8. Examples Not to Follow
There are three countries which offer to India examples not to follow: East Timor, Yugoslavia and Tibet. East Timor showed how converted Christians provoke secession by alleging “persecution” and how the West has a very short memory. Pundits have predicted for decades the balkanisation of India, as it happened in Yugoslavia at the hands of Kosovo; so far it has not materialised, but if India allows Kashmir to go, who knows what might follow. And finally Tibet, because of it isolation and feudalism which it did not care to redress in time, paid also the price of its freedom
The Lessons of East Timor for India
There are a few lessons which the “referendum” of East Timor, and its catastrophic consequences, have for India.
Colonialism is not over. The troubles in East Timor arose, not because Indonesians, or anti-independence East Timorese are more violent, or less democratic than any Europeans, but because when western colonialists - the Portuguese in this case - were there, they converted forcibly (or by means of economic enticement), large chunks of the island. And not only they converted a people to a religion totally alien to their culture and way of life, but also, like everywhere else in the Third World, they planted a seed of separatism : “yours is the only true religion and by embracing this true religion, you become superior, you are part of us, the Great White Man”. And as a result, a few generations later, the erstwhile natives want to separate from the Infidel, they want to be independent, to secede, with the result we have seen in East Timor. The Karma of colonialism is not dead
The West has a very short memory. Today the West sits in judgement on the “bad” Indonesians, or the wicked anti-independence East imorese (read the non-Christians). But it forgets that for centuries - and till barely fifty years ago - it had shamefully colonised, exploited these colonies. Today the Prime Minister of Portugal has the effrontery to offer his country’s “good services” for the peaceful transition of East Timor to independence. But in the history of colonialism, the Portuguese rank first in terms of sheer brutality, rape, theft, murder, or conversions by force. In India, the Portuguese took full advantage of the tolerance of local Hindu kings of Kerala, grabbed land, killed people, converted innocent tribals. Later in Goa, they razed numerous temples to build churches, crucified Brahmins, forcibly married Indian girls to their soldiers… And on top of that, they had to be kicked out of India by force, as they refused to leave !
There is also hypocrisy. If Britain can battle thousands of miles away from home soil to keep the Falkland islands, which geographically belongs more to Argentina than England, if France fights to retain the island of Corsica in the face of repeated bombings and murders by separatists, if The United States can bomb out Iraq because it has oil interests in Kuwait, then why should Indonesia not retain East Timor, or India fight to keep Kashmir, which has been part of its empire for thousands of years ? And no hypocrisy is greater than the one showed by the British, who divided to reign like no one else during their colonial rule - and left a mess everywhere. Today the BBC may pontificate about the violent ways of the IRA, the fanaticism of Muslim militias in East Timor, or “the brutal hand of the Indian army in Kashmir”, but it conveniently forgets that it is England who converted a part of Ireland to Protestantism, so as to divide the beautiful island, or that from the very beginning of its rule in India, it pampered the Muslim minority and always implied that it would give it independence when it would leave India.
Do not give a foothold to the U.S or the U.N. Of course, Pakistan and other Islamic countries - and eventually America, when it wants to pressurise India to toe its line on CTBT etc. - will exploit to the hilt the East Timor plebiscite, by saying it creates a good precedent and that Kashmir should follow suit. But the result is foregone : whatever the Governments of India’s illusions : like in East Timor, 96% of Kashmiris of the valley would vote for independence, which would immediately means appendage to Pakistan. But it is only because Indonesia went through a terrible economic crisis, that it became weak and had to give in to the dictates of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the UN, which are all controlled by the United States. And the condition for being bailed out economically, was of course a referendum in East Timor. Today America prides itself in being the gendarme of the world and gives itself the right to bomb, kill, or imprison anybody it wants, regardless of international law. One also observes in the rest of the Western world a very dangerous moral belligerence, witness the cries for military intervention to implement independence in East Timor, by countries like Australia, who have the saddest of human right records in dealing with their own aborigines, or by this very arrogant and foolish man, Robin Cook, England’s Foreign Minister.
