His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a lightning rod for misconception
Ryan rebuts this article regarding the Dalai Lama’s
connection to the CIA and his expensive watch.
Ryan writes: My original motivation for collecting much of this information years ago was a) my interest in the CIA’s original proprietary airline Civil Air Transport in the early 50’s, b) My interest as practicing Buddhist in Tibet, c) My membership in the International Association of Buddhist Studies. I also get fed up with reading mindless, self-contradictory criticisms of him by otherwise well-informed sources like Webster Tarpley, Der Spiegel (Germany) and many others.
Regularly articles and even books are published whose only purpose is to paint His Holiness the Dalai Lama in a negative light. While it is impossible to address all these accusations, I present a few facts and observations which readers should consider before making up their minds.
Most people don’t actually know much about the Dalai Lama. In spite of this, everyone has preconceived ideas about him. The media, with its tendency to oversimplify, and to personify everything Tibetan, Buddhist, or spiritual into the person of the Dalai Lama sets him up as a lightning rod for our misconceptions.
The media also consistently fails to mention that there are other lineage heads of Tibetan Buddhism who are also addressed to as “His Holiness” and haven’t bothered to mention that the Dalai Lama relinquished his position as the head of the Tibetan Government in Exile in 2011.
When we project our media-inspired, overly idealistic expectations onto the Dalai Lama, we lash out when we finally realize that our expectations don’t correspond to reality, instead of questioning our original expectations.
Some, even Buddhists criticize the Tibetan form of Buddhism as being of questionable origin, however the basis of Tibetan Buddhism is the same rules of conduct (Vinaya), and doctrine (Sutras) as in Thervada (Southern) Buddhism, as well as the altruistic ideal of Mahayana (Northern) Buddhism.
THE SWASTIKA & CIA DISTRACTIONS
The colorful trappings, the occasional gruesome depictions of demons and deities replete with, yes, the occasional age-old swastikas, all of which originate from medieval India, are often used to defame a religious tradition which few know anything about. The tradition was not invented in Tibet but rather was brought from India after the 8th century by the enlightened Indian masters Padmasambhava, Atisha and by the Tibetan disciples of Naropa, Virupa and other accomplished masters where it has been preserved, almost unchanged for about a millennium.
Starting in the late 19th century romantically-inspired Europeans, Theosophists and even some Nazis set out on the search for the legendary paradise Shambhala. Not finding it anywhere they imputed it must be in mysterious, forbidden Tibet, which in spite its forbidding climate and a society reminiscent of the European middle ages was anything but paradise. That somehow a young boy, Tenzing Gyatso born in 1935, who was later inaugurated as the 14th Dalai Lama, could be held responsible for the conditions into which he was born or for our biased perceptions of an age-old symbol, the swastika, which was hijacked by the Nazis defies all logic. Additionally, that Tenzing Gyatso was recognized at the age of two as the 14th Dalai Lama, cannot be reconciled with accusations that he is power hungry.
As a young boy the Dalai Lama had virtually no contact with foreigners or knowledge of the world outside of Tibet. From his friendship with Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian Mountaineer, the Dalai Lama gained a rudimentary knowledge of foreign affairs. Due to Harrerís short membership in the NS and SS just before his departure to the Himalayas some like to paint Harrer as a fanatical Nazi, forgetting that his memberships predated the war and that during the entirety of WWII he spent in an Indian internment camp or in Tibet, thus precluding his knowledge of, or participation in any Nazi atrocities.
The Dalai Lama was never involved with the CIA. However the CIA’s covert Operation St. Circus was conceived to manipulate events in Tibet. In an attempt to try to win China back from the Communists, representatives of every ethnic group opposed to Communist China were supported including Yunnan autonomy, South Korea, the Kuomintang in Burma and Taiwan, the Muslim warlords Ma Bufang, and Ma Hongkui in western China, anti-communists in Indonesia, and South Vietnam. This being the case it is not surprising that support also flowed from the Americans to the Tibetan Government in Exile. But what did the Americans get back for their support? Basically, almost nothing.
Early on the CIA realized that the Dalai Lama, shunning violence in all forms, did not lend himself to their manipulation. Consequently, they turned to the Dalai Lamaís younger brother Gyalo Thondup who recruited a number of exile Tibetans who were trained on Saipan and in Colorado. Dubbed Operation St. Barnum the Tibetans were airdropped at night into Tibet. Most were killed, captured or betrayed to the Chinese by their own people.
Perhaps the only tangible result of Operation St. Barnum was that one Tibetan radio operator by chance joined the Dalai Lamaís escape party and was able to send messages to the Americans thus making President Eisenhower the best informed person as to the Dalai Lama’s whereabouts.
After the Dalai Lama’s escape from Tibet in 1959, the CIA acted as agent to monetarily support the Tibetan Government in Exile with $180,000 per year until 1967. Some like to paint this money as payment directly into the pocket of the Dalai Lama however it was transferred directly to ìthe Charitable Trust of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, which in turn was used for investments, donations, and relief work1.
RELIGIOUS LEADER: THE SHUGDEN CONTROVERSY
As the de facto leader of the Gelug Order of Tibetan Buddhism the Dalai Lama takes his role quite seriously. Some criticize his opposition to the Shugden movement as religious oppression. However, isn’t it the duty of a religious leader to lead and guide members of his order according to his best conviction?
At the core of the Shugden controversy are many intertwined issues which originate in the 17th century. The first issue revolves around the question as to whether Shugden is just a vengeful mundane deity or a Buddhist deity protecting the purity of the Gelug tradition. Another issue is that those who hold Shugden as a protector harbor intolerant, restrictive, traditionalist views which are at odds with a moderate, progressive Dalai Lama, with the practice of non-Gelug practices within their order and finally they have a long history of religious suppression of other Buddhist orders. Considering that the Tibetan people are now displaced from or oppressed within their own country, a doctrine which pits Tibetans against Tibetans can only lead to additional tragedy. See: Dreyfus 2 below
HAMBURGER AND GOLD WATCH
The Buddha, Jesus Chris and Mohammed all ate meat. According to the Buddhist Vinaya, a set of rules for Buddhist monastics, if a monk is offered meat it is not an infraction of the rules to eat it. Somehow however we have been brainwashed by the Illuminati-inspired New Age Movement to believe that vegetarianism is prerequisite to a spiritual life.
According to the Buddhist eight precepts monks should abstain from wearing jewelry. Watches, however due to their utility are exempt from this rule, and for someone with as many appointments to keep as the Dalai Lama a dependable watch is essential. As far as the number and high quality of the watches which he has been given and uses, just imagine how many watches he would be given if he started to wear a cheap plastic Swatch. See 3:
When on lecture tours the Dalai Lama is regularly offered donations from the proceeds. He suggests a list of worthy organization and leaves it to the donors as to which groups they care to support. Additionally, on his lecture tours he regularly makes statements that westerners should not change their religion in favor of Buddhism.
In conclusion His Holiness the Dalai Lama is there for all. For all those who feel they need an object for their aggression and frustration he becomes a lightning rod. Conversely he is also there for those who prefer to use him as a focal point for their inspiration, devotion and veneration.
It ís your choice.
1 The CIA’s secret war in Tibet by Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison, University Press of Kansas, 2002
2 The Shuk-Den Affair: Origins of a Controversy, Dreyfus, G., Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 1998, 21,2 p. 227-270