Before Mahatama Gandhi became apostle of peace and non-violence in the beginning of 19th century, Gautam Buddha was harbinger of compassion, happiness and peace ten to fifteen thousands years ago. And his message spread throughout the world. Today Buddha is considered the incarnation of "god" and has followers in the very nook and corner of the globe ! But Buddha's ardent follower and spiritual leader Dalai Lama, who is in exile in Dharmshala of the Himachal Pradesh of India,is running Tibet government from Dharmshala by 'proxy' against the so called 'illegal occupation of Tibet by China'.. And an ugly turn of events is going on in Tibet and other parts of the planet where, Buddha's followers are indulging in 'self-immolation' to protest the Chineses 'occupation' of Tibet.
Curiously enough, Dalai Lama is keeping mum over these killings and violence in his own home land Tibet. Dalai Lama is such powerful spiritual leader that if he says stop, the self-immolation will stop. No doubt certainly the rest of the world is appalled by treatment of Tibetans by the Chinese, Dalia Lama is not realising the kind of power he has to stop such ugly happenings in the line of the teachings of Lord Buddha on peace and compassion ! Most cultures are equally appalled by the suicidal self-destruction of protesting Tibetans. I strongly feel it does not look good for Dalai Lama. It does not look good for Dalai Lama. He talks about peace, happiness and compassion as propounded by Lord Buddha. Million dollar question arises-why has not the Dala Lama embraced the practice of 'Lhakar' rather than refusing to condemn self-immolation ? A new form of protest has arisen among Tibetans, who feel that self-immolation is too violent. It is called 'Lahkar', which means 'White Wednesday' in Tibet. One day a week is set aside to celebrate all things Tibetans, including music, food and goods. This is a cultural rather than a religious protest and one on which it is much more difficult for the Chinese to crack down !
Recently the Dalai Lama was in Maryland for delivering Anwar Sadat Lecture of peace at the University of Maryland before over 15000 persons. According to the university website; Dalai Lama spoke about how "peace in the world must come from inner peace within individuals and the source of that inner peace is compassion for others". Compassion for others is at the root of the controversy over self-immolation of more than 100 Tibetans, who have taken their own lives since 2009 to protest China's occupation of Tibet. Those who burn themselves to death want to see the Dalai Lama return to Tibet. A Reuter report says why , people ask, would the Dalai Lama not put a stop to these violent acts of self-destruction in his name ? Is not self-immolation the very antithesis of What Buddhism is about ? How can it be moral or ethical to condone such behaviour ? Yet Dalai Lama refuses to condemn it !
In an interview to Times Now, a major Indian news channel, Dalai Lama spoke about this practice. "If motivation (consists) too much of anger, hatred, then it is negative, (but) if the motivation (is) more compassionate.....then such acts can also be positive. That is strictly speaking from ( a Buddhist point of view). Any action, whether violence or non-violence, is ultimately (dependent) on motivation." Recently, while travelling in Japan, the Dalai Lama responded to the Chinese repression, saying, according to the Global Post that the incidents of self immolation are a "sign of deep frustration; Chinese leaders need to take a look into these incidents more seriously and not in isolation. Ruthlessness only will not be good for all." But still the Dalai Lama did not condemn such ugly incidents.
Moreover, as the number of self-immolation cases has risen, so too, have the mass protests. The Chinese government has cracked down on the protests, arresting and torturing many who speak out. Authorities are especially upset by the self-immolation, because they have caused a lot of bad publicity. Some Chinese police now travel with fire extinguishers on their back to head off the suicides.
According to a website report of Sally Quin, an e-mail writer; Matteo Pistono, the author of " In the Shadow of Buddha" and a Buddhist scholar, who lived and travelled in Tibet for a decade, says that in Buddhism, there is a way to look at self-immolation that is non-violent. It can be seen as a great offering one is making and trying to become, literally, a lamp to lilluminate the darkness of the world." Pistono further says it is an act inspired "philosophically and emotionally, but some where in between is political activism trying to bring about changes..The differences, he says, between this kind of violence an d other kinds is that it does not result in violence against others. You are not blowing up buildings."
Pistono says that Mahatma Gandhi made popular the doctrine of non-violence or "ahimsa", a Sanskrit word meaning to do no harm. " Yet what is motivation here ? To bring the Dalai Lama back to Tibet and to bring freedom to Tibet." Pistano says the position of some exiled Tibetan leaders on self-immolation is not that the world should ask why people are killing themselves but the world should ask China to desist from repression, which could stop the cause of the burning, Comparing the unsuccessful result self-immolation of Tibetans, Pistono points out that Arab Spring was started by a Tunisian fruit seller's self-immolation. So such action can produce results. Yet the Tibetans' self-immolation have not resonated with the rest of the world..It has been very frustrating to Dalai Lama that the United States has not taken a stronger position on the China-Tibet stand-off.
In "The Ethics of Self-Immolation"- from "into the Jaws of Yama, Lord pof Death: Buddhism, Bioethics and Death"- Tibetan writer Karma Lekshe Tsomo says that " there are cases of Buddhists, who have set their bodies afire as an act of generosity, renunciation, devotion or political protests" and that the MAHAYANA texts "extol the virtues of offering one's body to the Buddhas , often by burning " Later he says, "the spirit of a person who commits suicide out of despair or depression is believed to be intensely dissatisfied and therefore likely to wander as a hungry ghost, whereas self immolation is believed to be religious act committed with strong conviction and pure motivation."
Nevertheless spiritual leader Dalai Lama is drawing huge crowd for his spiritual sermons on Buddha through out the globe but his silence on Buddha's preachings of compassion, peace and happiness, related to barbaric practice of self-immolation by Tibetans, is drawing the facts that is Dalai Lama is fighting a losing battle against Chinese ?