-REPORTERS, FRANCE 24-
Sophie Claudet: Hello and welcome to this new edition of Reporters.
Sophie Claudet: This week we go to North India, to Dharamsala, home to the Tibetan government in exile and its head, the Dalai Lama.
The Buddhist spiritual leader fled Tibet for Dharamsala in 1959, after a failed uprising against China's communist rule.
He has since set up a government and an assembly in what has come to be known as Little Tibet.
While denouncing China's treatment of Tibet as cultural genocide, the Dalai Lama does not want independence for His country, but rather, autonomy.
And, in line with Buddhism, He's of course a strong proponent of non-violence. His strategy is contested among Tibetans. However, some are ready to take arms to root out Chinese occupation. But it may never come to that.
The Dalai Lama's oracles have predicted that Tibet will soon be free again.
Capucine Henry, Amandine Roche and Arnaud Gidon traveled to Little Tibet and met the Dalai Lama's oracles. Let's watch their report.
Arnaud Gidon: A few kilometers from Dharamsala, on the road to the Himalayas, these men and women have walked for hours, to come and listen to the prophecies of this little six year old girl. Her name is Shambhavi. They believe she is the reincarnation of a Hindu goddess.
Shambhavi: I want Dalai Lama blessing. I want Tibet freedom. Tibet got very happy freedom.
The Dalai Lama holds her hand as a sign of respect. He has come specially to this Hindu temple to receive her blessing and her prayers.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Thank you all for coming. I would first like to tell you that this little girl is a saint. For the second time in a year, this saint has come all the way from South India, only to see me. She has come to tell me about her premonitions.
Arnaud Gidon: Like these Hindus, he believes in the child's predictions.
(To Shambavi) What did you dream about? What have you to say?
Shambhavi: Only one more and one time only.
Shambhavi's mother: Okay, come on, speak up. Speak up.
Shambhavi: Dalai Lama had bad health; that this in dream. Only this one.
Arnaud Gidon: Shambhavi is sure of herself. She threatened to go on a hunger strike if her parents didn't take her to the Dalai Lama
His Holiness the Dalai Lama: She came to see me and give me some kind of warning. I may get some illness. Now, this time, also you see, she came, and this time mainly, you see, she wanted to perform some sort of offering, puja, for Tibetan sort of freedom.
Arnaud Gidon: The pilgrims flock around Shambhavi, to know what the future holds for them.
Shambhavi: 2012, 2012 January.
Shambhavi's mother: 2012 January...
Man: Things will be well in 2012 January. In 2016 they'll go back to Tibet. They'll go back to Tibet, the Dalai Lama and all the Tibetans, they'll go back to Tibet.
Shambavi's mother: They will live happily from 2016 onwards.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you.... Oh yes, yes. Thank you, thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.
Arnaud Gidon: In Dharamsala, little goddess Shambhavi's predictions on the health and future of the Dalai Lama are being taken seriously. In the spiritual leader's temple, a public ceremony is organized. Trances and prayers are used to wish a long life to the spiritual head.
This man in ceremonial garb is one of the three state oracles of the Dalai Lama. He is a medium who can communicate with the gods. In the Tibetan tradition, it is not a state secret, but an institution. The Dalai Lama takes no political or spiritual decision without first consulting his three oracles.
In 1959, it was on their predictions that the Dalai Lama decided to flee Tibet. The oracle determined the exact date, and the spiritual leader's itinerary to Dharamsala. It has been almost fifty years to the day, that the Buddhists first fled Tibet to escape Chinese communism.
In the small Nechung monastery, Tibetans fall over each other to ask the oracle whether this long forced exile will soon end. The ritual is always the same. The monks start by calling up the spirits. Until the medium goes into a trance, a deep religious silence descends on the temple, so all can hear the voices of the gods through the body of this man.
Only an enlightened few can translate this very ancient Tibetan dialect. The sacred words of the oracle are scrupulously recorded and translated by the monks.
The oracle faints. The ceremony is over.
A few minutes later, the prophesies are translated. The expert, Geshe Dorje, a Buddhist master with a PhD in Philosophy, he is one of the few people in the world to understand and speak the language of the gods.
Geshe Dorje, Buddhist Master: It is already translated, today, the oracle... yeah...
