Monday, March 16, 2009
I feel compelled to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising, which was March 10. It is hard for me to express my feelings about it, so I'll let the words of the Dalai Lama say it:
“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”
Soon after the Communists took control of China in October 1949, Beijing began to contend that “the People’s Liberation Army must liberate all Chinese territories,” including Tibet. On October 7, 1950, 40,000 Chinese troops invaded. They easily overran the smaller Tibetan force of 8,000 troops and militia. Over 4,000 Tibetan fighters were killed in two days of fighting.
On November 17, 1950, the Dalhi Lama assumed full political power of Tibet. In 1954, he went to Beijing for peace talks with Mao Tse-tung. His efforts to bring about a peaceful solution to Sino-Tibetan conflict were thwarted. In 1959, Lhasa was the scene of a huge demonstration calling for China’s withdrawal from Tibet, and reaffirming Tibetan independence. The uprising was crushed by the Chinese army. The Dalai Lama escaped to India where he was given political asylum. Since 1960, the Dalai Lama has resided in Dharamsala, India, the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-exile.
In 1989, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The citation read, “The Committee wants to emphasize the fact that the Dalai Lama in his struggle for the liberation of Tibet consistently has opposed the use of violence. He has instead advocated peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect in order to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of his people.”
His Holiness often says, “I am just a simple Buddhist monk - no more, nor less.” In explaining his greatest sources of inspiration, he often cites a favorite verse, found in the writings of the eighth century Buddhist saint Shantideva:
“For as long as space endures, and for as long as living beings remain, until then may I too abide to dispel the misery of the world.”
You can watch a video of part of His Holiness's speech here.