Thursday, May 21, 2015

Surviving the Dragon

Forwarded by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Arjia Rinpoche's Surviving the Dragon is an astounding account of a Tibetan Lama's tryst with the the Chinese communist apparatus. Arjia Rinpoche's memoir has great significance and credence as stated by His Holiness in the forward:

 " In order to understand what is really happening in a country where the press is neither  open nor free and people live in a state of constant fear and suspicion, we must rely on individual like Arjia Rinpoche, who can now write  without restraint about what he has seen, heard, and experienced in Tibet:

Arjia Rinpoche has beautifully condensed modern Chinese history in the following analogy:

"Modern Chinese history can be characterized as a "Tale of Three Fish." Taiwan is still swimming in the ocean: No one caught that fish- at least not yet. Hong Kong is alive but on display in a Chinese aquarium. Tibet, the Third fish, is broiled and on the table, already half devoured: Its language, its religion, its culture and its native people are disappearing faster than its glacier ice" Intro (VII)

The most fascinating thing about Arjia Rinpoche's account is  his close association with and inside information of the 10th Panchen Lama's fall and rise.  I was particularly interested in what he has to say on Panchen Lama. The book is a very telling on Panchen Lama's daily conduct and personal characteristic and like. Panchen Lama has his mark more on the worldly things than on spiritual realizations. One of his hobby or he has a penchant for gun fire:

"The Panchen Lama enjoyed all types of guns- rifles, and handguns too. He loved to teach his students how to shoot. One day he organized an excursion and invited all the young students to join him.
The Panchen Lama was a superb marksman who fired very quickly  at multiple targets  and hit them with great acccuracy.  He even invited an army commander  of the Mongolian  cavalry to train with his  horses and his men".

"Young people came to the Panchen Lama's special schools in Lhasa and Shigatse to study Tibetan and Chinese. More than 100 young students from all over Tibet also came to attend a mechnical engineering school the Panchen Lama had started. They studied Buddhist philosophy as monks and also strained as soldiers, learning military skills. Exactly why he wanted to train them this way, I dont know. Perhaps he simply enjoyed these things, or perhaps he had goals that he did not share" P63.

A few years later, during the Cultural Revolution, the Panchen Lama was denounced for these schools, which were considered evidence of his anti-revolutionary crimes. I suspect the Chinese officials did not like the Panchen Lama providing what looked like military trainning to his young supporters. (p63)

The Chinese government now formally took the position that the Panchen Lama's 70000 Character petition was antirevolutionary act  that undermined socialism and communist party. His possession of arms and vehicles and his apolitical education of young Tibetans at the School of Mechanical Engineering were cited as proof of his support for Tibetan Independence. Even the spare tank of gas in his jeep was seen as evidence of his intention to flee  to India. He was also accused of sexual misconduct. p72.

During our stay at the monastery, The Panchen Lama also gave a teaching on reincarnation and how to find tultus. He even pointed out how to find a spiritual leader such as the Dalai Lama , or his own reincarnation. if we had been able to follow his advice, the ugyly events surrounding his reincarnation would never have ocurred. (p162)

Arjia Rinpoche explains how the Chinese appointed Panchen Lama was selected. The selection process was rigged, and when he sees that he was approached to be advisor for Chinese Panchen Lama, that drove me to make this drastic decision of escaping in exile. A escape that was very gripping and thrilling.

Over all, it was a beautiful story, of faith, conviction  and commitment.

No comments: