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Another forgotten Tibetan Sect in long feud with DL and TGIE

The oddity of Tibetan Immolation: Nothing is changing, So Suicide ourselves until some thing changes. (And that’s when you know it’s a bluff).

There have been several posts on the Western Media, prevailing the opinions on the Tibetan Self-immolation as is or isn’t within the propriety of Buddhism (particularly Tibetan Buddhism).

Let me say clearly, YES, Self-immolation is fine within the boundaries of Buddhism. Indeed, Self-immolation and other forms of symbolic martyrdom are within the boundaries of most religions, and even FAVORED among the most EXTREME forms of religions and cults.

I would not dispute that. However, equally indisputable, Suicide of any form and encouraging suicide are considered crimes under the laws of most civilized societies, religion or not.

If the Tibetans choose the extreme practices of their religions over civilized laws, then again the followers of Dalai Lama demonstrate what kind of society they really want. (And they can have it in exile).

*Some Western media have pointed to examples of immolation as praise worthy, as comparison, excuse, or even glorification of Tibetan Self-immolations.

So let us compare.

(1) Arab Spring had self-immolation. A few, yes. But in Arab Spring, the Self-immolations are escalations of protests. The people there were in a state of uneasy subjugation under dictators (some US-backed) for many decades, where the economic conditions were deteriorating, until the self-immolations ignited more and more protests, until the countries went to civil wars or the government collapsed.

(2) in Vietnam, US escalated its war causing massive casualties for Vietnamese and Americans. American protesters self-immolated. Then the South Vietnamese Christian dictator passed laws discriminating against Buddhists, a Buddhist monk self-immolated to protest the specific law that made conditions worse for Buddhists.

These immolations were all in response to deteriorating conditions.

(3) In contrast, DL’s followers had armed insurgencies, organized riots, bombings, etc. for decades. Tibetan Self-immolations after all of that history of violence, seem more like acts of pointless desperation.

Nothing is changing in Tibet. In fact, things in Tibet are better than 1949, when DL and his head monks had lands and serfs.

DL’s followers just cry out for the same things they have killed for in the past decades, just this time, they were finally willing to kill just themselves. (With the implied threat that next time they will, AGAIN, resort to violence and kill Chinese people. WOW, that would be surprising! NOT!)

“Independence for Tibet, return of DL, religious freedom, more “international observers”, UN attention, blah, blah, blah….”

So, in comparison, the 90 or so Self-immolations is not much of a change for China.

China is still going to get more bad press and more diplomatic requests about Tibet. Eye-roll…. The novelty is not really much of a threat. (In fact, it’s not that novel. Indian Telangana independence movement had claimed about 800 political suicides, including self-immolations).

*So what’s really behind the surge of Tibetan Self-immolation?

I would avoid the word “conspiracy”, but rather characterize it as a subconscious religious/cult glorification of symbolic self-sacrifice.

If you read the internet chatters, you can draw together a recent revival of Superstitions in Tibetan Buddhism, where some more superstitious elements/stories of Tibetan Buddhism are being popularized.

Popularization of Supernatural often occurs during times of desperation.

For example, during China’s own Boxer Rebellion, the Boxers believed that they were protected from bullets by mythical energy.

Tibetan Buddhism, particularly in the Exile community, has seen a recent revival of popularity of the superstitions.

For example, the entire controversy of DL’s banning of the Shugden sect seemed to come out of nowhere, until one realizes that DL accused Shugden’s deity of being an “evil spirit” that would harm the energy of the Tibetans. The accusation sounded like an almost ridiculous farce of an excuse, until you talk to a DL devotee and realize that they believe it almost literally.

By the same fervent belief system, the Exile Tibetan Community began to popularize the superstitious elements of the ritual Self-immolations, particularly using near folk legends involving Buddhas and Kings achieving great spiritual and literal victories over “evil” through acts of self-immolations.

Particularly popular are these myths being disseminated among young Tibetan internet users. This is why quite a few of the immolators were not Monks nor Nuns, and didn’t appear to have any prior vocal political opinions.

The point of these immolators is centered not around the politics, but around the almost cartoonish delusion that somehow, if they burned themselves, they could achieve victory over “evil” in a single act of self-sacrifice.

Of course, this recent glorification of the Cult elements of Tibetan Buddhism is not missed by DL’s government. In fact, they actively profit from it, by using the immolations to beg for more donations for their cause, and even setting up a “Martyr” award to glorify and stamp the Superstition with approval.

But that is the extent of Brain washing that’s going on under DL’s government. Where Shugden sect is shunned and stoned for literally one accusation of “evil spirit” from DL, and the young can be made to believe that if he/she burns his/her body, victory can be achieved. (If you believe the most extreme literal and superstitious interpretations).

DL even tried to excuse his own position as one that’s caught in the middle. He stated essentially publicly in India that if he didn’t support the Self-immolations, his followers would turn against him.

Well, that’s tough, but that’s BS. That’s like a Cult leader complaining that he didn’t want to be a God, but his followers forced him to be their God.

DL (and his family) has been profitting for decades as the mythical leaders of the Tibetans. They cry at the sight of his Holiness (the living God). Why does he expect that his followers would be more rational and disregard the superstitions behind his Godly throne?

