Organizer: Teresa Chuc
Light from Tibet
Saturday, April 21, 2012 – It was a sunny day in Long Beach, California and an important day for many reasons. In the early afternoon, His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama spoke at the Tibetan-Chinese Friendship Society and 7th InterEthnic Interfaith Leadership Conference. Approximately 100 people attended the conference and many issues were discussed including the middle way, independence, and democracy. His Holiness’ words continue to resound, “…the struggle is not easy; it is long-term and difficult. Your heart is very important.”
These are challenging times economically, socially, politically, and spiritually. Following the Conference was His Holiness Dalai Lama’s talk, “Peace of Mind in Troubled Times,” at the Long Beach Convention Center which helped to spread the message of kindness and compassion as the keys of keeping a calm mental state despite problems. His Holiness says that as an individual, we must first create inner peace, then share it with family members, friends, and others. Thousands listened attentively, including families with children, for spiritual guidance.
As the strong winds of change blow around the world, His Holiness emphasized the importance of moral ethics as the guiding principle for change; otherwise, change can lead to more corruption. At the beginning of the talk, His Holiness said, “Sometimes we exaggerate reality, sometimes we underestimate reality.” He continued about the significance of looking in all directions in order to understand reality.
After His Holiness Dalai Lama’s talk at the Long Beach Convention Center, about a mile away, was Voices from Flames: The Current Situation in Tibet, an event that featured the film screening of “Leaving Fear Behind,” a heart-wrenching documentary with interviews of Tibetans living in Tibet and their views on the 2008 Olympics as well as their living conditions. The filmmaker, Dhondup Wangchen, was arrested shortly after he made the film and is currently serving a six-year prison sentence for “subversion of state power.” Amnesty International is calling for his release.
The Voices from Flames event began with a panel discussion with Ms. Tsering Lhamo from the Department of Information & International Relations of the Central Tibetan Administration and Mr. Lobsang Nyima, the Chinese Liaison Officer for the Office of Tibet, in Switzerland. Ms. Tsering Lhamo gave a talk on the importance of Chinese Outreach to raise awareness and understanding in the Chinese community about the situation inside Tibet. Books and CD’s in Chinese are available to the community. To further understanding, Mr. Lobsang Nyima spoke in depth about the history of Tibet, stressing the importance of understanding the roots of the country’s history bathed in both beauty and bloodshed.
The event culminated in the screening of “Leaving Fear Behind,” the documentary by Dhondup Wangchen, which was followed by a Q & A with Lhamo Tso, wife of the Tibetan filmmaker. She mentioned that her husband knew about the risks involved and sent her and their children to safety in India. During the documentary, Wangchen also mentioned the difficulty in making the film due to the nature of the risks involved. However, many Tibetans inside Tibet were willing to be interviewed and to risk their lives so that their voices could be heard and the truth be revealed to the world.
It was 9 p.m., the sun had already set several hours ago, the stars and the moon were shining in a dark sky. Earlier in the day, His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama, during the Tibetan-Chinese Friendship Society and InterEthnic and Interfaith Leadership Conference, said, “I think the important point is the transparency of the social mechanism, let the facts be under the sun.” This is the aspiration and work of Tibetans in exile all over the world – to create a transparency regarding their culture, their country, their people because what really happens in Tibet is often shrouded over with propaganda by the Chinese Communist Party.
During the early afternoon conference, His Holiness told a story about a friend of his: “I have a friend who, when he was 10 years old in England, got bullets blinding his eyes. He did not have any complaints, he is a very peaceful person. The inner thought is very important. No eyes, he could not see anything; his wisdom is very important. Whoever has an altruistic heart will be full of sunlight.” Through kindness, compassion, and genuine concern for others, there will be nourishment, life, and change. Just as sunlight nurtures life on earth, the sunlight in our hearts will nurture humanity.
Two days ago, on April 19, 2012, two Tibetan men in their twenties, Choepak Kyap and Sonam, self-immolated. And those rays of light from tongues of fire are reaching us from the far corners of Tibet. It is humanity’s responsibility to decipher its message.
By Teresa Mei Chuc
100 Thousand Poets for Change
Report from Teresa Mei Chuc:
In 2012, the 100 Thousand Poets for Change: Free Tibet! poetry reading
took place at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in Pasadena, California
on September 1st kicking off a series of poetry readings and events
around the world that month. Members of the local Tibetan community
brought their children to the event and we took turns reading poems by
such poets as Bhuchung D. Sonam, Tenzin Tsundue, Tsering Wangmo
Dhompa, Tsoltim N. Shakabpa, Dagyap Jigme Dorjee, and Woeser.
At the beginning of the reading, a member of the Tibetan Association
of Southern California, Dhondup Namgyal, gave background on the horrific
and escalating situation in Tibet in which self-immolations were
I remember crying when I heard some of the poems, many of which were
about the oppression, longing, suffering and exile of the Tibetan
people. Also present in the audience in support of the reading was Ann
Lau from the Visual Artists Guild, a pro-democracy Chinese activist
group. Some of the most touching moments were when the Tibetan
children read poems by the Tibetan poets. One of the children was so
small that her dad lifted her up to the podium to read a poem which
she read beautifully.
What was felt during the reading was the power of poetry to express
and light the human mind and emotions, touching and changing the world
one poem at a time, a message of fire and burning flesh over the
Himalayas, a candle in the soul.