www.RogerWendell.com
Roger J. Wendell
Defending 3.8 Billion Years of Organic EvolutionSM
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Tibet Map Tibet and the Dalai Lama
In June, 2001, Randy and I visited Tibet, China and The Silk Road.

Tibetan National Flag
At various times, Tibet has been labeled "Mystical Land," "Shangrila," "Forbidden Country," and "Roof of the World." Tibet has an average elevation of about 13,000 to 16,000 feet [4,000 to 4,800 metres] (depending where you look on the Internet...) with an area of 470,000 square miles [1.2 million square kilometres] - making it 75 percent larger than Texas and a whole lot higher than my home state of Colorado!

The Chinese occupation of Tibet began in 1950. A futile Tibetan uprising occurred in 1959 after which the country was hurled into the dark era of the Chinese "Cultural Revolution." Limited to only tour groups, international tourism began in the mid-1980s. In 1992 Tibet was opened to more tourism but with very strict permit requirements that almost kept my brother and I in Chengdu, China longer than we expected. But, after overcoming some permit red tape we were able to enter Tibet in June [2001].

However, after experiencing Chinese secret police taking away our Tibetan guide, witnessing Chinese discrimination against Tibetans, and seeing Chinese military at every bridge and major monument, it became clear to me that the brutal Chinese occupation of Tibet must end and the Tibetan people set free!

  - Roger J. Wendell, July 2001

 

 

Why are we so afraid?

It's March 15th, 2008, and the world (and our country) has just stood by for the past few weeks watching the peoples of Tibet, Xinjiang, and Palestine being brutalized by China and Israel, respectively. Why are we so afraid to speak up? Is it because the Palestinians have no oil? Or, is it if we upset the Chinese we won't be able to buy anymore of their trinkets and other junk at Wal-Mart? I don't know what it is but the silence is deafening as these peoples continue to be forced out of their homes as their countries are taken over...

- Roger J. Wendell
March 15, 2008
Hey, I was wrong - there are some people out there with guts!! About a week after the above entry, US House speaker Nancy Pelosi angered the Chinese government by speaking out against the treatment of Tibet! And, going beyond just words, she actually went and met with the Dalai Lama (exilded in India) despite loud Chinese government protest. Pelosi said, "If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China's oppression in Tibet, we have lost our moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world." The Xinhua state news agency responded by saying Pelosi was a "defender of arsonists, looters and killers." Hmmmm, sounds like the same thing Israel says anytime somebody trys to defend the rights of Palestinians to return to their homeland!

- Roger J. Wendell
March 24, 2008

 


 

CNN/Opinion Research Corp. Poll
February 18, 2010

 


 

Report: 100 dead in Tibet violence
CNN March 15, 2008

Lhasa, Tibet - March, 2008
Lhasa
"Violent protests in the Tibetan capital Lhasa against Chinese rule have left at least 100 people dead, according to unconfirmed reports from exiles in India, while official media put the death toll at 10."

"The protests, sparked by the anniversary of the failed 1959 uprising that sent Tibet's Dalai Lama into exile, are the latest embarrassment to hit 2008 Olympic-host China, which has attracted international criticism over its human rights record."

"Quoting the Tibetan government, China's state-run Xinhua news agency said 10 were killed in Lhasa Friday after police blocked a march by monks, sparking the violence."

"'The victims are all innocent civilians, and they have been burnt to death,' an official with the regional government told Xinhua."

"Tibetan exiles in India meanhwile cited unconfirmed reports that at least 100 people were killed and many more injured."

"Video broadcast on China's CCTV Saturday showed flames and black smoke rising the market, where hundreds of rioters used hands, feet and sledge hammers to break down doors and shatter windows."

"The protests in Tibet began Monday when hundreds of monks rallied on the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising against Beijing that forced the Dalai Lama into exile."

"Police used gunfire and tear gas to quell the Lhasa protest, according to witnesses, human rights groups and Xinhua."

