Letters to the Editor Summer 2001

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Nazi's Archives

As an ethnic Jew and Tibetan Buddhist, I read with ardent interest your article “Hitler and the Himalayas” [Spring 2001]. The article focused on Dr. Schaefer, especially his expedition to Tibet in 1939. Alex McCay asserts that the letter from the Reting Regent of Tibet to Hitler speaks of “a lasting empire of peace based on racial grounds.” Furthermore, Reting supposedly assured Hitler that Tibet “shared that aim.” This is a serious distortion of history.

© Frank OlinskyI have read the original text of this letter (National Archives) and there is no mention of racial attitudes. As a matter of fact, if this innocuous letter is compared to the correspondence that Reting had with President Roosevelt through the explorers Tolstoy and Dolan in this same period, it seems diplomatically relatively noncommital. Seven hundred and fourteen visitors went to Lhasa in the first fifty years of the last century. The five-member Schaefer expedition had a relatively neutral reception by the government and a negative reception by the local populace.

Moke Mokotoff
New York, New York

Alex McKay responds:

The Regent of Tibet wrote to Adolf Hitler on at least two occasions. Mr. Mokotoff refers to the letter from the Regent of Tibet to Adolf Hitler dated January 26, 1939, which is preserved in the U.S. National Archives.

My article referred to an earlier letter, dated January 10, 1939, which is preserved in the German Dokumente des Bundesarchivs, Koblenz, R135/30, and quoted by Reinhard Greve in Lebenslust und Fremdenfurcht (ed. Th. Hauschild; Frankfurt, 1995), pp. 175-176.

No Matter What

I enjoyed the section on making time for practice [Spring 2001]. My personal hero is my sister, a very determined daily meditator and mother of four. In order to sit while keeping an eye on her two youngest, Betsy would set up her cushion near the playpen where the children could see her. This proved only partially successful, as the kids protested noisily at being penned up. So she merely switched places—transferring the zafu to the playpen, she sat peacefully imprisoned while the kids played happily nearby!

Talk about “a deep-seated commitment to just practice, no matter what”!

Pat Beecher
Portland, Maine

Speak to Me

I am not a Buddhist, but Tricycle consistently publishes articles that speak to me.

Ken McLeod’s article [“Buddhism in a Nutshell,” Spring 2001] was so helpful. He is right: the point is not to deny oneself pleasure, but to find the pleasure of being oneself. But I just didn’t “get it” until I read his article.

In an earlier issue, John Welwood’s article [Spring 2000] was equally inspiring. When I broke up with my first boyfriend in college, I told a friend, “He bastardizes Eastern religions to suit his own emotional limitations.” After reading Welwood’s article, I realized that, ten years later, I have done the same thing!

Lastly, thank you for the interview with Noah Levine [Winter 2000]. I enjoyed hearing from someone my age. I am thirty-one and have been a spiritual/psychological seeker for more than ten years. I live in a place known for its opportunities for spiritual growth, yet I am almost always the youngest person—by at least a decade—to show up at any sort of meditation group I attend. While I did eventually succeed in creating community among my peers, it was not easy. It was nice to have the difficulty I experienced addressed.

Melissa Chianta
Sante Fe, New Mexico

Reading Lessons

In contrast to the book review of Reginald Ray’s Indestructible Truth [Spring 2001], I found this book to be remarkably clear, helpful, and inspiring. It gathered together a tremendous amount of material and wove together Tibetan Buddhist history and dharma in a way that illuminated both. With regard to one of the examples given in the review—the rather obscure (to most people) debate between the Rangtong and Shentong points of view—this is something I have been hearing about for the last ten years, and I’m grateful to Dr. Ray for finally making it clear. And it is an interesting dharma debate. Although some sections do require several passes in order to extract the juice, as Toni Morrison replied to someone who complained about the difficulty of her writing and having to read certain passages several times: “That’s called reading.” I rarely write letters to the editor, but having particularly enjoyed Indestructible Truth, I felt inspired to respond. With much appreciation for Tricycle.

Joseph Goldstein
Barre, Massachusetts

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