Friday, June 26, 2015

Will Buddha jump over the wall?

Do you know what could make Buddha jump over a wall?
According to a Chinese saying, it is a special stew made of seafood and poultry.
It is apparently so yummy that even Buddha (or at least Chinese monks) would jump over a wall to taste it.
It might not be true for Tibetan monks, as this dish originates from Fujian Province; their taste may be different. Anyway, one of the characteristics of the preparation is that all the ingredients have to slowly simmer for a long long time over a low flame.
It is said the former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia and many others tasted the delicacy, while in China.
President Xi Jinping recently mentioned the famous dish: “make friends, the way that one slowly cook seafood and poultry stew to make ‘Buddha or monks jump over the wall’.”
The story was used by Xi during the United Front Work (UFW) Conference, during which Xi explained that the United Work “aims to make more friends, especially some close friends who are able to speak their minds.”
According to the Chinese media, Xi would have added: “However, in order to make this kind of friend, you can’t hurry it as if you are cooking fast food, but rather you should put in the kind of effort as if you are slowly cooking the famous Chinese dish made of lots of seafood and poultry.”
To demonstrate his point, the Chinese President cited the case of former Premier Zhou Enlai with the 10th Panchen Lama Chökyi Gyaltsen.
Xi told the UFW Conference that when, on April 27, 1950, the Panchen Lama arrived in Beijing for the first time: “that night he was received by Premier Zhou and invited to dinner. They discussed everything from customs, traditions, and daily life to the victory of the Chinese revolution and the future of Tibet; from the accommodations and itinerary to the importance of national unity. Premier Zhou’s openness and sincerity deeply influenced the Panchen Lama.”
Let us not forget that the young Panchen Lama who had just been selected by the Communist Party as the true incarnation of the 9th Panchen Lama, (while the Lhasa candidate was rejected by Mao), was only 12 years old.
Xi continued his story: “In 1952, the Panchen Lama returned to Lhasa to meet with the Dalai Lama. He remembered the instructions of Premier Zhou, to unite with the Dalai Lama and submit to the current situation.”
By that time, the Tibetan government had had to sign on the dotted and had 'accepted' that Chökyi Gyaltsen was the true incarnation of the 9th Panchen Lama.
Then, Xi Jinping compared the Panchen Lama and the Dalai Lama: “In 1956, the Indian government invited the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama to India to participate in celebrations for the 2,500th anniversary of Sakyamuni Buddha achieving nirvana. The Panchen Lama fought against separatist forces and returned home on schedule, in a sharp contrast to the Dalai Lama who delayed his return.”
Historically, it is not fully  correct. Before returning to Tibet, the Dalai Lama had to visit Kalimpong (against Zhou Enlai’s advice) to meet devotees, at that time the Panchen Lama decided to immediately return to Tibet. It can’t be called a ‘delay’; it was just part of the Tibetan leader’s program.
Xi continued his argument: “During the ‘Cultural Revolution’, the Panchen Lama was severely denounced, and his situation was critical. After Premier Zhou learned of this, he quickly arranged for him to be protected by the military.”
Xi forgets an important detail: the 70,000 character petition (‘A Poisoned Arrow’, according to Mao) which cost the Panchen Lama 14 years in jail in the most horrendous conditions.
Where was Zhou Enlai then?
Xi knows perfectly well this episode, as his father Xi Zhongxun was ‘purged’ two months after the Panchen Lama. Read my post on the subject.
Xi nonetheless affirmed: “Premier Zhou and the 10th Panchen Lama formed a great friendship over a long period of time and numerous trials, despite their difference in age.”
Xi’s conclusions are however interesting, he argued that the structure of the United Front has undergone great changes, and the concept of social thought is becoming more diverse. He mentioned two issues which have come up for United Front Work: “One is not paying attention to ideological guidance and not being concerned with ideological activities of people outside the Party. The other is a phenomenon of being arrogant, purely bureaucratic, and rigid.”
Xi Jinping believes that non-Party people should be treated with the same effort required to make the dish with more contacts, more close talks, more assistance and emphasizing respect, equality and sincerity.
Will it make Tibetans, in particular Buddhist monks, ‘Jump over the Wall’? Only future will tell.

I am posting here some excerpts of From The Heart of the Panchen Lama (Major Speeches and a petition: 1962–1989), published by the Department of Information and International Relations, Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala.
The Panchen Lama made this statement in 1987 at the TAR Standing Committee Meeting of the National People’s Congress in Beijing. During his lengthy speech, the Panchen Lama refers several times to the 70,000 character petition to Zhou.
If he was listening from his from his Marxist Paradise, Zhou Enlai must have turned in his grave.

