Windhorse Warrior

The synopsis for a manuscript I have completed is below:

Windhorse Warrior

by Richard Friedericks

wangdu_horse1 film

One sweltering summer morning in Shanghai, China in 1947,  a young student named Chuang Wei Ming discovers his girlfriend taking part in a communist protest march against the Nationalists.  He watches horrified as she is murdered by a squad of Nationalist soldiers.  Her martyrdom nudges him to find out about her passion for communism.

Three years later Chuang volunteers to take communism to Tibet.  Coincidentally assigned to Lithang on the Eastern Tibetan Plateau, he finds the Tibetan relatives of his Shanghai girlfriend.  He persuades the family to turn over their ancestral land to the farmers working on their land.  Together they form a successful cooperative that captures the imagination of several surrounding communities.  The Chinese Communist Party is not appreciative of Chuang’s methods which honors the will of the local people and upholds their traditional culture and religion.  Management of the cooperative is, instead, given to Tenzin, a young Tibetan eager to do the will of the Party.

Chuang turns his attention to another community and meets a lama with a dream of reviving the ‘enlightened society’ of the legendary King Gesar.  Chuang jumps at the chance to use the lama’s clout with the people to further his own mission.  But Chuang’s ideals are challenged by the lama’s apprentice Dechen, the twin sister of his Shanghai girlfriend.  As their relationship develops, Dechen’s ideas, rooted in Tibetan Buddhism, enrich Chuang’s understanding of a truly enlightened society and help him to recognize the spiritual purpose of life.

Tenzin, who wants to marry Dechen, is jealous of Chuang and has him arrested for kidnapping Dechen.  Chuang’s rescue leads to injuries that nearly kill him.  During his convalescence he enters the world of King Gesar through a shamanic trance.  When he recovers, Chuang is able to recite the story of Gesar which marks him as a fully integrated member of Tibetan culture.  Chuang, Dechen and the lama now implement a plan to promote an enlightened society through spiritual renewal, social reforms and non-violent resistance to the Party’s dictatorial control of the people.

Deng, the local Commander of the People’s Liberation Army and Communist Party representative, issues an ultimatum: the people must voluntarily choose the ‘Red Road’ of Communism or the ‘Black Road’ will result.  Chuang suggests another road; the Golden Way of an enlightened society.  In keeping with the legend of King Gesar, a horse race is proposed to which Commander Deng agrees.  The winner will choose which road the people will follow and marry Dechen.  Deng believes he can rig the race in Tenzin’s favor and impose the Red Road.  But Chuang enters the race in disguise and wins.  His mission and dreams fulfilled, Chuang takes Dechen’s hand and together they invite the people to unite and walk the Golden Way to an enlightened society that honors spiritual as well as material abundance.

Tenzin, recovering from defeat and pressured to please Commander Deng, takes aim at Chuang with a pistol.  Dechen is shot instead and dies in Chuang’s arms just as her sister died in Shanghai.

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I am currently seeking a publisher.  The manuscript is 120,000 words with maps, character list and translations of Tibetan words.

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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.

The Folly of Force

Its not working. Never has, never will.

No amount of preaching and moralizing will force things to happen. Nor will the use of force when your preaching and “you shouldings” or even “let’s all” (Confucianism/communism) fails.

People, especially the rugged, open-air Tibetan nomads, don’t respond to the group-mind of the hypnotized.

Societies like the Chinese have functioned for centuries because of the power of its ability to socialize its members. By successfully promoting the idea that each individual is a separate creature with outwardly focused needs and functions, it makes the individual incapable of seeing that life is more than struggling for material needs and social rules. In this kind of society people do as they are told and force is sanctioned if people don’t. (Read Franz Kafta’s The Great Wall of China and for good measure, how about Alan Watts’ The Book – On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are)

This kind of mental outlook is incapable of understanding the worldview of people who are still connected to the spiritual side of life; who are better balanced between their left-brain and right-brain; who see through the hallucination of separation (the divide and conquer mentality); who cultivate compassion as the highest value.

No wonder, then, that Chinese leadership – and the propagandized public – is having such a hard time comprehending what the Dalai Lama and hundreds of thousands of monks, nuns and ordinary people in Tibet really want. Fifty years of preaching and force have not changed the nature of the people who live surrounded by a landscape that inspires the soul to be in awe of the grandeur of life.

Mt. Yarla - the \"Kailash\" of Kham, eastern Tibet

For more background of the Chinese view of Tibet read Asia Times Online: Tibet a defining issue for China
by Francesco Sisci in Beijing.

