[Buddha-l] Rare Footage of Tibetan Nun's Self-Immolation Smuggledout of Tibet

Jo jkirk at spro.net
Tue Nov 22 08:38:53 MST 2011

Hi Joanna

OTOH, Tibetan Buddhists (speaking as an anthropologist here) tend to
> consider their brand of Buddhism exceptional and worth preserving.  I 
> have no problem with that because I see it also among Theravadist 
> publications and attitudes and among other non-Buddhist religions as 
> well. The Tibetans are not alone in wanting to preserve their 
> religious culture. Hence nationalistic attitudes and propaganda. 
> Without a nationalist motive and energy, their culture would be 
> totally erased by the Hans and their collaborators in Tibet-- as, 
> outside Tibet/India in the west, it will eventually be erased or much 
> modified by western influences.  This latter effect has already happened.
I'm not sure if 'Western influences' (it almost sounds as if that's a bad
thing) are so detrimental to Tibetan culture. The preservation of Tibetan
culture and its study is largely thanks to the interest the West puts into
it (I'm thinking of Cabezon, Thurman, and Hopkins, to name a few, and major
publishers like Snow Lion and Shambhala) . A large part of the anti-Chinese
lobby - in this context - is in fact a Western engagement.

JK:  I don't think that I  implied that ALL western influences are
detrimental, although the excessive commodification of Buddhism in the US I
consider to be detrimental.
However, Buddhism in the west simply isn't the same as it is anywhere else,
so far.
That to me signifies change. Not all change is unbeneficial.

> I fail to see the urgency of your concern here. In any case, the 
> Karmapa recently brought out a few good Buddhist reasons why not to 
> make immolation a response to oppression. (See links I posted today.)
> The urgency is the paradox of trying to preserve a culture, which as a
core tenet says that nothing is preservable. I also sense a whiff of
'attachment to views'. A similar discussion was held when the Bamiyan
statues were demolished: is it, in the context of impermanence, a bad thing
that stuff perishes? As an anthropologist the destruction of artefacts is
obviously a bad thing, but from a Buddhist point of view, it's more complex.

I'm also not sure how selfimmolation is justified. 'Not to cause suffering'
might just as well be understood to mean 'don't hurt yourself'. Immolation
also implies suicide, the destruction of goods and the improper use of
combustibles. I'm not a specialist of Buddhist texts, but it'd be quite
ironic that some passage has the Buddha say that he endorses such acts.

JK:	I can't figure out who you think has justified it.   Not the
Karmapa, and IMO not HHDL, either. If you think you found a sutta that
justifies it, then why don't you say which one it is?  

buddha-l mailing list
buddha-l at mailman.swcp.com

More information about the buddha-l mailing list