The Nine Stages of Mental Development

Shamatha, which means calm, is the practice of meditation to develop the ability to focus the mind in single-pointed concentration. This is practiced as a pre-requisite for mindfulness or insight meditations. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition this practices is described as a nine stage progression beautifully depicted in this thangka showing a monk chasing and finally capturing an elephant. 9-stages-samatha-meditation The elephant is being led by a monkey. The monkey represents distractions. How well we know this scenario! This is ordinary mind or conventional mind mired in the Babylon Matrix (Jonathan Zap). But through study of the writings of Wisdom Teachers and mediation practice, the monk is able to capture and subdue the elephant. Gradually both the monkey and the elephant turn white representing the meditator’s ability to maintain the power of concentration.

Stages three and four represents the meditator’s ability to fix and hold his or her concentration steady. The meditator has lassoed the elephant and gradually the monkey, elephant and even a rabbit turn and look at the meditator to indicate that distractions acknowledge who is in charge.

In stages five and six the meditator begins to lead the elephant and the monkey of distraction follows the mind rather than leading it. The mind is controlled; the meditator uses a goad to discipline the elephant. The rabbit disappears and the mind is finally pacified.

In the seventh stage the monkey leaves the elephant and stands behind the meditator and pays homage.  In stage eight the meditator is in complete control. Single-pointed concentration is achieved.

The ninth is the stage of mental absorption. Perfect equanimity is found and the path has ended. The elephant rests beside the meditator who sits at ease. Now out of the meditator’s heart streams a rainbow like ray.

Stages ten and eleven represent crossing over into mental bliss. The meditator rides the elephant along the rainbow path into the perfection of the transcendent realm and returns bearing the sword of Wisdom. Samsara’s root is severed by the union of shamatha and vipashyana or insight meditation with emptiness as the object of contemplation. Aware of pure awareness, the meditator is now equipped with Compassion and Wisdom to guide others on the path to enlightenment. Ox Herding In the Chinese Chan (Zen) tradition this concept is illustrated through the Ten Ox Herding images by Master Kakuan in 12th Century China. There is a similar progression to the pictures to depict levels of realization.

The meditator (1) searches for the ox, (2) sees the tracks and follows them until (3) the ox is discovered in its hiding place. Once the ox is captured (4), the meditator is able to lead (5) and (6) then ride it back home. (7) Once home, the meditator achieves perfect concentration in non-duality (8). The next step, according to the Chan tradition is to realize the underlying, unshakeable unity of the cosmos (9); there is no separation between created (samsara) and uncreated reality (nirvana). Once realized, (10) the meditator returns to the marketplace. His Compassion compels him to help others on the path to enlightenment by offering his Wisdom.

The difference between the Tibetan and Chan illustrations reflects the cultural orientations of each rather than significant differences in the path or outcome. The Tibetan thangka, a sacred painting on cloth, is colorful and highly mythological while the Chan has an earthy pastoral flavor. Of course, there are no elephants in Tibet – nor in China – but Tibetan Buddhism was highly influenced by Indian culture. The Ox Herding pictures on the other hand demonstrate the Chinese orientation to nature beautifully and simply represented in ink drawings.

Both of these are examples of sacred or visionary art created for the purpose of teaching or clarifying the path of spiritual development. (See previous post: The Mission of Art.) Sacred art is purposeful and often uses high levels of logic as it in these illustrations. At the same time it is visionary and uses archetypal images from the realm of myth. Sacred art at its best is a union of logos and mythos.


A Philosophy of Education

Some say that my teaching is nonsense.
Others call it lofty but impractical.
But to those who have looked inside themselves,
this nonsense makes perfect sense.
And to those who put it into practice,
this loftiness has roots that go deep.

I have just three things to teach;
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thought,
you return to the source of your being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.

