Tibet.

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Examines Tibetan Society and Tibetan Buddhism.

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  • One of the most thoroughly theocratic kingdoms of the world is Tibet. We take an overview of this kingdom and introduce the online literature and videos that accompany this lecture.
  • Tibet.

    1. 1. Tibet A Buddhist Theocracy
    2. 2. Overview of a Theocracy <ul><li>Much has been made of Tibet as a Shangri-la </li></ul><ul><li>The real Tibet is at once more and less than meets the eye </li></ul><ul><li>Tibetan Buddhism is an intriguing model of the universe </li></ul><ul><li>Daily life of the Tibetan herdsman or peasant is somewhat more mundane </li></ul><ul><li>We look at both sides of Tibetan life in this module </li></ul>
    3. 3. Location of Tibet <ul><li>Tibet lies between China and India in the Himalaya chain </li></ul><ul><li>Virtually all of the country is highland peaks and plateaus </li></ul>
    4. 4. Topography of Tibet <ul><li>Tibet is called “The Roof of the World” for good reason: </li></ul><ul><li>As a plateau region averaging 16,000 feet, it is the highest region in the world </li></ul>
    5. 5. Cultures of Tibet: Subsistence Base <ul><li>Arable land is scarce, so that Tibetans are either herdsmen (upper left) or subsistence peasants </li></ul><ul><li>The animal of choice is the yak, used as both beasts of burden and for milk, cloth, hides, and meat (lower left) </li></ul><ul><li>This is an ox whose matted undercoat and shaggy outer hair protects them from the cold </li></ul><ul><li>Other animals include horses, sheep, goats, and camels </li></ul><ul><li>Crops grown include wheat, barley, rye, buckwheat, and others </li></ul>
    6. 6. Cultures of Tibet: Polyandry <ul><li>Fraternal polyandry has drawn much attention </li></ul><ul><li>Women marry two or more men who are brothers to each other </li></ul><ul><li>Rationale: Limited land resources encourage population control </li></ul><ul><li>Only one child at a time can be born </li></ul>
    7. 7. Cultures of Tibet: The Question of Feudalism (Michael Parenti) <ul><li>Were the monasteries of Tibet based on feudalism? </li></ul><ul><li>Ideal: every household has a male lama in a monastery </li></ul><ul><li>Argument: 700,000 of 1,2 million were serfs </li></ul><ul><li>They were allowed a small parcel of land </li></ul><ul><li>But worked for the monasteries or secular lords </li></ul><ul><li>Captured escapees were beaten until they bled </li></ul><ul><li>Some serfs actually welcomed the Chinese ”liberation” </li></ul><ul><li>Source: Michael Parenti, “Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth” Link: http://www.swans.com/library/art9/mparen01.html#6 </li></ul>
    8. 8. Culture of Tibet: “A Lie Repeated” <ul><li>Joshua Frei argues Parenti has little direct knowledge of Tibet </li></ul><ul><li>He relies on four Chinese-related sources for his data </li></ul><ul><li>All four, including Anna Louise Strong, romanticized Maoist revolution </li></ul><ul><li>Counterargument: Parenti ignores the statements by the Tibetan refugees themselves </li></ul><ul><li>For more on this issue, log on to this link: http://studentsforafreetibet.org/article.php?id=425 </li></ul>
    9. 9. Principles of Buddhism (and Hinduism) <ul><li>With Hinduism, postulates Samsara </li></ul><ul><li>We live in a world of birth, death, and rebirth </li></ul><ul><li>(Upper Left, Tibetan Wheel of Samsara) </li></ul><ul><li>Form of our rebirth is driven by karma </li></ul><ul><li>Past deeds determine our rebirth </li></ul><ul><li>Samsara, however, is an illusion </li></ul><ul><li>Nirvana involves recognition of this illusion </li></ul>
    10. 10. Buddhism: Desire and Suffering <ul><li>To the Buddha, the source of all suffering is desire </li></ul><ul><li>The life cycle (samsara) brings suffering, including old age and death (upper left) </li></ul><ul><li>The road to nirvana (or moksha) is the ending of desire </li></ul><ul><li>But could the ending of desire itself be desire? Look at all the pressure (lower right) </li></ul><ul><li>Alan Watts, Zen expert, makes a similar point </li></ul>
    11. 11. Tibetan Buddhism <ul><li>Tibetan Buddhism follows the Mahanyana (Great Vehicle) school </li></ul><ul><li>The principle lies in reaching a state of Buddhahood or enlightenment </li></ul><ul><li>In doing so, the lama or monk helps all other sentient beings attain that state </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes defined as a state of omniscience, the Buddhist principle that all things derive from mind </li></ul><ul><li>All limitations to help others are thereby removed </li></ul><ul><li>Karma of sentient beings limit the Buddhists’ ability to help them </li></ul>
