Bylakuppe - Sitting in the morning puja, it was with a heavy heart knowing that some older monks had spent 56 away from their country so that they could be free to practice and continue their traditions.
They lost all, fellow monks, friends, family. By the same token, many of the others, along with their parents, were born and raised in refugee camps. India has contributed so much to humanity, this act of acceptance an example of what it is to act humanely. 1959, the year His Holiness escaped the Communist Chinese, is prominently displayed in every billboard that shares the plight of the Tibetans. Other words that appear are "genocide" and "over a million" dead.
Tashi Lhunpo monastery, like the other monasteries scattered throughout India, were established for centuries in Tibet. Speaking to some of the younger monks, their sole goal for this lifetime is to teach Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan culture. Their giving back to community is to keep a flame burning, one the Communist Chinese are attempting to squelch using violence, intimidation, torture, forced assimilation, and eradication on a daily basis.
As I visited with the monk who has worked continuously for years to make this event happen, I was struck by the simplicity of where he lived. A bed, a desk, and his robes. When His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama says "I am just a simple monk", he is earnest in his words. Some in the West may have a difficult time understanding this idea. What we do or don't understand is irrelevant. The Tibetan people get it, we can learn by a living example of humility, in the end this is all that really matter.
Some of the driving forces behind Tibetan Buddhism are compassion and the notion of devoting your life to ease the suffering of all sentient beings. Compassion does not mean pity or empathy, but is the genuine wish for the suffering of others to cease. To say the word compassion is one thing, having the privilege of watching the Tibetan people put this in practice is another. I can only hope to develop this intention in my lifetime.
As we look for gifts for the upcoming holidays, the likelihood is that we will spend money to support an oppressive regime and an American corporate structure that makes billions selling cheaply made goods for inflated prices. People are working overtime to divide humanity. If fear and fear-mongers harden our hearts, we stand to lose the beauty of our humanity, our essential nature.
Considering the plight of many of our brothers and sister in our community and others, this money would be better spent enhancing another human life. We know it, whether we decide to act is up to us. I am here to celebrate Tibetan Culture. The perseverance of a people against great odds to live their life under their own terms while genuinely wishing and promoting respect along with tolerance for others. This is a lesson the world, at this time of need, must heed.