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Lions Roar : November 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2008 95 meant to suppress the people. There’s nothing violent about it. It’s no more violent than is necessary in banging the keys of a typewriter. Nonviolence is both spiritual practice and political strategy. As a matter of spirituality, it simultaneously creates and depends on transformation, as does Buddhist practice itself. Gandhi wrote: “Nonviolence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our very being.” The Dalai Lama embraces Gandhi’s vision of personal transformation and broadens it to include the heart of a renewed Tibet. Thurman quotes a 1994 speech: Tibet shall stand for the benefit and well-being not only of itself but also of its neighboring countries and the whole world. Based on the principles of nonviolence, it shall be a free, social welfare-oriented, federal, democratic polity, based on principles of the Dharma. It shall ensure full protection of the environment and form a zone of peace. People around the world honor both these leaders for the strength of their principles and courage, and as exemplars of nonviolence in the modern world. On the other hand, their strict adherence to the philosophy of nonviolence in Tibet and Burma faces strong challenges as a political strategy. Will nonviolence “work”? Will it have sufficient power to unlock the political stalemate in these suffering countries? The Burmese junta and the Chinese government have carefully blocked serious efforts at dialogue with democracy advocates in their respective nations. From time to time these governments arrange for meetings with the Dalai Lama’s representatives or send a low-level general to talk with Aung San Suu Kyi, but this is simply window-dressing for the outside world’s benefit. Nothing of substance has come from such empty dialogue. Aung San Suu Kyi continues to live as a hostage in her mother’s crumbing home in Rangoon, and His Holiness is still in exile in Dharamsala. Meanwhile, inside Tibet and in all regions of Burma, mass- es of people suffer; they grow angry, restive, and frustrated with nonviolent approaches. Armed insurgents from Karen, Kachin, Shan, and Karenni groups have been fighting with Burma’s military for five decades. Sporadic violence against Han Chinese during Tibetan demonstrations last March sug- gests that, despite boundless love and reverence for the Dalai Lama, there are some who are impatient with a nonviolent response to China’s harsh oppression and tacit policies of While nonviolence might not yet have the power to unlock the political stalemate in these suffering countries, violence would invite a repression beyond anything we have seen so far. Ligmincha’s 2008 Winter Dzogchen Retreat with Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche Ligmincha Institute