Dharamshala, India – An exclusive interview with Lama Lobsang, a Buddhist monk currently living in exile in the India. He shares with Tibet Post International (TPI) some key stories from his life, highlighting the struggles and atrocities under the Chinese occupation. He also talks about his philanthropy and his contributions to communities during the pandemic.
TPI: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us what you usually do?
Interviewee: My name is Lama Lobsang. I was born in Tibet. I left Tibet in 1992 and went into exile. Then I joined a monastery in South India. 2006 I went to England and lived there. England has been my home for 15 years now. Currently, I am in India. Under the present conditions, I have been trying my best to help Tibetans, Indians, and other people in need in India.
TPI: From your website, I found a passage where you have mentioned, “The Chinese communist government who occupy Tibet are not very kind to Buddhist monks. Like many other monks, I have also been imprisoned and tortured. I was forced to leave the Chinese repression." Please comment on this if you feel comfortable.
Lama Lobsang: This happened when I was very young. I joined a monastery in Lhasa when I was 15 years old to study Buddhist philosophy. We wanted more freedom, but we were not allowed. We respect and love His Holiness the Dalai Lama, but the Chinese government did not respect either His Holiness or our devotion. Under the Chinese occupation, we have no religious freedom. We were not even allowed to keep pictures of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in our homes. I participated in the Tibetan protests in 1989, which was considered a success at the time. But soon, the Chinese government resumed its atrocities. My friend and I were imprisoned, and it was then that we decided we could no longer live there because, as a monk, I could not enter the monastery. We were confined to our home. Then I wanted to leave Tibet. I started to go into exile. We narrowly escaped through the Himalayas and joined a refugee camp in 1992 that helped me in exile. Then I went to England in 2006.
TPI: Have you visited Tibet since you left?
Lama Lobsang: As I said earlier, I am now a British citizen and live in the UK. I have also visited refugee camps and I can now go to any country in the world, but I cannot go to my homeland Tibet because the Chinese government refuses to give us visas and that is why we are still in exile. I hope Tibet will be free soon and we can go back to our homeland.
TPI: What role do you think the international community should play in the Tibet issue?
Lama Lobsang: I believe that now is the time because everyone is aware of the Chinese government's illegal behavior. The Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, and China's lies to the world community has brought a lot of attention to the movement in the recent two years. More countries and individuals are becoming aware of China's atrocities and are taking action against it. Tibetans, Taiwanese, Hong Kongers, Southern Mongolians and others oppressed by the Chinese government are now coming together to fight the Chinese Communist Party.
TPI: Please tell us more about your philanthropic work and what you are currently doing?
Lama Lobsang: I am helping people without regard to anyone's nationality or religion. I am doing it for the benefit of mankind. Everyone is important and everyone deserves to be respected. Since everyone is severely affected by the coronavirus and has lost their jobs, I help them as much as I can. Some people don't have money to pay their rent, so I help them financially. I have also been providing medical assistance, equipment, masks, gloves, PPE kits, disinfectants, thermometers, oximeters, etc. to people in need and hospitals and police officers. I have also been distributing food packages to the homeless and anyone I can provide. I don't have a big organization. I manage all my philanthropy, whatever I can do on my own. I have my own team of people who support me and help me. In addition to humans, I've been helping animals, like cows and stray dogs. I've been doing the best I can and the love I get in return keeps me going.
TPI: What motivated you to go out of your way to serve others?
Lama Lobsang: During this time when the coronavirus was causing problems for people, I felt that many people needed my help and I did what I could to help those in need. And in return, everyone, including the police, liked me and appreciated my actions. And I like doing charity for the people because I have a lot of supportive people around me, and I've been doing it for many years, not just during the pandemic.
TPI: What makes you feel happy when you help others?
Lama Lobsang: I think everyone is a brother and sister. I don't see anyone as different, everyone is my family. I always emphasize the need for kindness and compassion. And whenever I meet young people, I always encourage them to quit smoking, quit drinking, and wear a mask. Young people like me and are very close to me, and they give me good energy. And it makes my life better when other people consider me their friend or join me, which makes me very happy.
TPI: Could you please advise us on how to stay calm and peaceful in these difficult times?
Lama Lobsang: I follow His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his teachings to care for, benefit, and help everyone. I listen to his teachings and it has changed my life. These teachings have taught me about life, peace, and compassion. It is also something I teach the younger generation, inspiring them to always do good deeds. I advise people to help others at all times, it's not just about being charitable or donating food, it's about being compassionate, show compassion to everyone.