The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

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The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

TWENTY-ONEThe Universal ProcessFORTY YEARS AFTER the Chinese occupation of Tibet,the world is still ignorant of what has happened, ignorant ofthe extent of the terror, destruction, and systematic genocidethat the Tibetan people have endured and are still enduring.Over 1 million people out of a population of 6 million havedied at the hands of the Chinese; Tibet's vast forests, as indispensableas those of the Amazon to the ecology of the world,have been cut down; its wildlife has been almost totally massacred;its plateaus and rivers have been polluted with nuclearwaste; the vast majority of its six-and-a-half thousand monasterieslie gutted or destroyed; the Tibetan people face extinction,and the glory of their own culture in their homeland hasbeen almost entirely obliterated.From the very beginning of the Chinese occupation of Tibetin the 1950s, many terrible atrocities were committed. Spiritualmasters, monks, and nuns were the first targets, because theChinese Communists wanted above all to break the spirit ofthe people by wiping out all traces of religious life. Many,many stories have reached me over the years of extraordinaryand moving deaths, in the worst possible circumstances, thatwitnessed and paid final tribute to the splendor of the truththe Chinese were desperate to destroy.In the part of Tibet I come from, the province of Kham,there was an old khenpo, or abbot, who had spent many yearsin retreat in the mountains. The Chinese announced that theywere going to "punish" him, which everyone knew meant tortureand death, and sent a detachment of soldiers to his hermitageto arrest him. The khenpo was elderly and unable towalk, and the Chinese found him an old and mangy horse forhis last journey. They sat him on the horse, tied him to it, andled the horse down the path from his hermitage to the armycamp. The khenpo began to sing. The Chinese could not343

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