The end of a most interesting day. The Tibetan shops in town were closed due to the protests in Tibet and the Chinese military crackdown. Xinhua, the official government-controlled media unit, reported 10 people dead, but the Tibetans around town rumor numbers between 100 and 300. A day of mourning. Sometimes it seemed like only monks and the usual vigilant Indian taxicab drivers inhabited the central Bir market. Closed garage-like door and after closed garage-like door Indian shop door stood solemnly along the streets as reminders of over 50 years of Chinese brutality, cultural genocide, propoganda, and illegal occupation; the recent events being, in a sense, just upsurges, tidal waves, of a long-standing ocean of conflict.The Olympics being held in Beijing are the central sad figure in the mandala in which the protests and unrest are being arrayed — manifesting not only in Lhasa, but elsewhere in Tibet. In response to the typical iron-grip control tactics, and especially the deaths and arrests of protesters, most of them monks, protests are erupting around the larger mandala of the world — and especially in India and Nepal, the central hotspots of the Tibetan refugee community.
The hope is that the protests will bring the Tibet Issue to the entire world’s attention to a much greater degree, and that the Olympic games will be an arena in which a powerful catalyst can unfold; a catalyst that will eventually lead to greater autonomy for the Tibetans, and ultimately freedom from illegal Chinese rule.
It seems that it is already starting to work. The White House, according to CNN, has issued a statement that “Beijing must have a dialogue with the Dalai Lama”. Strong words coming from amounts to, arguably, World Super Power No. 1 to World Super Power No. 2. Europe and America say “Restrain yourself, China.” Chill out. At least they are saying that much, though it would be better if they said more.
If this does lead to greater freedom for Tibet, let’s hope that as few people as possible have to die in the process. The Indian police were on high alert today, with Majnu-ka-Tilla, the Tibet Town of Delhi, literally being sealed off. There were reports of Indian police beating Tibetans who tried to enter or leave the colony. In the words of many of Bir’s Tibetan locals, it is “a big issue”. India’s central police headquarters informed the police in all of India’s areas containing large Tibetan populations to be on high-alert, including, as local Mingyur Dorje put it, “all the way up north here in Himachal [Pradesh]”.
A candle-lit rally began in central Bir around 6 o’clock today, where participants walked to Chauntra, a village on the outskirts of Bir, an hour’s walk. They ended at Dzongsar Gompa, the very large monastery and shedra (Buddhist philosophical institute) of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche.
Walking in the direction of Chauntra, I had the good fortune to see Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche drive by in his car. He smiled and waved at the three of us: myself, Mingyur, and Tharchin. A wonderful experience. I had seen DKR for the first time the previous day, at the end of the transmissions that HH Sakya Trizin Rinpoche was giving. Two beautiful spiritual masters, two beautiful men, two very high and influential lamas seen for the first time, at the same time. They walked by me as they exited the massive Dzongsar lha-khang (shineroom). A feeling of great blessing.
Blares of shrill, dramatic Tibetan horns followed Sakya Trizin Rinpoche, the supreme head of the Sakya sect, out of the marble halls; those horns being so much like Scottish bagpipes to me in their droning, harmonics, urgency, and ability to inspire emotion and a kind of nonconceptual contemplation.