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Buddhism in the News


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Chinese Re-Education Camps. Plus, the Olympic Torch Relay Faced Protests in London.

The droplets of news that are coming out of Tibet suggest that protests continue in pockets as does violent repression. At least eight people were reportedly killed in a remote town in Sichuan province Thursday in a protest sparked by an attempt to force monks to participate in an education campaign.

James: Re-education camps are nothing new to dictatorships. Soviet Communist Russia and Nazi Germany were two classic examples of this kind of absurd propaganda. The other major example in history being, of course, Communist China.

One 27 year old monk in Tibet participated in his first party-led education session in 1993. He did not have to sign a denunciation that time but had to condemn the Dalai Lama in front of his fellow monks. "I had to be very active, had to prove I was really patriotic, so I can pass the exam," he said. "In order to stay in the monastery, I did this. I clearly know the other monks did not do this from their hearts, and not me, either."

And as hard as it must be verbally utter those words disavowing the Dalai Lama it was their only choice and correct one. It was Right Intention because to say otherwise would likely land this monk in prison were he would be beaten or perhaps killed and perhaps place his family in danger as well. I do not profess to be an expert on the Dalai Lama or speak for His Holiness but I have a feeling that he would rather people swallow their pride and say what the Chinese government officials want to hear than see them suffer for their loyalty to him.
LONDON — Protesters objecting to China’s human rights record clashed with the British police on Sunday as the Olympic torch was carried through London on its way to the summer Olympic Games in Beijing.

James: I am sure that the Chinese government is furious over these protests and demonstrations but they are reaping what they have sown for decades. It is karma catching up with them. I do realize however that most of these party officials don't believe in karma but they can not deny the suffering and problems that can result from the law of cause and effect which is a scientific principle.

And I know that science is something that Communism DOES believe in.

~Peace to all beings (yes, even the Chinese government even though I disagree firmly with many of their actions)~

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Brian LePort said...


I know this is off the topic of your post but I wanted to mention to you that I read your blog off and on and I have linked it at my blog. That being said, I am part of a church in San Francisco where I serve as the Director of Education. The last few weeks we have been comparing the teachings of Jesus to other religions. I would be honored if you would look at my attempt to represent how the Buddha answered the question of suffering and pain over and my blog and tell me where you feel I went right and where I went wrong. It would be of great help both in my serving my church community and my understanding of your faith.

The link is:

Brian LePort said...

If that link didn't show up, the post is easily found at

Riverwolf said...

My brother, thanks for keeping everyone up to date on the situation in Tibet!

Anonymous said...

Do you know that Dalai Lama does not agree with these misguided protests? These non-constructive protests and boycott will only make the Chinese people detest the so-called human rights activists more. They become riot terrorists in the eyes of all Chinese people who want to make the Olympic a success. It is bad karma in the making. It is harmful to everyone. Lord Buddha had never taught this.

They call him James Ure said...


You sound like a member of the Chinese government's propaganda machine. Especially commenting under the anonymous option.

The Dalai Lama is not against protests as long as they are non-violent. The majority of protesters around the world are doing it non-violently.

Yet I understand people feeling like violence is their only option. There is only so much oppression that people can take before they fight back. That being said, the most effective way to bring about change are non-violent means such as protesting the Olympics.

If the majority of the Chinese detest the human rights activists then it is most likely because they are uninformed due to the dictatorships control of information. As well as all the propaganda fed to the populace.

One can not tell for sure whether people are telling the truth that they agree with the government when the government threatens them with prison and violence if they disagree.

The terrorist claim makes me even more suspicious that you are a Chinese government surrogate. I know that the terrorism angle is what the Chinese government is going with.

Terrorism is hijacking and oppressing an independent region such as Tibet. Terrorism is preventing religious freedom from being expressed in China itself.

Terrorism is supporting brutal dictatorships like Burma who kill innocent monks. As well as supporting Sudan who is systematically killing ethnic minorities within Sudan.

However, I wouldn't expect the Chinese government to care about that type of violence and other human rights abuses when they do the same thing in their own country.

Buddha taught that we must work to end the suffering of all sentient beings. So using any non-violent means (such as the Olympic boycott) to relieve the suffering of people such as the Tibetans, the Burmese, the Sudanese and the Chinese themselves is very much Right Action.

While I disagree with you whole-heartedly I send you love.


I replied to your post on your blog but let me know if you didn't find it.


Thanks brother. Keep up the great work that you are doing too. :)

Tim said...

Understanding the mind of the Chinese government is a broad undertaking. They are different than many other military regimes and other oppressive forms of government. You have to understand that the group-mind underpinning structure of their society is years of Confucius's Analects type of thinking. Democracy to them is just plain weird....

Anonymous said...

Dear James,

Is this not a Buddhist blog?
Why then is there so much additional talking about the Chinese Government being brutal and abusive to me? Why should there so much guessing about who I am and what I am up to? Do you accept the law of cause and effect?
Do you really think a Chinese Government propaganda machine or surrogate of any sort would waste time talking to you, in a Buddhist blog!?
Is not Lord Buddha's middle path the most important thing you are interested in? Are you on the right path?

Do not hasten to send me your love meaninglessly, just reflect a while before you jump to disagree with me whole-heartedly.

They call him James Ure said...


The middle path is about helping others and not just remaining complaisant. Upon enlightenment the Buddha could have simply gotten up and walked away and never share his teachings to anyone else.

I didn't say that you ARE a Chinese Government propaganda surrogate but rather that you SOUND like one in what you have written in the comments. Why so defensive then?

Yes I do believe in the law of cause and effect and that is exactly what the Chinese government is reaping. They sowed the seeds of violence, oppression and anger for decades. They shouldn't be surprised when people tire of their suffering and protest.

