In 1950 Tibet, a nation of peace and people that value understanding of the mind, was invaded by the chinese. For over 50 years now native Tibetan’s have been struggling to survive in their homeland with many protesting by setting themselves on fire such is the extent of their suffering. A lot of Tibetan’s fleed Tibet for fear of their lives to nearby Nepal & India where they took refuge, kicked out from their homeland unable to defend themselves due to not having an army.
The journey began and it was long, tiring & uncomfortable
Starting our journey at 1am in London , a group of around 30 people, of which the majority were Tibetan by birth, started our first leg of the coach journey which took 2 hours till we reached Dover port at 3am, boarding the ferry to France at platform no.8.
At 3am in the morning, as to be expected, I was very very tired but I knew the journey in which I was heading was for one of great cause and it was the reason we were travelling that made feeling tired on the journey irrelevant. Even so, my partner and I searched for a place to lay down and take a nap.
Reaching France at 5am we continued our journey to arrive in Paris
An hour and a half later we arrived at the french port where we reboarded the coach and began our final leg of the trip at 5am in the morning with very little sleep. Sleeping on the coach was uncomfortable to say the least, even with moving the chairs position back it was still uncomfortable and I may have managed to gain 1 hours sleep.
A split community joins together again
When China invaded Tibet back in the 1950s the native people began to split up as they looked for a place to survive and seek asylum in various countries around the globe.
A lot of Tibetans moved to Nepal & India initially but their standard of living was very poor and so when a lot of the Tibetan migrants became parents they knew the best chance of their children having a good life was to move abroad. Thi meant small pockets of Tibetan communities began to spread throughout Europe.
During this gathering they came from all over their European homes to join together and make a statement of togetherness and support for those native Tibetans still suffering and for the freedom to practice their culture.
Being born of British descent it was very moving and emotional to see so many Tibetans together, standing for a common cause. I could not imagine how difficult life’s journey has been for the people that have not only had to leave their families for a better life but having their culture and heritage eradicated because of the greed & lack of empathy of one nation is a very sad state of human affairs, particularly when many Tibetans by nature are peaceful and compassionate people.
As the numbers swelled and I saw flags from all over Europe beginning to pop up . Belgium, Britain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and even some travelled as far away as Kazakstan.
The march began and the chants began to bellow.
As we marched down the roads of Paris as a unit of several thousand waving the native Tibetan flags chants began to cry out from the crowds of which some I agreed with wholeheartedly and some othrs…maybe not so much. “Stop the killing in Tibet” , “Stop the self-immolations” & “stop the cultural genocide” are all things that I agree, should be stopped. “China, china, china. Out! Out! Out!” on the other hand, may not be the way forward.
Understanding and living with our perceived enemy is something that helps us develop compassion and brings togetherness . We can learn a great deal from one another’s cultures, if not only tolerance but also enrich our own lives through new knowledge and experience if we open ourselves to acceptance .
What is freedom?
Another chant that rang out from the streets of Paris was “What do we want? A free TIbet! When do we want it? Now!”, but what is freedom?
Freedom I believe, can be a state of mind. Unfortunately things happen in our lives that we cannot change and is very hard to experience, there can be no more difficult a situation than being forced from your homeland with no material wealth or hope for a future.
Finding peace in your mind regardless of your situation is something that no material possessions of things, land or relationships can bring. A sense of freedom can come from within your own self and a mind at peace.
You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind.
Why am I experiencing this?
‘But why did I experience it??’ When difficult things happen We question why has this happened??! Why me?!!?
You begin to become bitter, angry and frustrated that things aren’t different, that the way you perceived life should be hasn’t happened. We become attached to ideas, ideals and our emotions so much that in fact it damages our own mental wellbeing.
Learning that everything happens for a reason and that even the darkest experience you have had in life has taught you many things about the world and yourself is liberating and it is the darkest times that when you begin to become a more complete and a person at peace.
Meeting the Dalai Lama’s sister
By serendipity, I was having a conversation with a Tibetan footballer when the Dalai Lama’s sister passed us in the street.
I was unaware until my wife whom is TIbetan mentioned who she was. She looks very similar to his holiness and to be honest I was very humbled and became stuck for words.
What the Dalai Lama tries to teach of compassion, sympathy and a balanced and content mind is something that I believe to be something of hugely significant importance for the modern world as more and more people become stressed, anxious and ill of the mind.
Learning how your mind works and finding contentment is something that I believe, now needs to be taught to all people and particularly in the west.
Being in the presence of his sister was an incredible and lucky experience and something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life and hope that I can continue to develop my empathy and compassion for others as I progress through my own life journey.
What if the chinese hadn’t invaded?
If the chinese hadn’t invaded several things wouldn’t have happened. Yes, the native Tibetans would not have suffered the torment of being forced to leave, they will not have been condemned and beaten for practising their cultural disciplines and they would possibly still be happy living in their closed community.
Even though incredibly dark what the Tibetans have had to experience it meant they had to leave the comfort of their homeland and discover places they would never have likely seen otherwise. They also would not have been able to discuss their Tibetan buddhist ways to as many western people and to be frank, right now, the world really needs Tibetan’s culture, understanding of the mind and human spirit more than ever!
Acceptance of difficult circumstances and learning to live with them
It could be said that we all want to be able to live in peace, comfort and the way we feel will benefit our own welfare and culture but life doesn’t always play ball in the way you expect.
Learning to live with the most extreme difficult circumstances when they occur or things that are deemed out of your control is an important lesson to learn in life.
Finding peace in our minds is something that we must strive towards and can be achieved through meditation, looking within, studying our thoughts and questioning them (sometimes known as CBT), focusing on the positive aspects of life and being grateful for even the smallest things every day.
Final Thought about the Tibetan Rally in Paris 2015
My final thought is that I hope Tibetans do gain the ability to practice their cultural ways without persecution alongside the chinese in peace but their journey through their dark difficult situation can teach us great things about our own lives.
We can let our difficulties rule our lives or we can learn to adapt to change and do what is necessary to live a life on contentment as much as possible with what we have regardless of what is going on around us and we can choose to come from a place of love.
Paris, was definitely the right place to host the rally, the city of love because that is what we need more of. For ourselves, for those around us and for those we perceive to be ‘our enemies’.