mad in pursuit journal

DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS, AT THE intersection OF ecstasy and skepticism

Thoughts on Tibet

Tibet is fascinating. This week I'm into it.

Watching: 7 Years in Tibet (1997), Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion (2002), Kundun (1997)

Listening to: "The Jewel Tree of Tibet" by Robert Thurman, a nine-hour audio "retreat" exploring Tibetan Buddhist belief systems and meditation, downloaded from Audible.

Listening to: Tibetan chants and singing bowls

Robert Thurman (yes, it's Uma's dad) may just have this skeptic believing in a cosmic consciousness. But in thinking about Tibet, Buddhism, and the Dalai Lama, I have some questions.

The Chinese absorbed Tibet shortly after Mao took over and they destroyed much of the ancient culture and caused a diaspora of the people, similar to the Jews being driven from their Holy Land. It is horrifying what they've done.

Right-minded people weep for the destruction of a society where spirituality was so thoroughly integrated into the political life. And yet... didn't that make it a theocracy? Aren't we supposed to be against theocracies and leaders with absolute, unelected power? But is theocracy okay as long as it is benevolent and peace-loving? Dalai Lama, yes. Ayatollah, no. Buddhist monastery schools, yes. Madrassas, no.

So maybe it's not the theocracy, per se. Evidently the human race has a weakness for powerful, all-powerful, and even drunk-on-power leaders. I think it's the "jihadi" part that makes us squirm. (Unless it's our own jihad, of course.)

Still, I wouldn't want to live in a theocracy, no matter how benign. Required rituals might be beautiful as culture, but as a daily practice, include me out. Better I have this opportunity to explore all these belief systems — I know, it makes me sort of a dabbler — but if I turn out to be a good person, that's probably ok. And, really, saffron is not my color.