"Demonstrators set fire to vehicles and shops. One source said late Friday that up to a third of the city may be on fire and that power lines had been cut."

"A main market in Lhasa, Tromsikhang Market, was set on fire, said Kate Saunders, a spokeswoman for the International Campaign for Tibet. The market has many Chinese traders, and she said Tibetans have been concerned about the influx of Chinese into the area."

"Chinese bloggers and U.S.-based human rights groups said Chinese security forces had sealed off the three main monasteries around Lhasa after the violence broke out. The bloggers also said police wearing armored vests were moving toward Lhasa in armored personnel carriers."

"Beijing is hosting the Summer Olympics in August, and Tibetan exile groups told CNN they plan to hold demonstrations when the torch is carried through India in April."

"CNN sought permission to enter Tibet on Friday, but the permission had not been granted by Friday evening Beijing time. CNN reporting on Tibet was being blacked out Friday in mainland China."

"Chinese authorities blamed the Dalai Lama for the unrest, but the Dalai Lama said the protesters were simply acting out of 'deep-rooted resentment' of the Chinese government."

"'As I have always said, unity and stability under brute force is at best a temporary solution. It is unrealistic to expect unity and stability under such a rule and would therefore not be conducive to finding a peaceful and lasting solution,' he said in a written statement."

"'I therefore appeal to the Chinese leadership to stop using force and address the long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people through dialogue with the Tibetan people. I also urge my fellow Tibetans not to resort to violence.'"

Chinese Police Search Lhasa Tibet - March, 2008
Chinese plolice search Lhasa
What the Chinese have done, and are doing, to Tibet is horrible. It sickens me to see that most of the world's concerns are with the Chinese hosting of the Olympic games - something that should never have been awarded them in the first place. Let's hope, at least, that these goofy Olympic games help raise awareness of not only what China has done to Tibet, but the horror it has brought Xinjiang as well...

- Roger J. Wendell
Golden, Colorado - 03/15/2008

 

"Few cultures could have survived an invasion the magnitude of which Tibet experienced at the hands of the Chinese in 1959. Everything from the basic food staple, tsampa - roasted barley flour - to the current Dalai Lama was targeted in the wake of the brutal takeover. The so-called liberation left monasteries decimated and claimed over 1.5 million lives resulting in cultural genocide, according to the exiled Tibetan government based in Dharmsala, India."
- David Kootnikoff
adbusters, jan/feb 2007

 

Randy and I hiked to a monestary near Lhasa that was observing a vow of silence for the day...
(Randy and I hiked to a monestary near Lhasa that was observing a vow of silence for the day)
 

NEVER GIVE UP

Never give up
No matter what is going on
Never give up

Develop the heart
Too much energy in your country
Is spent developing the mind instead of the heart
Develop the heart

Be compassionate
Not just to your friends
But with everyone
Be compassionate

Work for peace
In the your heart
And in the world
Work for peace

And I say again
Never give up
No matter what is going on around you
Never give up

His Holiness The Dalai Lama
& Ron Whitehead

We live in illusion, the appearance of things.
But there is a reality. We are that reality.
When you understand this you see that you
are nothing,
and being nothing, you are everything. That is all.

- Tibetan Buddhist teacher Kalu Rinpoche

 

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My photos from our trip
in and around Lhasa:

(Tibet's capital - 3,700 metres)
(Click on any of these "thumbnail" images for a larger view)
Prayers in Tibet - June 2001
Prayers
Tibetan Street Prayer - 2001
Street prayer
Yak Butter Candles in Tibet - June 2001
Yak Butter candles
Young Tibetan Monks - June 20012001
Young monks...
Young Tibetan in Contemplation - June 2001
Photo by Randy
Randy Wendell and Tibetan Incense - June 2001
Tibetan Incense
Roger J. Wendell at the Sera Debating Courtyard, Tibet - June 2001
Sera Debating Courtyard
Tibetan Nunnery - June 2001
Tibetan Nunnery
Roger J. Wendell and Gedhun before his Arrest in June 2001
Gedhun and me
Yak Meat, Tibet - June 2001
Yak meat
Roger J. Wendell and Solar Cookers for Yak Butter Tea in Tibet - June 2001
Me and a solar tea cookers
Tibetan Utility Tractor - June 2001
Utility Tractor
TTTT - Typical Tibetan Tourist Transportation - June 2001
Tibetan Tourist Transportation
Randy Wendell and a Tibetan cab - June 2001
Randy took a cab...
Local Tibetan Village Transporation - June 2001
Local villagers
Solar Cookers for Yak Butter Tea in Tibet - June 2001
Cooking tea with solar
Potala Palace, Tibet - June 2001
Randy Wendel at Potala Palace
Chinese Flag does not belong in Tibet - June 2001
The wrong flag!!
Top of Potola Palace, Tibet - June 2001
Top of Potola Palace
Randy Wendell on top Potola Palace - June 2001
Randy on top Potola

 

Yellow Arrow Pointing Right Click Here for the Government of Tibet in Exile (their official website)

 

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His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet The Dalai Lama is a Buddhist monk, scholar, and the religious and temporal leader of Tibet. His Holiness has lived in exile in India since 1959, when he fled Tibet after a failed uprising against the Chinese invasion. Since then he has devoted himself to the plight of his people and world peace. Because of his policy against violence, even in the face of the brutal Chinese occupation of Tibet, the Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. The Nobel Committee said:

"The Committee wants to emphasise the fact that the Dalai Lama in his struggle for the liberation of Tibet consistently has opposed the use of violence. He has instead advocated peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect in order to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of his people.

"The Dalai Lama has developed his philosophy of peace from a great reverence for all things living and upon the concept of universal responsibility embracing all mankind as well as nature."

- Roger J. Wendell

 

 

On Wednesday, October 17, 2007 I was very proud to learn that America bestowed our nation's highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, on His Holiness. Still, I remain infuriated that so little has been done to free Tibet from China's miserable, immoral occupation but I'm delighted that the Dalai Lama received official recognition from my country - he certainly earned it!

- Roger

 

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Advertisement for His Holiness at Denver's Pepsi Center - 09-17-2006
His Holiness visited Denver:

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet with Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper - 09-17-2006
HH and Denver Mayor Hickenlooper
My family and I were lucky to obtain tickets to see His Holiness at Denver's very large Pepsi Center on September 17th, 2006. His talk, The Science of a Compassionate Life, was attended by a very enthusiastic, caring audience that filled every seat. I, myself, was especially moved when the event was opened by children singing the Tibetan National Anthem - the entire crowd spontaneously rose to its feet! There was also a wonderful demonstration of Tibetan dance, by the Tibetan Association of Colorado, and musical selections by Nawang Khechog.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper introduced His Holiness for what turned out to be a spellbinding talk on love, happiness, spirituality, and compassion. His Holiness, throughout the talk, emphasized how much like you and me he is and that he possesses no special healing or miracle powers (but joked that for personal health reasons he wished he did!). In response to audience questions, previously submitted by email, he talked about the importance of respect and love for the vast majority of Muslims who are not involved in terrorist activities (He said that, "Since 9-11, I, a Buddhist monk, am now a defender of Islam").

In response to a question exactly like the one I sent him (which he probably receives dozens of times every day), asking what Americans could do to help Tibet gain Independence, he emphasized that he thought autonomy was the most important issue, at this time, and that he wanted to make it clear to the Chinese authorities that he wasn't a separatist. He also talked about the Tibetan government (in exile), that's been elected democratically, and his feeling that his political role should be that of a "semi-retired senior adviser" and nothing more.

Of course His Holiness also talked about poverty and the narrow distribution of wealth and power. He talked about disarmament but mostly disarmament of the mind and the promotion of inner values. Although he reminded us (many times) that he's just a simple monk there's no doubt the Dalai Lama is one of the greatest figures in history!

