“Name leads to name leads to name leads to nameless.”
Frank Herbert

Chapter House Dune

Sincerity

n

A while ago I watched a documentary called “Unwinking Gaze” (you can find some youtube clips) which gives an intimate perspective into the Dalai Lama and his close circle of advisors. The movie is offered as a means for every viewer to assess the sincerity of the Dalai Lama’s dealing with China (as a counter to the accusations of insincerity made by the Chinese). My overall impression of the movie was disappointment. I wished it had penetrated deeper. I also, to my great surprise, felt that the Dalai Lama, as presented in this movie was indeed dishonest and insincere. It took me until this morning (a few months) to let that first impression settle and for something else to appear. I have never met or spoken with the Dalai Lama and I have not invested effort in researching Tibet nor in expressing an opinion in the matter, so the following is nothing more then an echo of my own introspection.

At one point in the movie the Dalai Lama says that his cause is not to liberate Tibet from China. He believes that Tibet can benefit greatly from being a part of China (he gives an example – roads and infrastructures – that would develop better and faster it Tibet is a part of China). He even goes so far as saying he is willing to become a Chinese citizen. That is where my heart clenched. I felt that to be a defiant and manipulative claim. How can the Dalai Lama who embodies spiritual development and preachers human rights that are a prerequisite for spiritual practice & growth possibly become a willing member of a regime (communist China) that opposes those very values? It appeared to be an empty, irrelevant and insulting proposal (definitely got my sympathies on the side of the Chinese).

This morning it came to me that the Dalai Lama is simply being only as sincere as he can be. I believe this is also the reason that at some points in the movie he requested that the camera be turned off. I believe he knows that Tibet is not going to be freed, not any time soon, not in his life time for sure. Yet he seems to be working relentlessly for that cause (a sign of a true warrior). He cannot share this with Tibetans (some of which are on the brink of violence), he cannot share this with the West (who completely associate his existence with the Tibetan cause), he cannot share this with the media (who would have a picnic) and he most definitely cannot share this with the Chinese (who already know this, but maybe think he doesn’t). He balances a delicate balance between so many forces – so much so that it is almost impossible to even separate them into internal and external forces. Who is friend and who is enemy?

The Chinese perspective is rightfully that the Dalai Lama is not sincere with them – and I also trust they know why. The Dalai Lama, I believe, is not fighting for the freedom of Tibet, he is fighting for the freedom of the Chinese & Tibet, and the Chinese are not handing out citizenship to freedom fighters.

The Dalai Lama cannot state the truth (aside: truth can be known but not stated), but he can and is acting on it. This is a difficult lesson I have been struggling to learn over the past years – and probably the source of my friction with the movie . Tibet will be free when freeing it is no longer required. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is on an impossible mission – he is relentlessly touring the world to reach each and every one of us. Tibet is just an excuse, it’s a great excuse because it touches so many people and inspires them to move closer and act, act with spirit. The Dalai Lama is using Tibet & the Chinese to teach us, knowing that when we’ve spent enough time deliberating Tibet we will eventually encounter ourselves. It is a remarkable, brave and inspiring sacrifice.

One of the responsibilities of a teacher in an eastern teacher-student relationship is to expose the student to knowledge at a time and in a way that is most beneficial for the student. Sincerity, like many other things, must be delivered in effective and right measures. The Dalai Lama, I believe, is being an exceptional teacher to a huge class (one that stretches way beyond those who practice Buddhism).

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