The Jewel in the Ballot Box

This article was posted on in December 18, 2007, before I started this blog. I wrote it in response to His Holiness’s public statement about retiring and about seeking new ways to select a future incarnation of the Dalai Lama. I am posting it again here since the piece is related to the two previous essays and discussions we have had on the democratization of Tibetan society. I also intend to write a follow-up piece, to explore this complex but very important issue further. All comments, no matter how weird, critical or hostile, are genuinely welcome as important contributions to our national debate. Only deliberate spamming with multiple comment entries will be rejected by our web master. JN.


In 1949, Sawang Lhalu, the Governor-General of Kham, arranged to speak to the Dalai Lama’s tutor, Kyapje Trichang Rimpoche, at Lhasa over the radio. Robert Ford, the Tibetan government radio operator at Chamdo, wrote in his book, Captured In Tibet, that he wondered what the protocol would be for this somewhat unique situation. Lhalu seems to have solved the problem by first prostrating before the transmitter/receiver and then placing a khatag around it before picking up the microphone.

Should a Tibetan voter prostrate before the ballot box before casting his vote for the next Dalai Lama? This question popped up in my mind when I read His Holiness’s recent announcement about the possibility of His future reincarnation being elected by the Tibetan public. At first, I thought that this was one of those off-the-cuff statements that the Dalai Lama is well known for, and which have been known to cause mild bouts of panic in the ranks of the Kashag in Dharamshala. But some days after that His Holiness went on to elaborate on his proposal, stating that there were multiple ways in which the incarnation of the Dalai Lama could be selected, including picking a successor himself or having him elected in the manner of the Catholic Pope by a college of lamas. In His latest statement, he did not discount the possibility of a woman being chosen as the next Dalai Lama. But his most radical proposal has definitely been the one for holding a referendum in Tibetan society on whether he should be reborn at all. And, whether or not the institution of the Dalai Lamas should come to an end.

It was clear that, at least on one level, this was His Holiness’s way of countering the Chinese government’s announcement about its intention of controlling the reincarnation process of Tibetan lamas. As a tactical move it was certainly effective in that it received a lot of publicity and discussion in the international media and demonstrated that the Dalai Lama was not going to sit back and let China have its way on this issue. Most of the articles and opinion pieces were positive and sympathetic, and there was some approval of the Dalai Lama’s democratizing the incarnation process and Tibetan society itself.

Even in the traditional selection process of the Dalai Lamas, there were features that might be described as democratic, in the loose, non-technical sense of the term. Dalai Lamas have emerged from a diverse variety of areas and social classes. The first was from the most humble of backgrounds, and a number of subsequent incarnations were of peasant and nomadic stock. We are all aware of the solid rural credentials of the present incumbent. One cannot escape the “Log Cabin to White House” comparison, with a humble household becoming the first family in the Tibetan Buddhist world. The accompanying power and wealth would sometimes go to the head of the “Great Father”, the head of the household, in unfortunate ways, as happened in at least two cases in Tibetan history. Even if the institution did throw up a few problems like this, there was a common belief nationwide that at least the selection process was free of trickery or deception, and that every Tibetan household, or at least one with a pregnant woman at that moment, had a genuine chance of winning this greatest of national lotteries, as it were.

Now of course with the His Holiness’s proposals for a new and even more democratic method to select the Dalai Lama, one might speculate that perhaps the many drawbacks, big and small, that the old process entailed would be resolved, even if only in part. While the old system did have its share of difficulties, I mentioned one in the previous paragraph, the most glaring weakness of the system was unquestionably the interregnum between one Dalai Lama and the next, which was filled by a regent. Generally chosen from the ranks of the highest lamas in the Gelukpa church, the regents unfortunately had a tendency to give in to corruption and abuse of power.

His Holiness’s well publicized and sweeping proposals to change the fundamental basis of the Dalai Lama institution has definitely sparked discussion in the Tibetan world and I received quite a few e-mails and telephone calls soliciting my thoughts on the matter. So I sat down and tried to work out the consequences that His Holinesses various proposals might entail.

I quickly realized that the idea of electing the Dalai Lama, though certainly intriguing, raises considerable problems. Of course it would be ridiculous to select a number of child candidates and ask people to vote for one of them. I am sure His Holiness was not exactly thinking of that when he talked of elections. How could the public be reasonably expected to determine the spiritual qualities of a child candidate? In that case would the system then limit itself to adult candidates who could at least tell us about their spiritual qualifications for the job? Of course the candidates would probably all have to be lamas, or at least monks to qualify, which immediately takes away from the democratic nature of the process. Then the tricky questions come up, would the candidates be restricted to the Gelukpa church, or could candidates from other sects apply. In that case could a Bonpo be allowed to join the race?

There is also the real predicament that when the candidates are high lamas or holy people, how could we have an open and forthright national discussion about them? If you made a critical remark about one of the candidates then you would be hurting the religious sentiments of that candidate’s disciples or followers and they would definitely respond with energy if not violence. The fact of your criticism being honest, accurate or even well meaning would make no difference whatsoever. In the Tibetan Buddhist system the teacher-disciple relationship requires that the disciple should be absolutely non-critical and unquestioningly loyal. Of course, if the candidates themselves started to criticize each other and responded with any degree of passion we could expect conflicts between various groups of followers that could perhaps escalate into sectarian clashes. Lastly, we should consider the sort of person who would offer himself up as a candidate. One could safely assume that the wise, reclusive and saintly kind of lama would definitely not want to involve himself in such an election. Unfortunately, I can easily think up a list of all too worldly lamas who would fight tooth and nail to be the next Dalai Lama.

Among all of His Holiness’s proposals, the one I found most troubling was his idea of holding a referendum on whether the institution of the Dalai Lamas itself should come to an end. I am personally convinced that the Dalai Lama system should not only continue, but that the manner in which the incarnation is selected should remain unchanged. I feel it is absolutely vital that we be able to convey the impression, the conviction that the institution is permanent and inviolate. I could think of a number of reasons: historical, psychological, even sentimental, why we should do this, but the most important reason right now would be that the Dalai Lama is the living symbol of a free and independent Tibet, not just for the world, but most of all for those Tibetans struggling to survive, day after day, year after year, under the unrelenting and pitiless tyranny of Communist China.

We know what everyone in Tibet wants — from the humble peasant in Ngari, the solitary nomad in the Changtang to so many others in Kham, Amdo and U Tsang — is an opportunity to see His Holiness and receive his blessings. It must be understood that this desire to see His Holiness is not merely a religious aspiration, divorced from people’s sense of themselves as Tibetans. Feelings of identity, uniqueness and nationalism are often expressed in different ways, not necessarily aggressively or politically. The more potent and emotive are often indirect and symbolic. The Dalai Lama may see himself as a “simple Buddhist monk” or a teacher to the world, but for his people he is the living symbol of their long hoped for freedom from Chinese rule. In the last couple of years with Beijing cracking down on even those Tibetans it employs as officials, a genuine groundswell of devotion to the Dalai Lama and the hope of a free Tibet have become remarkably manifest all over Tibet.

But no matter how important we Tibetans may regard the institution of the Dalai Lamas, and would like nothing better than to see it continue unchanged, His Holiness himself has, on a number of occasions, made it clear that he would like to retire. Constitutionally this might create a problem since Dalai Lamas are not appointed or elected, so the question of retiring should not really arise. The Dalai Lama’s position is not even like that of a king, who does not become one until his coronation. Rather, the Dalai Lama’s is a lifetime job. He is born a Dalai Lama, and it is assumed that he is one even if the search party hasn’t yet made it to his village and found him. Even in his minority when he does not have the authority to skip a calligraphy lesson, he is still the Dalai Lama. Being the Dalai Lama does not seem to require that he have actual political powers.

And this is where I can begin to make out a single overall solution to these numerous problems that Tibetan society now faces: of His Holiness wishing to retire, of searching for a new Dalai Lama, of maintaining the tradition as the people in Tibet would want it, of countering Chinese efforts to control the reincarnation process, and of maintaining unity in exile society till the next Dalai Lama returns to his people.

At the beginning of this month the people of Thailand celebrated the eightieth birthday of their king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, with large-scale public festivities but also with heart-felt reverence. Theirs is something like the relationship Tibetans have with the Dalai Lama. The Thai people prostrate themselves on the ground in the King’s presence. Yet there is genuine affection too, and it goes both ways. Thais talk of their love for him as though he were a cherished member of the family. In his speeches to the nation he likes to joke and tease them. And like the Dalai Lama, the King is as much a spiritual leader as a worldly one.

During his six decades on the throne, Thailand has undergone changes as wrenching as in any other country. There have been other changes as well. This king has reigned through 17 military coups and 26 prime ministers. Amid this whirlwind, he has remained a reassuring anchor, a man who embodies Thailand’s history but who has also come to embody integrity and detachment from the squalid realities of day-to-day politics and business. He has lived the role of the virtuous chakravartin monarch (khorloe gyalpo) so well that almost the entire population believes in it and takes comfort from it. And it gives him a unique moral authority. When he speaks, people listen. They may, and often do fail to act on his advice. But he has been able to use that authority to settle a number of political crises.

