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The Dalai Lama's journey

March 22, 2008

As China Launches a Crackdown On Tibet, the Buddhist Leader Fights For
His People’s Dignity. An Intimate Look At His Spiritual Struggle

(New York, March 20, 2008)—In this week’s issue and on, TIME
reports on the recent turmoil in Tibet. In an exclusive excerpt adapted
from TIME contributor Pico Iyer’s new book, “The Open Road: The Global
Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama,” Iyer reports on his most
recent interview with the leader and explains his spiritual philosophy.
Plus, on, Simon Elegant reports on his exclusive access to ethnic
towns on the Chinese-Tibetan border. (p. 44)

Elegant was the only journalist inside Litang and other ethnically
Tibetan towns on the border during the past week, as all other foreign
were detained. He describes the atmosphere in the town as armored
convoys enter the city, writing that Litang’s residents “have a haunted
look behind their smiles that betrays a deep concern about what might
happen in the coming days … [as] reports from the capital speak of
widespread arrests and house-to-house searches by security officials.”
Iyer, who first met the Dalai Lama when he was 17 and first wrote about
the leader for TIME in 1988, most recently interviewed him in November.
Managing editor Richard Stengel writes in his Letter to Readers, “Now
Pico offers the definitive portrait of His Holiness in this week’s cover
story.” Iyer tells TIME, “Over the years, I’ve been struck by how
practically [the Dalai Lama] adapted his message to the times and the
worldwide audience. He’s thought about his positions more deeply and
more rigorously than anyone I’ve ever met.”

In the adapted excerpt, Iyer writes, “As the world prepares for the
Olympic Games in Beijing this August—and as Tibetans…inevitably use the
world’s attention to broadcast their suffering—a farmer’s son born in a
stone-and-mud house in a 20-home village in one of the world’s least
materially developed countries has, rather remarkably, become one of the
leading spokesmen for a new global vision in which we look past
divisions of nation, race and religion and try to address our shared
problems at the source. Acts of terrorism, he said when I saw him in
November, usually arise from some cause deep in the past and will not go
away until the root problem is addressed. He could as easily have been
talking about the emonstrations of discontent being staged in his
homeland nearly a half-century since he saw it last.”

Iyer concludes, “As the world looks toward Beijing and its glittering
coming-out party this August, and the Chinese government prepares to
unveil all the fruits of its recent remarkable economic achievements,
oppressed citizens in Tibet and elsewhere will no doubt use the same
opportunity to remind the world of what has been lost in terms of
freedom and humanity in the rush for those achievements. The calm
scientist in monk robes, however, with his habit of looking at the
deeper causes beneath every surface, will surely keep noting that the
only revolution that lasts and that can truly help us toward a better
world is the one that begins inside.”
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