ideological plague continuing a circle of imperial imperfection, albeit in mutated form.
*** Just as the lumpen-proletariat provides fodder for sanctioned military thuggery, the lumpen-petit bourgeoisie provides the ideological kind.
**** Exceptions to this harsh, NGO assessment are those involved in helping the disabled, the chronically sick and orphaned/abandoned children. Their humanity shines through practical vocational work and choosing assignments in the more unpropitious poverty-stricken less developed world makes them commendable and worthy of support. Their commitment is always undermined by the bloated bureaucracies and 5-Star hotel culture of Save the Children, UNICEF, ad nauseam.
POSTSCRIPT – - BUDDHISM TRADUCED
The Buddhism of the Gelugpa sect is as far removed from the teachings of the great Gautam, as can be imagined. To begin with; Buddha would have rejected any notion of his divinity or any such imperishable ‘essence’ as he firmly denied the existence of metaphysical divinity - God - specifically in answer to a question from his disciple, Ananda, shortly before his death. Certainly with the reverence for life that he promulgated in his secular philosophy he would not have countenanced a death cult as has been set-in-motion in his name by the CIA and Gyatso. Where is Gautam’s ‘Noble Eightfold Path’ which seeks salvation through the destruction of suffering, the destruction of sorrow and not through sensual pleasure or self torture?
The fact is that many non-Lamist Buddhists resolutely condemn these suicides emphasizes how much the Tibetan Tantric praxis has departed from Buddhism. Some Buddhist authorities have gone so far as to firmly say that it is purely a matter of nationalism and has nothing to do with Buddhism, while the apologists for Tibetan Tantric persuasion try to rationalize this fundamental contradiction claiming that while self-violence was not condoned it was necessary to looking to the motives.
However, there is strong authoritative condemnation from the many Buddhists among whom the leading voices are those of the Theravada school who state unequivocally that any form of suicide is a great offence, however noble the intention. As Guruma Meena – a nun - put it in a recent interview: “Buddha teaches that one should not inflict suffering on oneself and others alike. Your actions, be they good or bad, always have consequences on others around you. Therefore one has to respect one’s body.”
It is significant that this appears to the majority position among those claiming adherence to Buddhism and that those most unequivocal in condemnation come from this school. It is regarded as the most rigorous in respect of individual responsibility for salvation as opposed to the more laissez-faire Mahayana school where salvation comes from the combined belief/goodness of its disciples.
Nevertheless, it should not be concluded that this sect is rigidly cloistered or in any way removed from social and political realities. When it tried to re-introduce Buddhist practice into Nepal, for example, in the 1940s it was persecuted by the Rana authorities. In the struggle against their feudal, Hindu absolutism it stood shoulder to shoulder with the then progressive democratic forces of nascent Nepali Congress.
As a mark of its tolerance in 2004 it participated in convening an inaugural World Buddhist Sangha Youth conference in India which brought together the three main Buddhist schools of thought, itself, Mahayana and Vajrayana from all over Asia: Japan, Nepal, Bhutan, India, Mongolia and Thailand. That Tibet Lamists were not present demonstrates how far outside the mainstream of Buddhism they are.
Finally, I made mention of the ghastly, vulgar carbuncle of Amitabh built on the hill behind the truly authentic historical grandeur of Swoyambhu, and overlooking Kathmandu.
Well here’s a snippet from Rising Nepal in February 2012 about another Buddhist gombah – this time a Theravada one:
“Stupa in Need of Conservation’
Rajbiraj Sagarmatha: A Buddhist temple at Hariharpur and a monastery at Prasawani of the Siraha District are in a state of neglect due to lack of conservation and publicity.
The temple was constructed some 18 years back with a joint investment of the Buddhist Monks Group of Thailand and the Buddhist Youth Group, Kathmandu. Similarly, the monastery at Prasawani was constructed with the cooperation of the International Buddhist Foundation………..”
There is no Yankee gold for them, because they are simple Buddhists, genuinely trying to follow one of humanity’s first great thinkers who believed in human equality and democracy, who saw the alleviation of poverty and all suffering as desirable and achievable and who decisively showed that an ethical system did not require divine design but was the logical outcome of human social life, driving ethical evolution and dealing necessarily with how the individual must and should relate to all humanity in society and all living things in nature. Communists have a profound respect for and agreement with the teachings of Guatam but differ over its practical application in the contemporary world arguing that it can only truly flourish in a classless society.
The Yellow-hat Lamists call themselves ‘Buddhists’ but that has been challenged in this article and elsewhere. What you do defines what you are - clinging to the residue of historical provenance and nomenclature and using it as smokescreen to pursue a contrary course of action to your fine words– such as a death cult, does not hide that.
On this charge Mr Gyatso is guilty at the bar of history of being a reactionary, dangerous charlatan who has devalued Buddhism for purely political and vulgar materialist ends and that the spoon he uses to ‘sup with the devil’ in the world is a very short one.
©opyright: Peter Tobin 2012.