Tao Te Ching, trans. Stephen Mitchell

This summarizes the ancient Chinese Taoist Master Lao Tzu’s philosophy of education. It was based on his contemplative approach to life. Parker Palmer makes a similar point in The Courage to Teach,

“As I teach, I project the condition of my soul onto my students, my subject, and our way of being together.”

Along with communicating course content, communicating the teacher’s soul through a unique connection with each student is vitally important. Simplicity, patience and compassion, as Lao Tzu states, must be the true contents of the courses we teach. How else can schools genuinely produce the “well-rounded student” most Student Learning Results asks for?

At most private schools the “well-rounded-student” is steeped in academics and gets a liberal balance of athletics, the arts, and social service activities. Throughout the learning experience the hope is that students will also develop positive character traits, leadership skills and a degree of religious, gender, political and racial tolerance. As worthy as these goals may be, I believe it produces one-dimensional individuals who, though they will surely succeed in our competitive world, lack the ability and motivation to “see inside themselves”.

We are great at helping students form the container that will define them as unique individuals and we help them learn how to maintain the container (Richard Rohr, Falling Upward) but we don’t do a good job of showing them the true purpose of this container. We need to put a more deliberate emphasis on people as “homo-duplex” or “two-tiered beings” (Emil Durkheim). What we are neglecting is deliberate discussion and education regarding authentic self-hood that transcends (yet includes) individual identity and we neglect emphasizing to students that the true purpose of their container is to fill it with compassion rather than the “stuff” of this world.

Acknowledging that we are two-tiered means we recognizes that we are “spiritual beings having a human experience” (Teilhard de Chardin).

“If we want to grow as teachers — we must do something alien to academic culture: we must talk to each other about our inner lives — risky stuff in a profession that fears the personal and seeks safety in the technical, the distant, the abstract.”
Parker J. Palmer, The Courage to Teach

If teachers are socialized to ignore what it means to be fully and authentically human how can we be equipped to guide students into the upper tier of human life? Jesus’ rebuke in Matt. 23:13 aptly applies to us.

“Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”

The kingdom of heaven is within and among us. It is entered through a contemplative practice of one’s own and becomes the root source of compassionate activity in the world. Obviously teachers need to enter the kingdom of heaven themselves so they can open the gates to others.

“Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks–we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.” Parker Palmer

As I teach I try to maintain a vision of both levels of being human, the ordinary and the transcendent. I do so by living out of my own contemplative practice to maintain a compassionate perspective. Living into the kingdom of heaven is the goal and joy of my life. I try to share with my colleagues and students the exuberant energy and joy this practice gives me . My collaborations and communications with my peers and with students becomes a matter of projecting the “condition of my soul onto my students, my subject, and our way of being together.”

Those focused on success in a worldly sense might say that “my teaching is nonsense” and “impractical” but those who can “look inside themselves” will see that “this nonsense makes perfect sense”.

Epoch Times – The Distorted Image of Tibet (Part I)

Interview with a Han Chinese woman who discovered that the Tibetan people are different than the image propagated by the Communist Party.

Go directly to Part I
See also Parts II, III, and IV

read more | digg story

Tibet report – Chinese Government à la G.Orwells 1984

vLog with Tibetan Connection Radio reporter Lhakpa Kyizom about staged news events, violence, continued repression and a new Chinese Policy implemented to gain control of selecting the next Dalai Lama.

Chinese Policy: “Order Nr.5 is all the reincarnations of the high lamas are selected by the Tibetans (…) but now the Chinese they want to control that reincarnation through their Order Nr.5 and want to put their control over the reincarnation of the lamas. If his Holiness passes away they have the control of the next Dalai Lama.”

Go to the Digg story below to see the video.

read more | digg story

Forty five years

Forty five years ago I came in direct contact with Tibetan culture for the first time. Prior to that I had seen Tibetan caravans traveling through Tansen, Palpa, Nepal. I was well aware of the situation on the other side of the Himalayan mountains and I had even been in the audience when the Dalai Lama visited my school in Mussoorie, U.P. India soon after his escape from Tibet in 1959.