Thus, we need a multipolar world. Instead of falling in the arms of the US, just because they have condescended to say a few good words about India’s handling of Kargil (but immediately after, Clinton dealt India a slap for its “arrogant” nuclear doctrine), New Delhi should fight against the dangerous unipolar world which Washington is trying to impose upon us, and make strategic alliances with countries who have the same aspiration. Such a country is France; and India must now make some hard choices and select for instance Airbuses instead of Boeings for its national airlines and buy its military hardware from France. The French government has also to show some commitment and should sell India nuclear plants, regardless of what the international community will say.
BE INDIAN FIRST. Minorities should be told that they are first Indian and then Christians, or Muslims - and not vice versa. In France, there was a big controversy when Muslim girls insisted to come to college with scarves on their heads; but the French government stood firm and they were thrown out : “you are French first and you should abide by the laws of France”, they were told. Imagine if the Indian Government would for instance stop subsiding the Haj pilgrimage, because it does not subsidise any Hindu yatras, it would create such an outcry amongst all the secularists of the country ! And this is the saddest thing : that many of India’s journalists, intellectuals, and officials, whether it is M.S. Gill, the Election Commissioner, or the President, are so one sided. Bal Thakeray was disfranchised because he appealed to the Hindus to vote for a Hindu, but when the Archbishop of Delhi, Alan de Lastic, more or less openly tells India’s 25 million Christians to vote for another Christian - Sonia Gandhi - everybody of course finds this “secular” and the Indian Press, who has hounded Thakeray all his life, just quotes Lastic’s letter without batting an eyelid. The recent murder of priest Arul Dass is another example of dishonest journalism. Dass was obviously killed by non-converted tribals, for reasons which will be later discovered. But instead of calming the tensions, Lastic and the Christian clergy have again accused the VHP, the RSS, or Dara Singh, who seems to have developed magical powers to crop up everywhere - and once more the whole Indian Press went up in flames about the “communal” murder. But when a BJP candidate in Kashmir was brutally murdered along with three innocent people, it made for three lines in newspapers. Does that mean that the Indian Press thinks it is perfectly normal for Muslims to kill BJP leaders ?
“The Black Karma of the West in Kosovo”
In 732 AD, French King Charles Martel stopped the Arab onslaught in Europe at Poitiers, 329 km south-west of Paris, the capital of France.
Without this crushing victory, the whole of Europe would have become Muslim, with incalculable consequences for its culture, religion, history and future. As it is, the Arab world never got a strong foothold on the European continent, as it did in the African and Asian continents, except in two places: Spain in the 8th century; and much later, in part of the Balkans. But by the 13h century, Christian kings had retaken the whole of Spain and the country was able to develop around European lines, while assimilating the Arab influence, which gives it today this extraordinary eastern atmosphere, unique in Europe.
Henceforth, there only remained in the hands of Islam parts the Balkans (of which Yugoslavia and Albania concentrated the maximum presence), as these were the closest to the Ottoman empire of today’s Turkey. Which means in effect, that the only real European Muslims (by Europe we mean today’s ECC), can be found in these two countries (because there are other “White” Muslims” - in Crimea, for instance).
Serbia, a great nation, which embodies the best of the Slav spirit, had developed a wonderful empire, which culminated in the 14th century with Emperor Dulsan, whose kingdom reached till Greece. But in 1389, the Turks beat his armies in Kosovo (does that name strike anything ?) The Serbian empire, a bastion of Western and Christian culture in Eastern Europe, resisted, often alone, and was never washed out by the Muslim onslaught. Kings like Milos Obrenovic I, united the Serbs against the Turks and his son Michel Obrnovic II finally obtained the independence of Serbia in 1867.
Thus, thanks to Charles Martlel’s victory in 732 and Serbian Kings like Obrnovic, Islam was never able to penetrate the European continent and Europe owes today its distinct Greco-Roman and Christian culture to these brave men But unfortunately, the good work of Charles Martel and Milos Obrenivic have been rendered to naught by the Nato forces and the United States of America
Today we see the same thing happening in Russia which is waging a desperate battle against Muslim fundamentalism in Chechnya: the West is applying all kind of pressures so that it stops its military action, thus giving Muslim fundamentalism a chance to spread like a cancer. Once more,TV’s all over the world are showing images of Chechen civilians being killed by blind bombardments, thus turning western opinion against the “evil Russians”, committing a genocide on the “good” Chechens.
