Saturday, July 3, 2010

Is the Dalai Lama a Mean Theocrat?

The Dalai Lama is viewed internationally as a hero and saintly man. This exiled leader of Tibet certainly has a charismatic smile. He has spiritual authority over Tibetans and heads the exile government of Tibet located in India. Tibet has been occupied and controlled by China since 1951.

The Dalai Lama will have his birthday July 6. He has spent most of his life working to get his country's sovereignty back. The Free Tibet website states, "Across the world people will be freely and publicly celebrating the Dalai Lama’s 75th birthday, but in Tibet people are unable to do so without risking terrible punishment. They cannot even pray openly for his long life or burn incense to mark his birthday, as is traditional." The irony is that the Dalai Lama currently enacts the same draconian punishment against Dorje Shugden worshipers. The Western Shugden Society's website says, "In March 1996, in an aggressive and threatening manner, the Dalai Lama stated that there would be a forceful implementation of the ban against those who persisted in the practice of Dorje Shugden....This persecution has been enforced since 1996 and still continues."

This 1998 Swiss Television documentary reveals an unambiguous despotism by the Dalai Lama. In no way does his behavior somehow validate China's occupation of Tibet. It also does not justify China's treatment of Tibetans. Yet, it does deconstruct the Western fantasy regarding Tibet's legacy of mystic feudalism. A theocracy is a theocracy.

Part 1 of 3 (I am only posting two clips)

Part 3 of 3.

1 comment:

lobsang said...

Yes! In many respects some tenets in Buddhism can be appreciated by those with modern Western values.(ie. atheism,
the interdependence of all phenomena, compassion, personal responsibility) People project a lot onto H.H. and have idealized him to the point of being a something of global saint. I don't agree with a lot Chinese sources have to say on this topic but it is true that Hollywood and other media have done quite a good job in the sensationalizing, and idealizing of Himalayan religion and culture as a sort of ancient tradition that "gets it" to the West. While the teachings in Buddhism do stress things like wisdom and compassion as core values, the "Buddhism is a way of life, not a religion" crowd seem to have more issues with their own anti-religious baggage to not want to label Buddhism as such. Buddhism IS a religion with hierarchy, dogma, unfair gender practices, and the like. Though some don't like to hear it, abortion in Buddhism is killing a very valuable sort of sentient being, homosexuality is taboo, and being born a woman has been considered in the past a lower rebirth. Much of this is changing due in large part to the Dharma's exposure to the west. The bones of the religion are by nature very adaptable and have done so in Indian, Tibetan, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Sri Lankan, S.E. Asian countries etc. while still preserving the investigative marrow of the Buddhas original teachining. Now that is happening for what may will be known as Western Buddhism as it travels and comes up yet again working to adapt to yet another culture with their strange values, attitudes, issues and practices .
I always find it refreshing when things like this come up because it causes people to question their assumptions and have to readjust their views to a more moderate, realistic perspective; which is sort of what the Buddha seemed to be up to in the beginning anyway. Thanks for posting this.