By Londen Phuntsok
March 27, 2014
Tibet is not a subject of international relationship like it is to the international scholars, it’s not a religious issue like it is to many of the Dharma followers--Tibet for Tibetans is an identity issue--a legacy of distorted western concept of imperialism. And It is imperative for the Tibetans in exile, and its supporters to get it right!
The Young Husband’s expedition to Lhasa in 1904, the Jesuit priest’s mission to the forbidden land, the western traveler’s erotic obsession with Shangri-La, or drawing inferences from some Hollywood movies about the generalized enchantment of ‘God King’ His Holiness Dalai Lama, Tibet connotes gamut of wildly stereotypes.
Since Tibet remained aloof from the world, this has purportedly led to emancipation of western’s mysticism on a par with its own skepticisms of it. Western representations of Tibet in early as 17th century provides to be a vantage point for that was nothing more than delusion of oriental priest-patron relationship and exoticism of Lamaism. The west from time to time fantasized these grimy, dirty, religious Tibetans as hordes of primitive people, who lived with peaceful existence in a statehood of ignorance towards western concept of modernity.
Much of its representations to the post-colonial world were dominantly contrived of ignorance and escapist fallacy back then. Dibyesh Anand (Tibet: a victim of geo-politics) writes “when the Tibetans went in exile they found that 'Tibet' already existed in western imagination, and given their limited options, they conformed to that image in order to gain support.” But this has entailed, western romanticizing with Tibet even more. Tibet scholars like Lopez attributes Tibetan Diaspora members as ‘prisoners of Shangri-La’, to which Tibetan scholar Tsering Shakya corrects “if the Tibetan issue is to be taken seriously, Tibet must be liberated from both the western imagination and the myth of Shangri-la.”
Anomalously, Diaspora of more than 50 years old has not outgrown the western imagination or its representation. What is prevalent is corollary of its discursive and desultory provocation by the west. Tibetans still remained as the grimy, backward, religious prisoners of Shangri-la, which now they hadn’t been able to negate its once conformed image by west.
More importantly because the Central Asia unique priest-patron relationship of Tibet with its neighbouring countries is a palpable arrangement existing even now in the form of western patronage to the Tibetan Diaspora. The Tibetan nationalism is an assortment of its different façade it glorifies, ‘Buddhism’ ‘Unique cultural’ ‘Human Rights’ ‘Global warming and third pole’ ‘geo-politics’ ‘China’ etc, thereby it brings the attention of galore of Buddhist community, the law makers, scholars, journalists, scientific researchers and travelers alike. The pluralism of political Diaspora, has precipitated cauldron of populism, conformist, non-conformist views about the Tibet question.
More or less Diaspora is becoming more prone to the insidious effects of such trans-nationality of Tibet nationalism. One fair reason would be the growing active Tibetan political voices in the virtual world, one wouldn’t fail to notice the pro-independence proponents like Jamyang Norbu’s blog adorned with scurrilous innuendos, for his personal dissenting views about the Tibet question; almost always half of comments by western’s Tibet enthusiasts. Almost ironically, they would also release vitriol for the Central Tibetan Administration ‘Elites’ of their alleged debauchery, Machiavellianism and list goes on.
It seems to their prescient nature and the Tibetan’s stereotypical image of being one at the receiving end; they are able to envisage the ‘better’ for the Tibet’s posterity.
Tibetans growing dependence on west pro bono tutelage on its political ambitions is a pernicious threat, if the Tibetans don’t ever contemplate for themselves. The premonition of such unsolicited amelioration has perpetuated for several years, more so now, owing to the interconnected world through internet and its implications.
Paltry of Tibetan scholars in Diaspora subscribes to the divergent posits, as to why the Tibet is not being taken seriously, which apparently has to do with posteriori of diluting the cause, banking on the other issues pertinent to the development of a nationalism such as human rights, religious freedom, cultural degeneration; primarily based upon religion, language, cultural commonalities rather than the historical practicalities of Tibet suzerainty or sovereignty, and its independence status.
Parochialism in the context of the Tibet Diaspora is widely contested between the issues ranging from cultural assimilation within host country, to migration to western countries, from pro-independence to Middle-way approach. But they failed to notice; Tibetan Diaspora is no more theirs, it is of the pompous activist that comes on the stage, whose only weapon is contrived of gimmickry from signing up petitions on internet, to calling up the embassies and to upload the picture of their member’s activities in social networking sites. Tibet Diaspora is no longer a mass movement; it is rise of bourgeoisie, sharing the limelight. The world in salvation of Tibetans from evil, comes with the wild clichés of Tibetans as ‘Shangri-la’ people, though they are most honest in their intention, however when the find the dichotomy between what they expected and what they found; sometimes the malignancy is plausible.
In times when Tibet card is played by the world not knowing, what it could conjure up for them? It is a red herring issue, when the west and world is embroiled in its parochialism and plays possum about it, but finds its worth when it has advantage to gain a bit of soft power. In times when the hypocrisy of media is partisan, when it is always the People’s Republic of China rebuttal to any Tibet issue that finds a corner in the daily news, but not what was what, made them spit vile on first hand. The parsimony with which the west or the rest has dealt Tibet issue, it is not honorable to believe the west or world as the most integral part of Tibet solution.
Moreover, the United Nations in best possible words has manifested being a parody of justice, an amicable understanding that Tibet never finds a solution, thereby in much connivance with the China’s repressions in Tibet. It is imperative for the Tibetans in exile, and its supporters to get it right, that Tibet is not a subject of international relations like it is to the international scholars, it’s not a religion of happiness like it is for many dharma followers; Tibet for Tibetans is an identity, a legacy of distorted western concept of imperialism.
Tibet biggest enemy is not the communism but the Tibet Diaspora’s pandemonium of its representations. People’s Republic of China biggest nemesis would not be the Tibetan Diaspora but its own policies of repression which history has always corroborated- to be reciprocated by a revolution by its own people. To quote a G.W.F. Hegel remark “The history of the world is none other than the progress of the consciousness of freedom.” And the consciousness of this world will be re-instilled, and Tibet will be free from this debacle of salvation.
NOTE-- London Phuntsok is a poet,blogger, and author of book "The Gossamer of Love" which is a collection of poems and verses