    12. 12. Lhasa: The Seat of Tibet Power <ul><li>Left: Panorama of Lhasa as it is today </li></ul><ul><li>Right: Potala Palace, the home of the Dalai Lama and seat of Tibetan Buddhists of the country </li></ul>
    13. 13. Definitions of “Buddhism <ul><li>Introspection, or “internist,” is the Tibetan definition of Buddhism </li></ul><ul><li>Story of Aryadeva cleaning the outside of a cess-pot </li></ul><ul><li>When asked why he ignored the inside, replied that ritualism also ignores the essential </li></ul><ul><li>Two steps: to have taken refuge from the external </li></ul><ul><li>And to observe the four seals of dharma: </li></ul>
    14. 14. Four Seals of Dharma <ul><li>All compounded (complicated) things are impermanent </li></ul><ul><li>All emotions are painful </li></ul><ul><li>All phenomena are empty; they lack inherent existence </li></ul><ul><li>Nirvana is beyond extremes </li></ul><ul><li>In the absence of these seals, Buddhist path would be theistic, religious dogma </li></ul><ul><li>The external would displace the internal. </li></ul>
    15. 15. Methods of Buddhist Practice <ul><li>Preliminary practice , comprising </li></ul><ul><li>Renunciation of the world, </li></ul><ul><li>Bodhicitta (wish to attain enlightenment), and </li></ul><ul><li>Wisdom (of recognizing emptiness) </li></ul><ul><li>Vajrayana practice is the fastest way to reach Buddhahood </li></ul><ul><li>Also the riskiest: it </li></ul><ul><li>Increases ego problems </li></ul><ul><li>Induces greater suffering </li></ul><ul><li>Requires solid preliminary practice under direction of an adept lama. </li></ul>
    16. 16. Four Schools of Tibetan Buddhism <ul><li>Nyingmapa: “Ancient ones,” or the oldest tradition founded by Padmasambhava </li></ul><ul><li>Kagyupa: “Oral lineage,” comprising several sub-sects </li></ul><ul><li>Sakyapa: “Gray earth,” the most scholarly of the traditions </li></ul><ul><li>Gelugpa: “Way of virtue,” the tradition to which the present Dalai Lama belongs. </li></ul><ul><li>The Dalai Lamas of that school ruled from the 17 th to the 20 th centuries </li></ul>
    17. 17. Cross-Cuttng Features of the Schools <ul><li>‘ Old Translation” (Nyingampa): reliance on the original translation of the scriptures </li></ul><ul><li>“ New Translation” (the other three traditions): reliance on more recent translation </li></ul><ul><li>“ Red Hat”: Color of the hats worn by lamas in the first three traditions </li></ul><ul><li>“ Yellow Hat”: Color of the hats worn by lamas of the Gelugpa tradition, the current ruling group </li></ul><ul><li>Other movements: Jonangpa in Eastern Tibet </li></ul><ul><li>Rim é , an ecumenical movement </li></ul>
    18. 18. Tibetan Book of the Dead <ul><li>A text that is intended to guide the conscious between one life and the next </li></ul><ul><li>This interval is known as the bardo </li></ul><ul><li>The text is recited to the dying person or his/her representation </li></ul><ul><li>The bardo is not so much a place as a level of awareness </li></ul><ul><li>We actually are in a bardo right now </li></ul>
    19. 19. The Three Bardos : <ul><li>Chikhai Bardo: the bardo at the moment of death </li></ul><ul><li>Chonyid Bardo: experiencing of various realities, represented by various Buddhist forms </li></ul><ul><li>Whether wrathful or peaceful, the forms are projections of the soul’s own illusion </li></ul><ul><li>Sidpa Bardo: the bardo of rebirth after Judgment </li></ul>
    20. 20. Tibetan Book of the Dead: Images <ul><li>Left: A wrathful deity, which one might encounter in the Chonyid Bardo </li></ul><ul><li>Right: A more peaceable deity, portraying the Buddha and his consort in an erotic pose. </li></ul>
    21. 21. China’s Intervention <ul><li>Chinese troops invaded Tibet in 1951 </li></ul><ul><li>Rationale of invasion: to overthrow the feudal system </li></ul><ul><li>Replace religion with atheism </li></ul><ul><li>Hundreds of monasteries were destroyed </li></ul><ul><li>Lamas, including the Dalai lama, were forced into exile </li></ul><ul><li>Chinese have repopulated the area with Han (ethnic Chinese) </li></ul><ul><li>A worldwide Tibetan movement has been launched to recover the country </li></ul>
    22. 22. Conclusion <ul><li>Tibet is a classical theocracy </li></ul><ul><li>Whether it was an oppressive theocracy has been debated </li></ul><ul><li>Peoples themselves are either herders or peasants or both </li></ul><ul><li>Tibetan Buddhism emphasizes the major tenets of most Mahayana schools </li></ul><ul><li>The Dalai Lama represents the Gelugpa tradition </li></ul><ul><li>Tibetan Book of the Dead is a model of the transition between one life and the next. </li></ul>

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