Constitutionally the Thai monarchy is almost powerless. It is not political power but the only occasional use of the King’s traditional and moral authority that has allowed the country to make it way through a succession of unstable military and civilian governments. Former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun describes King Bhumibol’s authority as “reserve power” that, because it has been used judiciously and sparingly, has been decisive in maintaining the country’s stability.

The Dalai Lama should not retire and should remain head of state, but he should modify his role to that of a constitutional one like the King of Thailand’s. In this way His Holiness need not be burdened with the routine problems of government or with the unpleasant squabbles and strife of political life, but still retain a constitutional role to advise perhaps even arbitrate, in the case of a major national crisis.

Political power should rest entirely with the Tibetan people, as His Holiness has repeatedly said was his intention. The system we have now can in no way be regarded as a genuine democracy. The closest thing I can think of is Nepal’s former “panchayat” democracy. You can also quite safely compare it to those “managed” or “guided” democracies that you find in Russia, Zimbabwe, and other places in the third world. Of course, one could argue that our system is an improvement over the “people’s” democracies we have in North Korea or China, but that should not even be a consideration.

In order for His Holiness’s democratic vision to be realized, we cannot just wait for an independent Tibet in which to have a representative and liberal democracy. It is absolutely vital that our present exile government be chosen through a multi-party election system. It must be added that this should be done on a one person, one vote basis, since the present election system we have allows, in essence, for members of the clergy, to have two votes.

The democratic process not only creates a viable way to maintain the institution of the Dalai Lama in an acceptably traditional way, but also provides solutions for other crucial problems we will certainly face when His Holiness is not with us, such as: keeping up the hope of Tibetans inside Tibet, preventing social disunity in exile and averting a breakdown of the government system.

To the oppressed people of Tibet, democracy represents not only a goal of eventual freedom from Chinese tyranny but also the best hope for a truly just and equitable government of their own choice. As such, the promise of a true democratic Tibet will be an effective repudiation of repeated Chinese propaganda claims that Tibetan independence would mean a reversion to theocratic feudalism. Just a week or so after His Holiness’s announced his desire to democratize his selection process, Beijing issued an official statement (on December 11th) accusing the Dalai Lama of wanting to restore feudalism to his exiled homeland of Tibet. Hence the early and effective implementation of a genuine democratic process in our exile-society becomes a clear proof to the Tibetan people of the Dalai Lama’s absolute sincerity in his commitment to democracy for Tibet.

Right now the government-in-exile, especially within the working ranks, is tremendously demoralized. Officials are leaving in large numbers to emigrate to the West, and few people of ability appear to want to join. Samdong Rimpoche the prime minister has on occasion bemoaned the materialism of those Tibetans leaving for the USA and not working for the government. Rimpoche is not entirely incorrect in his accusations. Yes, many Tibetans want a better life in USA or Europe for themselves and their family, but that is perfectly understandable. Yet there are many others who want to stay and contribute, to leave their mark on Tibetan politics or accomplish something meaningful in society or government. The real tragedy is that there is no place for such people in the present day Tibetan political culture of pious defeatism and vicious sycophancy. Furthermore both the Kashag and the Assembly are marginalized in terms of real political power and have no meaningful role in formulation of national policy.

There has always been a standard practice in Tibetan society of criticizing, even putting down the Tibetan government and its officials while lavishly praising the Dalai Lama. Foreign supporters and friends often use this as a convenient justification for dealing directly with His Holiness and ignoring the administration. This has also resulted over the years in the creation, by Tibetan politicians and the like, of various independent organisations (like the International Campaign for Tibet and others) that draw their considerable funding and political influence from their close association with His Holiness, but are not accountable to the government-in-exile or the Tibetan public. There was the case some years ago when a Tibetan administrator in such an organisation even refused to serve as Kalon when he was offered the appointment.

Gradually the government has become marginalized and even Beijing has managed to add to this with its so-called “negotiation” that has created the impression that the Tibet issue is nothing but a personal matter of the Dalai Lama’s return. When His Holiness recently received the Congressional Gold Medal a number of the important American speakers at the event appeared to be entirely under this impression and fervently called on Chinese leaders to allow the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet. One speaker even appealed to Beijing to allow the Dalai Lama to return to China!

While on the matter of the Gold Medal ceremony at Washington DC, it was observed that some front-row seats at the function were reserved for heads of Dharma centres in the West, such as Sogyal Rimpoche and Nyarakhentul Rimpoche. The Tibetans involved in the organizing had not even bothered to issue an invitation to the Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, who I understand was finally instructed by Parliament to attend, and just managed to do so at the last minute. If the Tibetan Parliament and Kashag continually become sidelined and trivialized, then the government-in-exile will almost certainly collapse when His Holiness is not with us. The only way for it to survive and even gain legitimacy and authority is if Tibetan people all over the world feel they have a direct stake in its formation and operation, and also feel that their participation in the process is necessary, meaningful, and will bring about genuine results. Such an outcome can only be realized through a multi-party based democracy. Such a system, because of the role of a standing legitimate opposition, will also produce accountability and when required, change. No other system will be able to keep the Tibetans united when His Holiness is not with us.

When we flip the situation around, it also becomes apparent that only a strong functioning government can reasonably ensure that a genuine incarnation of the Dalai Lama is selected and properly installed as Tibet’s constitutional head of state. Of course, the State Oracle and important lamas will certainly participate in the selection process, but the overall and final responsibility for the process must lie with the elected government. The disastrous history of lama regents, such as Demo Rimpoche after the 12th Dalai Lama and Reting and Taktra after the 13th, have effectively demonstrated that there is no other way.

We must also bear in mind that the Chinese have made it clear that they will be putting up their own candidate. It is possible that, to make mischief, the Chinese might even bribe and encourage unscrupulous lamas in the exile community or some dharma centre to put up their own candidate. In such uncertain and troubled circumstances it is vital that we have a strong and unquestionably genuine democratic government that can unite all Tibetans to face and overcome such attacks on their religion and sacred institutions and ensure that the 15th Dalai Lama returns safely to his own people.


82 Replies to “The Jewel in the Ballot Box”

  1. Well, this is interesting. I always thought this unique yangsi tradition of ours is solely for Dharmic purpose. JN la, it seems like this lama tulku business has been politicized from the beginning through out the history. We know, that our lamas and kudrak has fought for their fame and power. The world may envy our spiritualism but, it seem to be our biggest weakness. Our parents unconditional faith had put them-self into very venerable towards abusive kudark and lamas. China knows this game and they already start moving their pawn, call, ‘Penchen lama’. Since we were the creator of this game, we had chekmet karmapa and Penchen both. But remember this, china is fast learner and they will master the game. So before we will be screwed again we should stop the game of finding golden child. the ball is still in our court. More then 80% of Tibetans, in and out still listen to HHDL. If HHDL announces that 14Th is the last one, then china doesn’t have a game. They may have a gun and sharp shooter but they don’t have target. We will be invisible but they know we are out there. China will be scared. HHDL should make sure that every Tibetan Knows well and understand well, why 14th will be the last and in future there shouldn’t be any god king. DL has lead us for fourteen generation, not four years or eight years, Fourteen f*****g GENERATION. And this is what we got. Think, people, think, if you have a brain. Lets not repeat the history, for haven sake. I don’t mean disrespect for our beloved HHDL, I am talking about our repetitive rotten system. Now young karmpa seems naively pushing toward next god-king. No disrespect for young karmapa and who ever the 15th DL will be, but SEPARATION OF STATE AND DHARMA is the necessary turning point for our free Tibet.Right now there is only one person in the face of this whole world who can do this with one finger snap, without any bloodshed. And that is HHDL, and by doing this he will be also off the hook from this awkward stupid situation of Shugden, that he himself put into. Bho Gyalo

  2. From your artical, it appears that you do now realize the importance of Kundun and the Institution and its inevitability. As a common Tibetan and barely literate,I feel very sad when you discuss post Kundun when Kundun is very much alive and actively engaged for the common good of all Tibetans and freeing our people from Gya’s exploitation. You have heard Samdong Rinpoche say during concluding ceremony of Special Meeting last year that the issue of reincarnation or replacement, whatever, is being considered and discussed. So, we don’t understand why you are so desperate after the institution. We believe in letting the time takes its own course. Be Honest. Would not you be hurt if you find your son (if you have one)engage in discussion about your death and post death. I am one of common tibetan public deeply hurt by your article. We are Tibetan at heart and not blunt like westerners. It may be practical. But in Tibetan homes we don’t discuss death. There is exception to Chinese because they want (it is their objective to) to hit where it hurt most. But you are a Tibetan, arn’t you?

