Letters to the West

seven years in Tibet-in-Exile (and counting …)

Where you can give money

Dear friends and relations —

A caring and generous person emailed me in response to the
first letter, asking where i would recommend they could donate to help the Tibetan cause.

The thought and the feeling is appreciated.

I was even very tempted to tell them some organisations who could use a bit of money very wisely — and it would help my work also.

But — if money would help this, it would have been fixed a long time ago.

Here are some donations you can make:

Every morning, for only three days, picture strongly in your mind just one of the following:

  • When you wake up, your coming day starts coming into your consciousness, right? OK, every morning, for only three days, let this come into your conscousness:
    limited food
    bare floor, a thin blanket.
    boring mindless work awaits,
    interrogation awaits, torture awaits.

    Maybe you are in a pitch black room, with no blanket, and even less to eat than usual. You are in solitary confinement and have been there for 2 months and have no idea when you will be let out.
    Why are you there? A guard heard you murmuring om mani padme hum
    For only three days, imagine this every morning as strongly as you can. And think of the friends of your friend James, who are not imagining, but living this

    every morning,
    for this year,
    and next year,
    and next year …


  • For only three days, picture strongly in your mind, losing the most precious, most powerful thing in your life.
    (I think that maybe a small problem with the Tibetan movement’s approach in educating the west, is slogans like “bring back Panchen Lama!” “Let Dalai Lama go back to Tibet!” “Let Tibetans practice Buddhism in Tibet!”
    Why? As westerners we cannot even imagine the feeling that Tibetans have towards their teachers and their religion. it is just not part of our culture. In America for most, the only real religion is the Dollar.)

    So i won’t ask you to picture your god or your belief. Just think of the thing you love the most … the thing or person or being which directs your life, towards which your whole being is focused … your daughter, your dog (i’m not being sarcastic here, i loved my dog more than most people), a precious teacher, your iPod, your car … something towards which your feelings are so strong, that you would be next to death if something happened to it.
    Now think that this has been taken away from you, and you are not allowed to even think about this thing.

    Imagine that if you are perceived to be thinking or talking about this beloved thing, if you are seen looking at a photo of this beloved thing, perhaps with a tear coming from your eye, you are very liable to be arrested, imprisoned without trial, and tortured. Your family may also be denied social services, jobs, or education because of your love for this precious being.


  • For three days, imagine your precious son or daughter, who you love so much, who you would die for. All the plans you are making, and work you are doing, to ensure the future of this precious child.
    Now, imagine that the future holds for your precious child — exactly nothing, zero.
    If your child is able to even go to school at all, they will not be allowed to read, write or speak your language, they have to do everything in Klingon. As the years go by, they are less and less able to talk with you, they are forgetting your own language. And the education they get is minimal — if they are really smart and talented, they may be provided a real education, and be sent to Klingon University to become Klingons. Otherwise, nothing. Ditch digger, or beggar, is the future for your child.And think that this becomes so intolerable to you, that using connections you have been lucky enough to make (and not all are so lucky) … you send your child to India to get a real education among its own (although exiled) people. Now this doesn’t mean hopping down to the local consulate and picking up a visa, and putting the kid on the plane and hoping for a friendly stewardess to watch over them! This means entrusting your child to the care of (if lucky) a friend or relative, it not lucky, some stranger or group of strangers, all of whom are facing the strong probability of:

    – long and arduous walking over the highest mountains on the planet.
    – frostbite and amputation.
    – extortion – by local policemen
    – rape
    – imprisonment
    – beatings

    and you may
    never know what happened to them
    And then, if your child does make it to Dharamsala and to school, the strong possibility that you will
    never see them again

    Several of my students, who are from Tibet, haven’t seen their parents since they were four years old, or eight years old. Some have talked to them on the phone, or met them at last, and just didn’t know what to say to them, they were strangers. And their Tibetan was different and their manner was different, and it was very awkward.
    And several of them, hear about their parents, only when one of them has died.

OK? This is what you can give to Tibet: to think about only one of these things, just for a few minutes every day. And imagine that for many people … friends of mine, who are now friends of yours … it is their day, it is their life.

Holiness Dalai Lama didn’t say

If our struggle through nonviolence with a large influx of donations succeeds, we will be creating a new way to solve problems and conflicts and thereby serve the interests of the entire human community.

He said

If our struggle through nonviolence with a compassionate feeling succeeds, we will be creating a new way to solve problems and conflicts and thereby serve the interests of the entire human community.

Sadly, and frustratedly,
your friend,

— james


Written by walker

12 August 2007 at 1:39 am

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