Arnaud Gidon: So, what does the oracle say? What is his message for the Tibetan people? This information is usually kept secret, but, finally, in a confiding mood, Geshe Dorje agrees to tell us part of the secret.
Geshe Dorje: The Dalai Lama going to China. Then, after, no problem China. Really. The Dalai Lama going, then teaching, then people, open mind, just like sun, sunshine. Yeah. Just like sunshine, at that time, I think. Many people die, really. Very happy, then... Yeah. Many old people waiting here, 80 years, 90 years, very old. "When Dalai Lama coming?" then they saw Dalai Lama, they are very happy, shocked, I think. Also Chinese, really.
Arnaud Gidon: A few hours after the ceremony, the Tibetans try, one by one, to find out more about the oracle's predictions.
Nechung Monastery Monk: Where are you from?
Woman: Lhasa. And my family is still there. That's why I want to know if I'll see them again one day.
Nechung Monastery Monk: I can't tell you all, you know, it's a secret, but it all goes well. The oracle says the Tibetan government in exile will soon take important decisions.
Sonam, Tibetan refugee: I believe him. Everyday, when I pray in front of him, I have some special feeling, and something like special power, he give to me, and I feel like he always encourages me, whenever I pray to him. After I finish praying to him, then in my heart I have a full belief, and then, I feel more happy, after I prayer for him.
Arnaud Gidon: In Dharamsala, it is difficult to gauge what the Tibetan parliament in exile thinks of the oracle's predictions.
(To parliamentarians outside) Do you believe in the predictions of the oracle?
Monk: I don't know. I don't know. To ask...
Tibetan man: Oh, we don't know anything about Nechung.
Tibetan man 2: Geshe-la would be a…
Narrator: Questions are unwelcome. Here the spiritual authority is not questioned.
Monk: Ah, yes, yes, yes. I am monk! [laughs]
Arnaud Gidon: The parliamentary spokesperson finally answers our question.
Penpa Tsering, Speaker of the Parliament: The concept of protecting deities is to help you in achieving things where humans are not able to understand the circumstances.
Tibetan man 3: We cannot decide, so then we'll ask him, you know, which way we should go. So he'll advice us, give us the guidelines, the true guidelines, the right way.
Woman narrator: The right way?
Tibetan man 3: Yeah, we are very very very sure about what he says. We believe it.
Woman narrator: Are you very sure?
Tibetan man 3: Sure, sure, sure, sure, sure.
Arnaud Gidon: To be a Buddhist is, above all, to think positively and to refuse war as a means to saving Tibet. But for some time now, the impatience and anger of the younger generations has been gaining ground in the community. These Tibetan youth are ready to take up arms. Their leader is Lhasang Tsering, often referred to as the Devil.
Lhasang Tsering, Founder, Tibetan Youth Congress: Why is there a state oracle of Tibet? If the Tibetan parliament and the Tibetan kashag are not consulting… My problem is that when national leaders whose duty it is to make decisions and to be responsible and answerable for those decisions are then using the system of oracles. There is a price for freedom and the price for freedom is not paid in silver and gold. It is paid in the currency of life and blood.
Arnaud Gidon: These young teenagers have just reached Dharamsala. They are welcomed by Tsering Chenga, another of the Dalai Lama's state oracles. Tsering does not believe in war. Faced with this delicate situation, she tries to calm the hotheaded youth.
Tibetan youth: Yes, we managed to escape from the Chinese. We were afraid, but at least they did not catch us. We climbed the mountains in the snow. It was very cold during weeks and weeks.
Tsering Chenga: [laughs] These children don't know how to speak properly. They are yak farmers. The Chinese are saying that they educate Tibetans, but this proves the contrary. All these young people are not educated. [laughs]
Tibetan youth: I don't know what to say. I don't know how to talk. You know, we just arrived at the refugee center.
Tsering Chenga: At the refugee center there are different types of people. Become friends with cheerful and positive children. Get close to radiant people. This is the future of humanity. I'm not going to talk about my trances. No, I'm going to talk about essential matters, what humanity needs to hear to evolve. The 21st century looks like a very modern century from the outside, but times are serious. Our hearts are suffering from the inside, and we have reached the limits. We're killing each other! We must give light to ignorance and regain consciousness. Let's help and love our enemies. That's how we will save Tibet and all humanity.