  3. It is true that even a this juncture HHDL is the glue that binds us unruly mobs together and have led us through some 50 turbulent years of obscurity and yet it is painfully obvious that our enemies, the Chinese, are using our greatest strength to undermine our survival as a nation. It is their assumption that, after the Dalai Lama, Tibetan will fall apart and loose all sense of solidarity and break up into loose coalitions that they would be able to easily exploit. The failed “dialogues” and their apparent lack of interest in HHDL’s proposals are game pieces China is using to create a rifts in the Tibetan Diaspora.
    Therefore, the question is not of the survival of the institution of Dalai Lama but how well can we regroup and take up the challenge that the Chinese have thrown at us, with or without a Dalai Lama in residence. Will we break apart like a water melon, or will we still be able to become a rock hard Kalimpong Chur-pea in our resolve to be free.

    What most Tibetans seem to forget is that our oral history dates back to almost 4000 years and our written history to about 2500 years! Compare to this many years without a ruling Lama, the institution of the Dalai Lama’s is only about 600 years. Therefore it is clear that despite the lack of a Kundun for most its history Tibet did very well I should say. However, this is not to say that the institution of Dalai Lamas have not served us well, yet there comes a point in time that even great institutions become questionable in the minds of the people, especially when china is using it like a ceremonial dagger to pierce our national heart.

  4. Although I am not familiar with Thai politics I remember watching on tv the role of the Thai king in resolving some serious issues between two opposing factions. Being aware of the devotion of the Tibetan people for His Holiness, I agree with JN about the important role HH can play in keeping peace among Tibetans when Tibet is free.
    I am also skeptical of the new ideas of selecting the next Dalai Lamas. Most lay Buddhists understand that a tulku is born after the lama passes away. This has to do with people’s religious belief and not political alliances. So wouldn’t it be confusing and devastating for people if all of a sudden they have to start electing the next HH? As annoying and complecent some people can be I wouldn’t want to burst their Dharma bubble to that extend.
    Chinese cannot play with what they don’t believe in. Athiests do not believe in reincarnations. Their fake Panchen Lama is a joke and no Tibetan takes him seriously. China can’t hijack the next Dalai Lama simply because China cannot force the Dalai Lama to be born where they want him to. He chooses the place and he leaves the clues.

  5. Jamie,

    As early as 1969 the Dalai Lama made it clear that it was for the Tibetans to decide whether the institution of the Dalai Lama “should continue or not”. (Interview by Amitabh Pal, The Progressive, January 2006). In this case, when shall Tibetans debate this matter? Shall they wait forty more years? Shall they wait until it is too late…?

    There’s something funny about Tibetan conservatives such as you; they love to display and promote their blind loyalty to the Dalai Lama, but they never take into account his repeated requests for a larger public participation in political affairs and for critical opinions.

    You can’t hide from civic duties and social changes by hanging to the worse sides of your traditions — or else don’t be surprised being labeled as fundamentalist. Remember that Lord Buddha deplored superstitions and that death is a common subject in Buddhist treaties. Tibetan way of life is most beautiful in many ways, but definitely not when it comes to irrational perceptions, appreciations and beliefs.

    Christophe, a “blunt” westerner.

  6. Please Christopher, don’t impose your thought and phylosophy on us. U have to respect our feeling, if you want the same from us. Why you are making our business, yours? Unless you are genuinely concerned, we request you to change your profession. There is no dearth of genuine supporters and our people are also capable of taking care of our own needs and problems. About the institution of DL, it is our govt’s business and it is being looked into. So, the debate is uncalled for. Our govt. will consult people concerned or experts when necessary. I wish I had not come across this website. It broke peace in me. I did not know it would be that bad. I wonder …..

  7. If it broke peace in you, that means you are finally maturing. Hopefully, you will see through the pain and realize this is a discussion that must take place however unconfortable it might be. I also think the institution of Dalai Lama should continue but only in a sense of religious leadership and permanently detach from politics. If anybody can, Kundun can before it is too late and all the religious factions start clamoring for leadership role. Sometimes,it is quite to see the thoughts that have been running in your head for a long time but then it could be also that I might have read JN’s writing before and now think that it was my own idea. Anyway, that still doesn’t change the ideas themselves. I feel it is extremely important for Kundun to break this link between politics and relgion if we are to survive as a people before it is too late.

  8. Christophe or Tenpa Dhargyal Gapsi,

    if we are to survive as a people….? You mean you are …? If you don’t consider yourself human being, it is a good reason why you don’t understand our feeling (feeling of majority Tibetan). U have indirectly expressed what I have been trying to figure out. Then there is no point why I am arguing and wasting my time.

    JN must be happy after seeing this post. His objective is working. He wants Tibetans to fight among ourselves and forget about Tibet issue. He is using democracy as tool to break and divide us like chn and british did (divide and rule). He wants us to fight and hate each other. Bravo! But you will see that very few will get swayed by his reasoning.

  9. “Sometimes I get this great notion to jump in the river and drown.” Just singing. Winter does that to me. I hope you others refrain from killing yourselves.

  10. Kelsang or newgeneration if you can please copy and paste the article here if it’s not too long. I can’t access that link. Thank you.

  11. Here is the copry of article

    Tibetan separatist exposes Dalai Lama’s “democracy myth”08:27, October 21, 2009

    The Dalai Lama has always shielded himself with the “democracy” sign to cater to westerners. For example, the Dalai Lama said in an interview in Slovakia on September 10, “I’m not seeking separation. I’m totally devoted to promoting democracy.”

    The Norway-based Voice of Tibet, which is “pro-Tibet independence”, reported on September 10 that the Dalai Lama said during a meeting with the deputy speaker of the Slovak Parliament and other personnel that although the Chinese government is criticizing the Dalai Lama and the “Tibetan Government in Exile” for seeking to restore the old system, Tibetans in exile are carrying out a democratic system selecting their chief minister through election, which is the best response to such criticism.

    The Norway-based Voice of Tibet also reported on September 16 that the so-called “Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies” held a meeting on the same day passing a resolution to start preparing for the grand celebrations of the so-called “50th Anniversary of the Tibet Uprising” from September 2 – a move to concoct a “democracy myth”.

    However on September 9, Jamyang Norbu, a radical Tibetan separatist, published a long article on a “pro-Tibet independence” website titled “Waiting for Mangtso – a reality check on Tibetan Politics”, which pitilessly exposed the Dalai Lama’s “democracy myth” and again helped people see through the true autocratic features of the Dalai Lama clique.

    Norbu’s article first exposed the truth about what the Dalai Lama claimed was “the election of a chief minister by Tibetans in exile”. In his view, the so-called elected chief minister is merely a mouthpiece or puppet of the Dalai Lama and has to take responsibilities for his mistakes.

    According to the article, Gama Qoinpe, former speaker of the so-called “Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies” said that Samdhong Rinpoche’s resignation in July 2009 was due to the “abject failure” of the “middle way” approach promoted by the Dalai Lama.

    Norbu then wrote, “Which is essentially saying that the role of the kalon tripa in the exiled Tibetan government is not that of a prime minister in a democratic nation such as India or the UK (who actually initiates and formulates national policy), but rather that of a ‘first minister of the crown’ in a pre-democratic monarchy or theocracy. The latter statement about anticipating His Holiness’s thoughts reflect more the fawning of the grand eunuch in a decaying Oriental court than the free and candid expression of a democratically elected leader… The job of the prime minister in the exiled Tibetan government… is, first and foremost, to carry out the policies and wishes of the Dalai Lama, as Samdong Rimpoche himself has finally admitted.”

    Moreover, the article specifically pointed out in terms of the illusion held by some Tibetan separatists about the election of their chief minister that, “Nonetheless they are naive and misguided in assuming that our political system is a democratic one where an elected prime minister has the constitutional power to make fundamental changes in our core politics.” Therefore, even people on the Dalai Lama’s own side understand that the democratic system of “electing a chief minister” that was praised by the Dalai Lama is specious.

    Such deception can also be seen in the repression of opinions and thoughts. Norbu reviewed the violence and bloodshed seen in the Dalai Lama and his followers’ treatment of dissidents.

    Citing examples, he said that Kangga Chuchengesang, a Tibetan scholar living in Japan, was spat on and splashed in the face with ink after his books were considered to criticize the Dalai Lama. His daughter, who worked for the Tibetan government in exile, was taken hostage.

    Norbu also wrote in his article that as the newspaper started by the Animaqing Research Institute, a “Tibet independence” institution that he organized with others, has different views with the Dalai Lama clique, the work staff of the institute and newspaper sellers were publicly insulted and threatened on the street. The editors of the newspaper have regularly received death threats. Violent groups have entered offices to harass the staff in an organized manner. These violent activities have been excused by the Dalai Lama in a certain sense and he has never publicly condemned these activities conducted under his name.

    Most importantly, the “democracy myth” boasted by the Dalai Lama has a fatal defect.

    Democratic politics mean the separation of politics and religion in a secular society and feature a government of the people, by the people, for the people and dominated by the people.

    The democratic regime advocated by the Dalai Lama is actually an autocratic regime combining politics with religion, and features a government of monks, by monks, for monks and dominated by monks.

