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Powerful China Afraid of 11 Buddhist Monks?

December 7, 2011 18 comments

Why does the death of 11 Buddhist preachers in Tibet by self-immolation make the Chinese quake in their jack-boots!

Thich Quang Duc's self-immolation that set of the Vietnam War and end of colonialism in Vietnam.  |  Image by Malcolm Browne; source and courtesy - iconicphotos.files.wordpress.com|  Click for larger source image.

Thich Quang Duc's self-immolation that set off the Vietnam War and end of colonialism in Vietnam. | Image by Malcolm Browne; source and courtesy - iconicphotos.files.wordpress.com| Click for larger source image.

Quaking in their jack-boots

The Chinese regime, which so easily managed Tienanmen Square protests; engaged in stare-wrestling with the world’s super-power, USA, is afraid of 11 dead monks from Tibet.

What power do these monks have – after being out of power for 50 years now?

The Chinese who have made pious noises about wanting to resolve border issues with India, cancelled talks with India because of an out-of-power monks.

Like the Dalai Lama.

one of the most senior Tibetan religious figures—a young man who is likely to step into the shoes of the Dalai Lama as de facto religious leader of the Tibetan people—this week called on Tibetans to end a string of spectacular acts of self-immolation in protest against Chinese rule.

In the statement he issued in India, where he’s lived in exile ever since his dramatic escape from Tibet a dozen years ago, the youthful 17th Karmapa praised the “pure motivation” of the Buddhist devotees who set themselves on fire, saying “these desperate acts… are a cry against the injustice and repression under which they live.” However, in the first such statement from a senior Tibetan religious figure, the Karmapa went on to request that Tibetans “preserve their lives and find other, constructive ways to work for the cause of Tibet… We Tibetans are few in number, so every Tibetan life is of value to the cause of Tibet.”

The fact that the 17th Karmapa is recognized by both Tibetan exiles and by Beijing makes him a powerful figure. When the Dalai Lama dies, the Karmapa is likely to take the Dalai Lama’s place as the most influential adult spiritual leader of the Tibetan people.

So far this year, 11 Tibetan Buddhist monks, former monks, and nuns have set themselves on fire in Tibetan communities of China’s southwestern province of Sichuan, in acts of protest against official Chinese repression. In a 12th case, a man dressed in monk’s robes and draped in a Tibetan flag reportedly chanted “Long live Tibet” before setting himself on fire Thursday in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, which shares a long border with Tibet.

while suicides are rare among Tibetans, the recent self-immolations evoke a similar phenomenon during the 1960s, triggered by Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc, who set himself on fire and burned to death in a Saigon intersection to protest the anti-Buddhist policies of South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem administration—a fiery act that was captured in a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph. (via Tibetan Leaders Struggle to Cope With Spate of Self-Immolations – The Daily Beast).

Chants and Idols?

What made Buddhism so powerful in these lands?

Buddha could not have gained so may followers with trite messages like follow-the-path-of-ahimsa, life-is-full-of-misery, respect-life. Obscure ideas (at least now) like Nirvana, dukkha, et al, could not have been the reason.

People don’t change so much for so little! Or resist change so much when confronted by the sword!

This was obviously not because Buddha’s statues were prettier than the statues of previous deities. If that, anyway, was the reason, the statues of previous divinities could have been prettified.

Or because Buddhist chants sounded better.

Threats and Fears

The real story!

Back then, Buddhism ended Confucian governance – and brought भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra to these oppressed lands.

Will history repeat itself? Is that the fear of the Chinese leaders?


The Dragon vs. the Eagle

December 10, 2009 1 comment
Such a loving couple ...

Such a loving couple ...

At the same time he seriously plays down the horrors of Mao’s tyrannical rule, writing that “he remains, even today, a venerated figure in the eyes of many Chinese, even more than Deng Xiaoping” and that the Communist Party “succeeded in restoring its legitimacy amongst the people” and fostered “extremely rapid economic growth,” “despite the calamities of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.” In addition he diminishes the importance of the pro-democracy Tiananmen demonstrations and dissident sympathies, arguing that there is an “apolitical tradition” in China and that “the Confucian ethos that informed and shaped it for some two millennia did not require the state to be accountable to the people.” (via Books of The Times – The Dragon vs. the Eagle in Martin Jacques’ ‘When China Rules The World’ – Review – NYTimes.com).

For this one insight …

The Dragon versus the Eagle analogy is just hot air! A lot of hot air. China is too busy playing footsie with the USA to challenge! But the bit about China being ‘apolitical’ is a gem.

This bit about, China’s “apolitical tradition” in China and that “the Confucian ethos that informed and shaped it for some two millennia did not require the state to be accountable to the people.” This one observation by Martin Jacques’ explains so much about world history – and modern Asian history.

Platonic-Confucian axis

The axis of Confucian-Platonic authoritarian, ‘wise’ rulers, who were not accountable, was (and remains) the overwhelming model for the world. Property rights remained with less than o.1% of the people. Under the CRER principle, (cuius regio, eius religio, meaning whose land, his religion; CRER) even the most personal religious beliefs of the individual were subject to State approval, as per law.

Pareto’s principle … Ha!

Yes – Pareto was wrong.

Rarely (do they at all?) do 20% of the people get to own 80% the national wealth. It is usually about o.1%. Look at America. Less than 300,000 people (from the Forbes /Fortune lists, the Government and the academia, media) who control the US  – a population of more than 300 million.

The West scorns the Chinese one-party rule. But how does one more, collusive party in the national polity, in a ‘democratic set-up, become the paragon of political virtue. Did it ever occur to its defendants, that a two-party polity just an illusion of choice and change. But, it was the same lack of accountability – in a more invisible manner?

The only exception to this was the Indic system of polity – where property rights were vested with the user, justice was decentralized (did any Indic king dispense justice?), religion was maya and dharma was supreme. The modern Indian State has acquired the Desert-Bloc-Platonic-Confucian authoritarian principles of the State as parens patriae. So, the power of the Indic ideas is something that India seems to have forgotten, missed and lost!!

What's the difference?

What's the difference? One more collusive political party!

In Greater China

In Hong Kong Chinese movies, till the 1990’s, a recurring theme was the Buddhist monk. Until the modernist Jackie Chan goes to America versions started coming out, it was always the wise Buddhist teacher who taught the Brave ‘Chinaman’ to fight against feudal oppression. It was always the Wise Buddhist Teacher who showed the way.

Lee Kuan Yew – a Confucius bhakt

Now this explains why Lee Kuan Yew extols Confucian virtues of Greater Chinese. Is it surprising that the ‘modern’ Chinese Government is so afraid of Buddhist revival that they have put restrictions on the Falun Gong followers from doing breathing exercises in the open. Falun Gong which attracted nearly 10 crore followers in the last 15 years, seems to have made the Chinese Government nervous.

Contrast the faith that the Chinese have in Buddhist teachers with the representation of Church and priests in Hollywood and you will see the contrast. One set has been able to maintain trust and faith for more than 2000 years – and the other set seems to have lost it in less than a 1000 years.

Is it any surprise that the common Chinese loves and venerates the Buddha – and the Chinese Government lays so much emphasis on Confucianism?

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