Tibet: The End of Time
The video I watched last week was a video from Time Life that discussed the culture and history of Tibet, a vast yet remote land surrounded on all sides by the 5-mile high Himalayan Mountains. The video covered the overall religious beliefs of Tibet, as well as the rise and fall of the civilization over the years.
The religion celebrated by Tibetans is Buddhism, a religion founded upon the teachings of Buddha Sakayamuni (ca. 560-480 BCE), which aimed to reduce suffering, and to ultimately escape the bondage of rebirth. The Tibetans believe that the cycle of life follows three distinct phases: birth, death, and rebirth - the soul follows this cycle, each time entering a new body to live the next chapter of the soul's life. They also believe that the behavior of the soul in one life determines the body it will inhabit in the next life - if one leads an ill life, the soul may return in the body of some lowly animal, whereas if the life is favorably lived, the soul may return as royalty.
In their religion, the Tibetan Buddhists believe that over the past 600 years, their leader has died 13 times, each time returning in a new body. They call their leader the Dalai Lama, which means "ocean of wisdom." As the god-king of Tibet, the Dalai Lama instructs his people on how to live their lives through the Buddhist religion.
The current Dalai Lama, or Tenzin Gyatso, was born on July 6, 1935, recognized as the 14th reincarnation of the Dalai Lama two years later, and was enthroned on February 22, 1940 at the young age of 4. In order to prepare to lead the people of Tibetan Buddhism properly, the Dalai Lama endured extensive education not only on the religion itself, but several other areas of study. In 1989 the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The citation read, "The Committee wants to emphasize the fact that the Dalai Lama, in his struggle for the liberation of Tibet, has consistently opposed the use of violence. He has instead advocated peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect in order to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of his people." This citation refers to the invasion of Tibet and the following efforts of the Dalai Lama. This history can briefly be summarized as follows:
On November 17, 1950, 80,000 Chinese troops invaded Tibet. In 1954, the Dalai Lama went to Beijing for peace talks with Mao Tse-tung. His efforts to bring about a peaceful solution to Sino-Tibetan conflict were thwarted in Beijing. In 1959 the capital of Tibet, Lhasa, was the scene of a huge demonstration calling for China's withdrawal from Tibet, and reaffirming Tibetan independence. The Chinese army crushed the uprising. The Dalai Lama escaped to...