“Old Tibet no Shangri-La”

An article appeared in The Atlanta Journal Constitution written by a Taiwanese student, Chi-Wen Yao, at University of Georgia. It is called “Old Tibet no Shangri-La” and points out, rightly, that old Tibet was a theocratic feudal system that abused human rights. The monasteries were the owners of huge tracts of land and owned the peasants more or less as slaves.

He’s right. There were terrible abuses and no one wants to return to a system like that. But he is misguided if he believes that returning to rule under the Dalai Lama means a return to that old system. As a young man the Dalai Lama already saw how terrible the system had become. He wanted to reform it, and, given the chance, I’m sure he would have moved Tibet toward democracy. He even considered some communist ideals as an option for a positive impact on Tibetan society and hoped that Mao would help him make those reforms. But that’s when he was a teenager! When the People’s Liberation Army came to Kham and Amdo to liberate the people from that oppressive system, they came with a complete disregard for ALL cultural and religious values, brushing aside the good with the bad. The only saw one way, the Han Chinese communist way.

Chi-Wen is right about supporting a new, democratic Tibet but he’s wrong in his assumptions that a return to lamaism will return Tibet to the dark ages. What the Dalai Lama has proven to the world, through his years of activism for his people and his repeated call for non-violence and discussion between Tibetans and Chinese, is that an autonomous Tibet will be different. The Tibetan community in exile have also seen the world and are used to free, democratic societies. If they are allowed to return to their homes in Tibet they would not want to live in the dark ages again for sure! In fact, the Tibetans living under Chinese rule now are much more aware of democratic freedoms and would not want to return to the dark ages either! Where does Chi-Wen get this notion anyway?

The Dalai Lama’s initial view on communism.

In an interview with the Dalai Lama in TIME Asia – SEPTEMBER 27, 1999 VOL. 154 NO. 12 about his escape from Tibet in 1959, he indicates that his initial impression of Marxism, once he was able to study it, was rather positive. But the reality of “liberation” by the PLA was quite a different story.

He said:”The 13th Dalai Lama had left a testament that I read. Also, some of the monks who were helping my studies had been in monasteries with Mongolians. They had talked about the destruction that had taken place since the communists came to Mongolia. We did not know anything about Marxist ideology. But we all feared destruction and thought of communists with terror. It was only when I went to China in 1954-55 that I actually studied Marxist ideology and learned the history of the Chinese revolution. Once I understood Marxism, my attitude changed completely. I was so attracted to Marxism, I even expressed my wish to become a Communist Party member.

“Tibet at that time was very, very backward. The ruling class did not seem to care, and there was much inequality. Marxism talked about an equal and just distribution of wealth. I was very much in favor of this. Then there was the concept of self creation. Marxism talked about self-reliance, without depending on a creator or a God. That was very attractive. I had tried to do some things for my people, but I did not have enough time. I still think that if a genuine communist movement had come to Tibet, there would have been much benefit to the people. Instead, the Chinese communists brought Tibet a so-called “liberation.” These people were not implementing true Marxist policy. If they had been, national boundaries would not be important to them. They would have worried about helping humanity. Instead, the Chinese communists carried out aggression and suppression in Tibet. Whenever there was opposition, it was simply crushed.

“That is why I still have hope. The Chinese people, too, have a rich culture and a long history. For thousands of years the Tibetans and the Chinese have lived side by side. Sometimes there were very happy moments. Sometimes there were very difficult moments. But one day, they will see that my middle approach will bring us all genuine stability and unity. I am sure that a day when good things, full of friendship, mutual respect and helping each other, will come.”

Not only did China long ago abandon the highest ideals of Marxism that the Dalai Lama admired and thought he’d like to implement – or hoped the Chinese would help implement – but more recently China has, ironically, embraced a Western free-market stance and is persecuting its citizens daily in pursuit of capitalist ‘development’. See John Hilley’s blog Zenpolitics – ‘Tibet:What’s left?’

What’s happening in Tibet is a result of economic exclusion. The capitalist ‘development’ in Tibet is for the Han Chinese immigrants to the area, not the outnumbered Tibetan population. This is the reason for the unrest and protests within Tibet. Outside of Tibet, the Tibetans-in-exile community may still want independence but this is not the Dalai Lama’s official position. He wants a new and just system for his people, not a return to the ‘feudal’ past. The Dalai Lama calls for full autonomy not independence. He is willing to arrive at a situation that will benefit both the Tibetans and the Chinese. Dalai Lama: Tibet Wants Autonomy, Not Independence