And if you are a fervent devotee of DL, would you dare to question the stories of the legendary Buddhas and Kings behind DL’s claim to Godly power and authority??

NO. Except, DL (and his close minions) know the truth. He doesn’t want to be God, especially not the kind that the followers want to burn. (REALLY, DL, the whole mythical achieving victory through a single act of self-sacrifice is really kind of a job for DL, the living God, right?)

But DL doesn’t want to test his own magic. So his followers must first prove their worthiness. First by cleansing the Evil spirit of the Shugden, then symbolically burning themselves (just to test if the fire is Holy enough).

Except as Cult goes, Tibetan Buddhism under DL is a bit late to the game. China has already seen enough of Cults, and is not likely to be fooled or intimidated by another one.

  1. December 12th, 2012 at 03:04 | #1

    Notice that the west doesn’t focus on the self-proclaimed motives of these monks and nuns who burn themselves. From what I’ve seen reported of their last statements, they were not protesting for Tibetan independence or for their civil rights. They were protesting for the return of the Dalai Lama. That is a decidedly religious motive, not one of human rights.

  2. N.M.Cheung
    December 12th, 2012 at 15:29 | #2

    Recently China arrested 2 brothers for working with TGIE for trying to pursuade other people to self immolate and film them and pass on the video. Most westerners are unaware that Tibetan Buddhism is a medieval superstitous religion more in common with Middle East Wahabbi sect of Islam then with Protestants that went through Reformation or Catholics post Pope John Paul or Zen Buddhism. With more migration of Han Chinese into Tibet and ideas of modernity such as science and women’s equality incresed friction with tradition is inevitable. The old Chinese policy of letting Tibet exist in isolation is untenable and is rapidlt changing. When I visited Tibet in April this year I saw young monks with cell phones and tablet computers, so a life of total praying and studying scriptures are no longer appealing to young people. One child policy doesn’t apply to Tibetans, so large families usually send second and later sons to the monastery, as life is hard on Tibetan plateau even with government subsidies, and when they came of age they have the right to return to secular life and government is encouraging them and that cause friction with the abbots who want to maintain control. At present those self immolations are only a passing phase and I expect the grip of Dalai Lama will pass with his passing.

  3. N.M.Cheung
    December 12th, 2012 at 15:52 | #3

    One thing to note is most of the self immolations occurred outside Tibet proper, in Sichuan and Tsinghai provinces where the clash with modernity is sharpest. Those provinces may not have enough Tibetan speaking teachers, so Mandarin is the official language for teaching and some might feel aggrieved and neglected. But it is really unrealistic to expect teaching of science and mathematics be done in an old language dealing mostly in scriptures.

  4. Mulberry Leaf
    December 15th, 2012 at 13:27 | #4

    You say that the Arab self-immolations happened because of oppression under dictators. However, self-immolations in Tunisia persisted even after “democracy” in that country.

    N.M.Cheung :
    Sichuan and Tsinghai provinces where the clash with modernity is sharpest…. Mandarin is the official language for teaching and some might feel aggrieved and neglected. But it is really unrealistic to expect teaching of science and mathematics be done in an old language dealing mostly in scriptures.

    Actually, Tibetan-language schools are in the mainstream in ethnic autonomous counties of Qinghai and Sichuan, and mathematics is also taught in Tibetan. This native language education has been the policy since 1949 and reinforced in the 1970s. The only area where Tibetan is not widely used in ethnic-area schooling is in university education, which is understandable since a lot of it is done in global languages such as English.

    melektaus :
    Notice that the west doesn’t focus on the self-proclaimed motives of these monks and nuns who burn themselves. From what I’ve seen reported of their last statements, they were not protesting for Tibetan independence or for their civil rights. They were protesting for the return of the Dalai Lama. That is a decidedly religious motive, not one of human rights.

    Good point. Self-immolations are a profoundly individual protest, because every person who self-immolates can write their own suicide note, shout their own slogans, etc. As Robbie Barnett notes, they’re playing “the ‘politics of sympathy’, a tactic that makes powerful symbolic statements, but does little to articulate coherent and urgent policy demands.” In other words, even if China felt like they wanted to appease the immolators’ demands, it couldn’t, because of the diversity and ambiguity of the statements.

    So these immolations are a blank slate upon which political actors can ascribe their own motivations. Just as Barbara Demick noted for the 2008 riots, “much of the information [reported by the Western media] came from Tibetan exile groups in Dharamsala.” This includes the various slogans that the protestors shouted in the few minutes before organ failure.

    Was there some really big change in policy before 2008, when Lhasa Tibetans started their beating-looting-smashing incident? No; it was pure opportunism before the Olympics. Similarly, if these people are protesting “Chinese occupation”, as some Western media amazingly report, then on what authority do self-immolating teenagers – who have never experienced life except under “Chinese rule” – say that their lives would be better, save for the Yellow Peril? Nothing has changed in Tibet, and nothing is likely to change, as a cause or result of these protests.

  5. Lucyqjy
    December 20th, 2012 at 00:32 | #5

    With the increasing number of self-immolations,what do you think is going on in Tibet?
    Is the Dalai Lama really a good man?

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