The Tibetans have suffered every bit as much as the Palestinians. Over a million of them died as a direct result of the Chinese occupation of their country. Where are the Tibetan suicide bombers? Where is their cult of martyrdom? Where are the throngs of Tibetans seething with hatred, calling for the deaths of the Chinese? They are not likely to exist. What is the difference that makes the difference? Religion.
It doesn’t take a mental acrobat to call Tibetan Buddhism religious and claim the difference is what kind of religious dogmas you hold (killing oneself, killing the other, etc).
Just because they use self-immolation instead of bombing, doesn´t mean they don´t commit suicide ´in defense of their faith´. It´s the return of their religious figure as a political leader that´s what causing chinese authorities to violate human rights by locking them up. After reading what Michael Parenti has to says on the issue (Friendly Fuedalism), I´ve been less and less inclined to blindly follow the anti-chinese sentiment. Though obviously we could enter a political, economic and social debate that would undercut the other argument Sam makes (that these would be universal if only we´d be reasonable).
I still call myself a buddhist*, still support students for a free tibet (at least in name) and saw the Dalai Lama speak (and was underwhelmed by his old-fashioned views on sexuality and sexism in particular).
*Mainly because of this quote
“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
which as been paraphrased by new agers to signify that facts and conversation do not need to disturb the dogmatic mind.
In my native language there is a poet who claims to ´be god in the deepest (corner)´ which I found to be a good way of looking at consciousness. We could claim there´s a lot of sophistication in gnosticism and there´s no need to rely on buddhist teachings because it´s been turned into a religion-cult by the people who ´worship the buddha like he´s santa claus´*. In the beginning of christianity, it was nothing but a variety of cults and for every dogma there was an opposite dogma (even for the divinity of christ, such as socianism). Why there should be nuance in buddhism but none in christianity is beyond me. Though I readily admit I’d still rather call myself a buddhist than a christian, it’s mainly to avoid misunderstandings.
*Or cutting of flowers and letting them rot at the giant statues of buddha. This idolatry has little to do with the philosophy and I didn’t mind the Taliban blowing that UNESCO heritage up (unlike some artsy farty non-buddhists I know who cried). It was giving buddhists a bad (meaning religious) name. Although I’d rather nobody destroy anything and people be more reflexive (surely they’ve all built their own mini-shrines by now so it didn´t help).
I think the self-immolation is a form of martyrdom, similar to Jesus on the Cross (if we skip the reading where that was an accident and he was calling for a violent revolution which failed). Making it okay to suffer, because he’ll be incarnated in heaven anyway.
I consider it impolite to give a speech at a forum without posing a question, so here it is:
Does anybody have a source for the 1(.2) million people being dead as a direct result of chinese occupation?