On the annexation of Tibet
In the Seventeen-Point Agreement [in May 1951], it was emphatically stated that there would be no change in the power of the Tibetan local government until the introduction of democratic reforms. The same promise was made to the Tashilhunpo monastic authorities. However, what happened later could be summed up by this dictum: ―Criticizing the old system from the perspective of a new ideology.
This kind of practice is not very ethical. A scientist must arrive at his decision according to whatever is proved right scientifically. Tibetan aristocrats had served the government for generations. They were deeply devoted to the Dalai Lama and turned to him for refuge both in this and the next life. In the same way, the masses have deep respect and devotion. This is an undeniable fact. Later on, however, the aristocrats were accused of being the leaders of the rebellions and persecuted. This, I think, was an absolutely wrong thing to do. Of course, I was criticized and punished for this. But truth is timeless. It always remains the same. Undoubtedly, there were mistakes in my petition. But I have never been wrong in speaking up. The mistakes in the content of my petition are mistakes, both today and in the past. But there should be a clear dividing line, spelling out where I went wrong and where I was right.
Talking about Lhoka, first the Khampa guerrillas were based there. But when the Dalai Lama passed through there, people happily donated butter, barley flour and other provisions without being asked for them. This was, of course, a spontaneous gesture of love by the people. Later on the people who offered these things were treated as active members of the resistance. How can you do such a thing? This is something that everyone should know. Speaking of myself, in those days whenever I passed by, people would show love and devotion to me. Now should this be construed as a politically motivated act? Amongst other things, they showed respect to me because they were religious-minded and it is a Tibetan custom. Due care and consideration must be shown to customs and traditions that are special to Tibet.
Quelling the rebellions and introducing reforms was right in principle. But there was a strong leftist tinge to the way this was done. Such things should not happen again and they must be rectified. During the last three decades of communist rule there have been many good things done and many bad things also. There were considered in the Sixth Meeting of the Eleventh National Congress of the Communist Party of China, and were publicized internationally.
Owning up to our mistakes will not damage the Party’s image; rather it will help build it.
Speaking about the former comrades in the Tibet Military Command Centre and the Chengdu Military Command Centre, some comrades told me that they should not have done what they did. This is a healthy attitude. We frequently say that great achievements were made with your sweat in the liberation and reformation of Tibet and that the people of Tibet will never forget this. This is an honest statement. However, you did make a great deal of mistakes, and these also in Tibet. These too, we will never forget. What I am saying is for the purpose of rectifying these mistakes. If we can do this, we can make progress. I am saying this with the best of intentions.
I will tell you a more personal story at this point. The Government of the Kashag spearheaded the rebellion [in March 1959]. Those of us at the labrangs (lama households) were not party to any agitation. In the beginning, we were told great things about peaceful reforms and policies of fraternal relations. However, when the reforms were undertaken, people belonging to our establishments were subjected to untold suffering. This filled people with disgust and disbelief. Most of the members of the local Tibetan government fled from Tibet. A handful, who stayed back, were praised and appointed to government jobs as shining examples of a progressive element. Our people who stayed back in solidarity with China were subjected to unthinkable suffering. Being in Lhasa, as I was at that time, I did not suffer so much. But all my family members were subjected to thamzing (public struggle sessions).
There was one woman, a wife of one of my staff, who was also arrested. One day, when she was called into the interrogation chamber, she muttered, ―This man called Panchen had caused me so much suffering that I will die from depression. This utterance led the authorities into believing that she would say something incriminating about me, a much-awaited chance for the authorities to take punitive measures against me. They immediately called the scribes to record her testimony. Then she went on, ―We made a big mistake by following this man called Panchen and not participating in the fight against the Chinese. If he had led us in rebellion against the Chinese, our condition today would be better than this. Because, initially, we would have killed as many Chinese as possible and then fled to India, which would have been easy since India is near our village. But this man told us to be progressive and patriotic. And this is what we get for following his advice. Now it is not possible for us to flee to India. Our people, both men and women, are being persecuted here. We are experiencing hell on earth.
If there was a film made on all the atrocities perpetrated in Qinghai province, it would shock the viewers. In Golok area, many people were killed and their dead bodies rolled down the hill into a big ditch. The soldiers told the family members and relatives of the dead people that they should all celebrate since the rebels had been wiped out. They were even forced to dance on the dead bodies. Soon after, the family members and relatives were also machine-gunned. They were all buried there.
Actually, rebellions did not occur in all these areas. In Kham, of course, there were rebellions in many places. In Jharoong Parpo and Mili, both in Amdo, the nomads collected their guns and handed them over to the Chinese authorities. They were praised and garlanded during a special function. After the function they were driven to their villages where they were immediately arrested and imprisoned for a long time. There were some very old people among them.
In Amdo and Kham, people were subjected to unspeakable atrocities. They were shot in groups of ten or twenty. I know that it is not good to speak about these things. But such actions have left deep wounds in the minds of people. There are some officials who always leave behind a bad legacy. What is the purpose of doing this? The guilty must, of course, be punished. But what is the use of leaving behind a bad legacy. People who persist in doing this are really stupid. But there are some who consider these people very wise and capable. Comrade Wu Jinhua has a plan to investigate the methods and mistakes made by some of the officials in putting down the Tibetan rebellion. I feel this investigation needs to be done with the utmost diligence.
Mao Zedong said clearly in his speech that he would not only kill the senior Jiang Jieshi, but also the junior ones. Although, I, the senior Panchen, managed to survive, many junior Panchens were killed and tortured in prisons.
In Qinghai, for example, there are between one to three or four thousand villages and towns, each having between three to four thousand families with four to five thousand people. From each town and village, about eight hundred to one thousand people were imprisoned. Out of this, at least three to four hundred people died in prison. This means almost half of the prison population perished. Last year, we discovered that only a handful of people had participated in the rebellion. Most of these people were completely innocent.
In my 70,000-character petition, I mentioned that about five percent of the population had been imprisoned. According to my information at that time, it was between ten to fifteen percent. But I did not have the courage to state such a high figure. I would have died under thamzing if I had stated the real figure. These are serious matters as far as Tibet is concerned. If we pay only lip service to these kinds of mistakes and do nothing to redress them there will be equally serious consequences. People may not like what I am saying. But I am saying this out of my love for the motherland.

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