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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Blog: "What is Happiness?"

March 11, 2010

Woeser
High Peaks Pure Earth
March 8, 2010

* * * * * *

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost
by Woeser that was originally written for Radio
Free Asia on February 16, 2010 in Lhasa and
posted on her blog on February 22, 2010.
<http://woeser.middle-way.net/2010/02/blog-post_22.html>

This is the first time Woeser has returned to
Lhasa since her brief stay in August 2008
<http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article4607454.ece>
that ended in several hours of detention and an
unexpectedly rapid return to Beijing <http://raggedbanner.com/pTFIL.html>.

In her blogpost, Woeser refers to the annual
Tibetan New Year gala in Lhasa that is broadcast
on TV. The gala is typically an extravagant
spectacle of a show, comprised of special guest
performances, songs, dances and comedy sketches.
This year, the theme of the gala was 'happiness,'
hence the title of Woeser's blogpost. For High
Peaks Pure Earth readers who have never seen this
gala before, a hard-working YouTube user has
uploaded the gala in its entirety in 52 parts (!) here.
<http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=8EA84A19A59FC23E>

In the blogpost, Woeser also mentions young
Tibetan poet from Amdo Gade Tsering (sometimes
the spelling Gadai Tsering from the Chinese
pinyin is used). Gade Tsering's popularity
amongst Tibetans has been demonstrated through
the plethora of votes he received during the
online poll "2009 Tibetan Personality of the Year".
<http://www.highpeakspureearth.com/2010/01/tibetan-bloggers-nominate-2009-tibetan.html>


"What is Happiness?" By Woeser
Lhasa, February 16, 2010

What is happiness? For me it is going back to
Lhasa, where I have been away from for a long
time, eating tsampa my mother kneaded, embracing
my bright-eyed little niece, polishing the
purified water bowl in the family altar room or
enjoying the balmy sunlight on the balcony, being
watched by the family’s shepherd dog, whose
barking almost makes one go deaf. Happiness can
also be found in the nights of the cold season,
falling asleep to the authentic fragrance from
Mindroling Monastery…at these moments I felt
happiness, the simple happiness of someone living far away from home.

The young poet, Gade Tsering, who lives in Amdo,
recently wrote about happiness in one of his
poems. The title of the poem is "I am Tibetan."
He didn’t only write: "in this despotic winter, I
composed this poem," having lost both his
parents, he also wrote: "I encountered my parents
in my dream, it was a moment of happiness. I
truly believe that at that instant, it really
didn’t hurt”. This bilingual poet also wrote:
“when I spoke my mother tongue, I truly believe
that at that instant, I felt peaceful, and
experienced happiness”. This is a feeling that
derives from life experience; this kind of
happiness is personal, with tears in one’s eyes.

On the first day of the Losar Year of the Tiger,
when I went to Jokhang Temple to pay homage to
the Buddha, the sky was still dark before
daybreak. I hadn’t thought that the religious
crowd praying to Buddha would be that large;
there was a jostling and long-winding queue, I
simply cannot describe how many Tibetans there were from near and far.

I don’t know from what time they had gathered
together at this place, step by step approaching
the comforting and popular Jowo Rinpoche. Based
on my past experience that I would always spend
the New Year’s eve at the Jokhang, I have often
seen such scenes of an excited mass of bobbing
heads, of moving human shadows, of thundering
human voices, with the Jowo Rinpoche, having
experienced many vicissitudes of life, watching
the devout crowd in golden radiant light. True,
this is a moment of happiness. Witnessing such a
scene, one could even see affection on the faces
of the most heartless people; they would even
hide the daggers, which they carried in their hands behind their backs.

But this time, I could only experience such
scenes in my memory. I had already queued for
almost 4 hours, but the first gate of the Jokhang
was still far away and I had something to do at
home, so I could only turn back half way. Anyway,
I had already felt the pulsation of my fellow
people. Yet, I am not talking about those old and
young people wearing sheepskin gowns, woollen
clothes from Tibet or fashionable clothes from
the metropolis, I am also not talking about those
herdswomen in front of me who braided their hair
into many small plaits, I am talking about those
people who are dressed in green and dark blue
army uniforms and those who wear plain clothes
but are assigned special tasks. There are so many
of these people, is it to the extent that every
person praying has one armed police closely watching and guarding over them?

However, for example, the Tibetan New Year’s
celebration broadcast on TV a few days ago, was
nothing but red. All programmes were excessively
conveying one main message: happiness. Of course
this happiness was also red, the red of the
Five-Starred red flag, it was China Red.
Moreover, on and off the stage, the rosy cheeks
of the hosts and the actors, of the officials and
the carefully selected audience were beaming with
happy smiles, simply creating an atmosphere of
happiness that Tibet has never before experienced
in its history. One of the performances gave
people goose bumps of happiness. A group of
actresses wearing Tibetan dresses was facing a
group of actors singing with great affection:
“Ya, laso, the smiling faces of the soldiers...”
The charm of the full femininity of the
performance flooded the entire city of Lhasa with
a false sense of happiness, but in reality it
can’t endure even a gun held in one hostile soldier’s hands.

Hasn’t this happiness befallen us through the
shadow of weapons? Can this happiness really
exist simply by forcing people to speak it out? I
have previously discussed these topics with my
religious teacher. He calmly said in the manner
of a practising Buddhist: “real happiness is
inner happiness, and inner happiness cannot be
obtained through money, it can neither be
obtained through lies and even less through the
oppression with weapons.” He paused, straightened
his robes and continued meaningfully: “however,
happiness is what everybody is striving for.”
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