It was December, 1964. I was sixteen then. We had holidays in the winter because the school was in the mountains and I had been invited on a bird collecting expedition up the Kali Gandaki River. We hiked from Pokhara up over the Ghorepani pass to the Kali Gandaki and then up the river from Tatopani to Lete, Ghasa, and the amazing bend in the river at the foot of Dhaulagiri. (I’m sure I can claim to be one of the very first expatriates on what has come to be known as the “Annapurna Curcuit” and very definitely the first teenager.)

Trekking in Nepal, age 18

Trekking in Nepal, age 18

At this point I stood in the deepest gorge above sea level; the river runs at 6,000 feet above sea level while both Dhaulagiri to the west and Annapurna further to the east are above 26,000 feet. Another amazing thing about this bend in the river is the abrupt climate and ecological change from subtropic and temperate to desert alpine; from the lush southern slopes of the Himalayas that get drenched with monsoon rains to the arid trans-Himalayan plateau of Tibet. Culturally, of course, there is also a remarkable abrupt change – from Indian Subcontinental to Central Asian.

Now I’m sixty one. It’s been forty five years since I was on that expedition. Further up the Kali Gandaki River, just beyond Jomsom on our way up to Muktinath, the three of us – two Americans and a Briton – found ourselves surrounded by armed men on horseback. They demanded to know where we were going and what we were doing with guns. I wasn’t carrying one, but the other two had shotguns for bagging larger birds we would be sending off for the Chicago Natural History Museum’s collection of Himalayan birds. One of the men on horseback rode over and grabbed a shotgun and examined it. It was passed around and examined carefully. My collegue opened up one of the shotgun shells and showed the horseman the tiny birdshot inside. We were suddenly surrounded by horsemen howling with laughter when it was clear to them we were hunting and collecting birds. We showed them a few specimens.

In broken English and Nepali we managed to communicate with these rough riders. We discovered – and had already guessed – that they were Khampa warriors who were engaging and harassing the People’s Liberation Army across the border inside Chinese occupied Tibet. When they learned that two of us were Americans they did the thumbs up sign and said, “America, good!” They pointed to the sky and indicated supplies were dropped by American planes.

The conflict between Tibetans and Chinese Communism has been going on for over fifty years. The armed struggle by this tiny group of warriors stopped ten years later (by 1974). That is an interesting story all its own. Since then the Dalai Lama has tried to reach an understanding with the leaders of China about the occupation of Tibet. But this is a story that many people are well aware of especially since the world wide protests against Chinese suppression of Tibetan human rights during the Olympic Torch Relays earlier this year.

I have visited Western Sichuan, or Kham – where the Khampa warriors come from – but I have not been to Lhasa or any part of the TAR. Someday I would like to go there, someday when both Tibetans and Chinese recognize their interdependence and can live with mutual respect and affection for each other.

Lhasa Leaders Sacked

An article in the Guardian today reported that two of the top people in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) have been sacked – Wang Binyi, police chief and Qin Yizhi, deputy governor of the region. Qin made the world media last summer when the Olympic torch relay went through Lhasa for saying the Communist party would “smash the scheming of the Dalai clique”.

We can only wonder why these two were sacked. Hopefully, it is a sign that the Communist Party finally realizes they can’t tolerate bullies if they want to become full participants with the rest of the world. We can only wait and see how their successors behave.

Wedding Pictures in an Earthquake

Another friend of mine, John Chaffee, who is a professor of Chinese Studies sent the following series of pictures that were sent to him by a Taiwanese friend. The friend was taking pictures of a young couple at the White Deer Chapel in Pengzhau, Sichuan when the earthquake struck. The photographer was able to keep his wits and capture these very dramatic images.

The Great Earthquake of Sichuan, May 12 2008

It happened when we were taking wedding pictures.

