Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Billion Mantras Deep

The last time I flew back from China, I remember looking out the window at the Pacific, far below, and marveling at the sheer number of container vessels. The future is here, you know? In just a couple of more years, China will be the dominant economic power in the world. Some argue they are already there.

People who are absorbed by anti-Chinese propaganda miss the reality of China's on-going spiritual reawakening. If you remember the spiritual side of the U.S. in the 1960s, then you have an idea of what it is like in China these days.

We need to get over our hang-ups, and get on with the reality of living in a different world. See the backdrop in the photo above? Buddhists in China are studying Buddhism in foreign countries. Are we even preparing to return the favor? Or, are we stuck in revanchist dreams of an abstract known only as "Free Tibet?"

I love Tibet. 

I wish Tibet was still an independent nation and His Holiness the Dalai Lama still lived in the Potala.

However, I do not kid myself that either of those two things will ever happen. The most centralized government in the world, the largest economy in the world, and the largest standing army in the world argue against the possibility and -- after fifty years -- diminish the probability to zero.

I wish the Cultural Revolution never happened. Would it surprise you to learn that millions of Chinese share that wish? It is so strange, but the present administration is spending hundreds of millions to rebuild or restore what the previous administration destroyed or damaged.

The hard truth is that interest in Tibetan Buddhism is growing among young people in China, at the same time it is graying in America. Many, many, many people in China today are extremely interested in all aspects of Buddhism in general, and Tibetan Buddhism in particular.

Are we supposed to ignore them? To isolate them? To pretend they don't exist?

Who will take Buddhism back to Tibet?

Do you know the story of the little blue trim?

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4 reader comments:

Anonymous said...

What is the story of the little blue trim?

Editor said...

"The ordination of the Gelong, fully ordained Sangha
nearly came to extinction in the 9th century. King Lagdarm assassinated his younger
brother, who was king previously and who had developed Buddhism. Langdarma tried to
wipe out Buddhism during his long reign and almost succeeded. According to the
Buddha’s rules of discipline, the Vinaya, five monks are needed to give ordination to
someone. But only three fully ordained monks escaped to Amdo. So, Master Rabsel in
India revived the lineage by inviting two Chinese monks who were fully ordained. At
that time, the Chinese monks always wore some blue garments. To show gratefulness to
the Chinese, the monks added a blue cord trim onto the Dhonka. Then the lineage
flourished. The blue stitch is like the sky color, indicating that the heart should be like
this; then you will progress."

Fishy said...

I'd always wondered about the blue trim, and just discovered this story a few days ago while searching for information about Vinaya hats...
Tibetan Monastic Robes by Geshe Lhundrup Sopa

shiurpe said...

I have heard that this blue cord trim came from Bon monks, but it was just something I have heard in oral conversation.