    In such a regime, politics and religion are not separate and the Dalai Lama is always the political and religious leader. Samdhong Rinpoche, chief minister of the Tibetan “government in exile,” is also a monk. Monks control critical departments in the “government in exile.”

    Norbu pointed out in his article that nowadays, exiled monks still have two voting changes in each bogus “people’s congress” election. They can vote once as a resident in Weizang, Amdo, Kang and other parts of Tibet. They can also vote for a second time as a member of their respective religious sect. In this way, the political power is firmly held by monks, making the Dalai Lama’s authority unshakable. For instance, Gemaqunpei, former president of the bogus Tibetan “People’s Parliament,” was immediately demanded to resign by monks shortly after he proposed to deliberate the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” approach. He was also threatened by violent groups.

    To maintain the Dalai Lama’s authority, the “government-in-exile” will even cheat. Norbu disclosed that at a special meeting of Tibetan exiles held between November 17 and 22 2008, various faked surveys, statistics and resolutions made the Dalai Lama believe that Tibetan people unanimously supported his “middle-way” approach and will never lose confidence in him and doubt his decisions.

    Therefore, it is easy to understand why an article published in the Wall Street Journal on November 17 said that the special meeting of Tibetan exiles was actually a “poll” for the Dalai Lama to consolidate his political position.

    The so-called “ongoing democratic system choosing a chief minister through elections” advocated by the Dalai Lama is a “political freak” with congenital defects, combining politics and religion, and adopting violence. Will such a “political freak” bring happiness to Tibetan people?

    In fact, a number of Tibetan independence activists also doubt about this, and this is why radical Tibetan independence activists like Norbu have called on exiled Tibetan people to launch a “democratic revolution” against the Dalai Lama clique in their articles.

    Here, we would like to ask: “How long will such a “democracy myth” doubted even by its own members be able to cheat people?”

    China Tibet Information Center contributes to this article.

    By People’s Daily Online

  12. I do agree with most of the folks that JN is doing a great job, but JN is making a fuss out of small incidents as if incited and instigated by HHDL. Also clearly exaggerating certain things like unreliabe statistics about majority supporting middle way and those statistics got from Tibet during last year’s meeting in November. Such writing only create fodder for enemy’s propaganda basis stronger. There is the danger that Tibetans inside might loose the hope placed in us. I wish JN can write much better articles about how to tackle the Tibet situation while facing China. He should not go down hill and his writing shouldnot be used by enemies. This article exactly and selectively quotes JN’s written articles and used against Tibet. I just posted it here, so we just not only lost in our world, but also have a glimpse into enemy’s world.

    Bod Gyalo

    [copy of the article removed for duplicate: see above for full article.]

  13. At least we have a democracy and our peole are working on it. What do they have? Let’s not play into their hands and start shutting up our own people for fear of what China will say. They are making millions of doolars but if their people critise the leaders they get killed. No matter how small and ill equipped, our people can criticise our government without fear of getting killed. Society that functions without fear of criticism is the healthier one. So who are they to talk about how imperfect our democracy is? They don’t haven one themselves.
    They are crafty enemey. They can’t directly shut up JN so they are trying to use our people’s faith in HH to work against the improvement of our society.
    China can’t pick and choose what they want to believe in. If they find JN’s work credible enough for them to quote to prove some point of theirs then they will have to accept JN’s demand for the return of our country. China can’t have it both ways.
    Anyway, instead of turning on each other let’s dissect pile of dung for what it is.

  14. They are misquoting JN! And making insinuations. We read his words. And no link to JN’s essay. That’s intellectual dishonesty. Anyway none of this is excuse for China’s barbarism of invading another country.

  15. Jamyang La:

    This Chinese article put you in a difficult position. My only worry is that when the Tibetan people in Tibet reads it, then it will definitely create a big misunderstanding and that the people in Tibet think you are on the Chinese side.

    Therefore, you should act fast, defend yourself, talk to radios and write article to expose the Chinese ultimate goal. Or you are totally off the Tibetan map.

  16. Tenzin Gawa,

    Your argument is rather condescending towards Tibetans living under Chinese occupation. Are they less intellectually gifted than you to jump to such a conclusion? I mean do you personally believe that Jamyang Norbu is “on the Chinese side”? Why should they think so…?

    Those few in Tibet who will have the opportunity to read this article are well informed readers, such as students, internauts and government employees. They collect their news from different sources, including RFA and Woeser’s blog, and as far as I know JN’s opinions are rather well appreciated by this “privileged” audience.

    Local TV stations may broadcast something on the topic (a Chinese version of the article has been published on CCTV’s website), but for the larger public, used to the most blatant propaganda, it will most probably not have the slightest effect.

  17. Dear Jamyang la,
    I like to know a short bio-data of yours.So chould write me your DOB, Birth Place , present responsibility in USA and so on, if you don’t mind

  18. Jamie, don’t be so malodramatic. Tibetans on this website, including you, actually care about what happens to our country and our future. Just a healthy debate and different perspective. Don’t let the chinese think we are divided. We are not.

  19. Then target China instead to the people in Dharamsala who are puting their body and soul into achieving some concrete. The media today revealed that China carried out execution to four Tibetans. Lets condemn the act. Lets not ridicule each other and play positive role to stop china. Critisism sometimes discourages people with semshug. Me letting China think we are divided? Its you who provoked us into answering. Just as we don’t discuss home matters in public, lets not bring our domestic problems and weakness in this type of platform. Or it will b used against us. There are other ways to sort things out. It will only make the matter worse.

  20. Jamie, We are a nation of six million people and it is not possible to treat that like a family problem. Besides, every country has its problems including great democratic countries like the US and India. It is better to be open about our weaknesses and work on it than pretend that it doesn’t exist.

    Unity is all right until one takes it too far at which point we become like those mindless millions marching for Hitler and Mao. Very uniform. Very zombie like.
    In today’s world, if you are a democratic society you cannot allow some people to cast two votes and others one. I think it is an honest mistake made by a new democratic society than a deliberate attempt to control. But even the best among us finds it very hard to own up to mistakes and correct them. So if our government has no ears for us little people let’s see if it has ears for China. Too many of our people are concerned about what China would think or say.
    What we should be worried about is that China has managed to make “Independence for Tibet” sound like an obscenity. The above article has no journalistic merit. It a concoction made from exaggerations, misqoutes, misspellings and lies. It is too obvious what they are trying to do. I don’t think any of us should allow them to play us this easily.

  21. and we were all very united until some of us decided to give Rangzen up. If you want to point fingers, it is not in this direction.

  22. Hi Folks, Many of comments still sounds very much inside the box of “Kyap soooo Che”. Spl Jime talking about the son and father’s feeling. Common man, lets be more practical. I am talking about the system that we are all, including HHDL is duped into. It is very weak. No matter how goodwill intention we have for the Rangzen. Dharamsala is still governing under the system same as Lhalu so pretentiously prostrating and placing Khatak to a microphone. We all know that HHDL had said people should have final decision in matter of his innstuition. My question here is, HHDL dosen’t know what the majority people will decide in this case? Well,So unenlighten man, like me can predict what majority of the people will decide in this particular case. So freedom of choice that HHDL give us is some what questionable for me, honestly. China is so very well aware of our strenght and weakness. I am sure they have well planed for our future ten, twenty years a head of us. We have to change the game plan, Start from saperating the state and Dharma. Dhasa can do better. Bho gyalo

  23. Jamie and his ilks exasperate me. Al they can do is hide behind the potrait of Yeshi Norbu.

    The very fact that some Chinese media wrote about Jamyang las article is a proff to me that they are worried about the impact of this. They are worried that Tibetans are more forward looking then them. So the ,next best thing for them to do is try to sow seed of discord.

    I read JN article and it doesn’t make me less of a patriot. Infact it gives me strenght and direction. It cuts out the job, we Tibetans have to d, if we are to survive as a people and get our country back. Tendra gyami bhod ney thadro tang goe!

    I think it is important for us to get ready for teh time when HH will not be with us. Its a fact and if you dont want to think about it, you are missing one of the central tenet of Buddha’s teaching. Death is the only truth.

    Power to the people!

    kyi hi hi!

  24. If anyone doubt Samdhong Rimpoche’s sincerity, then the critic is simply playing a devil’s advocate. There must be an underlying motivation for hauling such unfounded subjective personal assumption. The accusation heaped upon Samdhong was unreasonable, baseless. Samdhong runs the exile government with the principle of transparency, honesty, truth and nonviolence as a hallmark of all his activities. These ideals are reflected in all his policies, decisions in exile government. His personal life too is a metaphor of virtues and simple living and high thinking. Samdhong Rinpoche is a man of morality with impeccable personal integrity. So the vested personal interest driven of the critic’s hand can not overshadow the great brightness of the sun, so goes the Tibetan saying.