Our Tickets to see His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet at Denver's Pepsi center - 09-17-2006
Our Tickets

 

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Tibet Map Tibetan holy site sends the spirit soaring
by Calum MacLeod
(USA Today, Thursday, November 9, 2006 - p. 4D)

USA TODAY and ABC News' Good Morning America teamed up to pick the seven
New Wonders of the World - Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple are one of them!

"One is a palace whose god-king has fled. The other a temple - dark, smoky and sticky underfoot. Each visible from the roof of the other, and both located on the very roof of the world, together they form a dramatic double act of spiritual power, architectural splendor and faith enduring against all odds."

"The breathtaking Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple, chosen by our panel of experts as one of the seven New Wonders of the World, pierce the heart of Tibet's capital of Lhasa. Together, they have filled visitors with awe for centuries - and still do, despite the tragedy of modern politics."

"Perched serenely on a hill above the modern clutter of an ever-more Chinese city, the red and white Potala dominates the Lhasa River valley. With 7th-century origins, the present structure was built in the 17th century by the 'Great" Fifth Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual and temporal ruler."

"Within its 13 stories and thousand rooms lie the remains of several Dalai Lamas and a feast of art and stauary from Lamaism, Tibet's mystical development of Indian Buddhism. It is a labyrinth of creaking staircases and dark chapels, where pilgrims place ceremonial white scarves and pour libations of yak butter or oil."

"The Potala's last resident, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, fled Chairman Mao's troops in 1959 amid a failed uprising and has remained in exile in India ever since."

 

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Did you know?

The Han Chinese population occupying Tibet now outnumbers the Tibetan people in their own homeland.
"Despite over 40 years of Chinese occupation of Tibet, the Tibetan people refuse to be conquered and subjugated by China. The present Chinese policy, a combination of demographic and economic manipulation, and discrimination, aims to suppress the Tibetan issue by changing the very character and the identity of Tibet and its people."

- from the Government of Tibet in Exile, fall '06

 

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Losar Tradition
by Phurbu Thinley (with permission)
Phayul Correspondent

The Tibetan New Year is already here around the corner and it all means time to enjoy traditional feasts and guzzle down sour Tibetan beer-Chang-tasting a tinge of sweetness in it. It also means traditional group dances and overflowing sounds of songs. For Tibetans, New Year is also a time for prayers and togetherness- an occasion to keep oneself in rejoicing spirit with family members, relatives, friends and neighbors.

Of the countless festivals held all over Tibet, the most important, the most popular and the much awaited of all in a year for Tibetans is their New Year Celebration. Tibetans call it LOSAR (Lo meaning, Year and, Sar means New) and is usually celebrated for three days.

Tibetans follow lunar calendar, so dates for Losar may vary every year vis-à-vis Christian calendar. This year, the New Year falls on February 18, and is the Fire Pig Year-2134.

Significance of Losar:

As Tibetans around the world gear up to celebrate their biggest celebration of the year; it is not surprising to know that Losar is the most special occasion for them to exchange warmest greetings to their fellow relatives, family members and neighbors and to everyone around.

Losar, for Tibetans, means mass celebration, complete relaxation and, plenty of festivities with abundance of festive-meals and being in best dressing clothes. Offering Khatas (traditional greeting scarves) on the home altars, in monasteries and around each other with heartfelt Tashi Delek greeting all mean flourishing auspiciousness and greater prosperity.

"It is time again for prosperous Losar," Tibetans would generally exult.

It's time of the year for ultimate family gathering, lavish spending and joyous atmosphere at home. It is a valued culture for Tibetans to be kind hearted, hospitable and welcoming to guests, but it is on Losar days that these cherished values are most visible.

Tradition has it that one has to be very warm hearted, generous and welcoming during Losar celebration. A bright and jovial mood on Losar is supposedly believed to ensure that a person will be blessed with good and happy expression throughout the year.

