Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fearless Heart Review

                                                           A Fearless Heart

                                                                                                       By Dorjee Damdul

               “You are your own enemy, and you are your own savior” (p81).


Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come. The idea here is the cultivation and practice of compassion for others, for self and for the entire humanity in this interconnected world.


When we discuss and share our thoughts on reading a book, I feel it is more like a review of the book. So the question is how to do a book review?  I have no answer to this myself, but I am interested to share with you what inspires, and strikes me and any Ah Ha moment I have felt from reading the book: A Fearless Heart.

Of all the things that the book touched on, I would focus on the fascinating story of the author, who we all know is the principal English translator  for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, but little did I know about his other facet of life, until I read the book. I would try to encapsulate the central idea of the book and finally the learning that occurred to me.

I.                  Thupten Jingpa went against his parents’ wishes to be the breadwinner of the family and choose to be a monk at the tender age of 11. But two decades later, he gave up his celibacy vow to become the breadwinner of his own family. The reason he gave for why he chooses to leave the monastery is for his longing to have a family of own, which he feels he was deprived at his young age. There is some mention of his difficult decision on this issue.  I thought it would be very interesting stuff for western readers, if he could share a little more details of his romance with a westerner. How it started, what was the trigger point for his aberration. I wonder if he ever feel remorse today? Even though the author said that his disrobing is not a sign of disillusion of monastic life, but I feel people may not perceive that decision as a sign of strength. In fact, as intellectually stalwart as he is today, could he have achieved more by remaining a monk than being a lay person.
D.C Tibetan Book Club meeting at Office of Tibet. Aug.03.2015

What is interesting is that the author has not attended any formal school, and he is self-taught. He learnt English by listening to VOA, and BBC world service and through the help of another Germany lady, while staying at the monastery. No doubt he was a veracious reader. He wrote the  evocative power of the English language deeply impressed him and thanks to his mastery of the language, landed him the job of interpreting for His Holiness the Dalai Lama since 1985. His Holiness sensing his acute intellect told Thupten Jingpa to lead an independent life dedicated to scholarship. His attendance at o Cambridge University to further his studies on religion might have been a turning- point in his life. Dr. Jinpa is one of the rarest cream of the crop in our exile society, who has a combination of deep knowledge on Buddhism philosophy and western thoughts.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Family Reunion

My wife and kids are away on vocation in Calgary, Canada for the past 20 days. They are returning tomorrow and I am excited to pick them at the airport. When they are vacationing, I have equally enjoyed myself with all the things that I like to do independently. Without  my family at my side, I have all the time to myself. and I use my time to my satisfaction.

As always, I hope that my wife and kids have the best of their time in Calgary with beloved aunty and their family. They went out for a sightseeing to some of the most attractive places in Calgary. Stayed over night in hotel and dipped in hot spring I guess.  Seeing the nature in its glorious form, with pristine blue sky and fresh blue lake must be very soothing to their senses. My kids have seen so much things in their so young age. They must have understand lots of things now, gained experienced, and see the wide world in its various shape and forms. The things that my wife sent me occasionally shows their chillax in a yard doing barbecue,  riding a boat in a blue lake, and sitting in a boulder near by a river, and running on the river bed.  It is all full of fun, and lots of activities.
So there is no doubt they are fully recharged for the semester to start and my wife too must been relieved from all the stress of life in taking care of the kids.

While they have lots of fun in vacationing in Calgrary. Such as meeting relatives, friends, and eating out and dining with family relatives or so.  But my concern is for Tenzin Kunsal's reading. My wife promised me to make Kunsal read during holidy.  However, when I call to inquire about it, she doesn't seem to bothered it much.  Kunsal is watching movie in downstair , or she is playing with her friends.  So this pissed me off. Kunsal has become very good in reading, after attending her summer reading class. But now without letting her do anything on read,  how she could catch up with her reading. My wife promised something nice and beautiful before she leaves, but she has failed to deliver her promise, by making reading a part of Kunsal's daily activities.  I am dismayed by this.

Over the phone, she has told  me that now, that vacation is over, so at home I will take over to teach Kunsal read. I will be glad to do so. But reading has to be consistent and there shouldn't be any lax in this reading habit

During their holiday, I have fun time in my own way. For me, to nourish my thought, I have read the books and to pump my body, I have done workout at Gym, and went to eat outside. I have disconnected all my services of internet at home, and thus able to do my works productively.
Now they are back, and I am happy and relieved.  It is true, distance makes memory fonder and more cherishing.  

While driving back home after I pick them at the airport, I asked my daughter Kunsal, what is the best thing she did while in Calgary.  Her response blow me off, "Dad, my best thing is that you are with me now". 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Gaden interview

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Tibet's Brave Souls


                                                   Tibet's Brave Souls

I believe all the Tibetan political prisoners current, and past had courageously raised their fist and voiced their disaffection at the Chinese policy, that too under an intimidating and oppressive environment at various time and circumstance. Risking their limbs and life these political prisoners are by and large the actual conscience and true aspiration of the Tibetan people.

