December 2002 A Conscious Evolution Newsletter
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Volume 1, Number 4

Opinions presented in Metamorphosis are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of others associated with the newsletter.

Conscious Community

By Carrie Chesney

Welcome, gentle readers, to this month’s edition of Conscious Community. As I said in the last issue, Conscious Evolution is about bettering not only ourselves, but also the world around us. In recent months, there have been many debates on the World Community forum about various topics in international relations. To further our knowledge on some of these different topics, I have asked fellow forum members to contribute their research and writing. This month Sucheta, AKA EagleOverTheSea, has contributed a special World Community article about the Tibetan-Chinese conflict in Tibet.

When the Dalai Lama was asked which view of the world he would choose - an optimistic view or a pessimistic view, he chose the former without hesitation. One of the reasons for his optimism was that he sensed that “the concept of humanity as one is much stronger nowadays than it once was. You know it’s a new feeling that seldom existed in the past. The ‘other’ was the barbarian, the one who was different.”

For this concept of “humanity as one” to develop, it is important to get to know more about our fellow humans all around the world. To learn how their lives, beliefs, and problems are similar to ours and also to learn what unique lessons their way of life may have for us. To put a human face on the ‘other.’ It is with this aim in mind that we plan to feature a different culture, belief system, or issue every month in the Conscious Community section, so that we can truly be a “Conscious” Community.

Having started off with a quote by the Dalai Lama, what better place to be featured in the first article than Tibet?


The Tibetan-Chinese Conflict

By Sucheta Shetty

Tibet, the Land of Snows, is located in the centre of the Asian continent and bordered by the Himalayas on three sides. Spread over the highest plateau on Earth, it has earned the nickname, “Rooftop of the World.” Surrounded by India, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and China, Tibet has been a land frozen in time. Nomads still roam the plateau from winter to summer camps and subsist on their yak herds.

Religion has always played a very important role in the Tibetan lifestyle. Tibet was originally dominated by the local Bon religion. But with the introduction of Buddhism from India, Tibet developed its own brand of Buddhism with a mix of Bon beliefs and Indian Buddhist texts and a long tradition of Lamas. The Potala palace in Lhasa was built by the Fifth Dalai Lama to act as the government seat and a religious center. A theocracy existed until the Chinese invasion in 1950.

Tibetan history is an intertwining of political conquests and religion. The origins of Tibetan culture may date back to the Yarlung Valley Dynasty which was responsible not only for unifying central Tibet, but also for extending its influence as far as Northern Pakistan, India, Nepal and parts of China. Alliances through marriage formed with Nepal and China are said to have given Buddhism royal patronage and thus facilitated the emergence of Buddhism as a major influence in Tibetan life. Eventually China recovered the territories that it had lost to Tibet and there was virtually no contact between the two for over three centuries.

A major turning point in Tibet’s history came with the invasions by the Mongols who had captured much of central Asia and China. It is said that Mongol troops carried back accounts of the spiritual eminence of the Tibetan Lama to Godan Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan. This led to the formation of a unique relationship between the Mongols and the Tibetans, whereby the Tibetan Lama became the spiritual leader of the Mongols and the Mongols in turn provided protection to the Tibetans from other invaders. This also made the Lama the temporal Sovereign of Tibet.

With the disintegration of the Mongol empire, Tibet and China acquired the status of independent nations, and relations between them remained at the level of regular exchanges of diplomatic courtesies.

The religious relationship with the Mongols continued to deepen with the emergence of the Gelugpa order of monks. The Mongols conferred the title of Dalai (Ocean of Wisdom) on the third Gelugpa Lama and the tradition has continued to date, the current Dalai Lama being the 14th Lama in the Gelugpa line.

Meanwhile the Manchu Qing dynasty emerged in China. In 1705, invading Mongol forces killed the Tibetan regent. They captured the 6th Dalai Lama with the intention of handing him over to the Chinese Emperor, but the Dalai Lama died en route. The Mongol prince Lhabzang Khan appointed a new Dalai Lama of his choice. The Tibetans and the Mongol tribes who considered the Dalai Lama their spiritual leader resented this move.

Lhabzang Khan was eventually killed by the Dzungar Mongols who also deposed the Dalai Lama. But the Seventh Dalai Lama chosen by the Tibetans was under Chinese “protection” and the Chinese emperor sent him to Lhasa along with Chinese troops, who drove out the Mongols. The emperor declared Tibet a protectorate of China. Even though the Chinese appointed a king, temporal authority reverted to the Dalai Lama. The only Chinese military intervention after that took place during a Gurkha invasion from Nepal. In 1903, an Anglo-Tibetan accord was signed, which implied that Tibet was a sovereign power with the right to make treaties of its own. Due to Manchu objections, a second accord was signed which recognized Chinese suzerainty over Tibet.