A guest to a Tibetan family during Losar is always received with utmost hospitality. Among other things, a hearty meal and overflowing Chang will always await a guest. So do, Tibetans extend heartfelt welcome to guests during Losar.

The Build-up to the Tibetan New Year

Preparations for Losar usually start weeks before the Day and the count down for it may begin even much earlier; especially among the young ones waiting with anxious hope for New Year presents.

Preparation for Losar includes people arranging religious offerings, a lot of shopping for new clothes or Losar dress-up they call it and, food and drink for the feasts.

Losar feasts include, the most popular traditional Tibetan Dish, Dresi, sweet buttered rice with raisins and dromas (small fibrous potatoes); substantial amount of meat variety, fruits, breads, chang, butter tea, among other ingredients; and Khabse, a fried sweet or salted baked snacks that comes in different shapes and forms. Tibetans are supposed to see in the Losar with Khabses piled high up on their tray.

In monasteries and at homes, religious altars are decked up with special New Year adornments of thankas, scarves and, finest edible and related traditional offerings.

Besides, Tibetans observe the following two significantly important occasions marking the final build-up for the Losar celebration.

Gutor-The day before Losar Eve (29th Day of the 12th Lunar Calendar)

To Tibetans, the year's end is also of special importance and Tibetans observe Gutor while they are just two days away and busy preparing for the New Year's Day.

Gutor is the day before New Year Eve and Tibetans come together on this day to enjoy themselves. Filled with the atmosphere of the year's end, Tibetan families eat Guthuk, gruel-soup with dumplings, in the evening on Gutor.

"Traditionally, Tibetans say that Gutor is the only day when all Tibetans, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, eat the same food."

The dumplings contain symbolic items or revelations wrapped inside them that might give possible indication of fortune or nature of a person whoever gets it. On opening the dumpling, one will find an "Oracle": a thread is for longevity, white wool indicates a Pure Heart, a charcoal for Black Heart, a chili might mean foul or sharp tongue etc. For a large Guthuk gathering, written note is more preferable.

While soup is being served, everyone delights in showing off their "Oracle" to one another that will definitely draw in lots of funny comments- a good way to usher in for the year's end in hearty laughter.

Following this, everyone participates in a religious ceremony to exorcise evil spirits from the previous year, which is the original purpose of the Gutor. Everyone puts some left over gruel soup and a fisted-dough containing a piece of clothes from one's clothes over a doll representing a fierce god. The godly effigy is then set-off with fireworks or firecrackers at a distant road junction. Doing these symbolise driving away of personal obstacles, and is believed to keep you untouched by sickness and misfortunes all through the year.

Namkhan- New Year Eve (30th Day of the 12th Lunar month)

New Year's eve itself is for cleansing houses, giving final concluding touches to the house decoration and altar offerings and, quiet relaxation and wait in anticipation for the following day's ultimate festivities.

So, Namkhang puts one whole year behind. Just hours away from ushering into a new year, Tibetans look forward to Losar as a harbinger of greater prosperity and auspiciousness to start another new year all over again in a brand new way.

LOSAR (1st to 3rd day of the first lunar month)

With mellow smell of traditional snack-KHABSE and sweet sour odour of Chang overflowing in the air; Losar begins by tossing chang and Chemar offerings and exchanging greetings by saying Tashi Delek (meaning-Prosperity, Sound Health and Goodness!) to family members and neighbours.

On New Year's Day even young Tibetans wear Chuba (traditional Tibetan attire) and pay their first visit of the year to a temple with their family early in the morning. After that, Tibetans do nothing but feast on the food and drinks that they have so painstakingly prepared. The New Year's Day is for family celebration and everyone spends time with family or the neighbours.

From the second day onwards, they then visit their relatives and family friends. They visit each other's feats and have parties full of drinking and singings and dances. On Losar days, Tibetans don't miss an opportunity to enjoy gambling, with games of Sho (Dice), or, Pakchen (Mah-jongg). In recent times, many have fallen to playing-cards too. For young Tibetans, Losar is the time to thicken their pockets with lots of gift money.

