Why Shadow Tibet?

Well, I just released a book titled Shadow Tibet (a collection of my essays from 1989 to 2004) on 8th March in New York City at a Tibetan Youth Congress organized symposium. The roughly 1000 strong Tibetan audience was so surprisingly outspoken, savvy, and raring to do something that I realized I had to find a way to maintain some kind of discussion with them, which was when I seriously thought of starting a blog. I have a tendency (as my long suffering readers will know) of writing ponderously lengthy essays) so I had to find a medium which would force me to be more pithy and readable. Then 10th March happened. I knew I had to start the thing asap. The designer of my website, Ambum Golok of Geneva, thought that Shadow Tibet would be a good title for the blog, since that was the territory I was exploring in my writings. What do you think? Here is the blurb from the book:

Like alternate worlds in science fiction, two distinct Tibets co-exist these days. One flourishes in the light of celebrity patronage, museum openings, career opportunities, pop spirituality and New Age fashions. This is the Tibet that has captured the romantic fantasy of the West and which has drawn much of the interest that the Tibet issue receives at the moment. Here, Tibet is far more than the issue of Tibetan freedom and represents the millenarian aspirations of the affluent and the established for spiritual solace, ecological harmony and world peace. Here the problems of Tibet: the nation of the Tibetans, is nowhere as relevant or important as that of Tibet: the repository of a secret wisdom to save a materialistic and self-destructive West.

The other Tibet exists in the shadow of a cruel and relentless Darwinian reality. Under Chinese Communist occupation it is a world of paid informers, secret police, prison walls, torture, executions, unemployment, racism, threat of extinction, and overwhelming cultural loss; revealing itself in individual lives ­(like sores on plague victims) in alcoholism, broken families, violence and growing hopelessness. In exile, it manifests itself, especially in the leadership, in cynical apathy, intellectual confusion, religious bickering and complete loss of political direction. Yet, this is also a world, unacknowledged perhaps, of selfless service, loyalty, love of country — and when called upon —of heroism and sacrifice. This is the world I have attempted to write about. This is Shadow Tibet.


21 Replies to “Why Shadow Tibet?”

  1. I have been reading your essays since a few years. I deeply respect the wholeheartedness with which you explore the ongoing situation in and around Tibet. I am myself deeply connected to Tibet, the Tibetan people, the Tibetan culture/religion and also the Tibetan language. I belong to the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Tibetan buddhism. I am member of the ICT and ISHR. I pray from the bottom of my heart for the welfare of all the Tibetans who are suffering that much in Tibet now, for an end to their suffering and for an end of the Tibet crisis. Tashi delek.

  2. Hi Jamyang-laa,

    Thank you for blogging. It’s about time. I’ve always admired your writing style and your ability to get to the point (and I really and truly don’t mind long blog entries; the more of you the better!). Victory to the gods!


  3. This is a great idea because the numbers of readers will expand to so many than if everything remain in print. I read the Entire book, “Shadow Tibet”, it just hit on the right spot. Keep writing and inspiring many more on the way.

    Freedom To Tibet
    Bodgya Lo


  4. I concur with the earlier comments. Thanks for getting your blog up. I am an early fan from
    your submissions to NewsTibet years ago. Thank you!
    I have linked to your site at my web site address above as well as here:


  5. hello,
    I am sure you have a very good understanding and deep knowledge of the Tibet’s situation. There is no doubt about that, it comes out so vividly in your writings. However, there is much more to do from intellectual people like you than merely writing and creating your own image [through various means]. At this critical juncture of Tibetan Struggle, people like you can make more difference by getting involved in the real struggle and doing something tangible than mere writings. We cant be like Salman Rushdie or Tasleem nasreen….. We have far more to go…….

    Bhod Gyalo…….

    If you like, you can email and share your response.[if you read your blog often]

  6. Jamyang la thank you for hosting this blog. Your writings make bigger contribution than mere annual demonstrations. Occasional burst of emotion and anger will neither convince China to give up Tibet nor help to counter Chinese propaganda intelligently. I have seen some patriotic Tibetans insinuating that you are not doing enough because you are not there among them shouting slogans once a year. Hope you will not be discouraged by their ignorance and keep doing what you are doing. Thank you again.

  7. Dear Jamyang la,
    Deeply appreciate for your energy towards Tibet. But recently, you said that exile government didn’t have strong policy towards the issue of Tibet.
    Can you please tell me the nute.

    I am looking forward to hear from you..

    Thang You.