Taking advantage of this accord, the Manchus attacked Tibet. However, a revolution at home overthrew the Qing dynasty and the Tibetans followed suit, causing the Manchu forces to return home. Thus resulted in a 30-year period of freedom from Chinese interference.

However, the picture changed drastically with the Communist takeover in China. A year later, Chinese troops invaded Tibet and crushed their weaker army. The Chinese stated their aim was to liberate Tibet from feudal rule. Tibetan appeals to the U.N .proved ineffective. The Tibetans had only two choices: comply with the Chinese or face further aggression.

In 1959 on the occasion of the Tibetan New Year, the Dalai Lama received an invitation to attend a dance performance at the Chinese military base. The Tibetans suspected an attempt to kidnap their beloved spiritual leader and a large number of citizens formed a human chain around the Norbulingka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama, swearing to protect him with their life. There was large-scale revolt against the Chinese. The Dalai Lama’s efforts at conciliation proved futile. In a last bid to prevent bloodshed ,the Dalai Lama offered himself to the Chinese, but the Chinese responded with mortar shells. This left the Dalai Lama with only one choice - escape to India.

Violence erupted yet, as a fight between the Chinese and Tibetans left between 10,000 to 15,000 Tibetans dead. When the Chinese realised that the Dalai Lama had escaped, they seized control of all the passes between India and Tibet and abolished the Tibetan government.

What followed was a total revamping of Tibetan society in accordance with Marxist principles. Educated and aristocratic people were forced into menial labour and “struggle sessions,” called Thamzing, which sometimes resulted in death. “Feudal exploiters” were treated with cruelty. Monks vowed to celibacy were expected to maintain a more secular lifestyle, which included marriage. The Chinese even tampered with the farming practices, instructing Tibetan farmers to grow wheat and rice instead of the staple barley, despite protests that Tibetan conditions were unsuitable for cultivation of these crops. Predictably, this resulted in mass starvation and the death of an estimated 70,000 Tibetans. Countless cultural and religious monuments were destroyed and religious freedom curtailed. Uprisings were brutally crushed.

By the time of the demise of Mao Zedong, the Chinese were finding it more and more difficult to maintain order on the plateau, and so the government softened its policies by calling for the revival of Tibetan customs. It even extended an invitation to the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet. A fact-finding mission sent to Tibet by the Dalai Lama, however, reported a grim picture of Tibet: a death toll of 1.2 million, the pillaging and destruction of 6,254 monasteries and nunneries, the absorption of two-thirds of Tibet into China, 100,000 Tibetans in labor camps and extensive deforestation.

In the 1980s, Tibetans enjoyed limited religious freedom, and monasteries that had survived destruction reopened. However, this did not imply any change in the Chinese attitude towards religion, and Tibetans exercised their religious freedom at great risk. Meanwhile talks with the Dalai Lama had fallen through and the Chinese decided they didn’t want the Dalai Lama back in Tibet.

A new policy of Han immigration to “modernize” the plateau emerged. Attractive salaries and interest-free loans were made available to Chinese willing to immigrate. In 1984 alone more than 100,000 Han Chinese took advantage of the incentives and immigrated to Tibet. However, Tibetans complain that it is only the Chinese immigrants who have benefited from the fruits of modernization. It has done very little for the Tibetan people other than exploitation of their natural resources. They also fear that at this rate the Chinese may someday outnumber them on their own land. Also, an increasing number of Tibetans are forced to learn Chinese to survive in “modernized” Tibet and this has put the local Tibetan language under threat of extinction. China, however, officially denies any such policy of immigration.

Relaxed policies with regard to tourism gave the West a first-hand glimpse of what was happening in Tibet. This, combined with the Dalai Lama’s tireless efforts to make the world aware of conditions in Tibet, managed to acquire a lot of sympathy from the Western world. However, this did not translate into any concrete action other than an official condemnation by the United States of the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

In 1987 the Dalai Lama proposed a Five-Point Peace Plan for the restoration of peace and human rights in Tibet. The plan called for:

  1. Transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of Ahimsa, a demilitarized zone of peace and nonviolence.
     
  2. Abandonment of China’s population transfer policy, which threatened the very existence of the Tibetans as a people.
     
  3. Respect for the Tibetan people’s fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms.
     
  4. Restoration of and protection of Tibet’s natural environment and abandonment of China’s use of Tibet for the production of nuclear weapons and dumping of nuclear waste.
     
  5. Commencement of earnest negotiations on the future status of Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and Chinese people.

The Dalai Lama later elaborated on the fifth point, suggesting a framework of negotiations. This involved making Tibet fully self-governing under a democratically elected government. China could maintain responsibility for the overall foreign policy of Tibet and, until such time as the Tibetan zone of Ahimsa is set up, following a regional conference on peace, China would also be permitted to maintain a restricted number of troops in Tibet for defensive purposes only. This plan was rejected by China.