We were taking pictures for a new couple in White Deer Chapel in Pengzhou, Sichuan. Suddenly there was an enormous quake, and the hundred-year old church was wiped out in a split moment.

It is May 12. We were there to take wedding pictures. The session began at two and after only a few pictures were taken, the catastrophe struck. When we saw big chunks of stone falling off the church and the earth was shaking, we realized there was an earthquake. Knowing that there was no place to hide, we lay on our stomach and used hands to protect heads. It is the end of the world, I thought. Not courage, but the seeming loss of hope that, while crawling on the ground, I managed to raise my camera to take these pictures.

It was chokingly dark. all I could hear was the sound of falling buildings.

As the shaking came to an end and the dust began to settle, we all stood up to see what had happened, despondently horrified.

In a split second, the church that only recently celebrated its 100th anniversary became a pile of rubble.

We helped each other to stand up; looking around we could not believe what we saw.

2:41 in the afternoon of May 12. The camera recorded the time. Inset is the church before it fell.

We thought the quake was only limited to this area and tried to call for help.

There was no way that we could secure help and then there were continued aftershocks.

We started to retreat from the rubble. On the way all we saw were despondent scenes; the neighboring villages were severely damaged.

We and the villagers immediately started self-rescuing actions. Fortunately all 33 people taking pictures in the chapel were not hurt.

The fire that evening was the only consolation for the terrified visitors. We thank the hospitality of the kind villagers. Since the roads were all damaged we had to leave the car behind and walked home.

The Power of Nature

Gao Li Qiang sent another eye witness account – but not his own. This time it was a friend of his who went into the mountains after the earthquake to see what had happened there. Gao writes the commentary for the following pictures:

The following below pictures were not taken by me – they show another face that we do not see on TV.


This woman pointed to where she just finished her work in the field. On her way home, she saw something she would never forget. It took only one second and the whole village was buried.

She said there is always a chance for people to escape if there was one landslide but this was too sudden, no time for people to do anything to save their lives.

A local villager said this small stream was deep. Now the pile of earth is quite level and the plants don’t look demolished, everything looks that normal. But this pile of earth was not here before. The local villager said that the mountain was like “bombing out” and this earth was thrown here. There was blare coming from inside the earth and then the mountain spurted out red magma several decameters high!

With the eruption a large crack opened and the village fell directly into it.

A young witness said there were several houses still there and people came from the houses running directly to the river. Unfortunately all of them fell into the crevasse. Very soon another toneless blare came out of the earth and the crevice closed.

The trail on this small hill is new.  The valley was over 100 meters deep.  Now the valley has been filled up with soil. A village has been buried under it.

This was a large flat field of wheat. Now it is covered by one pile of earth that was blasted off the side of that mountain several kilometers away.

Villagers who have been living here since birth cannot find where their houses were located because the land has changed so tremendously.







Sichuan Earthquake 2008

My friend Gao Li Qiang runs Tibetan Trekking Company out of Chengdu, Sichuan in China. I have been traveling with him in Western Sichuan (Eastern Tibet or Kham) for five years. We take high school students and expose them to the culture, landscape and people of this fabulous part of the world.

This year he’s had two blows to his business. First of all, the protests in many parts of Tibet and around the world for more autonomy for Tibetans in China shut down his tour business at least until after the Olympics in Beijing. The second blow came on May 12 with the massive earthquake in the foothills between Chengdu and the Tibetan plateau.

We were in contact with each other very soon after the earthquake and he let me know that he and his staff all survived. Later he wrote to say he was over his initial shock and had begun to look for ways he and his staff could be of help to the thousands of victims pouring out of the mountains onto the plains around Chengdu.

Here is his account along with some pictures he took.

