[permaculture] FW: These days in Dharamsala.

Lawrence F. London, Jr. lflj at intrex.net
Fri Mar 28 07:58:59 EDT 2008

     These days, Dharamsala feels alternately like a temple and the seat

     of revolution. At times it feels like both. Every morning, thousands

     of Tibetans, young and old, those born in Tibet and those born in

     exile, march down the hill from the market of McLoed Ganj, shouting

     in English for justice and human rights, for the help of the UN, for

     the long life of the Dalai Lama. Today, their shouts are mingled

     with the moan of long horns blasting out from a nearby monastery.

     They have been marching every day since March 10th and they never

     seem to tire. Each evening around dusk, thousands more walk through

     McLeod all carrying candles and chanting the bodhisattva prayer--

     May I become enlightened to end the suffering of all sentient

     beings--in Tibetan over and over again. This prayer has become the

     anthem of Dharamsala. You hear it muttered from old women, belted

     out by toddlers, and chanted by monks through loud speakers: May I

     become enlightened to end the suffering of all sentient beings.

     The evening marchers end up at the Tsuglakhang; the temple located

     right in front of the Dalai Lama's private residence, to assemble in

     what is essentially the Dalai Lama's front yard. They shout freedom

     slogans and Bod Gyalo!!! (Victory to Tibet) at the top of their

     lungs for twenty minutes, while young boisterous monks with Free

     Tibet scrawled across their foreheads in red paint, wave giant

     Tibetan flags to rally the crowd. The red, yellow and blue of

     Tibetan flags are everywhere, and a feeling that must accompany all

     revolutions of past times--a feeling of passion, resolve, and the

     sting of injustice--stirs the air.

     And then, suddenly, all you can hear is the sound of a baby crying

     as the crowd sit and perform silent prayers for their countrymen.

     The evening ends with everyone singing a song that was composed

     after the 1959 uprising in Lhasa against the Chinese occupation.

     It's stirring and evocative, and even if you don't speak the

     language, its hard not to feel moved.

     One evening at the temple, the monks of Kirti monastery in Amdo,

     Tibet, the site of huge demonstrations in recent days, brought a CD

     of photos of the bodies of Tibetans who eyewitnesses say had been

     shot by Chinese police. The photos were displayed on a large plasma

     television on the steps in front of the temple. A more placid group

     of seven robed monks sat in front of the screen and prayed. With

     hands folded at their chests, the images of bloodied and mangled

     bodies filled with bullet holes flashing before their eyes, many now

     wet with tears, 5,000 people joined in. One young monk told me later

     that he saw the dead body of his cousin on the screen. He hadn't

     known that he'd been killed.

     Now these photos and other images coming out of Tibet have been put

     up on flyers on the outside of the temple wall, directly opposite a

     tent filled with hunger strikers. On their way back home, people

     pass candles over the photos of the disfigured and bloody bodies and

     speak in hushed voices. Opposite, the hunger strikers continue to

     chant prayers and mantras all day and all through the night.

     Tibetans seem to be able to hold, without contradiction, many

     different ways of expressing their grief, and their concern for and

     solidarity with the people in Tibet; to wave banners and shout until

     their throats are sore, and to sit and pray with heartfelt devotion

     to the Buddhas that, one day, may they become like them for the sake

     of all.

     Yesterday, I heard about a different kind of demonstration organized

     by the monks of the Buddhist Dialectic School. No face paint, no red

     bandanas, no hand-made placards reading Shame on China. They shaved

     their heads clean, put on the outer yellow robe normally only worn

     for religious teachings, and walked slowly, heads down, single file

     through the town, chanting the refuge prayer in Pali. Buddham

     sharanam ghachamay/dhammam sharanam gacchami/sangham sharanan

     gachhani/ahimsa ahimsa.

     A reporter asked the monks why they were wearing the yellow robe.

     The monk replied, "We are monks but we are also human beings. We are

     not immune to anger. Wearing the yellow robe reminds us to subdue

     our negative emotions."

     At an intersection, the monks met up with a few thousand

     demonstrators led by angry young men with Tibetan flags draped

     around their shoulders, shouting anti-Chinese slogans and punching

     their fists into the air. The monks kept walking and chanting. At

     the point where the two groups met, the demonstrators fell silent

     and stood aside to let the monks pass, forming two lines on either

     side of the street. They brought their palms together at their

     hearts and bowed their heads. Many began to cry. The monks kept

     walking and chanting. Buddham sharanam ghachamay. After the monks

     had passed, the demonstrators picked up their flags and placards and

     fell in behind them chanting another slogan; May I become

     enlightened to end the suffering of all sentient beings.

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