Even though the Tibetans have managed to win back some degree of religious freedom, Tibetan monks and nuns are still eyed with suspicion and are imprisoned at the mere suspicion of support to the struggle for independence. Monks and nuns who managed to make it out of prison have reported chilling accounts of atrocities including electric shocks from cattle prods and rape.

Although a lot of efforts have been made to curb the worst excesses of the Chinese administration, and a comparatively softened line on minorities has improved conditions for many Tibetans, basic problems remain. Protests and government crackdowns continue to this day. The Chinese government has remained firm on its stand regarding Tibet as a province of China and is no closer to reaching an agreement of any kind with the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama continues to be vocal in the Tibetan struggle for independence in some form. He has abandoned any hope of nationhood, but continues to strive for a system of Tibetan cultural, religious and linguistic autonomy within the Chinese state. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for advocating a policy of nonviolent protest and he has continued efforts to reach some kind of peaceful settlement. However, many Tibetans are beginning to lose patience with the slow progress made, and the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile operating from Dharamsala, India, has warned of violence if the issue is not resolved before the death of the current Dalai Lama.

It has taken half a century for the world community to wake up to the situation in Tibet. How much longer before Tibetans can go back to leading the normal life that we all know and take for granted?

- Sucheta Shetty


We shall hopefully have a World Community article each month from now on. If you have a topic that you would like to contribute or an article that you would like to write for us, it will be welcomed, provided it takes a look at all sides of an issue. Just send me (enchantress299) a PM or e-mail us at metamorphosis@consciousevolution.com. Your ideas are certainly appreciated.

Now, I’d like to inform you all about the Meditation / Prayer Circle that Rachel, Terri, Sucheta, Greg and many, many others have started. If you would like to participate, the Meditation / Prayer Circle takes place every Friday whenever you have the time to sit down and clear your mind. If you’ve never tried meditating or prayer, and you would like to, now would be the perfect time to start! You may direct your meditation or prayer toward whatever you so desire, but often there is a weekly theme set for those who want to join in the group focus. There is no set time limit, nor any set purpose you must meditate on. If you would like to find more information on this, refer to the “Can WE Knowflakes meditate together?” thread on the Star Chat forum.

Again this month, we have dedications of white light and love from the people in and who influence our community, but I have also searched the forums for those threads filled with people who are wishing someone white light and love. So this month, we have...

*White Light and Love for...
- Rainbow’s Mom, Lisa’s Husband, and Little Toks.
- All her friends on the forums wish to send white light and love to Silk_Route (Sonia), whom we all hope finds a way to get the help she needs in a precarious situation.

I urge you all to send in your requests for white light and love if you truly find yourself or someone else needing it. I also think that I would like to start a Birthday Wishes section for those of you who would like to send birthday wishes. And on that note, I really would like YOUR input. Do you like what we’re doing? Do you hate what we’re doing? Either way, this newsletter is for YOU, the readers, and this community columnist wants to hear from our community.

If you completely disagree with what’s been said by any of us in the Conscious Community column, IM me (enchantress299) or e-mail us at metamorphosis@consciousevolution.com. If you have different information on something and want that side of the issue expressed, tell us. If you have your own article that you think would benefit everyone, TELL US! I can’t express enough how much we need your input to make this a helpful and informative section for EVERYONE. A well-rounded viewpoint is needed to make a good community. I do know a lot of people in the forums, but I will also be the first one to admit that I don't know everyone! There are a plethora of viewpoints out there that I haven’t even begun to grasp. So please, if you disagree or if you have something worth mentioning, get that information to us. I promise that it won’t be overlooked. If some of you are doing interesting charity work that helps to benefit others and you don’t mind talking about your experiences, IM me or e-mail me. Please help me to make this column more helpful, informative, and more in tune with what you want to hear about.

I leave you all with a resounding “"Happy Holidays!” I hope that, even if you do not celebrate any sort of winter holiday, you all find yourselves grateful and happy for the lives you live, and for the people that fill the rooms of your heart. If you are fortunate enough to do so, please spread some of that happiness to others. A little goes a long way, and in the grand scheme of things, if we all do our part, perhaps, in the words of Linda Goodman, we can “make mountains fly.” Funny thing though, mountains sometimes are not nearly so difficult to move as anger, sadness, desperation and fear. I would hope that, were you to run into any of those things, you would be strong enough to stand up to them. If you find them in others, I hope that you would also be strong enough to still spread compassion and love to those who can’t seem to escape the great weight of worldly cares.

Have a great month everyone! Have a little fun, and don’t forget to breathe!