Gao Li Qiang – Writing from Sichaun, June 4, 2008

As usual I was working in my office – R1614, a small room located on the 16th floor of Everest Hotel in Chengdu. 2 guides and one operator were across the aisle. There was nothing special about that afternoon, regular work of training, and sales…etc. Suddenly, the desk where I put my laptop began shaking. After several seconds my laptop started to jump up and down; it was like there were magic hands moving it. There was nothing in my head, but I realized danger was coming. I was standing up and yelling the names of my colleagues one by one. We must get out of the building as soon as we can – this is the only idea I had. When all of us gathered together close to the exit to the stairs, we found that we could not move anymore because the building, which we were in, was shaking so strongly that we could not even stand. It was like to take corsair when building was waving back and forth. We could even see gray sky through the windows

At this moment, I noticed we were not the only ones who were stranded on the 16th floor. There were about 15 people including us gathering at the door to the stairs. Because of the strong swaying from this building none of us dared to move. We even thought if there were too many people running together that might enhance the swaying the building to make the building collapse. One girl or maybe two were crying. One person said loudly “stop, stop, stop! No moving!” All of us were hand in hand trying to keep ourselves from falling down and I was telling my colleagues: “We’ll be fine, we’ll be fine”, even though I really did not know if we would survive or not. I had no idea how long it might last. One person suddenly yelled, “Run”! Then everyone started to run down to the ground from 16th floor.

On the first few floors on our way down, the stairs were clear. Nothing was on them. But then we found socks, broken heals, shoes and even shirts all over the stairway. Fortunately, all of us were running one by one down from 16th to the ground; there was no jostling and no one fell down. Only one young boy tried to overtake a female colleagues of mine but I stopped him and he did not push anymore. I clearly remember one sound when we were running down. I can’t forget it. It is the sound of “DE DE DE…” coming from a pair of high heel shoes worn by one of my female colleagues. She ran all the way down to the ground without hurting her feet or ankles and her high heel shoes were completely ok! The cadence of the sound from her high heel shoes when she was running was like a magic power directing us to the ground safely.

The big street in front of Everest hotel had already been filled up scared people. Almost everyone looked up toward to high buildings on both sides of this main street in Chengdu. I knew at least we were safe for the moment. And now we realized that we were the last group of people running out of this building.

Mobile phones did not work and we could not find any ground lines near us. We realized we had lost contact with our family, friends. After making sure that everyone of us was ok, I told my colleagues to go home to make sure their families were ok. I encouraged myself to go back to my office since there were important documents I should to take with me. I ran up the stairs we just came down. It was exhausting but did not dare to slow down. I stop for a few seconds on 10th floor because I wanted to save some energy in case the earthquake came back and I still wanted some energy to be able to run down again. I reached my office and picked up those files, then came back to ground safely. I felt better! Then I ran to the garage to get my car and I drove like crazy through the streets to reach my family as soon as I could.

The streets were full of people and vehicles. Traffic was so bad at that time and the radio did not give us any information of what was going on. There were still songs and useless news playing. After 30 or 40 minutes one radio station started telling us that an earthquake had just happened but it gave no information about where the epicenter was and nothing about how serious it was.

I drove through red lights, crossed the forbidden dual yellow lines…. Anyway I reached my family and took them to the outskirt of Chengdu, where there are no high building. The night of May 12th we stayed in our car listening to the radio. The news finally said it was a 7.8-degree earthquake in Sichuan and there were nearly 400 people who had lost their lives in Chengdu with a very few parts of this city damaged lightly. Two days later the buildings of the school where my mother had worked for over 35 years collapsed during one of the aftershocks. Fortunately no one was hurt because all of the students have been evacuated before it happened.

I thought we would be able to go back to work after few days but it turns out this was just the beginning; the worst was yet to come.

On the night of May 12th a lot of taxies went to Dujiang, the irrigation town next to the mountains, to help transport injured people to hospitals in Chengdu. More and more injured people were brought to Chengdu and the situation was getting worse. The epicenter was confirmed at Wenchuan but quite soon another very bad damaged place was discovered – Beichuan. And after a couple more hours Yingxiu, Qinchuan, Mianzu, Jiangyou, Hanwang… were also found to be very badly damaged also. Everything happened so suddenly.