The Dalai lama often said that the present sufferings of the Tibetan people were due to a “black karma”. When asked what was a black karma, he explained that like an individual, a nation commits during different cycles bad karma, evil actions - and that sooner or later, all those who have participated in these collective unholy acts, come back together, in the same place, at the same time, in the same country, to pay for their bad karma.
Viewing the Chechnya problem from this angle, gives a totally different picture than the one portrayed by the West. For whatever can be said about the greatness of Islam - and there is no doubt that it fostered powerful civilisations and empires, whose refinements and achievements were unsurpassed in their days - the religion of Mohammed remains, even today, a militant and violent creed, which does not tolerate other religions and views all others as “kafirs”, infidels. Hence the bloody jihads Muslims are still leading all over the world, even as the 21st century draws near : in Chechnya, of course, but also in Algeria or in Kashmir. The atrocities committed over the centuries by the Arabs and Muslim armies in what is known today as Yugoslavia, are numerous and well documented. There is actually, an interesting parallel to do with India, where Hindus, like the Serbs, resisted the Muslims invaders, in spite of the forced attempts at conversion, the rapes, the millions of people taken in slavery, the killing of men by the thousands. In the same way, during the second world war, many of the Muslim Croats and Albanians ganged up with the Nazis and killed thousands of innocent Serbs, many of whom had enrolled in the underground against the dark forces which Germany was then incarnating (how strange that fifty years later, a people who killed six million Jews, because they thought they were ‘impure’, can play such an important role in Nato. On top of that, very few know that the Germans, still thirsty for domination in Europe, partly triggered the Yugoslav conflict, by being the first to recognise Croatia, where there are many Germans and which sided with nazi Germany. How short a memory Europe has !!!).
No doubt, Milosevic is a manipulating and bloodthirsty leader, who went in for ethnic cleansing to solve the Kosovo problem; no doubt the Serbs have committed many atrocities in Kosovo, while Nato was bombing them out of their minds; no doubt the plight of the Kosovo refugees was sad (but it was highly publicised by the western media and used by Nato as a propaganda tool to justify the terrible bombing of the innocent Yugoslavians - and there are much more needy refugees in the world - about whom the US does not give a damn. ..) It is true also that Yeltsin may have been a corrupt vodka-soaked leader whom the United States supported, because it served their purpose to have a weak Russia, which will never challenge for years to come America’s hegemony (thus today, Putin, a “strong” leader, does not get the same support from the West). But from a Buddhist point of view, were not the Kosovars (and today the Chechens) paying for the long, bloody and terrible karma they exerted on Yugoslavia for hundreds of years ? Or to put it in a more cartesian and down to earth mould, were not the Muslims getting back a fraction of what they had done to the Serbs ?
What the US and Otan have done in Yugoslavia is morally WRONG : it is thus bad karma for Europe to bear. It is morally wrong not to support Russia in its fight against Muslim fundamentalism in Chechenya. And one day - if the Dalai lama’s theory about black karma is right - they will have to pay for it. For what was the point of Charles Martel stopping the Arabs in 732 and Michel Obrnovic II defeating the kalifat, if today the West hands over on a gold platter a fully autonomous (and sooner or later fully independent - whatever hypocrite noises the Otan makes about it) nation to the Muslims in Europe ? And make no mistake about it : one of the great traits of Islam - and also its biggest drawback - is that a Muslim is a Muslim, wherever he is, whatever the colour of his skin (that is, he helps his kindred brothers and sisters - contrary to the Hindus, who have not yet learnt a little bit of Christian charity). The Kosovar Muslims might look reassuring and harmless to the eyes of the Otan (whom, if you noticed, never once pronounced the word ‘muslim’ during their war - it’s a bit like Indian newspapers saying ‘one community attacked another community’, when Muslims go on rampage against Hindus), even if it is beginning to show its true face, witness the recent massacre of Serb civilians. But if you scratch a little bit and give them some time, you will quickly realise that like any Muslims, they consider all other religions as “infidel” and that the jihad is still a sacred concept to them. Already, one can see that Saudi Arabia, which the United States considers as a ‘soft’ Muslim nation, but which actually sponsors international terrorism, is one of the biggest backers of the Kosovar people; already you can see the ruthlessness and ultimate motives of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which has been armed by the western powers. Is the West mad then, that it has the never heard about the snake that bites the hand which feeds him ? The Kosovo quagmire and its disastrous consequences will take decades to solve.
