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China Is Attempting to Wipe Out Buddhism

March 21, 2010

Huffington Post - March 19, 2010

Robert Thurman, Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism at Columbia University
and co-founder and President of Tibet House US.

"They are putting the monks and nuns in prison-like conditions, depriving
them the opportunity to study and practice in peace," The Dalai Lama said on
March 10, accusing Chinese of working to "deliberately annihilate Buddhism."

I, for one, was proud of His Holiness the Dalai Lama when he spoke strongly
about the Chinese Communist Party's oppressive treatment of Tibetan Buddhist
monks in Tibet [the whole of Tibet, being all the Tibet Autonomous
Prefectures and Counties as well as the Tibet Autonomous Region]. Chinese
Communist officials constantly revile His Holiness in the most scathing and
inappropriate language, and while conducting talks with his representatives,
simultaneously denying that they are doing so, speak of him insultingly, and
accuse him of all sorts of preposterous things.

His Holiness has been so carefully mild in his speech about the Chinese,
until the last year or two, that when he simply reports the fact that
Chinese Communist policy and practice is to treat Tibetan Buddhism as
seditious, the international press calls it "lashing out!" I was actually
present in the crowd this year, and His Holiness' tone was measured and
calm, reporting the deplorable facts without any invective.

Since 1993 when the Communist Party held its "Third Work Forum" on Tibet,
the party boss of the time, Chen Kuiyuan, put forward the proposition that
Tibetan Buddhism itself was "splittist" or "separatist," since Tibetan
Buddhists considered the Dalai Lama to be an incarnation of Tibet's guardian
angel, the celestial bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, and so their loyalty to
him was unshakable. Hence, it simply became the established policy of the
Chinese Communist Party - which is one and the same as the Chinese
government - to destroy Tibetan Buddhism, in order to block the Tibetan
peoples' love of the Dalai Lama and force them to identify themselves as
loyal citizens of the Chinese "Motherland."

In setting such a policy, they were embarking on an impossible task, as the
subsequent 17 years have shown. The first thing they did was renege on their
initial back-channel request to the Dalai Lama to help with the discovery
and recognition of the Panchen Lama, who had died suddenly in 1989. When the
time came to seek his reincarnation, the Tashi Lhunpo committee was
authorized to consult the Dalai Lama, since the former handlers of Tibetan
symbolic matters wanted to use the new Panchen Lama as a new figurehead
puppet, and they knew full well that the Tibetan people would never accept
any Panchen Lama candidate who was not chosen by the Dalai Lama. However,
when it came down to the final stages of the recognition process, the CCP
proclaimed that it and it alone had authority to recognize the
reincarnation, and they purposely denied the choice of the Dalai Lama (and
arrested that young lad, Gendun Chokyi Nyima, and his family and tutors and
have held them in disappearance ever since), and anointed a boy of their

Observers have not noticed that this policy change was a result of the plan
to destroy Tibetan Buddhism. Why? Because they knew full well the Tibetan
people and Tibetan monks would not accept their choice, so instead of a
puppet Lama who would mouth their message to believing Tibetans, they
erected a built-in, long-term litmus test to root out monks and nuns and
lamas who were sincere Tibetan Buddhist practitioners, since when they were
forced to pledge allegiance to the Communist choice of reincarnation, the
sincere ones would refuse, and so could be kicked out of their monasteries,
imprisoned, tortured, and branded for life as "splittists." In other words,
this scheme, enacted from 1995 onward, was a clear change of direction by
the CCP. Formerly, since the end of the cultural revolution, the policy was
to accept the indestructibility of Tibetan Buddhism in the hearts of
Tibetans and try to manipulate it to co-exist with the Communist Chinese
state. From 1993 on, the policy became to decry Tibetan Buddhism as itself
"splittist," demonize the Dalai Lama, drive sincere Buddhist practitioners
out of their monasteries, and create a new generation of Communist,
secularist, "Chinese," Tibetans. In a very clear sense, this policy has been
a return to a more subtle form of "Great Cultural Revolution," for Tibet
only, while the word down in lowland China was that the cultural revolution
had been a disaster. In fact, certain lead cultural revolutionaries, such as
the infamous Ragdi and others, who had been saved for just such an occasion,
were "rehabilitated" and put back in charge of Tibet!

If you look at the larger picture within the whole of China, the timing of
this change in policy in Tibet and the return to the vain attempt to force
Communist ideology on its spiritual people is quite in parallel with Jiang
Zemin's paranoid crusade against the Fa Lun Gong within China proper. Of
course, Fa Lun Gong has nothing to do with Tibetan Buddhism, being an
eclectic mix of Buddhism, Taoism, and yoga, but it is similarly unacceptable
to the Communist autocrats in that it is a broad based spiritual movement
that holds spiritual values above allegiance to the party and the Communist
state. In thrall to the corporate myth of the commercialization of China and
its total conversion to capitalism, Western observers have forgotten the
fact that Mao set up a quasi-religion of Communist state worship with
himself as the presiding deity, to maintain which he had to eradicate by
force: all pre-existing religious ideologies and institutions. After his
death and the pragmatism campaign of Deng, this religion of the state lost
its grip on the Chinese people, but oligarchic capitalism could not be
advanced officially as its ideological and institutional replacement, since
the Chinese people have a strong spiritual side, and the vast majority of
them still remain the slaves of that oligarchy. So the Communist leadership
is rather desperately using aggressive nationalism to excuse its embrace of
capitalist institutions and lifestyles and deflect the resentment of the
excluded masses. But, aware of the limits of this strategy, they feel they
cannot allow spirituality, the religious richness of China that is
burgeoning underground, to emerge in all its pluralistic glory, since then
the deification of the state they relied on from the beginning of the
revolution would no longer be possible. And as one may observe from their
60th year military parade celebrating the founding of the Communist state,
the God Mao was once again very much in evidence amid all the goose-stepping
and the show of hardware.

So there is nothing very controversial about the Dalai Lama's statement that
the Communist Party of China continues to direct the party bosses of all
Tibetan regions and prefectures to proceed with the destruction of Tibetan
Buddhism. It is not a "lashing out," or an incendiary statement. It is a
simple statement of fact, a noting of the CCP's formally stated policy and
17 year long practice. Fortunately, this policy and these practices will
fail to accomplish their aim, just as the intense and violent Maoist
campaign of "thought-reform" brainwashing and cultural destruction from 1959
to 1979 failed to eradicate the Buddha Dharma and the love of the Dalai Lama
from the Tibetan heart.

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