    JN,s article is a food for thought as always. I enjoy the clarity of this thoughts and the lucidity of his prose. However, there are cases, where he transgresses the red line. Where some of his allegation and claims are questionable. In one instance, JN jabbed at His Holiness the Dalai Lama in person as what he claimed is that the later turned a blind eyes to the mob violence against outspoken critics for exposing some of the social illness in Tibetan society. This is in stark contrast to just what another budding writer, Bhuchong D sonam wrote recently in his book review of Thupten Samphel’s debute novel “Falling Through the Roof’.

    “…In August 1972, Dawa Norbu wrote in the editorial of Tibetan Review that “…Tibetan leadership in exile tends to be more interested in spiritual pursuits than in the mundane affairs of a people who is gasping for its national existence.” In a fanatic twist of meaning, a small section of the exile community took this as a blasphemous and to be against the Dalai Lama. They chased Norbu with sticks, stones and a few fuming women flapped their aprons in the air, a traditional sign of absolute disgust generally reserved for Communist China. Only the sane voice of the Dalai Lama saved Norbu’s scalp. Jamyang Norbu, an outspoken public intellectual and a prolific writer, also suffered the same public wrath for his bold creative expression”.

    One also have to consider how many times His Holiness Dalai Lama are informed of these sporadic squabbles in Tibetan society, and is it worthwhile for him to publicly comment on each and every minor flare up in the society. When a small group of Tibetan voice their opposition against JN’s writings and others, nobody can shut them up. They are in democratic society, and they have every right to express their displeasure in any form except physical violence for what JN advocates. Flapping their aprons and jeering at JN is a demonstration of the intensity of people’s feelings towards certain ideas or thoughts. These demonstrators are not gifted with the ability to write like JN, so their expression came in an alternative physical forms.

    As political commentator, he can advocate his political ideology and views, that is his rights in a democratic society. The very fact that Tibetan in exile, compliment or at least tolerant his blasphemous actions itself point to the maturity of the exile democracy. As much as he is critical of the exile government and its policies, I too do not view his perspectives at its face value. JN’s argument that exile Tibetan democracy lacks the semblance of western democracy is a flawed argument, or to say he is a committing a bandwagon.

    Western democracy is one model of the system, and there is no reason for us to follow it simply because it is so popular. To say there is only one democracy in the world, and every nations or entite should follow it in all respect is is unhighly undemoractic . Tibetan exile government is run by a democratic system with Tibetan charateristics. It is functioning as such, given the circumstance and the time, that no other system can do better.

    The most relevant and well known definition of democracy is “by the people , for the people and of the people”. Exile democracy meets this criteria at its best, with the direction of the Kalon Tripa by the people, and formation of the assembly of Tibetan people’s deputies. As the system of Dalai Lama institution is the most unique to Tibetan people, and it is a system that Tibetan hold dear to their hearts. Any question of its relevance to modern society, can be decided by the will and wishes of Tibetan people themselves through a democratic exercise of rights. As HH the Dalai Lama himself repeatedly told to media, it is upto the Tibetan people, whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should be continued or not.

    His Holiness the Dalai Lama bestowed democracy to Tibetan people, he sees it the finest and best system of governance. The Dalai Lama also unequivocally announced there should be a separation of politics and religion. So it is evident that the exile democracy is in an evolutionary process and work in progress. It is moving on at a pace that suits the current Tibetan exile politics, therefore there is no need of a democratic revolution at the moment. Unlike America, where the founders of the nation built a genius system of democracy, which even can be run by a fool, whereas in exile, Tibetan people have wisely elected a genius person who runs a flawed system.I also would like to point Dhondup Tsering la’s rebuttal to JN’s fantasy’s

  25. Dhargyal La. Well expressed! Yes, we read Dhondup Tsering La’s point of view. I am 100% sure majority of Tibetans will agree with you and Dhondup La. We can now rest assured that there are people ready to counter Jamnor’s allegation and misinterpretation of facts, logyue and incidence (sporadic) as and when it appears. Dawa, Christopher and …. u are one person writing under different names. I am not journalist nor I have pretended to be one. I am common Tibetan deeply hurt by disunity in our community. I have a doubt that Jamnor’s intention behind his movement (for democracy) is indeed sincere towards Tibetans. Don’t go by my english. I got my message reach your head which was important for me. The Democracy did not come to US overnight. It took decades for evolution. The pace at which Tsenjol shung is moving ahead towards meaningful democracy is exemplary. Imposing abrupt change will only destabilize our community that is at very vulnerable stage. Bod Gyal Lo, Gya Phamshog.

  26. “Unlike America, where the founders of the nation built a genius system of democracy, which even can be run by a fool, whereas in exile, Tibetan people have wisely elected a genius person who runs a flawed system”

    Well, as long as you admit it is a flawed system, we don’t have much to argue, now, do we? We are not saying what the TGIE and H.H have done in the beginning when our people were facing a dire situation is without merit and most probably was the right decision, well, for the most part at least. It was a great achievement!! The point here is that we don’t have a ‘unique’ democracy but a rather a flawed democracy, which needs to be revamped and restructured to make it BETTER. And that is where all the discussions and suggestions and arguments are coming from. You seem to think we have a lot of time on our hands so that we can have this gradual flowering of democracy when in reality we are facing a dire situation and are moments away from the time when the shit will hit the fan. Now is the time to have proper party system and one vote one person.

    I have read Dhondup Tsering’s article and I liked it for the most part even though his arguments at the end were rather niave and self-serving. He admits it is a flawed too but has the same flawed assumption that we have plenty of time and that a voice will come out of the sky and tell us when it is time to have proper democracy. He states that our society has grown by placing Tibet first and provincial and sectarian biases second, and yet he seems to think we are not ready. It is not a democracy when the Prime Minister we elect is simply there to fulfil the wishes of H.H no matter how you want to twist it. Then he went on a bizarre leap of logic and claims that monks are more virtuous and less likely to succumb to power and politics. WHAT!! I am not a big fan of monks in politics and Dhondup knows that but I can’t very well stop them from running for office. My question is simply this (excluding H.H since he really doesn’t have a choice in the matter): why are they in politics to begin with? Haven’t they renounce their jostling for power and position when they put on the robes? I personally, being a firm believer in Buddha’s teachings, feel that monks in politics stain the buddha dharma and I know of no saints and mahasiddhas who advocated serving the people in this capacity (unless you are fully enlightened as in the case of mahasiddhas). It tampers with people’s faith and raises doubts and that is a great sin. Like it or not, that is my honest opinion and since I am never planning to run for office, I am not going to sugar coat it. The Dalai Lamas can’t never be said to work against the people but history has shown repeatedly that he can be used as a pawn to control the country and if they don’t play nice or if the other powers to be have the upper hand, Dalai Lama’s accidently lives for a very short time and then country is thrown into a limbo. China is eagerly waiting to pounce on this opportunity, just so you know. Comparing Dalai Lama to Kings of that era is equally telling of the logical error. There is a reason there are not many kings left.

  27. If your arguement is only for changing the electoral system of Tsenjol Shung, you can get it done through Droetsok without tainting the image of our dear and devoted leaders. Why have you send the representatives to ATPD? if you can not trust them for the job. You only have to get one of them to table the resolution. It will be decided then the fate of such resolution. Why make fuss and drag our leaders? We have reason to doubt that there is hidden agenda behind the posting by some. It doesn’t seem just the electoral system.

  28. One clear sign that there is no democracy in Dhasa is that you Jaime and otyher anit-democracy persons have to come on JN blog to join a discussion on Tibetan democracy. I have not seen your comments in Tibetan newspapers like Sheja and others. I have not seen any real frank and free discussion in Dhasa media at all. Please understand we who are reading JN blog and joing discusiion (I only sometime) are having rare chance to join democrtactic debate. Where else is such debate. Jaime your comment is important. But don’t acuuse other of having hidden agenda. What is your hidden agenda? Do you want to be kalon? or kalong tripa.?

  29. My joining this blog doesn’t mean that I am exercising democracy because I had no platform elsewhere. I don’t need platform to express the truth. Effort is only needed when you yourself are not in conformity with your own view.

    If my joining this debate makes you feel you have audience to listen to and argue with, then I am going off this link from this minute. I don’t want you to have delusion that we approve this platform.

    If you don’t have hidden agenda, why don’t you come in open. Arrange live debate and participate. I challange Jamnor to bring all the participants in his blog to a round table discussion. I doubt there will be same strenght because the argument they express behind the wall hold no truth and has no basis.

    My candidate for Katri would be someone farsighted and close to Prof. Samdong Rinpoche in wisdom. Lobsang Singe La, Gyari Rinpoche, Kasur Tashi Wangdi are my choice. Not the one who is controversial and who is likely to overhaul and disturb the exile community.

  30. Jamyang,

    I have a bit of an off topic request relating to the introduction to your article.

    I am a student from Tufts University in the U.S. studying in Kathmandu through the School for International Training. Part of the program is a one month independent study research project.