Maybe Mr Xavier Solana, before embarking upon his ‘holy’ war on a traditionally pro-western, Christian, reasonably democratic nation, destroying bridges, factories, killing innocent beings, should have read the book of Samuel Huntington “The clash of civilisations”. He would have seen that Hutington had correctly predicted that in the 21st century there will be a clash between two civilisations : the West and Islam (with China sometimes siding with Islam for self interest purposes). This trend had already started in India, also a pro-western, highly democratic power, which is now battling in Kashmir the fundamentalist side of Islam, as incarnated by Pakistan, which in turn is helped by the Chinese, who gave it its nuclear bomb and ballistic missiles to carry it. By allowing an independent Kosovo, the West has made sure that the enemy is now in the heart of Europe.
The Terrible Fate of Tibet
Thousands of oil lamps are scintillating in the starry night of Dharamsala, in the Indian Himalayas at a height of 1800 metres. It is here that the Tibetan community in exile has taken refuge around its spiritual and temporal leader, the 14th Dalai lama. And today Dharamsala is celebrating the anniversary of the founder of the « Yellow Hats » the sect of which the Dalai lama is the head: young monks in saffron robes are endlessly circling the temple, while chanting haunting Tibetan religious hymns; one can hear in the crisp Himalayan air the sound of trumpets blowing off in some far-off monastery, while nearby an old lama is beating Tibetan cymbals. Everywhere, young children, laughing, running, are lighting candles to celebrate the birth of their creed. At last, Tenzin Gyatso, Fourteenth Dalai lama, Ocean of Joy, Prefect Lotus, All Compassion, and accessorily Nobel Laureate, appears at the top of the temple. The crowd of Tibetans below, some of whom have just arrived from Tibet, crossing illegally the Indian border at night, after days of arduous and dangerous walking, prostrate themselves, muttering their immense joy: they have reached their goal, they have seen the living God…
But never has there been a darker hour in the history of the Tibetan people. Not only the Chinese, who invaded Tibet in 1959, erased most of Tibetan culture and religion in Tibet (see box), but the last living symbol of Tibetan aspiration of Tibetan freedom, the Dalai-lama is in grave danger. On the 28th January 1989, died the Panchen lama, second after the Dalai lama, in the hierarchy of the Yellow hats. During his life, the Chinese tried - vainly - to control him and to make him speak against the Dalai lama, and he spent several years in Chinese jails where he was tortured. Traditionally, the Tibetans have always believed that the souls of their great lamas quickly reincarnate themselves in the bodies of young boys, generally of a rural background - and it is thus that all the Dalai-lamas’ reincarnations, including the present one, have been discovered. But this time the Chinese decided to chose their own Panchen lama, so that they could manipulate him. Knowing that the Tibetan people would never accept a panchen lama which was not chosen according to the tradition, the Chinese Government nominated on the 17th July 1993, to find the reincarnation of the Panchen lama, a group of specialised monks, at the head of which they put Chadrel Rimpoche, whom they thought as anti-dalai lama. The Rimpoche and his team short listed 25 young boys, who corresponded to the last indications left by the Panchen lama before dying (generally visions which are couched in poems and give some clues of the physical place where he is to be searched for). But unknown to the Chinese, Chadrel Rimpooche sent a list and the photos of those young boys to the Dalai lama. And on the 14th May 95, taking the Chinese by complete surprise, the dalai lama nominated one of those boys, Gedhun Choeki Nyima, as the 11th Panchen Lama.