Millions of people needed to be helped and hundreds of thousands people were buried under collapsed buildings; they needed food, water, medical supplies, tents, mattresses, blankets – they need everything for living.

I contacted some friends of mine and few guides who were available to assist me in doing something. We found that the number of people who need help is huge. The area damaged by the earthquake is enormous. I felt we were such a small group that we could only do a few things. The people we can help would be so few but we still felt we should so something.

Here is some of what we saw:

This is the road leading to Mianzu township. This is outskirt of the small town. There were many army trucks parking on both sides of the roads.

This is the first collapsed building I saw in Mianzu. 80% or even more buildings of Mianzu township will have to be tore down. The earthquake did not make them into rubble but the structure of those building is too unsafe.

This is the front of the first collapsed apartment block. We do not know how many casualties.

Two students walking by the rubble of houses. This is just few kilometers from Mianzu township.

We arrived in Guangji Township and saw one Business – room of China Mobile. This is a 7 story building; the ground floor is filled with the rest of the building.

This is the place where the local government is located. The roof of the building is gone and the building is dangerous. Local official all work in the blue tent. This is also the place we unloaded the goods we brought from Chengdu.

I went to talk to this refugee but he reacted very slowly.

A group soldier of the PLA are waiting as a big forklift takes trash away so they can try to find people who may be still buried in the rubble.

The “X” shape gap means the building is no longer useful. The giant hole at the center of this “X” type seems that it wanted to tell us something.

At one village, we found there is one house with its front door looking okay but when we turn around the rest of the house was totally gone.

There is nothing left but rubble. The villagers told me that they spent all their money to build a new house a few months ago; they just bought a new TV and a washing machine. Now there is nothing left.

This is the dinning table; they cook their food by the garlic field.

This is their “new house”. It is quite hot at noon. I went in to see what it was like but the hot air just kick me out. The temperature should be over 40 degrees C (104 F).

This is their harvested garlic beside the fallen house.

I can imagine that this was once a beautiful location. The home is surrounded by green trees with plenty of fresh air, but now there are only two doors left.

The villagers we met told me it may take 4 years or longer for them to recover.

This two story building looks ok but cannot be used anymore. The horrible fracture from its bottom right to the top makes it very unstable.

The refugees’ temporary place to sleep.

Earthquake has destroyed the water supply system. The local villagers have to get water delivered by the PLA.

This is one fall down door, we still can see its shape

It is like typical Chinese sign of two red lanterns hanging on the two side of the front door, this family might be rich before this strike from earthquake.

This wardrobe is still there – but who knows where the owner is?

Just one door still standing up, the blue & green tents of the background are the place where the villagers sleep now.

Even after such a terrible disaster the washing still gets done! I admire this lady very much.

An injured old man rests. He is surrounded by all that he has left now.

Here’s another one of the tough ladies I respect very much. This small workshop provided basic mechanical services to local villagers. The earthquake destroyed most of the shop; only some really old machine remain. In her eyes I did not see any sadness or anger – just awesome peace. She was working really hard and trying to save some parts of this machine.

The remains of a building.

This is a typical village home in the China countryside. The family slept on the second floor and first floor was for business. This family was rich and happy, but it’s all gone, taken away by the earthquake.

The market of Zundao, all down.

One street of Zundao County. Houses by the street had collapsed.

A lady was sitting there with her daughter who has a psychological problem. The old lady is quite worried about her daughter and was trying to find any help she could. She talked to us about her daughter but there was nothing I could do to help. The only thing I can do was to hear what she had to say. I truly wish she and her daughter will be able to make it through.

The remains of an old local alcohol factory.

A farmer was trying to find some stuff in his house.

Beyond the rubble are the mountains: the footprint of the earthquake are clearly visible on their steep slopes! Landslides have blocked the rivers and created lakes that could overflow and wash the dams away. This would create flash floods downstream.

