Today is the Dalai Lama's 77th birthday. He has lived in exile in India since 1959--that is 58 years without seeing his home. He knows that his culture has been under constant attack. The Chinese government believes -- and their propaganda has convinced millions of Chinese people, that he is a "splitist" -- meaning he would like to free Tibet from Chinese rule. He has said again and again that he will work with the Chinese and asks only for autonomy for native Tibetans.
In Nepal exiled Tibetans are not allowed to gather in birthday celebrations for fear these will lead to anti-Chinese demonstrations. Nepal, sharing a border with China, is trying to balance its position. Nepal's government is Maoist, the people in the southern parts of the country which abuts India are mostly Hindu; the people in the northern parts, which is Himalayan, are mostly Buddhist. Kathmandu, the capital is approximately in the middle.
Beyond the politics, fraught, painful, sad as they are, he has never ceased to be a model religious leader, worshiped by some, admired by nearly all. He has traveled widely, received a Nobel Peace Prize, continues to call himself "a humble monk", but has been a bulwark of peaceful nonviolence toward the Chinese (they cannot comprehend this!). A younger generation is deeply restless and, within Tibet, dispair has lead to many self-immolations in the past several months.
Just one quote: This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for
complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the
philosophy is kindness.
The Dalai Lama is believed by his followers to be the incarnation of Chenresig, the Tibetan name for the Buddha of Compassion. He has lived as if that is true. If I were able to meet any one person on earth, it would be His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!