    I plan to recount the Chinese invasion through the lens of Tibetan radio, particularly radio in Lhasa in the 50’s and 60’s. I am in Kathmandu currently and will be in Dharamsala for my research project. If you could recommend anyone I could talk to, particularly someone who was involved in radio at the time, I would be very grateful. Or if you have any other recommendations for resources on Tibetan radio during the Chinese invasion, I would appreciate it.

    Sorry if this is off topic, but I wasn’t sure how else to contact you! Thank you!

    -Irene R.

  31. The incumbent Dalai Lama must resign from his political office for the good of future Tibet. There must never be a political 15th Dalai Lama and hence no interregnum.

  32. Dear JN la and all the Commentar, here is my question. Is our fate depend on this little girl from south India who looks like, Chuya in a Dipa Matha’s Movie Water. Please visit youtube and serch for title, ‘HHDL Prediction part 1 and 2′. it has been broadcast on french tv call French24. This cute little girl says Tibet will be free in year 2012 and Dhasa Shung seems to be excited.Please visit the site and hopefully you can understand my rage

  33. It is said “those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Therefore state and church must always be separate. Please no more lamas in politics. No more destruction with good intentions. Enough is enough.

  34. Addition to Comment # 36
    The current national flag needs to be changed to a secular flag, so that each and every Tibetan can identify with it. Not just Gelugpas.

  35. Hi Atsong….. I do not think that the national flag has to be changed to a secular, itself is secular already. Did not you read the national definition of our national flag, it is not merely for Gelupa or for any particular group sect. I hope you do not to raise misinterpretation among the society. Our nation is enough in burden; do not try to create any extra burden to it. I think that what you are thinking the flag is indicating only Gelupa is because of its side color is yellow…right???? No it represent Buddhism….think in to positive way….do not stuck at narrow minded

  36. Atsong, would you mind explaining what the national flag of Tibet has to do with gelugpas? In any case, I don’t agree with that as it is already established as the flag of Tibet and changing it now will only cause more confusion than solve anything. It is not the flag but the system we have to change.

  37. ATSONG,
    I asked the same question(your posting # 37) to Jamyang Norbu and others and nobody cared to answer even briefly. All day long they talk about the importance of secular multi-party democracy which is fine and beautiful but when it comes to step by step action on the ground that we ordinary Tibetans can do, they are just silent.
    Why this voltaface? I can be a good foot soldier but I need help.

  38. Its deploring to see how some people (likes of Thompa and Atsong) are hell bent on discrediting someone who has lived his entire life for the benefit of our people. And it is Jamnor who has allowed the platform for them. It is blatant lie that Dhasa Shung is excited with little Indian girl’s prediction. You are misleading us. Media writes anything. Its their job but one should analyze the fact before getting overwhelmed. Changing national flag? You must be Maoist followers who were recently seen debating the same. Tibetan national flag is illustrious resembling unique Tibetan identity. What this man has got against Gelugpa? Very narrow and sectarian thinking.

  39. Dear Mila, Now you realize? We will only feel his presence in the website or book. He will not do anything but criticize. There is no action plan in ground with JN for overhauling our system. He likes to show off his english knowledge skill. This is what we feel and understood. Mi Khashe kyon-joe matok leka jhe-kyi ma red meaning “Some people doesn’t work but only criticize.”

  40. Jamie(or is it Gyami?),
    Yes, he is more bookish than being practical however JN’s criticism is largely constructive spiced with a little drama and excitement here and there to carry on the reader. Besides, one individual cannot do all. What is sad is this that all these so called independence leaders don’t have a unified organization and strategy.They want the govt to do something. Fair enough. But they also come up with something on their own. They hardly get along with each other.It’s all about asking about the ask to the exile regime as much as middle way regime is talking about the talk to Chinese regime. It’s one vicious circle.It seems they have vowed not to join independence organization like TYC any more. They say they find more freedom to do OR SAY what they want outside of it. What’s the problem? A dissident style?

    Well having said that I must say I have no confidence in this one-party regime at Dhasa that has a history of not taking responsibility for its failure and instead uses a system of oracles as a dodging strategy. In 1904 the so called state oracles promised victory when British India attacked us but what we actually got was defeat and humiliation. Then in 1949/50 when Chinese forces were advancing towards our frontiers the state oracles advised us to do “makdor” puja to ward off the military threat! Then in 1985 they said the dawn of independence has come. It’s only a matter of time before sun of independence rises and shines. 24 years later we have oracles that foretells of a day in 2012 when the HH visits china and so many people die out of sheer happiness in having an audience with HH and that 1.4 billion Chinese will shake the Chinese regime to the point where Tibet will be granted freedom! China will willingly and voluntarily walk away from Tibet.
    All this in the middle of a fact where Chinese military/economic/political might is on the nonstop rise in the global politics. China got Manchuria, Mongolia, Tibet, East Turkestan, Hong Kong, Macao, and soon it will be Taiwan, Tawang, Ladak, Manipur, Nagaland, Megalia, Assam, Tripura, Mizoram, Bhutan, Nepal etc

    Back to square one!
    JN is the only horse among the donkeys!

  41. Atsong,
    The core motif of the national flag is the snow lion which featured on the battle flags of Tibetan armies in imperial times. The 6 red rays of the sun symbolize the six ancestral tribes of Tibet: Se, Mu, Dong, Tong, Dru and Ra. the mountain stands for the Tibetan Nation. Nothing religious in these symbols.

    The only overtly religious aspect of the flag is the yellow border, which symbolizes buddha’s teachings. It is interesting but this yellow border does not appear on the the earlier flags.

  42. Jamyang and Atsong,

    What is also interesting regarding the flag’s yellow border is that it doesn’t close the four sides. In original editions of a booklet published by the Tibetan government in exile (and still on many sources, such as Wikipedia), it is stated that this dissymmetry represents “Tibet’s openness to non Buddhist thought.”

    Unfortunately, this precision was removed from subsequent prints and the official description is now that the border “symbolises that the teachings of the Buddha, which are like pure, refined gold and unbounded in space and time, are flourishing and spreading.” (

  43. Jamie, JN probably worked more for our society in various capacity than anyone of the people here. Just because somebody possesses good command over english doesn’t guarantee great insight and great clarity in their thoughts and display such remarkable political acumen. If you still don’t believe me, you should meet my college english professors. haha. You know you should relax a little bit because every other line from you is a doomsday scenario. See, we agreed that we shouldn’t replace our national flag. Lets build on that.

  44. I also saw about the “Tibet’s openness to non Buddhist thought” that Christoph talks about to explain the side that is without yellow and remember thinking that it sounded little too modern. I know tolerance of differences existed but I bet it was not announced like they started doing it in the 21st century. I don’t know exactly how to put it but I hope you get the general drift.

  45. Dear Jamie, you said, “My candidate for Katri would be someone farsighted and close to Prof. Samdong Rinpoche in wisdom. Lobsang Singe La, Gyari Rinpoche, Kasur Tashi Wangdi are my choice. Not the one who is controversial and who is likely to overhaul and disturb the exile community”. Thats were I think you are wrong. I used to think like that too untill I hit my twenties. Then there was JN la, Lhasang la, late Prof Dawa norbu la and so on. if you look into their bio with open minde. They did contribute to and for our Rangzen and still doing it. they dont get paid and praise like your candidates. The Candidate for Katri that you mention are bunch of politition, not a freedom fighter. Please be honest and tell me. First we dont have one squre ft of land and here comes some one wants to became our Prime Minester and such and such minester. dont you think it is kind of weird??? Dont you think there is some think wrong? And by the way did you watch that 2021 prediction on youtube? “You are misleading us. Media writes anything”. Thats an pity excuse Jamie, if you watch that then you should see that they went to Nachung orical. Didnt you hear what that monk read and said from piece of paper?? be realistic man.

  46. Hi Thompa, To qoute your sentence “First we dont have one squre ft of land and here comes someone wants to became our Prime Minester and such and such minester” In one point we see you discuss the need to empower PM or separating state and religion and here you are indicating otherwise. Good thing about Tibetans (which we call Sangchoed) is that they don’t campaign for self. Prof. Samdong Rinpochoe was elected to the post but he never said that he was capable. Which is why he earns huge respect of the mass. Now you are spoiling this spiritual environment by politicising the position. Havn’t you heard? Politics is a dirty game which you are playing. You said “someone wants to become PM and minister”. Who wants to become PM? Has anyone declared to be in the race of PM? am very anxious to know. There are medium to express your grievance, if you have any, but this platform is for those having vested interest. Jamnor la, thanks for clarifying on our national flag. There were other objectionable remarks on which you did not clarify and kept mum.

  47. We need to help our own. No government or any Dalai Lama going to help the country. Thats the ultimate truth. We have been surrounded by some useless countries and they can’t even solve their own matters.