Local villagers clean up the small streets in the village and try to get their life back in order. These two men are helped each other try to make their lives easier and better.

Though these people may gossip and they might even making loud noises when they chew their food, they are human beings like you and me. Look at them working hard to make the best of their terrible situation!

Beer is one of my favorite drinks, I never realized an empty bottle of beer could be used in this way. After May 12th it has become my “Alarm”. I erect them like this in the corner of my sleeping room. I’ll do this for a long time from now on. After I went to the areas destroyed by the earthquake, I understand we are not fast enough to run ahead of an earthquake. When we feel the earthquake it is already to late. Only luck & the Blessings of Buddha can save us!

I must say what we have suffered is nothing to compare with those who live in the places like Beichuan, Mianyang…etc, that were completely destroyed by the earthquake. We are so lucky; we have our family, I can use the Internet, I can drink beer, I can play Frisbee with my wife in the yard in front of Ikea.

I hope Buddha bless us forever.

Voices of Reason from Inside China

Below is something from Joey Ayoub on Facebook. He’s included a document written by several well-know Chinese dissidents that I thought worth repeating. Please read the following document realizing that there are people inside China who don’t automatically believe the government’s propaganda. This document accentuates how effective the Chinese media is in controlling what most Chinese people believe and what it is telling the world.


March 22, 2008

Twelve Suggestions for Dealing with the Tibetan Situation by Some Chinese Intellectuals

1. At present the one-sided propaganda of the official Chinese media is having the effect of stirring up inter-ethnic animosity and aggravating an already tense situation. This is extremely detrimental to the long-term goal of safeguarding national unity. We call for such propaganda to be stopped.

2. We support the Dalai Lama’s appeal for peace, and hope that the ethnic conflict can be dealt with according to the principles of goodwill, peace, and non-violence. We condemn any violent act against innocent people, strongly urge the Chinese government to stop the violent suppression, and appeal to the Tibetan people likewise not to engage in violent activities.

3. The Chinese government claims that “there is sufficient evidence to prove this incident was organized, premeditated, and meticulously orchestrated by the Dalai clique.” We hope that the government will show proof of this. In order to change the international community’s negative view and distrustful attitude, we also suggest that the government invite the United Nation¹s Commission on Human Rights to carry out an independent investigation of the evidence, the course of the incident, the number of casualties, etc.

4. In our opinion, such Cultural-Revolution-like language as “he Dalai Lama is a jackal in Buddhist monk¹s robes and an evil spirit with a human face and the heart of a beast” used by the Chinese Communist Party leadership in the Tibet Autonomous Region is of no help in easing the situation, nor is it beneficial to the Chinese government¹s image. As the Chinese government is committed to integrating into the international community, we maintain that it should display a style of governing that conforms to the standards of modern civilization.

5. We note that on the very day when the violence erupted in Lhasa (March 14), the leaders of the Tibet Autonomous Region declared that “there is sufficient evidence to prove this incident was organized, premeditated, and meticulously orchestrated by the Dalai clique.” This shows that the authorities in Tibet knew in advance that the riot would occur, yet did nothing effective to prevent the incident from happening or escalating. If there was a dereliction of duty, a serious investigation must be carried out to determine this and deal with it accordingly.

6. If in the end it cannot be proved that this was an organized, premeditated, and meticulously orchestrated event but was instead a “popular revolt” triggered by events, then the authorities should pursue those responsible for inciting the popular revolt and concocting false information to deceive the Central Government and the people; they should also seriously reflect on what can be learned from this event so as to avoid taking the same course in the future.

7. We strongly demand that the authorities not subject every Tibetan to political investigation or revenge. The trials of those who have been arrested must be carried out according to judicial procedures that are open, just, and transparent so as to ensure that all parties are satisfied.

