On www.npr.org: ‘Open Road’ Recounts Dalai Lama’s Global Journey

From http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89109552:

“Journalist Pico Iyer has a long history meeting with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader living in exile in India. Iyer joins Fresh Air to discuss how the fourteenth Dalai Lama is responding to the current Tibetan uprising and protest against Chinese rule.”

The audio for this story will be available at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89109552 at 3 pm today (March 26, 2008).

UPDATE: There will be a free public reading a discussion by Iyer of his new book “The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama”  Thursday, April 17th at 7 pm at the Martin Luther King Library in Washington DC.  Please visit the Chapters Bookstore website for more information.


3 thoughts on “On www.npr.org: ‘Open Road’ Recounts Dalai Lama’s Global Journey

  1. If the Dalai Lamas (incarnation of Chenrezig, the “god of mercy”) have for the 13 generations ruled in Tibet, why were the living conditions–infant mortality, life span, lack of roads, hospitals and schools–so deplorable under their rule? Why have the conditions improved–unbelivably–under the the oppressive Chinese communists?

  2. You are right that many of the living conditions in Tibet
    in earlier times were deplorable. Some of the Dalai Lamas
    were committed to achieving reforms because they saw this.

    The problems had deep cultural roots, and if you understand Buddhism, you would know that it is taught that no Buddhas, not even the Buddha of Compassion, create the lives of others, and they do not have any magical power to change things.

    Because problems existed under the old ways
    does not justify, though, asserting that the improvements
    in lifestyle should be brought about at the cost of losing
    freedom, the cost of losing the chance to practice one’s religion of choice.

    Tibet, as you know, was isolated, hard to reach, and
    largely illiterate. So was much of China, and the same
    living conditions that you enumerate existed in China.
    Now to have better schools but not be able to speak Tibetan in them; to have longer lives spent in an oppressed state; to have hospitals but be jailed for carrying a photo of a beloved leader–I am not certain that the Tibetan people would choose these improvements over their previous ways of life. Most of us would give up a lot of comfort in order to have freedom.

  3. I would argue that the material standard of living for most Tibetans has not really improved all that much, if at all, and of course as ani La said, is not worth the cost of the lack of freedom. For example, consider the case made in the Tibet Justice Center’s “A Generation in Peril: The Lives of Tibetan Children Under Chinese Rule”:


    Here is an excerpt from that website:

    “Tibetan children suffer from poor access to healthcare, in large part because of two factors: the absence of adequate healthcare facilities, particularly in rural and nomadic regions of Tibet; and the high cost of healthcare even where facilities exist. Tibetan children in Lhasa and a few other urban areas live near modern hospitals. Most Tibetans, however, must travel hours or days to reach a modern medical clinic. In the event of an emergency, Tibetan children may be unable to reach an appropriate facility in time to avert fatality. In addition, the high cost of healthcare prevents many Tibetan children from receiving treatment even if they do live near a hospital or clinic. Tibetan medicine can sometimes serve as an alternative for children who live in remote regions without modern facilities, but it tends to be far less effective than modern medicine against infectious and potentially fatal childhood diseases. A childhood vaccination program, which has been implemented throughout most of China, has not reached the majority of Tibetan children, more than eighty percent of whom live in rural and nomadic areas. The principal reason for this failure is that the government workers charged with carrying out China’s vaccination program generally neglect to travel to remote regions of Tibet to administer immunizations.”

    You may also want to consider the information available on the International Campaign for Tibet’s website:


    Here’s an excerpt from the ICT’s website:

    “The Chinese government claims that it is pouring money into health and education to benefit Tibetans. But the majority of Tibetans who live in rural areas do not have access to adequate or affordable health care and are still suffering from easily treatable conditions such as malnutrition, diarrhea, pneumonia, or even the plague.

    Education facilities and opportunities for the Tibetan children are minimal and many Tibetan parents cannot afford schooling. So they send their children into exile to study at Tibetan schools in India. Often education that is available in Tibet suppresses Tibetan religious or linguistic identity.”

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