Many people in the West are deeply emotionally and psychologically enmeshed within the pro-Tibetan movement. From a Buddhist perspective this is the exercise of ‘attachment’. For those so ensnared, this article will be an affront to their truth. Good – the only way that humanity learns is through the continuous questioning of its thoughts and opinions. This is not an attack on the legitimate traditions of Tibet, the Tibetan people, or Tibetan Buddhism. It is, however, an expose of the non-Buddhist concepts that underpin the pro-Tibetan movement in the West, which is a politically motivated and economically defined construct far removed from the true aims Buddhist philosophy. In this sense, the pro-Tibetan movement represents ‘delusion’ and not ‘enlightenment’, and because its duplicity is Judeo-Christian in nature, it is very difficult for those caught-up in it, to extract themselves from it and pursue true Dharma. What follows is a Buddhist corrective to a movement that only superficially appears to be Buddhist. If through this logical analysis the nationalism, racism and greed can be removed from its functionality, then it is possible for the pro-Tibetan movement to be rehabilitated and for it to assume its assumed purpose of helping ALL of humanity out of suffering and not just the chosen few who happen to support its limited politicised objective.
Although the concept of ‘truth’ is ‘loaded’ and difficult to define, the historical Buddha put a great emphasis in his teaching to adhering to ‘fact’ whilst simultaneously (and mindfully) keeping away from ‘non-fact’. This is because he was a realist who rejected the one-sided religiosity of Brahmanism (the theology of which he viewed as being the product of a non-factual ‘myth’ making process developed over many centuries, by a social elite that strove to retain its privileged power over the uneducated people, through the use of an imagined religious justification for their dominance). The Buddha fought against the prevailing system of his day by simply refusing to acknowledge its validity from a wisdom perspective, and nolonger actively participating in its everyday functionality. Although born into the Kshatriya caste of warriors and kings (the second highest caste just one rank below the controlling Brahmin caste), the Buddha stated that through his extensive meditational practice, he clearly saw that there was no ‘atma’ (permanent ‘soul’ construct) and no permanent god for it to be linked to. As the Brahmins retained their spiritual and social power through this myth, the Buddha’s insight comprehensively undermined the entire privilege of the established order. Caste was nothing but a racist myth that artificially divided Indian society into skin-colours and which ascribed social and religious ‘value’ to complexion. Without the ability to discern ‘fact’ from ‘fiction’, the Buddha’s Path does not exist.
He established five basic vows for lay people and hundreds of vows for his celibate monastics to follow, but common to both disciplinary codes is the requirement ‘not to lie’, or participate in the deliberate propagation of ‘non-truth’. Furthermore, a Sangha (or divine community) in ancient India was allowed to live peacefully in sacred areas (Sangharama) granted by king or ruler, with these areas being exempt from taxation, military conscription and the requirement to adhere to the law of the land. In return for this freedom Sangha communities were not allowed to directly interfere with the political process, or otherwise influence the society outside of their own enclosed communities. If any Sangha communities broke these rules then their immunity from legal punishment (and execution) was abolished and the community was broken-up and disbanded. This reality for early Buddhists gives a taste as to why ‘truth’ was of paramount importance for maintenance of a special community that granted the physical and psychological conditions for the Buddha’s disciples to be free of the need to work for their daily existence, and sit and listen to Dharma-talks and spend long hours of the day in the practice of seated meditation. Occasionally these ascetics would walk quietly around the local villages holding a begging-bowl and inviting the people to give whatever scraps of food. As Buddhist monastics do not work in the convention sense, the begged food (which can be of any kind) is ingested without any thought for its taste, smell, texture, or look. Begged food is simply used as fuel to keep the body minimally alive so that meditation can be practiced for the achievement of enlightenment.
If the Buddha’s method of analysing the mind and its content is properly understood and applied (in the sense that each utterance can be discerned as ‘truthful’, ‘neutral, or ‘non-factual’, then it becomes obvious that the so-called pro-Tibetan movement in the West is a product of ‘myth’ and ‘non-fact’. The pro-Tibetan movement in the West is a non-Buddhist concept that appears to rely upon the Judeo-Christian notions of ‘faith’, ‘congregation’, and ‘conversion’ (notions that are thoroughly non-Buddhist in nature). It is also premised upon purely worldly (i.e. ‘samsaric’) conventions such as fundraising, media manipulation, political interference, and the participation in academic misrepresentation. Although the outer garb of the pro-Tibetan movement is superficially ‘Buddhist’ in the Tibetan sense, the interpretation of Buddhist philosophy by many of its proponents is nothing more than the presentation of a ‘non-factual’ or ‘untruthful’ false Dharma. This false Dharma is premised not upon the Buddha’s thought of rejecting worldly politics (and such gross notions of ‘race’ and ‘nationalism’) but is premised entirely upon ‘nationalism’, ‘race’ and ‘specialness’. This is exactly where the rhetoric of the pro-Tibetan movement deviates from the very Buddhist thought it claims to represent.