8. We urge the Chinese government to allow credible national and international media to go into Tibetan areas to conduct independent interviews and news reports. In our view, the current news blockade cannot gain credit with the Chinese people or the international community, and is harmful to the credibility of the Chinese government. If the government grasps the true situation, it need not fear challenges. Only by adopting an open attitude can we turn around the international community’s distrust of our government.

9. We appeal to the Chinese people and overseas Chinese to be calm and tolerant, and to reflect deeply on what is happening. Adopting a posture of aggressive nationalism will only invite antipathy from the international community and harm China’s international image.

10. The disturbances in Tibet in the 1980s were limited to Lhasa, whereas this time they have spread to many Tibetan areas. This deterioration indicates that there are serious mistakes in the work that has been done with regard to Tibet. The relevant government departments must conscientiously reflect upon this matter, examine their failures, and fundamentally change the failed nationality policies.

11. In order to prevent similar incidents from happening in future, the government must abide by the freedom of religious belief and the freedom of speech explicitly enshrined in the Chinese Constitution, thereby allowing the Tibetan people fully to express their grievances and hopes, and permitting citizens of all nationalities freely to criticize and make suggestions regarding the government¹s nationality policies.

12. We hold that we must eliminate animosity and bring about national reconciliation, not continue to increase divisions between nationalities. A country that wishes to avoid the partition of its territory must first avoid divisions among its nationalities. Therefore, we appeal to the leaders of our country to hold direct dialogue with the Dalai Lama. We hope that the Chinese and Tibetan people will do away with the misunderstandings between them, develop their interactions with each other, and achieve unity. Government departments as much as popular organizations and religious figures should make great efforts toward this goal.


Wang Lixiong (Beijing, Writer) Liu Xiaobo (Beijing, Freelance Writer) Zhang Zuhua (Beijing, scholar of constitutionalism) Sha Yexin (Shanghai, writer, Chinese Muslim) Yu Haocheng (Beijing, jurist) Ding Zilin (Beijing, professor) Jiang peikun (Beijing, professor) Yu Jie (Beijing, writer) Sun Wenguang (Shangdong, professor) Ran Yunfei (Sichuan, editor, Tujia nationality) Pu Zhiqiang (Beijing, lawyer) Teng Biao (Beijing, Layer and scholar) Liao Yiwu ()Sichuan, writer) Wang Qisheng (Beijing, scholar) Zhang Xianling (Beijing, engineer) Xu Jue (Beijing, research fellow) Li Jun (Gansu, photographer) Gao Yu (Beijing, journalist) Wang Debang (Beijing, freelance writer) Zhao Dagong (Shenzhen, freelance writer) Jiang Danwen (Shanghai, writer) Liu Yi (Gansu, painter) Xu Hui (Beijing, writer) Wang Tiancheng (Beijing, scholar) Wen kejian (Hangzhou, freelance) Li Hai (Beijing, freelance writer) Tian Yongde (Inner Mongolia, folk human rights activists) Zan Aizong (Hangzhou, journalist) Liu Yiming (Hubei, freelance writer)


If China wants to join the international community, as it has declared by hosting the Olympics, the world – and the Chinese people – need to see some radical changes taking place immediately. Unfortunately this is unlikely; instead they are directing their people’s emotions toward ugly racist nationalism that mirrors Nazism during the 1930’s and 40’s.

Shrill voices of unreason calling for a boycott of all French products outside of many Carrefour grocery stores – which the government says “supports the Dalai Lama” – are an emotional response to what the government is printing in the national media. This is the result of the story of the man in Paris grabbing the torch from the Chinese woman in a wheelchair. The story has been used to jerk tears and inflame nationalist passion. Now that the government sees that this isn’t good for international relations, they are trying to tell the people to be “calm” and “rational” while patriotic zeal should “concentrate on development”. (The Guardian, Monday April 21 2008)

The government must be following the principle that the end justifies the means – the end being economic growth and the “development” of China as the world’s next superpower. The means, unfortunately, continues to trample the rights of the people.

This is a long, long way from the high ideals of communism!