Under the pretext of separatism and sedation, these brave men and women of their rank have endured hellish torture and mistreatment in the Chinese jail. They are those who were unable to withstand the onslaught of the violence, and harsh condition of imprisonment led them to total breakdown. Then they are those who perished in jail and never see the light of the day. Then they are those who survived the emotional and physical ordeal and finally released after the end of their prison term.

The question now is how many of those Tibetan political prisoners have continued their works in exile, that they have voluntarily and courageously started under the yoke of communist controlled Tibet. There is a gulf between the life in occupied Tibet and a free world. Political prisoners could continuously carry forward their legacies in exile with complete freedom and lots of resources and assistance at their disposal. But the reality has been after an initial momentous moment of their arrival in exile, the majority of the Tibetan political prisoners slowly fade out their luster in the exile Tibetan political spectrum.

I am often bothered by the question, how can those brave souls of Tibet, who have ones shook the foundation of the communist foothold in Tibet and put the Tibet issue in the international spotlight, have in due time majority of them diminished their voices in a democratic exile society?

After watching a recent presentation on the Chinese policy to control Tibetan post-2008 uprising, by a former Tibetan political prisoner turned analyst and researcher, Mr. Gaden Tashi, I am convinced by the breadth and depth of their knowledge and potential for greater contribution for new insights in understanding Chinese strategies in controlling Tibetans. I was relieved to see that here is one brave soul, who after all those years of exile, remained true to himself through relentless research endeavors in exposing the truth of Chinese policy in an objective way.

Gaden Tashi is one of a kind which has survived the torment of the Chinese prisoner officials and later escaped to exile. He was sentenced after the 1989s massive protest in Lhasa by the monks of Gaden monasteries, calling for "Tibet Independence and long life His Holiness the Dalai Lama."

He seems to be one of rarest of those hundred of brave souls, who even after rehabilitating in exile, continue to carry on the legacy of Tibetan struggle through his chosen field of analysis and research.  The Tibet Policy Institute of CTA has done an excellent service by providing him the platform to share his perspectives and understanding of Chinese tactics.

As anyone who is interested in an independent research of the China's policy on Tibet, Gaden Tashi's presentation is a must watch. His animated delivery style and well-documented evidence of Chinese's maneuver in winning the heart and soul of ordinary Tibetan through the way of carrot is an eye-opening and refreshing, to say the least. His great sense of humor, wit, and comparison of exile Tibetan set up, and those of communist mentality is thought to provoke. The presentation is focused specifically on the topic through the use of Chinese media coverage, which for some will raises doubt as what is the reality, albeit the first of impression of the picture. It can not be ruled out that whatever is depicted in image necessarily reflect the truth.  Reading beyond the text can only widen the scope of viewer's understanding of the issue and also an essential tool for critical thinking.  However the presentation has its own merits and not jumping on the bandwagon of what the exile CTA believes or the majority says so.

  As an observer of Tibet issues, the presenter minced no words in pointing out how much the Chinese tactics on handling the Tibetan affairs have fundamentally shifted. He believed that the carrot policy is likely to succeed in the long run given the human nature of loving those who provide them the basic needs.

The presenter's perspectives on the subject are not necessarily reflecting the whole picture of the Chinese subjugation and but at least,  he has successfully laid out the naked truth of China's pacified tactics, by single-pointedly nailing down on Chinese employment of material means to maintain long-term stability in Tibet.  So the question is as one audience member raised if it is working? Which I think is entirely another area of research to answer that question.Or we have to wait and see for few more years or another decade.

What otherwise turn out to be a perfect speech is slightly marred by few glitches, such as a little-hurried conclusion, limited interaction and one of the audience feeding words in the presenter's mouth by drawing his conclusion.

After all, it was a positive development that even in exile, those brave Tibetan souls can still engage and be a productive member of the society. That is not saying that those former political prisoners are only who should carry on the freedom struggle, but they have made their mark in a most tumultuous time , and they are more credible in having a greater say in peace and more relaxed time in the society.
 I will be remiss not mentioning the role of another political prisoner Lukam Jam in electrifying the political discourse during 2016 preliminary Sikyong election debate. But his contribution and controversy merit another write- up, which the reader can expect from my next piece.

As there is a tradition of honoring medals to those who have made an outstanding contribution in the battlefield.  In exile society, those brave souls of ours should accord appropriate recognition and appreciation. For a person like Gaden Tashi and Lukam Jam and many others has demonstrated that giving them a chance, former political prisoners are very resourceful and can be the beacon light of our movement.