Arnaud Gidon: How will Tibetan culture be saved?
The urgency of the situation has brought together the greatest experts of the science of the mind for an historic conference.
-Translating the Words of the Buddha: Khyentse Foundation Translation Conference-
Arnaud Gidon: After a week of initiation, the keepers of the secret teachings of the Buddha have decided to translate the complete texts of the Buddha in the next 25 years.
Robert Thurman, a very close friend of the Dalai Lama for the last 45 years, and one the world's most influential specialists on Tibetan Buddhism, this visionary, who is a confidante to the spiritual chief, is in agreement with the oracles.
Robert Thurman, Writer and Tibet Specialist: I have this other vision… the Dalai Lama's own vision, He and whichever president of China will go hand in hand to the United Nations and in the United Nations they will declare, and they'll bring Al Gore there, and they will declare that the whole of the Tibetan plateau is a global peace park, an environmental preserve, a nature preserve, and they will restore the headwaters of all the rivers of Asia.
Arnaud Gidon: These oracles from the roof of the world agree, and predict a radiant future for Tibet and the return of the saintly Dalai Lama to His palace at Lhasa.
-Report by Amandine Roche, Capucine Henry, Arnaud Gidon, Emmanuelie Zabala-
Sophie Claudet: Well, one of the reporters behind this fascinating story is with us from New Delhi via satellite. Hello, Capucine Henry, and welcome to the show.
Sophie Claudet: At the beginning of your report we see the prophecies of a six year old girl who says Tibet will be free in 2012. Why this date?
Capucine Henry, France 24 Correspondent, New Delhi, India: Alors. It's true. We have to be very cautious when we're talking about this date, 2012, because it's prophecies and predictions, and, obviously, it's not science. But, it's true that the date, 21st of December in 2012, these are dates that even the oldest civilizations, have been looking at this, the Mayan civilization, the Egyptians and the Indians, so current astronomers consider that the 21st of December 2012, the sun will rise and will be aligned with the galactic center which emits the most cosmic radiation. So, from that point on, the sun's activity on the earth will be more powerful than ever in the past, so mystics talk about 'returning to the light,' the great civilizations talk about going into the Age of Aquarius, and the Tibetans don't really talk about 2012 specifically, but they talk about moving into a new form of consciousness. The Dalai Lama's oracles say we won't be able to live other than being in total harmony with the forces of the light, otherwise we could even die.
Sophie Claudet: Capucine, it seems unlikely that Tibet will be freed of China's rule following a political settlement, considering that ongoing negotiations between the Tibetan government in exile and the Chinese authorities have reached a complete deadlock, so, how will it happen? How will Tibet become free in 2012?
Capucine Henry: It's true that the negotiations between the Tibetan government and the Chinese government are at a standstill. The Dalai Lama, though, has come to a point where he considers that negotiating with the Chinese leaders is in vain, is futile, so he's trying to set up a new strategy, in fact, where he's trying to work directly with the Chinese people, and reach the hearts of the Chinese people. So the strategy… He's trying to set up this strategy, trying to implement it, because he considers that the Chinese people, 1.3 billion inhabitants, that really hold the power in China, are capable of pushing the Tibetan cause forward.
Sophie Claudet: Okay, very quickly, Capucine, in closing, how will the Dalai Lama manage to convince the Chinese people rather than the Chinese authorities?
Capucine Henry: Well, the Dalai Lama is increasingly getting positioned as the spiritual leader of Tibet. Remember, He's semi-retired politically. He's working with a lot more intellectuals, inviting them in from China to Dharamsala. He's working with the Chinese and Tibetan… He's created the association for Chinese and Tibetan friends, and three radio stations, where you have reporters and journalists, Tibetan people communicating with the outside world, and the ultimate strategy that the Dalai Lama is planning on using - He considers that Taiwan can perhaps be a player or a bridge between China and Tibet, maybe the entry into Tibetan culture in China.
Sophie Claudet: Well, thank you very much Capucine, for being with us from New Delhi with us today. That's all the time we have for today unfortunately. Do join us again next week for another edition of Reporters. Goodbye.
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May all beings be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.
Hebrew translation ~ תרגום בעברית