Long ago a geshe and an abbot went to a village and consulted, as they usually did, a reputed divination performer about monastic financial business. After the consultation was over, they rose up and were about to leave. The divination performer said something that stopped them in their tracks and bewildered them. It was irrelevant to what for they were there. The divination performer told them that a wildlife teacher with a long hair at their school was an extraordinary being and that he was going to become a bodhisattva this life. The diviner advised them not to mistake him for his outer appearance which may appear a bit reckless or eccentric, but at heart he was gold.
I did not know this divination performer nor did I think she knew me. Anyway, I didn’t care. Months later I went along with a group of tourists to see this soothsayer as they asked me for my help as an interpreter. After the oral translation was over, I asked the divination performer on when I would come across my root guru. And also on how my search for nirvana would fare. The diviner said some prayer and gazed at a round metal mirror in the small somewhat dark room. The diviner said I would run into my would-be root guru for sure but not too soon and also there was an obstacle (usual story !) on my path to nirvana.
In the mirror, the diviner claimed to see a giant apple tree and on one of its branches perched a colorful bird with a long beautiful tail. The sight distracted me and caused me to fall from the tree from which I could only pluck only one apple. She said the more apples I could pluck the more fortunate I would be spiritually speaking.
What could that bird be? A woman but which one?
My realization, after years of study and practice, that nirvana is an intellectual guessing game sent shock-waves down my spine six years ago. It hit me like a sledgehammer. I was reeling, and it took me time to come out of it. But today to live here and now face to face with the harsh truth of reality is also liberating in itself. No more space for delusional thinking. You live in hope. You die in faith. Nirvana is a hoax. Rebirth and karma are tools of the power players to create false hope and fears, so we don’t rise to threaten the status quo of the believers in general and the clergy in particular. No path to freedom from the world exists. Going against the investment of Buddhism is a way to psychological liberty in this world.
Tibetan nonbelievers or atheists should come out of their closet and offer us a logical perspective to reality in question. Do not hide and be politically correct especially when you have nothing to lose but your chains, blind faith and dogma, and stupidity. Doing so also shows your sincere respect for the Tibetan intellect. It reflects your concern for the future of your people.
Well, you might want to leave Buddhism as a private affair, and I wish it is one. But is it? Tibetan schools force students to pray for an hour or two almost every day in India, Nepal, and Bhutan. For details, contact Tenzin Nyinje. You risk being canned if you don’t comply. Is it then a private affair? Settlement officers force our impoverished villagers to pray for 8 hours per day on occasions. You risk being sometimes fined as high as RS 500 for a single day of absence. Is it then a private affair? Is it a private affair when parents force their 6-year-old children to join a monastery knowing very well that majority of them would undergo sexual abuse?
Modern educated who refuse to touch this topic of faith and atheism because they believe it’s 500-year-old debate or 2600-year-old question and so outdated or that it is not a significant issue are making a fundamental mistake. Until we purge the faith out of the Tibetan brain, fear of being reborn as pigs will not release them, and Tibetan independence or freedom will remain a distant dream. The gut to speak independence in parliament is the first requisite. Until that happens, Tibetan parliamentary resolution on our goal will continue to remain autonomy. Anything you do for independence with governmental support will be more productive. Your speaking up is crucial. It will possibly change the mental course of our people. This will change the political direction of Tibet for once and for all.
Buddha left kingdom and politics but Tibetan monks who get parliamentary representation and seats through their cholka or region are not content with this, and hence they get extra representation, tickets and political clout through the cholug or sectarian slot. They occupy nearly 25 % of the parliamentary seats in the CTA. Is it then a private affair? Think about it.
Contrary to the blatant claims made to the international community, Tibetan government or administration is not yet a secular entity. It is a choesi-sungdrel or cheap scoundrel entity. The primary goal of those who push for the status quo is to ensure the power grip of the clergy over the lay Tibetans. Can you now afford to act liberal and keep your mouth shut? Come out and show your support by speaking up in debates and interviews. Write essays, articles, and books. Post photos and videos. Share everything on social media and the press.
Show your courage to stand alone if necessary. Prove your determination to awaken your people from faith. Guide them on the path to logic, atheism and universal ethics. The old school and the pseudo mendicants may attack you calling it a new religion but so what. Hold your chin up and look right into the eye of the religious right, thereby sending them the message you are ready for whatever they throw at you. If people of faith have every right to show us the path to tall claims, zero evidence, and darkness, we secularists or people of reason have every right to speak up for a way to light that is claims backed up by evidence.
Until and unless we free ourselves from the dogma of Buddhism, we will never be able to speak our political thoughts. Lamas dominate our political world. They teach the faith that arrest out thought. These influential lamas propagate MWA. And we can’t stand up to them. Our slavish reverence to them shut down our views on the Tibet debacle. This is how a belief system undermines our thinking capacity and also harms our cause.
Talking to a dead object such as a Buddha statue or some invisible deity in the sky is a severe case of mental illness. That’s what people of faith suffer down the millennia. Think free and you will rattle the interests of the powers that be. Society will bark for powers that be. It will oppose, condemn and ostracize you. It can curtail your rights, discriminate, and segregate you. It can protest, fire you, and boycott your business. It will accuse, or sue you. It will threaten, stalk, assault and possibly kill you. But you will stand your ground. Prepare for the worst!
Men hate being told the truth: Dogs hate being shown the stick. The stick of truth pokes deep, and it hurts. Society wants us to bury the shit diplomatically. That, we will not do. No matter what happens, we will stand our ground and expose the truth of lie whenever wherever however we can.
If the argument for Buddhist faith is that it feeds us or it makes us famous, then you are missing the point. You are talking about superficial convenience. You are not talking about freedom in the world let alone freedom from the world. Well, you can do it in your private lives but not in our political life. Never should religion and politics mix. It is poison for both.
Their intolerance to criticism is a call to our subjugation. Let the sky fall we will not surrender our right to think and speak freely. If we can’t speak freely in the free world; imagine what length these leaders would go to in a free or an autonomous Tibet! They will not hesitate to chain us to conformity and official subjugation like they did before we lost independence to the people’s republic of China who we believed to be a manifestation or a realm of Manjushri–the boddhisatva of wisdom!
P.S. This post was first published in April 2016.