Furious, the Chinese had the Chadre Rimpoche and the young boy, plus his parents, arrested and taken to an unknown destination in China. Then they proceeded, after having accused the Dalai lama to interfere in Tibet’s religious affairs, (a joke if there is one), to invoke an obscure sino-tibetan treaty of the 16th century, between the Manchus of the Qing dynasty and the 5th Dalai lama, which gave the Chinese emperor power to chose the panchen lama. A hundred Tibetan lamas were forcefully flown to Beijing to give a semblance of religious assent to the whole thing and on the 8th December last, the name of Gyaltsen Norbu, one of the 24 other candidates (the Dalai lama’s choice was omitted), was drawn from a Golden Urn, another ancient Chinese custom, as the « true » Panchen lama. « Funny, smiled the dalai lama, in his retreat in Dharamsala, the boy’s parents are known to have been for years faithful members of the Tibetan Communist party, a rare thing in rural Tibet ». But however the Dalai lama may protest, he has absolutely no control, as all the recent reincarnations of the great lamas, even those he has chosen, such as the Karmapa, the third in the Tibetan hierarchy, are in Tibet, that is in Chinese hands and they will make sure that they will get thoroughly Chinese education. On top of that, 3 Tibetan trained by the Chinese secret police, were arrested last month by the Indian authorities, as they were trying to approach the Dalai lama. If he ever was assassinated, it might well mean the end of Tibet.
Q. You said once that Tibet is going through a « black karma ». What do you mean by that ?
A. The sufferings that the Tibetan people are experiencing today at the hands of the Chinese, are due to a bad karma, bad actions committed in previous lives. But you have to understand that different persons can commit a bad karma at different times, in different places and under different nationalities. And done day by the Grace of God, all these persons find themselves together at the same time in the same place, under the same nationality and repay their karma together. This is what has happened in Tibet.
Q. But you also said that this black karma can also be turned into a white karma…
A. It is the people who are tortured, the people who are lying trampled on the ground, those who are shot, who are the ultimate winners. From a Buddhist view point, much depends on their motivation at the time of suffering: that is without hatred, without desire of revenge, wanting to hurt the Chinese. Of course, the desire to reinstate truth, freedom, that is not wrong. Thus by suffering one whitens all negative karma as it is done now in Tibet. In the same way, one could say that the people who are torturing, trampling others on the ground, killing human beings, they are the losers, because one day, sooner or later, in this life or another one, they will have to pay for this suffering they are inflicting upon others. This is a mathematical and logical process, there is no question of sin or guiltiness here.
Q. You mean that all innocent people who are suffering, is it because they have done some negative karma in the past ?
A. Yes of course, of course. We the Tibetans for instance, who happen to be on the receiving end of Chinese aggressiveness, are paying for our own carelessness: feudalism, or not opening to outside world for instance.
Q. People who are now Tibet, all of them have committed negative karma?
A. Yes, yes, of course.
Q. But if you take an earthquake, so many innocent people are dying. Is it also black
A. Yes of course.
Q. So there is no injustice in the world ?
A. Oh, in different forms you have to face the suffering consequences of past mistakes in past lives or sometimes even in this life. But if our side bears well, with non-violence, Chinese aggression, it may disappear quickly. Non violence does not mean that
Chinese aggression should not be considered as an injustice. It is therefore absolutely right to restore justice.
Q. So the Chinese in turn are creating a black karma for them, which they’ll pay later ?
A. Yes, that’s right. That’s why there is more reason to feel compassion towards the aggressor !
Q. When will the black karma of Tibet become white karma ? How much time do you have to suffer before you find back happiness and harmony ?
A. Now as I told you earlier, just washing negative karma does not mean creating virtuous karma. By suffering we erase negative consequences of negative karma, but that does not mean you create positive karma. For that we need a different effort. But the Tibetans are creating now a very powerful positive white karma now. They are patriotic not on the basis of winner and loser. We don’t enjoy our enemies suffering, we believe in compassion, in human values. And it is that compassion, that belief in human values, which the Chinese need and eventually we can help them. And with these motivations which are true patriotism, this is the way to promote virtuous karma. (The Dalai lama laughs). Yours was a real philosophical question !
Q. Speaking about virtuous karma, is it white karma that because you have fled Tibet, the West has begun to discover through you Buddhism and people are discovering something different than materialism.