Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ancient Fires

"[W]hen Buddha nature is covered by the nest of the passions, It is called sentient beings. When Buddha nature is separated from the passions, It is called Buddha."                                                                             --Nagarjuna

Men, women, and children are burning themselves alive in Tibet. They are protesting Chinese suzerainty. Their tormented acts of martyrdom are the strangled symptom of a dying culture. These Tibetans feel -- rightfully or wrongfully we dare not judge -- that the only voice left to them is the scream of flame.

The sound has carried. Over many mountains and rivers, it has reached us.

Smoke, ash, and anguished cries are common among all battlefields, old and new. These are among the tocsin's peals of warfare. These are the heralds of hegemony. In a world of equality, all hegemony is unjust; leaving misery as its sign, and deep, deep karmic consequence as its cost.

I speak with sympathy today of the ancient fire that burns in the hearts of the oppressed. I do not know if my words will ever reach those in Tibet who even now contemplate self-immolation. Yet, although I am uncertain of my words, I am very certain of my prayers.

I pray that you preserve Tibetan culture by preserving your own life. From the point of view of your oppressors, one less Tibetan is one less problem. Why help brutish beings by hastening your own extinction? Don't you realize that your death is a joy to your enemies and a horror to your friends?

Your life -- your vibrant, lofty embrace of being Tibetan at this very place and time, with whatever joy and misery that entails -- is the greatest single obstacle to China's genocidal plan. Can you understand this? Can you let your life be your offering in a way that does not diminish the dwindling number of Tibetan people remaining in this world?

Demons abound in the time of demons. Men endure as men can. The swirl of human smoke now rising from Tibet may please demons, but it will not appease demons. Please, do not become the servant of this fire. Your death can never satiate fire's appetite for ruin. Your death only spreads the suffering -- enlarges the suffering -- until it cannot be contained by this world.

Your life may speak in whispers, but whispered truth meets with agreement everywhere. After all, truth is truth. By bearing witness to truth, you can bring unjust men to their knees. Truth, like an arrow, flies straight to the center, and demands no elaboration.

An arrow's whisper extinguishes the ancient flame.

I pray you come to know the manner of this arrow's effortless release.
"Beyond the beliefs of any religion, there is the truth of the human spirit. Beyond the power of nations, there is the power of the human heart." -- Kyabje Tarthang Tulku

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1 reader comments:

Jin B. said...

That was beautiful, Rinpoche. An eloquent plea - command nearly - to keep the life (body}that you have until unavoidable biological changes render it non-functional and the spirit must pass on, leaving a pile of elements that it has harnessed behind. To disperse.
It occurred to me once while riding on a bus in Bangkok {and I keep the quote in my head}, that the greatest thing about being alive is having the opportunity to experience your own karma - and work it out as the case may be. Whether you're in jail, or going out to sail.

That said, I don't think enough people know of the situation in Tibet yet. I think 30 immolations are quite enough. I personally do not want to hear of more. But I wonder what it takes for Tibet to make it to the evening news at least two days a week, worldwide. So that it becomes EVERYBODY'S issue. Which in a truer sense it is.
Noise and destructive behavior, messy and fraught as they are, attract attention, reciprocal action and unpredictable symmetric action.
Am I heartless to promote war - guerrilla or otherwise - or martyrdom?
I feel that the passion, drive and energy {if not the consistency} which rules people during the first half of their lives has been genetically selected for reasons not usually clearly perceptible to ourselves. And that both the uses and manner of execution of such energies will be manifold beyond any prediction.
Well, by way of prayer, I do want to say this:

May we all find what unnecessary actions in our lives set off chains of suffering and quickly learn to cease or alter such action.