  48. Jamie, not campaigning for oneself is another thing that needs to go away because manipulative people pretend not to campaign in public but do whatever is necessary to get elected. It becomes a competition about who can act the best. This also negates accountability when they safely say that they never wanted to lead in the first place and people ‘forced’ him to be the leader. Lets cut the Bullshit and elect people who can be at least grilled about their platform, about their vision and their policies before and during their leadership. I am tired of Tibetan people pretending and acting like they don’t care when they are the most ambitious and power hungry. Jamie, let me ask you a few questions since you have been avoiding some real issues with your foggery (not a real word).

    1) Do you think it is fair for a person to have two votes when others have only one?

    2) Do you think a person or a personality is more important than the system or the country? Here I am referring to 3rd term for Kalon Tripa to remove all doubts.

    3)Do you think Tibetans are so backward that we can only be guided by a divine being? Even when Kundun in his infinite wisdom and far-sightedness bestowed democracy and is gradually trying to let tibetans rule themselves. Don’t you think it is about time we let go off our baby blanket?

    I know your answer to the third one but I just couldn’t resist.

  49. Answer to your question # 1. This is an issue to be addressed in Chithue Drotsok, the law makers. Don’t you trust any Chithue to introduce the bill. They are elected to do the job of Tibetan people. Didn’t you vote them? You are not exercising your right if you are not voicing your real concerns that concerns majority of Tibetans.
    Questio # 2. Didn’t you hear Rinpoche announce that constitution can not be amended for single person. He didn’t want his supporters to live in false hope which is why he himself declared that his third term is not possible. So, why fear?
    Question # 3. Kundun has bestowed democracy and majority of Tibetans feel that they are exercising it without intimidation and manipulation. No system is perfect in the world. Even the system you now concieve and propagate, may be proved flawed in future. For your kind information we are not immatured. We know what is right and wrong for us. You need to get off cradle because you seem to say things under influence.

  50. Jamie, it must be nice to be in your make-believe land where you can answer out of your ass and think people are gullible enough to believe you. I specifically asked YOU for your honest opinion and it was really dissappointing to see you dodge the issue but you have the gumption to accuse others of duplicity. Who the hell is the WE?
    1) Deliberate avoidance which implies that you know what the answer is but you choose to avoid answering it. That tells me something about you.
    2) Refer to my previous post about people pretending not to care about holding public office. I don’t buy his pretense for a millisec and that speaker of the house who is proposing this needs to be tarred and feathered, put on a donkey backwards and then given a swift kick in the rear. It is unconstitutional and lays a bad precedence for the future. So, how many can a person run then? 3, 4, 5, how about for life then? This kind of institution doesn’t give other people to develop into leaders and makes the populace reliant on one personality. I think we have had enough of this.
    3)That is the problem with you. You are scouring the countryside for a utopian ideal for a govt. Let me be the first to burst your bubble: IT DOES NOT EXIST!! Nobody says that democray, not Tibetan “democracy”, is without flaws. The unique thing about democracy is that it accepts that it is flawed, not because of the institution or the books of governance but because, being human, we will find a splendid way to screw it up – without fail. That is why there are checks and balance, power distribution, ability to replace the head and voter empowerment and leadership accountability. IT works! It may not be perfect but it works. So, the idea that it is without fault is deliberate strawman logic and I keep catching you and calling you out on it and yet you keep on doing it and pretend it is respectable way to put forward you points.????

  51. What about the twelve yellow rays from the sun on our national flag? Sun of happiness shines etc?
    The colors red and dark blue represent the two state protectors and therefore have religious significance which have to be done away with once secular bi-party democracy pops up.

  52. I concur. I like the flag the way it is. We need not go all the way to the other extreme because you know if you go far enough, you will meet the other side.

  53. I’ve been looking but cannot seem to find an online transcription (the Tibetan and Chinese original) of the Jokhang 821-822 treaty pillar.

    I guess I’m spoiled in the modern age, expecting everything to be digitally available!

    I think it’s important to have the Tibetan & Chinese versions handy, especially in discussions with Chinese people; does anyone know whether someone has already committed them to digital form? Including the fourth side of the pillar which lists the witnesses?

    Thank you so much for any leads!

    Sheila Shigley

  54. One thing I can’t understand HHDL is that: he keeps on Bush bashing while on his tour of West but never heard bashing Mao Tsetung. Is he going the left wing media circus.

  55. Snow lions don’t exist on earth so remove them from the flag. A symbolic gesture of saying no to superstition. Have a yak or even a wild yak will do if it helps in conveying a brave tough free spirit message but not snow lions. Instead of red make it six yellow sun rays over a blue sky.
    With the adoption of a weak-kneed approach to our situation HH sees only boundless wisdom in making sure the Chinese regime is not hurt/embarrassed in any way. The policy is to make uncle china feel as comfortable as one can possibly imagine. Quite similar to “unstated thoughts”!

  56. There should be two Dalai Lamas:

    1) a religious Dalai Lama recognized by the lineage holders of the four sects, the regent, and the tutors.

    2) a political Dalai Lama, who is a layman and endowed with the capacity to protect and defend the Tibetan nation by any means necessary.

    The former Dalai Lama will uphold the religious lineage of the Dalai lamas. The latter Dalai Lama will F**K up China.

    The former Dalai Lama should be the genuine spiritual reincarnation as determined by the foremost tulkus.

    The latter should be someone who, for once, can get the job done. He should be elected by a panel of political representatives that completely excludes anyone whose position was earned through religious basis. Only through political credentials will the political Dalai Lama be selected. Then maybe something gets done.

    We need a wrathful 15th Dalai Lama to take the fight to China, because this placating of genocidal rapists has got to f**king stop right here.

    This sounds totally crazy to Tibetans, but you should start considering what appears to be totally crazy, because 99% of the sh*t you have tried has done nothing for your nation.

    Sarva mangalam.


  57. Aonther Modest Proposal, or why Prescott should be appointed the 15th Dalai Lama

    Whereas I am bereft of spiritual realization or qualities, at this time of imminent urgency, when the future of Tibet lies hanging in the most precarious of states, allow me to express a few reasons why I should be elected the next Dalai Lama.

    1) I will not accept autonomy, but will fight for Rangzen, the birthright!
    2) I am not a monk. I am willing to kill as many Chinese as is necessary to secure Tibetan independence.
    3) I am not bound by monk’s vows, so when the Chinese rape our women, I will kill them to the last man.
    4) I support guerilla insurrection in defence of the Tibetan nation.
    5) I will get sh*t done.
    6) my negotiative strategy revolves around the opportunity to b*tch slap my Chinese counterparts.
    7) I will support and advocate equally for all four sects, plus the Bonpos
    8) I don’t differentiate regionally, so Central Tibetans, Amdowas, Khamps are all welcome in my fight
    9) I am not afraid to die for the cause.
    10) I will not tolerate torture, but will slaughter the Chinese genocidal monsters as frequently as possible

    Now, I don’t know a thing about Tsongkhapa or the Lam Rim, so you won’t get very good teachings from me. But I would deliver a lot of Chinese rapists and murderers in body bags, and if we don’t get freedom, at least we would have the satisfaction of blood vengeance for 50+ years of brutality against the people.

    I could go on. But you get the point.

    Cast your ballot for me, Prescott. The best Inji standing in line to be the 15th Dalai Lama. Of course, you’ll have to change my title from ocean of wisdom to puddle of tears, or something. (wink)

    p.s. seriously, the issue does need to get resolved but since I perceive the typical inaction and lethargy of the Tibetan community, all I can do is joke here, and ask you to vote for me.


  58. You are (comment # 58,64,65) using dirty and derogatory language in this site which I found offensive. This shows how much you respect your readers and audience. This is a real or true picture/image of you, Gapshi or Prescot whatever. Dokyad thongso. Now, i really prefer to leave this site for good. I thought you are genuine people and your concerns were real. Now I know that you are bunch of hooligans and Trouble makers. Blow your trumpet hard! Vent your frustrations. Common people want to see action (on freedom movement, welfare, education, job, health etc.) not the gossips and spicy or build up stories. Your only interest is how to destabilize exile government and people so that you guys can reign. But, I am sure majority of our people knows who can be confided and whom not to.

  59. Dear Prescot, Maybe you are Joking But I dont find any humer in it. It shows that you are not getting what we are talking about here on this blog. We are not looking for Bin laden or Hitler type of leader for our strugle. We love our current leader but only problem here is he is bit old and stuborn. You know, Like our grand Father. We are looking for change in our system. for exp,Right now nobody in our community can ask him hard and difficult question. Every thing he says is an order disguise as suggestion. you know things like that we need to chang. BhoGyallo

  60. I don’t know if we can vote for the Dalai Lama alter-ego but I would defintely vote for Prescott as the next Kalon Tripa. Just one more (short) step after that, Prescott!

  61. We have around 4000 christian Tibetans and 8000 Muslim Tibetans. They are wondering if it’s possible to have 2 seats each for them in the parliament like the Tibetan Buddhist sects and bon religion have.
    If we continue with this choka-cholug system me thinks what they are asking is fair enough. Do you?