The pro-Tibetan representatives, through the press, social media and academia, not only misrepresent the Buddha’s teaching (by representing non-fact as fact), but utilise aggression as a means to propagate the myth that they are disseminating. Like the Judeo-Christian myth that they are mimicking, a ‘special’ ethnocentric, religiously premised identity is ascribed to the Tibetan people that has more in common with the structure of Zionism (i.e. Jewish nationalism) than with Buddhist philosophy. Although constantly courting the liberal democracies of the West, the pro-Tibetan movement is non-democratic in nature, and thoroughly rejects ‘freedom of thought’ and ‘freedom of speech’. Its central myth-making premise is considered to be an inalienable truth that is like a theistic entity that is presented beyond question, doubt, or reform. In fact when viewed clearly, the pro-Tibetan movement appears to be exactly like the false teachings of spiritual liberation that the Buddha routinely rejects through the 5000 sutras attributed to his name. The pro-Tibetan movement courts liberal democracies in the West, but remains ‘illiberal’ and ‘non-democratic’ in nature. It acts rather like a religious cult that presents a mythic version of reality that confirms to all the attributes of the Judeo-Christian tradition. It has to do this to appeal to Westerners to be either Buddhist ‘converts’, or political supporters that pass on the pro-Tibetan message, replicating it throughout their own social milieu and creating new supporters for the movement.
The cult-like (and false) statements and policies of the pro-Tibetan movement are as follows:
1) Buddhist philosophy is distorted through a Judeo-Christian rubric.
2) Non-fact is represented as fact.
3) The pro-Tibetan movement (outside of Tibet) represents the country and peoples of Tibet.
4) China and Chinese people (and their supporters) are evil.
5) Western liberal democracy (and capitalism) is suitable for China and Tibet.
6) Tibet has never been a part of China.
7) Tibetans do not live in China.
8) China invaded Tibet.
9) The implied denial that Britain invaded Tibet.
10) The Buddhist path is not hard but full of inviting and smiling monks.
11) Chinese Buddhism is corrupt.
12) The 14th Dalai Lama is the de facto ruler of Tibet.
13) The Tibetan people (living in Tibet) know of and agree with the pro-Tibetan movement.
14) Tibetan monks and nuns ‘selling’ pro-Tibetan merchandise is acceptable.
15) Interfering in China’s internal affairs in acceptable for Tibetan monks and nuns.
16) Over-throwing the Chinese State is acceptable for Tibetan monks and nuns.
17) Breaking monastic vows is acceptable for Tibetan monks and nuns.
18) Asking for money is acceptable for Tibetan monks and nuns.
19) Participating in worldly affairs is acceptable for Tibetan monks and nun.
20) Misrepresenting Tibetan and Chinese history is acceptable for Tibetan monks and nuns.
All of this is AGAINST the Buddha’s Vinaya Discipline (and the Bodhisattva Vows) – or vows that monks and nuns follow (as well as many lay-people). It is essentially the breaking of the vows that control speech and behaviour. These vows are designed to prevent the rising of greed, hatred, and delusion in the mind, body and environment – through thought, speech, and behaviour. The pro-Tibetan agenda is nothing more than a manifesto for the establishment and perpetuation of delusion and suffering in the world. What must be established is that the pro-Tibetan movement IS NOT to be confused with the legitimate traditions of Tibetan Buddhism existing within Tibet, China and occasionally in the West. This essay is not dealing with Tibetan Buddhism that is profound and effective in its function of relieving suffering and guiding people to enlightenment. Not all Tibetans living outside of Tibet or China agree or perpetuate pro-Tibetan nationalism and racism, but quietly continue to practice the correct Dharma. The pro-Tibetan movement perpetuates lies about the history of Tibet and China and has used the mass media in the West to achieve this. As a result a false ‘truth’ has been established in the mind of Westerners who do not understand China or Tibet, do not know anyone Chinese or Tibetan, and have never visited either country. The pro-Tibetan movement deliberately takes advantage of the natural ignorance in the West and abandons its Buddhist heritage of encouraging ‘truth’ over ‘falsity’. Therefore the pro-Tibetan movement is a political movement premised upon the Western model, the purpose of which is to destroy the Chinese State. As such it only has a tacit association with Buddhism with one or more lamas ‘selling’ their Dharma knowledge to the general public – an act of corruption that is disallowed by the Buddha and the rules he established thousands of years ago within ancient India. Lastly, the people of Tibet do not support or endorse the pro-Tibetan movement in the West, and do not perceive the 14th Dalai Lama as their leader.