[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

The Plight of Tibet

Nov 29, 2011 06:37 PM
by prmoliveira

The Plight of Tibet: an Open Letter to Theosophists

It is a historical fact, attested by its Founders, that the Theosophical Society was brought into existence in 1875, in New York, through the inspiration and guidance of two Adepts (Mahatmas) then resident in Shigatse, Tibet. The Adepts, although originally from India, chose Tibet as their dwelling place. The following is one of their remarks on Tibet, its people and its uniqueness:

`For centuries we have had in Tibet a moral, pure hearted, simple people, unblest with civilization, hence ? untainted by its vices. For ages has been Tibet the last corner of the globe not so entirely corrupted as to preclude the mingling together of the two atmospheres ? the physical and the spiritual.' (Mahatma Letters)

Madame Blavatsky was one of their chosen disciples and was trained by them in Tibet, as the following passage of a letter to A.P. Sinnett shows:

`This state of hers is intimately connected with her occult training in Tibet, and due to her being sent out alone into the world to gradually prepare the way for others. After nearly a century of fruitless search, our chiefs had to avail themselves of the only opportunity to send out a European body upon European soil to serve as a connecting link between that country and our own.' (ML)

She herself, in an article, confirmed her visits to Tibet:

`? I have lived at different periods in Little Tibet as in Great Tibet, and that these combined periods form more than seven years. Yet, I have never stated either verbally or over my signature that I had passed seven consecutive years in a convent. What I have said, and repeat now, is, that I have stopped in Lamaistic convents; that I have visited Tzi-gadze, the Tashi-Lhünpo territory and its neighbourhood, and that I have been further in, and in such places of Tibet as have never been visited by any other European, and that he can ever hope to visit.' (Blavatsky Collected Writings, vol. 6)

The above statements present clear evidence that the teachings presented by Madame Blavatsky to the world are connected with her preparation in Tibet, under the auspices of her Adept-Teachers. As the TS later became the instrument of wide dissemination of such teachings, the historical and spiritual link with Tibet seems also self-evident. 

His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited the international Headquarters of the TS at Adyar in 1956 and in 1959, the year he fled the crackdown by Chinese military forces in Lhasa. He recently participated in an event in Chicago, with a large attendance, which was organized by the Theosophical Society in America. 

In his attempts to negotiate with the Chinese government he put forward the `Middle Way Approach', which was discussed in a four-day special conference organised in Dharamsala, in June 1988. This conference was attended by the members of the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies and the Kashag (Cabinet), public servants, all the Tibetan settlement officers and the members of the local Tibetan Assemblies, representatives from the Tibetan NGOs, newly-arrived Tibetans and special invitees. They held extensive discussions on the text of the proposal and finally endorsed it unanimously. Below are the core aspects of the Middle Way Approach:

`Without seeking independence for Tibet, the Central Tibetan Administration strives for the creation of a political entity comprising the three traditional provinces of Tibet. Such an entity should enjoy a status of genuine national regional autonomy. This autonomy should be governed by the popularly-elected legislature and executive through a democratic process and should have an independent judicial system. As soon as the above status is agreed upon by the Chinese government, Tibet would not seek separation from, and remain within, the People's Republic of China. Until the time Tibet is transformed into a zone of peace and non-violence, the Chinese government can keep a limited number of armed forces in Tibet for its protection; The Central Government of the People's Republic of China has the responsibility for the political aspects of Tibet's international relations and defense, whereas the Tibetan people should manage all other affairs pertaining to Tibet, such as religion and culture, education, economy, health, ecological and environmental protection. The Chinese government should stop its policy of human rights violations in Tibet and the transfer of Chinese population into Tibetan areas; To resolve the issue of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama shall take the main responsibility of sincerely pursuing negotiations and reconciliation with the Chinese government.'


All attempts to negotiate the above proposal with the Chinese government were unsuccessful and the constant attitude of the Chinese authorities is one of ridicule of and contempt for the Dalai Lama and, as a consequence, for the Tibetan people. 

The recent escalation has resulted in eleven Tibetans inside Tibet adopting self-immolation as their desperate attempt to draw attention to the extreme conditions prevailing in their occupied country. Although the Dalai Lama does not encourage such acts, he has suggested that these are the results of conditions in Tibet that the Chinese government refuses to admit.

Internationally, the plight of Tibet has become one of the most glaring spectacles of political hypocrisy and cynicism. The leaders of western governments evidently like to bask in the ubiquitous popularity of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. They like to be photographed next to him, some of them even receive him in their chambers, in spite of the ire of the Chinese government, and they publicly promise to support him in his work for his homeland. But after the cameras are off and his visit is over, they proceed to strengthen their commercial ties and agreements with China as if the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan issue simply did not exist. It is now self-evident that the western governments have practiced a policy of `disguised abandonment' towards Tibet, the Tibetan people and the Dalai Lama. (You will never see Barack Obama saying: `Tibetans, yes we can.') Their economic relations with China determine this pragmatic and `enlightened' policy for as long as China has one the most seductive markets in the world.  

The international media descended promptly with its digital circus in the different countries comprising the Arab Spring, parading the arrested Gaddafi for all to see. In contrast, reports about the self-immolations in Tibet were extraordinarily brief and circumspect, as if there was a silent and assimilated Chinese self-censorship in reports about Tibet.      

While worthy initiatives are taking place around the world by NGOs and other groups around the world, which help in keeping the Tibetan issue alive, one wonders what can theosophists do to help with the immense suffering of the Tibetan people. It is, obviously, not possible to suggest a specific course of action as theosophists are scattered around the world, with different backgrounds as well as being independent thinkers, unlikely to accept anything uncritically.

However, there seems to an area of life which is not immediately affected both by the western governments' policy of `disguised abandonment' of Tibet and China's magical power to induce self-censorship in the western midia: the inherent, creative, transforming power of thought. This is how one of HPB's teachers referred to it:   

`Remembering thoughts are things ? have tenacity, coherence, and life, ? that they are real entities ? the rest will become plain.' (ML) 

So perhaps theosophists can help Tibet, the Tibetan people and the Dalai Lama by thinking about them with `tenacity, coherence and life', by reserving a few minutes of their time every day to consider quietly how the world would be affected if the Dalai Lama could return to his homeland; how significant would be for Tibetans inside Tibet, as well as those abroad, to have him back; how important it would be for them to be able express freely their love and devotion for him who embodies the compassion that has nurtured many generations of Tibetans for many centuries; how relevant it would be for them all to once again preserve and maintain their timeless traditions, the core of which is the redemption of all sentient beings through the power of wisdom and compassion.

So, if I may humbly suggest, think of Tibet, the Tibetan people and the Dalai Lama with tenacity, coherence and life. And see what happens. 

Pedro Oliveira

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application