September 29, 2010

The New Yorker Profiles The Dalai Lama

The current issue of The New Yorker features a lengthy profile of the Dalai Lama entitled "The Next Incarnation," written by Evan Osnos. After listening to a podcast with Osnos in which he talks about the piece and what it was like to meet the Dalai Lama, I had to go out and find a copy of the magazine so that I could read it (the online article is available only to subscribers).

It's a solid profile overall and it concisely describes the Dalai Lama's current relationship with China. Osnos also does a good job of painting a picture of what Tibet looks like today.

Here's an excerpt describing the taxi driver that Osnos hired to drive him to the birthplace of the Dalai Lama, a small town known in Tibetan as Taktser:

In his comments and appearance, Jigme seemed to be constantly negotiating what it means to be both Tibetan and Chinese. When I asked how the Han Chinese and the Tibetans were getting along, he said, "In some ways, the Communist Party has been good to us. It has fed us and made sure we have a roof over our heads. And, where it does things right, we should acknowledge that." After a pause, he added, "But Tibetans want their own country. That's a fact. I graduated from a Chinese school. I can't read Tibetan."

My favorite part of the profile, of course, is when Osnos references an interview with the Dalai Lama conducted by Spalding Gray for the first issue of Tricycle (unfortunately we didn't get a shout out) where Gray asks him about "women in bikini bathing suits."

Read the Tricycle Gray interview with the Dalai Lama here.

Image: Photograph by Manuel Bauer (taken from theworsthorse.com)

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la's picture

Sorry, I found the article to be disrespectful of the Dalai Lama as a "statesman" and one of the most significant personages of the 20th and 21st centuries. Referring to women in bikinis? Come on!

Bill Esterhaus's picture

Hi Isaac,

You can read 'A Great Deception' and you will see that these 'allegations' are supported by a lot of third party references. The truth is not hate propaganda. It is not illegal to draw attention to violations of human rights and religious freedom.

I understand that people don't want to hear anything negative about the Dalai Lama because they don't want their illusions shattered, but it is undeniably true that the Dalai Lama is not the man of peace he would like you to believe he is.

Isaac Weinmann's picture

I would remind everyone that in 1960, the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva, stated that “acts of genocide had been committed in Tibet in an attempt to destroy the Tibetans as a religious group", in violation of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, adopted by the UN General Assembly in December, 1948. The Dalai Lama is the leader of ethnic Tibetans, period.
I'd also like to request Bill Esterhaus post elsewhere, there is a limit to what is appropriate–unsubstantiated allegations targeting an identifiable group is not acceptable, it is in fact the definition of hate propaganda, and generally such activity is illegal in western countries.

Sam Mowe's picture

Bill, This post is specifically about the profile of the Dalai Lama in the New Yorker. If you would like to criticize something in the New Yorker article specifically, then this is the place to do it, otherwise there are other forums for the conversation.

Sam

Bill Esterhaus's picture

Hi Sam,

You've also deleted the posts that had valid criticisms of the Dalai Lama who is the subject of this post. I'd like to request these to be reinstated in the name of freedom of speech and fairness. Surely it's fair for all views of the Dalai Lama to be given, not only that bolster his reputation, especially where there are valid concerns?

Thank you.

Sam Mowe's picture

Hi Everybody,

As you can see we've deleted all of the comments on this post that mention the NKT and the Dorje Shugden controversy. This is not the place for those debates and we would appreciate it if in the future people could keep their comments courteous and related to the blog post topic. There are other forums for the NKT and Dorje Shugden discussions to take place.

Thanks,
Sam

Andy Kanter's picture

I have now read the article referred to in this blog post, the initial reason for the discussion, and found it well written and compelling. The most significant take home message was that this man is a quite remarkable person and regardless of your religious or political views you have to be impressed. China's reaction to him seems both irrational and self-destructive and we can only hope that its Leadership as well as the those who only care to spread negativity and slander will eventually see the truth. The Buddhadharma taught by His Holiness has nothing to do with politics and anyone who has been to his teachings would know this. These "facts" are nothing of the kind, and this type of discourse is only harmful to everyone. It does not provide a constructive way forward. I hope that we can return to the main discussion which was whether a path of compassion and extreme non-violence can produce a better future for Tibet, and whether an alternative, if there is one proposed, would do better.

Mumon's picture

Thanks for the pointer!