  8. Jamyang la

    launching a blog is an great Idea! but output is what count after all.
    This blog will be the window of Tibet for the people of the world. As a Tibetan with outstanding language skill, you are resposible to create the awareness of Tibetan cause in the international sphere.
    Since you have profound intlectual view about the on goinging protest in tibet and world everywhere, we keenly intrested to hear your view, opinion, and strategy to enrich the masses thought, and educate them or us in another new political dimension.
    let us sail along with your …

  9. Hi Jamyang Norbu la,
    I really appreciate your voice for Tibetan Independence. You are not wrong to speak for the freedom of Tibet as our Tibetan government in Exile is democractic government. But You have to advocate your mission peacefully and carefully in the sense you need not to target or critise Tibetan government’s middle path. You have a right to choose or speak for Freedom and Tibetan government has also right to carry out policy of middle path basis on democractic ideaology and principles.
    So, Lets fight for the cause of Tibet differently and together but peacefully,of course !!

  10. Dear Jamyang,

    Where can your readers find copies of _Shadow Tibet_? The only thing I can find on Amazon was published in India in 2007.

    I am very glad to see you’re doing a blog!

    Best wishes,


  11. We Tibetans have become polarized in our quest for independence. We have one that seeks total independence and another that wants to coexist with the Chinese through the middle way approach. We can have different approaches to reach a goal but we can’t have two goals. It will split the Tibetans into a partisan politics.
    It is given that China plays a heavy hand in the international politics. Economically, they are providing manufacturing services to the biggest consumers in the world. Their military spending has the U.S concerned about their lack of transparency. They have a population with a higher ratio of male that is helping to boost their infantry might. Their population stands at 1.2 billion where as we were with 6 million. That is 200 Chinese to 1 Tibetan. Do the math.
    I seek the middle way to resolve our Tibetan issue because of the odds against us. Although it means signing away our rights that is granted under a independent status, the middle path will provide a path for us to step on.


  12. Jamyang Norbu la,

    I’ve always admired you not only as one of the greatest writers of our time, a scholar, a thinker, but also as a visionary, an inspiration, and a true freedom fighter.
    I’m thrilled to learn that you’re blogging. It is important to have people like you to enlighten us at this critical time of our history.

    Thank you!!!

  13. Respected Jamyang la,
    Truth is what we Tibetans have embraced, but somewhere i can often see y we got to act bit foolish kind.
    Is it coz of China being too giant..???
    I been told by my country friend, he fled Tibet 8 years back and his flash back stories made me in Tears. My mom was telling me that she was 13 wen she left Tibet and her mom died on the way. When i reflect such, over all its very confusing to me, yet is not my answer at all. I am here in Dharamsala right now and i did heard bit about u. Some says good about u and some says u are too extremist kind. Yet, from my pure perception. We need extremist to reflect the other part. Some call u salman rushidie or Taslima nareen kind… no matter what, i beleive we need some spice to reflect where we are heading towards. If we are truth follower, we must be truthful atleast. I am 33 years old. Born in south INDIA. I embraced buddhism yet, i am not that very religious. I have tons of questions in my head 24/7 when it comes to Free Tibet and enlightenment. Some times Enlightenment is like a stars millions miles away can visualise yet cant be there. And how come this span of life one can get enlightenment. There was a milarepa, but I prefer to live in a Free Tibet than the longing for enlightenment. M right here in Tibet Museum, I can hear the cries of my people, is very haunting and painful. I beleive, Truth about life is to live life fullest with no harm to else if u cannot help. this is my philosophy… And i am looking forward to grab yr book soon as possible. I read a lot and i do write also. I am looking forward to be one of the best critic in Modern Tibet in near future. Let them eyes roll over wen i pass by, Truth is wat i explore and embrace. Ciao kelsang here.

    Jamyang la, I personally agree totoally with complete awareness anout your stand & comments.
    Also younger generation inside and outside Tibet are under dire frustration with this failing middle way approach.
    We have our rich history of more than 2000 years. Where as the invader CCP has only about 50 years. After all we have the truth.
    Chinese & Tibetans never be happy side by side. Let the every Chinese pack-up their backpack & returned to china. And tibetans be happy in their own phayul. This snail pace of unending middle way approach brings nothing but extinction of our culture & loss of our identity. And off course our land of TIBET.
    BHOE- GYALO … !!
    Long live Dalai lama

    Long live Lhasang Tsering la. Jamyang Norbu la, Tenzin Tsundu la, Tendor la, Lhadon la, Ven Palden Gyatso la etc. Prayers for our brave brothers & sisters who have laid their life for the sake of our country to rest in peace & soon rebirth as tibetan.

    Pasang Tsering

  15. hahaha, proud that we share the same name. anyways you have my utmost respect though we dont share the same opinion or should I say I have no opinion whatsoever. I know it is very pathetic for a tibetan not to a stand or a strong believe that he wants to work for. I think more people are responding to this article because it is short and it was the very same reason I read it. But I cant wait to get myself together and find a time and more importantly the enthusiasm to read your article.

  16. dear jamyang la
    i am more strengthened when your work of magic flashes to the eyes of a growing dreaming….i am always mking it more to the extend. i would thank you r work with deserve and selflessness
    thank yu

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