Note: Buddhism, in itself, is a huge topic. More links and sources need to be added and the topic is both interesting and new to me. Don’t accept any fact blindly and do your research because there are loads of experienced people in the domain and I’m no one to teach you Buddhism or technicalities of Tibet. However, I may be able to give you a direction. Why do I say that ? How do I define a teacher / student ? Role of a teacher and a student should not be strictly defined. A teacher should not attach his ego to his words and a student should not blindly accept what the teacher says. You have to be very cautious whenever you read something. Why ? Because I may be able to captivate your mind with my views or opinions. Critically analyze things and you shall be safe. Don’t be a mental slave of an opinion.
Initially, my plan was to post 2-3 links on Buddhism, History of Tibet and so on. Now, you can get the literature online and there are tons of resources. I realized that I may not add value by re-posting these resources which are just a click away. Now, what can I do ? I can give you my perspective or understanding of the subject ( in short ) and try to make it interesting…
I say I’m an atheist. I say I don’t believe in God. But have I experienced God ? How can I reject an argument when I haven’t even touched the surface ? Who am I to reject the existence of God when I haven’t read enough books/sources ?
LOL don’t be too serious, what I mean to say is that you need to analyze things critically before you approve or reject them.
Why is the topic interesting ?
Trip to Dharamsala : So I see Tibetan monks in Dharamsala, widespread beauty of Tibetan Buddhism, notices demanding release of Panchen Lama, ‘Free Tibet’ banners, strange ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ mantra inscribed on so many things. Sad part was I could not understand a thing. Consider this as an online documentation of my findings.
Covering the basics – Free Tibet ?
Why isn’t Tibet free ? : Here
Why there is no free Tibet ? : Here
India vs China : War in the Himalayas ? : Here
Overview of the map
They are an ethnic group native to Tibet and significant numbers of Tibetans live in China, Bhutan, India, Nepal. More : Here
This monastery ( building occupied by a community of monks living under religious vows ) was in Dharamsala and I clicked a picture of something interesting. ‘Dharma’ is a concept with multiple meanings in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. There is no single-word translation for dharma in western languages. I’m used to the conventional meaning of Dharma in Hinduism which, in simple terms, is a way of living life / rights / duties. To my surprise, I see Dharma defined as Existences which may be interpreted differently by different people. The wikipedia page define Dharma ( by Buddhism ) as cosmic law and order. This looks a bit different.
But wait! Why do we call it Tibetan Buddhism ? Which Buddhism are we talking about ? There are varieties of Buddhism with different versions in Asia. We also see emergence of Western Buddhism ( in US, Europe and so on ) consisting of people who weren’t born Buddhist but have chosen to adopt Buddhist practise ( like the meditation practise ). Many Asian Buddhists, for instance, believe that you might be reincarnated as a hungry ghost, if things don’t go well but Western Buddhism doesn’t really pay much attention to such ideas. But how do I setup an experiment to test the hypothesis of reincarnation ? I don’t think I can so I’ll try to stay away from it. Buddhism also addresses questions like ‘Why do we suffer?’ or ‘Why do we feel anxiety?’ , ‘Can we change how the mind works through meditation?’ and so on. Part of the idea of Buddhism is what you might call ‘counter programming’ of the brain to reduce your suffering. Meditation is one good example to neutralize things that were built into the brain by natural selection. Are the delusions of mind built by natural selection ? Can we un-learn it ? In that case, are you rebelling against your creator ? Because natural selection wired the brain. How do you suffer less ? Is it by getting the answers to the questions or making peace with your questions ?
I saw some Buddhist monks praying in the monastery for the first time in my life and they look emotional. What are emotions ? Why do feelings have certain properties ? Why do we have emotions ?
When you act angry or you know you have a great emotion and you grasp that feeling as real. But when you think deeply about it, you’ll find those sensations are not real.
It is very difficult to understand the properties of an emotion. But wait! How do you define something as ‘real’ ? Whatever you see or experience is real so, essentially, isn’t anger real? Is a movie real ? Well, you see it. You experience it. But is it real ?
What do you do when something worries you ? Tell it to your friend / family. Imagine a scenario when you are very very angry and you don’t express it to anyone. You keep it to yourself. What happens ? There can be two outcomes : First, you’ll be like ‘Fuck it!’ I’m gonna do something about it and you express your anger which can be done by expressing it to someone or breaking things ( You can express an emotion on someone or something ). Second, you analyze it. You stay with it and think about it. I’m not sure about the time you require to analyze it. Emotions and feelings are important because they may change your thoughts.
To a man who is afraid, everything rustles.
^ And it might make sense from the natural selection point of view because it’s better safe than sorry. Buddhism tells us that we should skeptical of our feelings. Your emotions may not be the truthful guide to reality. But (of course) wait! What is Truth ? Are we designed to see the Truth ? If not, why follow the path of Truth ? Truth may be the voice within you.
[…] I recall the name of Charles Bradlaugh who delighted to call himself an
atheist, but knowing as I do something of, I would never regard him as an
atheist. I would call him a God-fearing man though I know he would reject the
claim. His face would redden if I would say, “Mr. Bradlaugh, you are a truth-
fearing man and not a God-fearing man.” I would automatically disarm his
criticism by saying that Truth is God, as I have disarmed the criticism of many a
young man. – Gandhi
What do you see in this picture ( Taken in the monastery )
Om Mani Padme Hum
So you’ll find this mantra everywhere. These cylinders are part of the Mani Prayer Wheel. Remember : You need to rotate it clockwise 😛
It’s a Sanskrit Mantra where Om is a sacred syllable found in Indian religions. Mani means “Jewel”. Padme is a lotus flower and Hum represents the spirit of enlightenment (Yes, it’s confusing). It is commonly carved onto rocks, known as Mani stones. When an individual spins the wheel, it is said that the effect is the same as reciting the mantra as many times as it is duplicated within the wheel.
Closing comments: I want to say more but I guess this much is enough for a mail and I don’t want to fill your mind with too much information. You can mail me / meet me if you want to talk about something. Please note again that I’m not an expert on the subject and have not even touched the surface of Buddhism or Tibet or any other topic mentioned in the mail. I wish to express my interpretation of the subject ( which is ofcourse not detailed and I cannot even cover a detailed topic ). Yes, I can talk to you about a specific topic on mail or in person.
Am I confused ?
You know it’s funny