China is now undergoing a change that attracts worldwide attention. Generally speaking, most of current observation, analyses, comments and prediction tend to focus on the economic, political and social development and change in China, placing its culture in a secondary position. Economy, politics and society are tangible entities that can be grasped with statistics whereas culture is intangible and it is hard to tell what function it can perform in the social transformations of China. Therefore, intentionally or unintentionally, culture is put into a subordinate position, and it is believed that it will undoubtedly evolve as the tangible politics and economy develop ( similar to the Marxist belief that “the economic basis determines the superstructure”) and will not have decisive influence upon social development.
Answering to the question from Western Buddhism Magazine
I am not a religious believer, hence I cannot see the future from the point of view of predestination, nor can I hope for the intervention of some mysterious forces. Generally speaking my view of the future is pessimistic – for Tibet, China, and for humanity. This pessimism is based on the current reality, and its logical progression. Rationally speaking, it seems difficult to reach any other conclusion except that the existence of humanity is meaningless and absurd.
From a sociological perspective, it is unavoidable for an agnostic to harbor hopes that religion can change the tragic future of humanity, and to give one meaning in life. Although I’m not very confident of such a future, I do really hope that religion can be a means to halt the pessimistic progression of things. I have a heartfelt belief that if religion can have such an effect on the future, then Tibetan Buddhism will definitely be one of the major forces. Interestingly enough, the biggest group of people that Tibetan Buddhism will help are the Chinese people who have given the Tibetans the most pain and misery. Whenever I think about this I can feel the ocean-like compassion of the Buddha, and understand the bodhisattva spirit, which causes one to personally go down to hell to liberate the beings suffering there.
Seek New Non-violent method to fight
The easiest way to solve the problem in Tibet is to get approval of self-government from CCP Chinese government. Then what is the next step if Chinese government does not approve?
All Tibet’s current fight against CCP is passive, and the way it works depends on whether Beijing is willing to give in. All the protest & international support only put pressure on Beijing. IfBeijing does not care, it means nothing and accomplishes nothing. From the current situation, there is no party who can pressure Beijing to give in on Tibetan issues. Therefore, all the efforts on Tibetan issues yield no future.
In the current debate on Tibet the two opposing sides see almost everything in black and white—differing only as to which shade is which. But there is one issue which both Chinese authorities and Tibetan nationalists consistently strive to blur or, better still, avoid altogether. At the height of the Cultural Revolution hundreds of thousands of Tibetans turned upon the temples they had treasured for centuries and tore them to pieces, rejected their religion and became zealous followers of the Great Han occupier, Mao Zedong. To the Chinese Communist Party, the episode is part of a social catastrophe—one that it initiated but has long since disowned and which, it hopes, the rest of the world will soon forget. For the Tibetan participants, the memory of that onslaught is a bitter humiliation, one they would rather not talk about, or which they try to exorcise with the excuse that they only did it ‘under pressure from the Han’. Foreign critics simply refuse to accept that the episode ever took place, unable to imagine that the Tibetans could willingly and consciously have done such a thing. But careful analysis and a deeper reflection on what was involved in that trauma may shed light on some of the cultural questions at stake on the troubled High Plateau.
On the surface, the Tibetan question is one of historical significance and concerns only the Dalai Lama, who has been in exile in India since 1959, and his some 100 thousand followers. In actuality, the real question exists within, not outside, Tibet. The Tibetans in exile do not constitute any threat to China. No matter how many demonstrations are held abroad, they can hardly affect the situation within China. How can actions overseas, even as drastic as hunger strikes and immolations, move a government that shot dead a few hundred civilians in its own capital for the sake of “stability”? Overseas opinion has often exhorted Beijing along this line: if the Tibetan question is not solved quickly, the Tibetans in exile will eventually resort to violence. Yet, to the Beijing regime that possesses the largest army in the world, such a threat is not even worth mentioning.
More than thirty years ago, I was sixteen or seventeen, a youth “sent down” to the countryside of northeastern China to be reeducated. One day I drove the carriage to the commune to get the food aid. In the Food Control Office I found a bound collection of the newspaper “Can Kao Xiao Xi” (News Digest), and immediately grabbed it to read. In those days “Can Kao Xiao Xi” was the only newspaper that had news from overseas. Though its news was still ideological, it was at least different from the standard party newspapers of the day. Among the news was an interview with Dalai by a foreign reporter. I have forgotten the specific content of the article, but an image remained in my head – a young and lanky Dalai in his lonely exile, heatedly criticizing China in his broken English to his visitor. This was the first time that I had a relatively specific impression of Dalai Lama. Though I have heard of him before, in the usage of the communist party literature the word “Dalai” was just a synonym for the dark days of Tibet. The reason I remember this article was not due to any grandiose concepts like the Tibet issue, but a rather trivial detail. As I was reading the article, the employee at the Food Control Office came and took away the newspaper in my hands. He told me self-importantly that it was an “inside publication” which only those “ranked highly enough” were permitted to read. Neither he nor I could have guessed that one day, the boy that was me, with rope belted around the waist and a whip gripped in hand, who was sheepish because he wasn’t “ranked highly enough”, would embrace the Dalai from “Can Kao Xiao Xi”.