Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


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China lifts travel ban for people living with HIV

China lifts travel ban for people living with HIV

UNAIDS applauds the decision by the Government of China to lift its national travel ban for people living with HIV. The news comes ahead of the opening of Shanghai Expo 2010, an international fair that is expected to attract millions of visitors over the next six months.

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What’s The Real Story On Tibet?

Serf Liberation, Mass Oppression, or Something Else?

In the May issue of In These Times, Stephen Asma takes a decidedly middle path on the situation in Tibet (article not available online), and recommends a cooling of the rhetoric on both sides. He cites problematic “doublespeak” from both China and the Tibetan exiles, influencing how the West has framed the debate: …


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In China, A Different Brand of Buddhism

China’s Communist Party tightly regulates religious activity, especially the banned Falun Gong sect, but allows wide latitude for many law-abiding Catholics and Protestants who meet in unofficial house churches. Tibetan Buddhists however, are in a different category.

Their spiritual leader is the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing blames for stoking the deadly riots in Lhasa last March. Although he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, the Dalai Lama is routinely described in official state media reports as a wolf in monk’s clothing, an evil and dangerous separatist. In December, China stunned European leaders by canceling a summit on the economic crisis because the E.U. president had planned to meet the Dalai Lama the same week.

For now, most Chinese who practice Tibetan Buddhism are able to worship under the radar because their numbers remain comparatively small and their movement is not organized. Followers meet in private homes to recite sutras and compare knowledge or gather in apartments where wealthy benefactors have set up elaborate shrines. Many appear to be unaware of regulations intended to restrict their worship.

via In China, A Different Brand of Buddhism – washingtonpost.com.


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Dalai Lama Says He Has Lost Hope in China Talks

In his first public appearance since undergoing gallbladder surgery earlier this month, the 73-year-old said, “as far as I’m concerned I have given up.”

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate said it is now up to the Tibetan people to decide how to take the dialogue forward.

The Dalai Lama has called a special meeting of Tibetan exiles next month to discuss the future of the Tibet movement.
VOA News – Dalai Lama Says He Has Lost Hope in China Talks

Commentary:

This is certainly disheartening news for Tibetans, and for their supporters, myself included, but it is probably the best course of action for His Holiness to retire from the fray and build the foundation that will support Tibetan Buddhism and the succession when he is no longer with us.

I have long believed that the dream of coming to terms with the Chinese, vis-a-vis Tibetan autonomy, was doomed to be dashed.  The idea that the Chinese hierarchy would change sufficiently within the Dalai Lama’s lifetime to allow any progress was always remote, and the rise of a successor with the ability to influence the Chinese and the rest of the world as much as His Holiness is even more so.

His Holiness the Karmapa is a wonderful young man and fine teacher, but it will be decades before he approaches the stature of HHDL in the eyes of the rest of the world.  This takes nothing away from him; the same must be said of any successor to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, should he choose to reincarnate again. The Fourteenth Dalai Lama occupies a singular place in world history.  He could not have happened earlier, and it remains to be seen whether his influence can be approached by a future Buddhist leader.

The bare fact is, the world needs the Chinese far more than it needs the Tibetans, and states always act in their best interest.  It is difficult to envision a set of circumstances that would make supporting Tibet an advantage to the few nations in a position to influence China in that regard (assuming that any are).  To believe otherwise is to tilt at windmills.

That being the case, Tibetans in exile would be best served by our support in maintaining their culture and traditional ways to the greatest extent possible.  Tibetans in Tibet, it is sad to say, will be best served by doing the same within the strictures put upon them, and by becoming good Chinese citizens.

This is not a happy solution, but it is the best for all concerned.  Romance and regrets have no function in international relations.

Afterthought: We certainly hope that this announcement says nothing about His Holiness’ health, and that he enjoys many more years spreading the Dharma throughout the world.  It is interesting to speculate if he might be considering the matter of a successor — perhaps even an election, as he has mentioned in the past.


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Olympic Religious Constraints

It isn’t easy being devout in China, even for world famous athletes.

Olympic Religious Constraints

For many competitors in the Olympics, athletics and religion are inexorably linked. Josh McAdams, a Mormon American steeplechase competitor, told the Washington Post, “athletics is not only physical and mental but spiritual.” Unfortunately for McAdams, practicing that spirituality is difficult inside the Olympic Village, as China has banned many foreign chaplains from living with the athletes. China promised to provide their own religious leaders, but the Washington Post reports that religious facilities on the Olympic grounds are remote, often don’t have enough space for worshipers, and participants are getting frustrated by the inadequate language skills of the service leaders.