Escape from the Land of Snows – A Peak into the struggle of Smiling Noble laurate
A simple Buddhist monk but proclaimed by the world as man of peace, his holiness the 14th Dalai lama(Tenzin Gyatso) is the political and spiritual leader of Tibet from 1959. What makes, his holiness special, is that he has suffered enormous throughout his life, but he is still always smiling and calm. He has shown the world how to identify cultural influences and ways of thinking that lead to personal happiness. His preaching makes sense of the hardships that we face personally as well as difficulties suffered by others.
A Nobel peace prize laureate, Dalai Lama leaves in a compound atop the hills of Dharmasala, India a mountain town dotted with exiled Tibetans. No dalai lama had ever fought a million communist Chinese, who were bent on stamping out Tibetan freedom, but his holiness not only escaped from the clutches of the enemy but he also has been able to set up a government in exile and involve the international community towards the Tibetan cause.
Born on 6-July-1935 as Lhamo Dondrub in a small farming family, at the age of two he was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso after subjecting to series of tests by government search parties who used prophecies and omens to identify next leader. The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and patron saint of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity.
At the age of four, Dalai Lama set out on his 3 ½ months journey to Lhasa from his home to learn the secrets of Buddhism and ways of ultimate power. Next 2 decades his holiness gained holy knowledge. The teenaged Dalai Lama remained himself. In 1950, battle trained 80K Chinese soldiers fought against 8500 badly trained Tibetan soldier. Tibet reacted with spiritual rearmament by reading Tibetan bibles at public ceremony. His holiness was ascended the throne at adolescent. He became the leader with no training in politics, leadership.But Buddhist scriptures provided him the inspiration and guidance.
Faith transformed the 14th Dalai Lama just as Tibet entered fatal crisis. There was little/no support from other countries.Eight years had passed by where Chinese were trying to convince Tibetans to accept alien rule. Dalai Lama aided by Buddhist scriptures and religious training was negotiating with Chinese and taking help from Americans (CIA). But Atrocities of Chinese army on Tibetans were increasing and all negotiations failed. China started its operations to capture Lhasa.
But Dalai Lama escaped from Lhasa aided by his trusted men through the difficult terrain of Himalayas much to the surprise of Chinese and world leaders. For many days His holiness aided with men were crossing a Himalayan pass , the lower ones covered in thick mud from melting snows and the higher ones frozen in ice and snow. As the news of slaughter reached Dalai Lama, the wild temper he had worked so hard to tame returned to him. He closed his eyes and recited Buddha’s teaching ‘One’s enemy can be its greatest teacher’ to calm himself. A mythical solution was not available for Dalai Lama.
World powers negotiated and it was agreed that Dalai Lama would stay in India. India had granted his holiness the asylum. But his holiness did not want to enter India as a refugee but as a head of sovereign authority. So In front of monks, soldiers, villagers his holiness inaugurated a new government which had no country to administer.
After dropping of Dalai Lama on Indian border most of the men who accompanied him went back to stop the Chinese troops who were coming to the border in search of Dalai Lama. The soldiers never returned. Dalai Lama still remembers the people who gave this great sacrifice. But Tibetans belief in the powers of Dalai Lama increased after his miraculous escape through the enemy/harsh conditions.
The freedom movement started from India. In exile 14th Dalai Lama modernized Tibetan culture in such a way that 13th daily lama could only have dreamt of. Some of the changes are
1. Future dalai lama be religious figures and political power be given to elected representatives
2. Next incarnation could be women
3. Tibetan people could vote dalai lama out of office
Dalai Lama of today could be un recognizable to a Tibetan of 1930 or 1850. For centuries/generation Dalai Lama was an occult figure, hidden behind bull shouldered monks and object of extreme reverence. But 14th made himself ordinary and approachable as possible. The world is quite is home now and he travels it in a never-ending service to Dharma. Every refugee arriving in Dharmasala is granted an interview with holiness; it is a policy unchanged since 1959. That means his holiness had consoled thousands of men and women, bewildered, people with stories of persecution and loss
Buddhists believe that Dalai Lama perfected his gift for compassion in the course of many incarnations. Unbelievers may question that. But if you read books such as ‘The Art of Happiness in a Troubled Water’ authored by his holiness and psychologist, it reveals how his holiness shows that there are no magic bullets or secret formulas to solve problems but there are places to start with which are practical and some of them are proven scientifically..
The Dalai Lama’s message of compassion has transcended Tibetan Buddhism and enchanted people of all faiths. For instance he says that spiritual practice does not mean doing an activity like reciting of prayers. But rather he says ‘spirituality is a mental attitude’ that you practice at any time. What he means is that if you get tempted to hurt someone then you should control yourself. Also if you get tempted to yell at someone or loose temper than we should control our mind and say “this is not the right way”. So by doing such small spiritual practices we establish a peaceful mind, be more patient and be optimistic towards things.
Once his holiness was asked a question “If he was a free man after being in exile for 50 years”, he replied ‘mentally, yes” We can choose our own freedom by being honest within ourselves and expressing that honesty openly with others. Compassion gives you freedom to feel good about yourself and others instead of being a prisoner of anger and negativity. The Dalai Lama can inspire us all to inject some humor into difficult situations and shower compassion on ourselves and others. If at some point in our live, we meet a tragedy we can react in two ways
- We can lose hope. Let ourselves slip into discouragement, into alcohol, drugs, unending sadness
- Or we can wake ourselves up, discover in ourselves an energy that was hidden there and act with more clarity, more force
Whatever i wrote today about his holiness, is thanks to this book. When you find time you can read this book. More books written by his holiness and information about his moment can be see at the website of his holiness
Across the world there are so much problems due to the land for which borders have been created by humans. Human race have come together lot of time to fight problems unitedly. Hopefully Tibet Exile Government and Chinese government forget the past and arrive at a solution that will benefit the coming generations.