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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Inventing Tibet

January 3, 2009

Lydia Aran
Commentary - New York,
January 2009
 
For quite some time now, the cause of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism has enjoyed a phenomenal vogue in the advanced circles of the West. The “Tibetan cultural heritage,” as it is known, is universally understood to be the repository of a precious spiritual wisdom—one, moreover, that is critically relevant to the future of the entire world. But Tibet’s heritage is also seen to be highly endangered, in need of urgent support and rescue by the West. One can date the emergence of the Tibetan cause fairly precisely. It occurred after the country was incorporated into the People’s Republic of China in 1950, and especially after the 1959 flight to India of its spiritual and temporal leader, the 14th Dalai Lama. Before that time, Tibet barely registered in the West’s consciousness. Indeed, for centuries it had effectively disappeared from the political map of the world.
 
About the Author
 
Lydia Aran, a specialist in Buddhism, taught in the department of Indian studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem until her retirement in 1998. Her books include Buddhism: An Introduction to Buddhist Philosophy and Religion (Hebrew, 1993) and Destroying a Civilization: Tibet 1950-2000 (Hebrew, 2007). Her memoir, “Krystyna’s Gift,” appeared in the February 2004 COMMENTARY
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