[Marxism] Free Tibet
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Feb 23 09:43:32 MST 2017
I strongly urge comrades to watch "The Angry Monk" online:
This is a documentary I reviewed 10 years ago:
Choephel began life as a Buddhist monk but evolved into a scholar of
Tibetan history and a political activist during his extended visit to
India in the 1930s, where he became inspired by Gandhi’s revolt. He
decided to travel to India after coming into contact with Rahul
Sankrityayan, an Indian researcher of ancient Buddhist texts in Tibet.
Surprisingly, Sankrityayan was also a Marxist revolutionary who fought
for Indian independence. (It should be mentioned that many of these
texts were burned in huge bonfires during the Chinese Cultural
Revolution, a barbaric act that rivals the Taliban’s destruction of
ancient statues of Buddha in Afghanistan.)
When in India, Choephel not only politicized, he left behind the kind of
Puritanism expressed in the Dalai Lama’s strictures against
homosexuality. He was proud of his ability to sleep with 4 or 5
prostitutes in an evening and to get roaring drunk in the process, as
Golok Jigme, a 85 old monk and former traveling companion of Choepel,
reveals in an interview. In addition to writing the very first history
of Tibet, Choepel translated the Kama Sutra into Tibetan! In the
introduction to this classic work on sexual techniques, he wrote:
As for me — I have little shame I love women. Every man has a woman.
Every woman has a man. Both in their mind desire sexual union. What
chance is the for clean behaviour? If natural passions are openly
banned, unnatural passions will grow in secrecy. No law of religion — no
law of morality can supress the natural passion of mankind.
Choephel was the quintessential modernizer. Like Turkey’s Mustafa Kemal,
he wanted to reduce the power of the clergy. In a 1946 poem, he wrote:
In Tibet, everything that is old
Is a work of Buddha
And everything that is new
Is a work of the Devil
This is the sad tradition of our country
In 1946 Gendun Choephel took up residence in Kalimpong, a town that sat
on the India-Tibet border, where he joined the Tibetan Revolutionary
Party, which was founded 7 years earlier. He designed (he was a gifted
artist as well as a scholar) their logo: a sickle crossed by a sword.
The Tibetan Revolutionary Party sought to overthrow the tyrannical
regime in Lhasa. When Gendun Choephels arrived in Lhasa, the capital
city, he was arrested by the Tibetan government, which had learned about
his activity from British operatives working out of India. He was
accused of insurrection and thrown in jail for three years.
Two years after his release, the Red army overran Tibetan troops in
eastern Tibet and took control of the country. A physically ailing and
psychologically broken Gendun Choephel characterized the invasion in his
characteristically blunt manner: “Now we’re fucked!”
“The Angry Monk” is also an excellent introduction to some of the more
sophisticated thinkers in today’s Tibet, who are interviewed throughout
the film. I especially appreciated the comments of journalist Jamyang
Norbu, who derided the Western obsession with Tibetan spirituality. His
remarks in a PBS Frontline documentary reveal his continuity with the
Q: How does the West see Tibet?
A: I think, primarily the West sees Tibet, to some extent, as a fantasy
land, as a Shangri La. Of course, this is a kind of stereotype that has
existed in the Western kind of perception for a very long time, even
before the movie “Lost Horizon,” the movie was made. Initially, the
perception came from ideas of medieval Europe that they had of … …
(inaudible), the Christian king who lived behind the mountains of Gog
and Magog, and who would come maybe to make the whole of Asia a
Because maybe people in medieval times heard of Tibet and a lot of
liturgical practices in Tibet, religious rites and ceremonies, resembled
the Roman Catholic ones.
Q: Tibet is suddenly very chic in America. Why is that?
A: There’s a kind of New Age perception of Tibet, which is fed to some
extent quite deliberately by propagandists for Tibet, many New Age type
Buddhists, Tibetan Buddhists. And, also subscribed gradually by
Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama and a lot of prominent Lamas. The
idea that this even materialist west will be saved by the spiritualism
of the Tibetan Buddhists. It’s total nonsense.
Tibetans are in no position to save anyone, least of all themselves in
the first place.
But, this is the kind of idea that’s being subscribed by a lot of New
Age type people. This is the problem that Tibetans face, because their
issues and the tragedy of Tibet has not being taken seriously.
Primarily, it’s very fuzzy; it’s sort of a feel good issue, rather than
a stark, ugly reality.
You have the Palestinian problem. Now, whether you like the
Palestinians–and I’m sure a lot people in the West don’t like them—- but
you give them the respect that their condition is real.
A lot of people love Tibetans in the West, tremendous sympathy, but it’s
a very fuzzy kind of sympathy, because it never touches on the reality.
It doesn’t touch on the reality that the Tibetan people are
disappearing, they’re being wiped out.
You look at even supportive friends of Tibet like Galen …. Have you seen
his calendars? It just says everything is wonderful. Tibet is wonderful.
The culture is wonderful. The land is wonderful. It does not touch on
the tragedy that people are actually being wiped off the face of the
earth and their culture is being wiped out. That is not touched; it’s
considered in bad taste.
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