Monday, July 08, 2013

Buddhists Ablaze ... Buddha Bombed ... WTF!

Sometimes, not very often, students ask me how I manage to talk and write about so many different things.  I tell them it is because I have no life, which never fails to make them smile.  Unlike me, most Americans know how to smile, and they smile well.

The real answer to their question is that I lucked out.  Right from the earliest years I can remember, I have been reading any damn thing within my sight.  If bored with nothing to read, I am one of those who will even read the nutritional information on a cereal box!  I joke that I go the dentist only because I get to read People magazine there.

Reading, or watching videos in this modern setting, is also a curse, sometimes.

If only I had let that New Yorker gift-subscription expire!  , But, of course, I didn't.  Thus, the issues keep coming, and I keep reading them.  Yes, there are funny cartoons there, but not every essay and short story in the magazine is mood-uplifting.

Last night, it was an essay on Tibetans setting themselves on fire (sub. reqd.) that I read.  A depressing essay.  I don't avoid those depressing pieces, but I read them.  As I recently remarked to a friend, life is not simply about laughter and partying alone--not that I party either!

I would imagine that dying by burning oneself will be one of the most painful ways to die, if not the most painful one.  A few years ago, when my experiment in the kitchen resulted in the oil exploding and hot oil falling on my forearm, that was painful enough for me.  The inch-long scar that resulted reminds me to be ultra-careful in the kitchen.  That was one tiny part of my body.  And here we have Tibetans setting their entire bodies on fire.  Entire bodies!  Voluntarily!  Like this twenty-year old, back in January!
In the past two years, well over a hundred Tibetans have immolated themselves in protest against the Chinese rule.  The demonstrations have spread across the Tibetan plateau, both in Chinese provinces with significant Tibetan populations--Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu--and in the Tibet Autonomous Region.  In 2011, a dozen Tibetans set themselves ablaze--most of them monks or former monks of Kirti Monastery, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Sichuan.  Last year, more than eighty Tibetans--monks and nuns, farmers, nomads, students, restaurant workers, and at least one writer--burned to death.  The oldest was in his early sixties; the youngest was just fifteen.
How terrible!  Just awful!

Now, I don't ever imagine that every single person in Tibet is a Buddhist monk or a devout Buddhist.  As Brandon O'Neill noted a couple of years ago, there are plenty of regular Tibetans who love to wear cowboy hats and ride motorbikes too.  But, it is not right when Tibetans are prevented from deciding for themselves what they would like to do.

The self-immolation is "a sacrifice for a higher cause."
Many demand freedom, including religious freedom and the protection of Tibetan culture and language; others call more specifically for independence.  The most common sentiment is an appeal for the Dalai Lama's return to Tibet.
As Tsering Tashi was ablaze:
He is suffering death by putting his whole body onfire, and he's still calling out His Holiness the Dalai Lama's name.
I am no fan of religions, and nor am I a fan of any particular religious leader.  But, isn't it up to the individual people themselves to decide what ideas they would like to practice?  Repressing that liberty, which then leads to such terrible loss of lives, is surely a crime that the Chinese government cannot dismiss as mere propaganda, can it?

Meanwhile, in the place where the Buddha became the enlightened one, bombs exploded:

Four blasts took place inside the temple complex, three in a neighbouring monastery, and one each near a Buddha statue and a bus stand, Bihar police officials said on Sunday. 
The Hindu adds:
Based on a bag found in the temple premises, the police detained Vinod Mistri, resident of the Barachatti block in Gaya. “Vinod was picked up based on certain information. His photo identity card was found in the temple premises,” Abhayanand, Director General of Police, told reporters here. Deputy Inspector General of Police Nayyar Hasnain Khan told The Hindu that Vinod is a carpenter who made small furniture. 
The bag found contained a monk’s robe, a piece of paper with some mobile numbers, medical papers and a voter identity card belonging to Vinod. “He is not a monk. So the NIA is investigating why he was carrying the robe,” a police source told The Hindu.
If only we all knew how to get along, despite our differences!


Ramesh said...

The Tibetan issue is a complex issue , which is a very sad one.

China has an awful policy to Tibet. They think economic advancement is the be all and end all of life and can't fathom why the Tibetans are ungrateful. They then pour fire on the problem by encouraging Han migration - same with the Uighurs in Xinjiang. They will wait for the Dalai Lama to die and then install a puppet successor in Beijing. And Tibet will continue to simmer

The Bodh Gaya incident shows there is much wickedness in the world. Buddhists are a tiny minority in India and do no harm to anybody. Bombing Bodh Gaya is just to provoke conflict. There are alas, quite a few madmen in this world.

Sriram Khé said...

it is terrible ... yes, mad, mad people all over the planet ... it is one mad, mad, mad, mad world!!!

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