  62. I was happy to see the MP are having candid discussion about the current situation about the in and out of Tibet. I think it is what the democratic stand for. Discussion will bring the thing that can not be found by singular mind.
    But the most embarrassing and irksome or tedious part is the how our MP’s mind is dominated by the sense of regionalism and factionalism.

    That bold women spark the issue with certain ulterior motive, and it had the burnt the heart of many hard –core factionalism devotee, When she utter the past- loyalty of her family, many MP with little tarnished image boil in furious anger and started react hotheadedly or rashly. Consequently the factionalism among the group appeared more and more clear.

    Only Gari Bhutuk made neutralizing suggestion to deescalate the soaring rift in the little assembly hall made me a space to hold the breath. But senior speaker Karam Choephel seem venting his entire frustration of failure.

    So thing that is in our hand is be careful while voting

  63. MP Dolma Tsomo!
    Your effort on how to go about(!) having atleast a parliamentary discussion on the following is deeply appreciated.
    1. Bi-party or multi-party democracy
    2. separation of religion from politics
    3. one person one vote system
    4. opposition party
    6. lower house and upper house
    7. prime minister and deputy prime minister
    8. or president and vice president
    9. population based MP representation
    What obstacles can we expect in trying to achieve genuine democracy and how can we over come them? YOU CHITHUES ARE THE GREATEST OBSTACLES! Help!
    We urgently need to bring about a dramatic change in the “democracy” system we have now and time is now in exile(so in a free Tibet we will have a walking/running democracy!) however long it takes and whatever the price is! I believe deep down HH supports it. But we must ask first! There sure must be many hurdles but statelessness can not be made an excuse not to implement it. In fact, it should be a reason to get it done so future generations will not be where we are today!
    Thank you.

  64. After reading these comments, I have come to the conclusion that Jamie has all the makings of a leader…a DICTATOR.

  65. There is the sense of copying western political system in its entirety is progressive, otherwise, everything is either superstitous or backward. This is a symptom of either lacking practical experience or knowledge about the entire movement. When we talk of movement, many people normally has the narrow vision which is only limited to the exiled minority population. A Big Wrong!!!!

    First of all, we need to weigh advantage and disadvantage in the context of our freedom movement. Even cultural, political, religous, spiritual, and other aspects of the community are equally important as the political system. Thus, we need something that is sensive to the need of majority, at the same time, creates a healthy political system that sustains institutions and individuals.

    Many folks argue that political parties must be allowed in exile community and these parties should contest for parliament and kalon positions. This is normal and nothing new or surprising argument since we are in the 21st century and party-politics are heard everywhere, even in a dictatorial nation, where one party’s view is propagated. The fact is, we only do “TALKING”, not “ACTION”!! Those who believe in “parties” should start forming parties and campaigning for their goal. When parties are formed, if their right to run for governmental positions is either denied or the parties are banned or not recognized by the government, then it is the time to talk and criticise. For now, there is no basis for argument, the only basis for argument is either ideological or intellectual knowledge.

    It is also kind of irresponsible to expect government to do everything for us. We need to look around and see how other country’s political progression towards democracy is made! In many parts of the world, people won democracy and freedom through blood and war. We, Tibetans did not have to win it through blood and wars. That is a top-down democratization whereas others democracy was bottom-up movement.
    Therefore, we should put what we believe into practical action. Most of the folks writing here either in a comfortable home in the west, sometimes, do not even attend a protest or a rally or a discussion! If this is the case, then what is the hack? Believe me, I know many such folks and as I work for an organization currently in my free time, it only exposes who is real patriotic or not, who is talking or walking. by the way, this is a great experience.

    Therefore, watch with two eyes, not with only one eye! Take action more, bullshitting less! Join or organize activities in your localities and educate folks of your own decent and folks from other communities. Practically do something that helps the life of Tibetans in Tibet.

  66. While I am not Tibetan an so cannot speak to a personal experience of this issue, I think there are two very important points made here. The Tibetan government in exile cannot be continually marginalised, there are too many splinter groups already. The best impact will come from a united front. If the Tibetans themselves cannot get behind their government in an effective and supportive manner than whatever support comes from the rest of the world will not be as strong either.
    The other problem is that no-one wants to think, even for a second, of what it will be like when His Holiness is no longer with us. This is the biggest block to clear thought about the succession and how to approach it. But if we really have faith in His Holiness then we have to trust that he knows what needs to happen. (And pray every day for his long life and good health!)

  67. Hey Mila! You said “In fact, it should be a reason to get it done so future generations will not be where we are today!” You think-we don’t know-where you are? you are in Ari making fast buck, happy and contended. You sounded as if you/we are suffering. Only people who are suffering and need to get over is-people in Tibet. And their first and foremost wish is to see Dalai Lama return to Tibet. Your partisan tactics will only trash their dream. Go to Tibet, if you have real semshug!

  68. State of Tibetan is not too bad that warrant overhauling. Even if overhauling was deemed necessary, this can be achieved by healthy discussion, in good environment without criticizing other. Whatever system was introduced it was done in good faith according to need of that hour. We all understand this, so criticizing will only create rift among people. Tibetan will not forgive you, JN, if any misfortune or Goechak befallen on us with your hardline approach. We feel that this platform is very dangerous for us. We can’t say now what is the real agenda or objective behind the campaigns and postings here. As they are done without revealing their identity. (Except JN himself no other’s identity is clear.) They are more likely Gyami or their spies and agents. Karen, I agree. We have full faith in HH. However, there are some people who are hell bent on discrediting who worked hard for the benefit of majority Tibetans. Just like China, these people are jealous of achievements and success Tsenjol Shung has made in 50 years. Instead of paying tribute if people are engaged in blaming, no one with genuine SEMSHUG will come forward to take social and national cause in future. Because they will know the fate of such sacrifice from the present incident. Only currupt with vested interest will reign on then. Ultimately, we Tibetan will be labled most ungrateful community in history.

  69. Dorjee (alias Jamie),

    You have the nerve to criticize those who do not reveal their identity, but as far as I can see you are using the same IP as Jamie, the same e-mail address and the same kind of arguments. Are you sure isn’t it you who have a hidden agenda…?

    Golok Ambum

  70. Karen, I agree that united front is always good for any entity but in our case our exile government has given up the reason for our struggle. It has given up on our right to independence.
    Golok Ambun knows I am typing from office 🙂 :O

  71. Dorjee or Jamie,
    I am speaking for the present and future of all Tibetans majority of whom are slaves in their own land. Where I am is irrelevant. Look, majority of Jews live outside Israel but they continue to do their best to those inside Israel or else Israel would have been literally run down by the Arabs long ago. Had it not been for the support of Jews in Ari the state of Israel would not have come into being in the first place.
    As much as we wish HH will never make it to Tibet for the simple reason that there is no dearth of pre-conditions in the great hall of china. Well, let’s say HH makes it and Tibetans inside Tibet are busy hugging HH and each other and shedding tears and then what? This desire to visit Tibet and everything else must come under the goal of political independence which HH has buried under the mountains of rationalization, political naivety and wishful thinking.

  72. Dear Mr. Jamyang Norbu,
    Hello, my name is Molly. I am an American student, studying abroad in India on a Tibetan Studies Program. For the last four months, under the directorship of Dr. Tara Dolye, I have been living in Dharamsala taking a Tibetan Language Class, a Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy Class, and a Tibetan Culture and Civilization Class. It has been quite wonderful. As part of my program, for my final month in India, I am to conduct an independent research project. For my project I have decided to look into the selection process of the “next Dalai Lama”.

    My interest in this project was sparked after learning about China’s State Order No. 5: “Management Measures for the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism”. Since this policy was implemented in the fall of 2007, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has made numerous statements about possible scenarios with respect to the selection process of the next Dalai Lama. Many of these statements have triggered conversations both in the Tibetan community and international community; nevertheless I am most curious about what Tibetans have to say on this matter. Is there a general overarching opinion from the Tibetan community about selecting the next Dalai Lama? Or does the opinion vary by different sub-populations of the Tibetan community?

    In order to determine what the common opinion of the Tibetan Community, I would ideally like to speak to as many different people from as many different backgrounds as possible. This would include people who are both historically and currently connected to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This list is comprised of but not limited to people in the Dalai Lama’s private office (e.g. Tenzin Talka), past and current members of the Parliament (e.g. Dawa Tsering), teachers of the Dalai Lama, members of the monastic community, political activists (e.g. Tenzin Tsondue, Lasang Tsering), members of the elderly community, new arrivals, first generation, second generation, and even third generation Tibetans.

    This is where your help, Mr. Norbu, would be very much appreciated. I have read some of your work relevant to this issue, in particle this article “The Jewel in the Box”. Given that your wrote this article nearly two and half years ago, and His Holiness has made many more statements on this issue since then, I was curious if your opinion on the matter has changed at all. For example are you still advocating for “reserve power” and a strong democratic grounding? Are you still adamantly against a referendum, or vote? Any thoughts that you would be willing to share with me would be so very much appreciated.



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