On the third day, as the festivity continues, Tibetans replace the year-old Dhar-choks and Dhar-shings (hoisting of prayer flags) on the roof of their houses with new ones and burn thick bunches of Sang (Incenses). Upon hoisting, barley flour is tossed into the air screaming Kyi-kyi So-So Lha Gyalo!!! (Happiness, Happiness and let Victory be to God).

New Year Prayer Festivals (4th to 15th of the first Lunar month)

In a follow up to the Losar, from 4th to 11th day of the 1st Lunar month, a great Buddhist service Monlam (Prayer Festival) is held and Cham (Buddhist dances) are performed at monasteries. The largest of such prayer festival used to be held in Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet's capital city, where most monks from the monasteries around Lhasa would gather and hold Monlam Chenmo or Great Prayer Festival.

The 15th day or the full moon day of the first Lunar month, Choenga Choepa, also called 'Butter Lamb Festival' is held, which becomes the highlight of the Monlam.

Perhaps because the prayer festival too strongly encourages Tibetan identity, the Communist China banned it during the Cultural Revolution and although it was revived later, it was prohibited again in 1990.

Similar events, which used to be part of the prayer festival held in Lhasa are now carried out in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala where the Dalai Lama led Tibetan Government in Exile is now located.

From New Year's Day until the end of Monlam, Tibetans continue to eat, drink and make merry.

Popularly, Losar is celebrated in the first Lunar month, but this may not be the same all over Tibet. A large section of Tibetans even celebrate Losar a month earlier in the beginning of the 12th month. In both the case, after so much feasting, it is no wonder that the festive mood may sometimes linger on for days even after the initial three days of celebration with lots of lingkhas (public picnics) in Tibet. But things have changed over the years.

 

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More Tibet Stuff:

  1. Map of Tibet (8k)
  2. Map of China (12k)
  3. Randy put together this Power Point presentation on where we were... (It's a BIG 857k)
  4. Here's the car wreck we were in while coming down from an 11,300 foot pass in the Tien-Shan mountains. (52k)
  5. I found the toilets of China and Tibet, despite their lack of cleanliness, to be much more healthful than what we're accustomed to.   This is because a natural "squatting" position is required that doesn't entail touching your bottom to anything.  This particular photo is of a typical train toilet and is a stainless steel version of what can be found in all kinds of different forms around the country. My Toilet Matters page has more info on this delicate subject... (5k)
  6. There are more photos from our trip on my China and Silk Road pages...

 

Links:

  1. Aconcagua
  2. Africa (Eastern) - Kenya, Tanzania, and my Kilimanjaro climb
  3. Africa (Southern) - Our trip through Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  4. Amazonia
  5. Antarctica
  6. Argentina and Brazil
  7. Australia Main Page
  8. Australia Two Page
  9. Boulder-Lhasa Sister City Project
  10. Bolivia
  11. China
  12. CIA World Factbook on China (The CIA doesn't seem to recognize
    that Tibet, until recently, was a sovereign nation...)
  13. Dalai Lama - the official website of His Holiness
  14. Dalai Lama Foundation
  15. Ecuador
  16. Free Tibet
  17. Free Tibet 2008
  18. India
  1. Ireland
  2. Japan
  3. Mexico
  4. RFA - Radio Free Asia
  5. Russia
  6. Save Tibet
  7. Seven Years in Tibet was filmed by Brad Pitt in Uspallata, Argentina
    - a small town I passed through on my way to Aconcagua...
  8. Silk Road
  9. Southeast Asia
  10. Spirituality
  11. Tibetan Association of Colorado
  12. Tibetan Government in Exile - Official website
  13. Tibetan Village Project
  14. Travel
  15. Travel Two
  16. United Kingdom - England
  17. United Kingdom - Wales and Scotland
  18. Waypoints

 

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