Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Is Religion a Positive Factor or a Poison?

Bapa Phuntsok Wangye (Phunwang)
I am reposting another article on Phunwang who passed away on Sunday morning in Beijing.
Though he lived his entire life as a communist, Phunwang wanted 'lamas' to pray for his smooth passage on the 'other side'.
It is interesting.

As I mentioned in another post a couple of weeks back, Yu Zhengsheng. the newly-elected member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo will probably replace Jia Qingling as the Chairman of Central Working Coordination Small Group on Tibet.
Yu has started overlooking the activities of the United Front Department.
While meeting major 'national religious groups' in Beijing this week, Yu called religion a 'positive force'.
He particularly mentioned the usefulness of religion in promoting economic and social development. He said that "efforts are needed to make religion conducive to national development and the improvement of religious adherents' material and spiritual lives".
It is a long way since Mao told to the Dalai Lama that 'religion is a poison'.
Is there a meeting point between the Chinese point of view and the Dalai Lama's?
At the end of the 1970s, beginning of the 1980s, there was certainly a possibility of dialogue. One example is the encounter by the old Tibetan Communist leader Bapa Phuntsok Wangyal and the Dalai Lama's representatives in Beijing in 1979/80.
Phuntsok Wangyal [Phuntso Wangye for the Chinese] wrote a "Summary of Talks Between Phuntso Wangye (Chinese Communist Party Member) and the Delegation of Returning Tibetans and Personages".
On September 2O, 1980, it was published Materials for the Study of Theory (The Theory Study Office of the Central Party School). Here is an extract:
I mentioned that I came to understand the Dalai Lama over many years of acquaintance, and he also understands me. Although we have different world views, we both eagerly hope that our backward Tibetan nation will prosper and the people will be happy along with other nationalities. Although we have lived apart for more than twenty years, I am convinced that his wish has grown stronger and more determined. He not only enjoys traditional prestige and has the most devout belief in the eyes and hearts of the Tibetans. …(Mr. Phuntso Tashi interrupted: The fact that we were warmly welcomed by the people and that the Dalai Lama was warmly received by Mongolians in Outer Mongolia is evidence of this.) Personally, I respect the Dalai Lama, as mentioned above, because he can elevate himself above extremely high secular prestige and has lofty beliefs. For these reasons, when his second-eldest brother, Mr. Gyalo Thondup, visited Beijing the last time and solicited my advice on his behalf, I analyzed the situation both at home and abroad and frankly suggested, "You should put an end to the isolation from the government of the PRC, initiate dialogues, and send some people back to look around and listen. It wouldn't hurt even if the Dalai Lama himself comes back to look around and listen sometimes." Any choice should be based on an understanding of the basic conditions and entire situation. I heard that the Dalai Lama's third-eldest brother, Lobsang Samden, had visited Hong Kong and explained to the central government about the Dalai Lama's attending the Peace Conference in Mongolia via the Soviet Union. I am very happy that you are here and that you all are major leaders. I have heard about your trip to the Tibetan areas. The enthusiasm of the masses provides answers to many questions that deserve to be pondered. I heard that when they met with you again yesterday, Vice President [of the United Front Department] Li Xiannian and Vice Chairman Ulanhu said, "There are flaws and mistakes in our work in Tibet, and we will correct them." I personally think that the remarks are sincere and responsible to the interests of the people, including our Tibetan people, as well as you. I believe that you can correctly understand the meaning and spirit of the talks of central government leaders.
If Yu Zhengsheng truly believes that religion can play a positive role for China's development, he should invite the Dalai Lama in Beijing and discuss a closer cooperation between the Tibetan Buddhist leader and the Chinese State.
Will he have the courage to take this Great Leap Forward?

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