I wouldn't put anything past the Chines Government. They know that the world doesn't buy their whole progressive image that they put forth. China is a beautiful country with a wonderful heritage but needs to change it's government. Brutal oppression isn't compassionate nor practicing the middle-way of Buddhism.

The middle-way in government fits most closely with Democracy. Where a balance between freedom and punishment is the most possible.

You said that my love for you is meaningless because I disagree with you but that is quite the assumption. I do have love for you.

One can still disagree with a person and still have love for them.

Anonymous said...

Dear James,

You still have not grasped what I'd tried to convey to you.

I was attracted to here by what you say about your blog:
This blog is a journal of my humble travels on the middle path of Buddhism.

But after I read through your writing, I do not see any middle path here. Loving-kindness, yes. defender of democracy, yes.
But simply void of any middle path in its true sense, here.

The middle path is not about helping others. Protesting or showing anger is no way near to it. It is also weird to talk about a middle-way government.

Middle path is in one's heart. It ceases when any attachment arises.

Emitting the radiance of love is an act of compassion. However, without middle path (the wisdom of Lord Buddha), it becomes meaningless, to a true practitioner of Buddhism.

BTW, under the law of cause and effect, everybody is reaping the fruit of his own karma, not excluding the Tibetans under oppression.

They call him James Ure said...


You said, The middle path is not about helping others.

Tell any Buddhist teacher that the middle path isn't about helping others and see how they respond and what they say.

So was Buddha not on the middle path by helping others? I guess according to your logic he should have just kept the Dharma to himself.

The middle path is avoiding extremes. I believe in protesting the Olympics but going to the extreme would be to engage in violence. I do not engage in violence.

The other extreme is what you purpose, sitting by and doing nothing while people suffer.

The whole foundation of Buddhism is helping others reduce their suffering.

Yes, actions based in anger aren't as skillful. However, when one stands against injustice it doesn't necessarily mean is it motivated by anger.

Many people have been motivated to act against injustice out of feeling compassion for those suffering from the injustice.

As for everyone reaping the karma of their own actions? Of course.

They call him James Ure said...


Sorry!! I totally forgot to respond to your comment. :(

Yeah the Chinese culture is quite complex and that is partly why I am so fascinated with it.

Anonymous said...

Dear James,

The middle path is truly not about helping others.

But, don't simply ask any Buddhist teacher for the simple reason that he/she may not understand Buddhism properly and mislead you.

Ask only the wise ones. I guarantee you the answer is:
The middle path is not about helping others. Compassion is.

Let me quote from the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta:
".... Avoiding both these extremes, the Tathagata has realized the Middle Path; it gives vision, gives knowledge, and leads to calm, to insight, to enlightenment and to Nibbana."
Does it leads to helping others? No.

Do you know about the "silent Buddha" (Pacceka Buddha)?
If you do, you will see that middle path and compassion do not necessarily come together.

Our historical Gautama Buddha was not on the middle path by helping others.
He realized the middle path just by sitting under the Bodhi tree. However, out of His great compassion for all beings, He preached the middle path as a way to ease(not reduce)sufferings.

I do not know what "the whole foundation of Buddhism" is. Is there such a foundation?
But the true teaching of Lord Buddha is not to reduce the sufferings of all beings. Lord Buddha teaches the way to ease all sufferings.

I am not saying helping others is not important. Some altruistic people may even choose to help others by sacrificing their own attainment of enlightenment.

It is just a matter of choice.

But if you are still interested in the Buddha's middle path, I must alarm you to the fact that you are way off it.

BTW, I am as good as boycotting the Olympics because I am living on the other side of the Earth and cannot afford to fly to China. Protest? I think I have to wait a million years for the torch to pass through the small town I live in.

taza said...


They call him James Ure said...


I'd rather not continue this discussion because we clearly have completely different interpretations of the basic tenets of Buddhism.

I'm not going to change your mind and you're not going to change mine. So let's move on.


Thanks for the link. I signed up.

Anonymous said...

I see.

But one last one from His Holiness the Dalai Lama:
Recently, at the University of Washington's Edmundson Pavilion,
when he was drawing a difference between limited compassion and unlimited compassion, saying the first is biased and the second is not, he said,
"If you limit your kindness and compassion to people with whom you already have something in common, than you're weakening yourself."

But when he finished, there was dead silence.
The Dalai Lama laughed.
"I don't know, is that right or wrong? Please make correction," he said, to the laughter and applause of the audience.

The audience was relieved and happy. Dalai Lama was sad.

Please erase all my comments as what His Holiness has done. And move on with your good life.

myogyo said...

Hi James,

I am from Singapore and stumbled your blog by chance.

As much as I sympathise the problems that the Tibetans have been facing, I find it disturbing to actually know that such protest has escalate to the level of boycotting the coming Olympic Games. To much of my observation, my gut-feel is that both the media from China and the western world have their own interpretation of the situation.

However, at least for a few friends and I, we find the protest cast more negative light on the Tibetans. It seems to suggest that they are petty opportunists. They could have protested years back when the IOC had annouced that China would be the hosting country for the coming Olympic Games. Why wait till now?

And the so-call non violent protests by them still somehow instill fear to the participants in the torch relay. I saw on TV that this caucasian guy seems to jump on this female athlete who was running, however successfully intercepted by the authorities in time.

I would have hoped that peace would be restored soon, at least for the Olympic Game to be successfully carried out.

Hi brian,

Someone passed me the link that you had put here. From my humble understanding, the spirit of Buddhism that you had protrayed, did not paint a full picture of what the Buddha might have really meant.

Christianity and Buddhism are very different in principles. What you had protrayed of Jesus, seems more resemblance of a Mahayana Bodhisattva than what Christianity (both OT and NT) would have really meant.

If you're interested for a further discussion, you can email me at

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