No need to languish in China

No need to languish in China

Construction work of establishing a State-run Tibet Buddhism Academy in Tibet Autonomous Region has been started on 20th October 2008. Following is what an ex-student of the Beijing Tibet Buddhism Academy has got to say about this new development.

Panchen Lama center at the Opening Ceremony
(This photo was taken at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Tibet Buddhism Academy in 1987)
By Rangtsen

If someone were to ask me “Is the Beijing Tibet Buddhism Academy something you really need?”, I would answer without the slightest hesitation that in our case it is of more harm than benefit. Of course, the Tibet Buddhism Academy can be regarded as a high-flying flag that was proudly raised by the great 10th Panchen Lama from blood dropping jaws of the Red Chinese Communist Party [in 1987]. The Panchen Lama shed sweat and blood with supreme determination to lay the path to a bright future for his country, the land of snows. However, in terms of the present situation, it has become no more than a tool used for exclusively political purposes. Their stated aim of cultivating (religious) personnel who “love the Dharma and love the Nation” inflicts a very deep wound in the minds of those who love the Dharma. They select educated people from each major monastery in Tibet, keep them for 6 months or a year or two on the pretext of doing training, then give each of them a fake award of no use to anyone, and send them back to where they came from. This family of educated trainees, sheltered for warmth in a fold of the Reds’ cloak, are each tagged with the fake award, whether they like it or not, and, impregnated with an empty mission, they are packed off back to their native places. In reality, like our saying “Love is not for the cattle, love is for blood”, there is nothing more to this than containing Western pressure and enhancing the external image.

Such is the degree of ‘Toerim Rabjampa’ (‘master of higher studies’) which they earnestly award us. By handing out this grand title to each graduate, there is a sense that the rot has set in to Tibetan education. At that academy, the time generally allocated to culture and the arts is 10%, religion 60% and politics 30%. In reality everyone knows that one could not possibly complete a thorough course on the five scriptural treatises (of Buddhist philosophy) in the space of a year or two. Why should students who have already studied the Buddhist doctrine rigorously and attained the supreme result in Tibetan monasteries in Tibet give the credit to the Beijing Tibetan Buddhism Academy?

Nonetheless, as far as they are concerned, like the saying “The cock signals the dawn, but the donkey gets the benefit”, the credit will go to them. I myself stayed there for two years, supposedly studying. In fact, I joined with high ambition, but by the end I could no longer avoid showing a sighing, embarrassed face to my family.

Take the two year course in computer for example. For a year, they taught us three things: how to open a new Word file, how to input and how to interchange between the programmes. I myself already knew these things, and during the course, I asked the teacher whether we couldn’t study other computer skills. The teacher said that “It is not allowed to teach you those things”. When I asked why not, the teacher replied that “The higher ups have decided that you can only be taught those three”, and then I could really see their true face. Oh dear! When I think about falling into their trap, it gets my nerves going to the full, and the willingness to study is completely gone. For me, those two years felt like ten. Now when I look back, I realise that I spent two years there for the sake of a fake award, and I really feel great regret at having wasted that time. I thought of getting myself expelled, but they take a different view, and it could create big problems in trying to do other kinds of work in the outside world. If you were to be expelled, it would automatically constitute a political offence. In that involuntary environment, one suffering is piled up on another.

Now this year they are selecting qualified young monks from the Gelukpa school and qualified young monks from the Nyingma school from across the three provinces of Tibet. I call on other young monks of my vocation to think carefully. There is no point in languishing in China for the sake of a useless title.

The original article in Tibetan:


  • Rangsten la, has written an interesting blog making as all aware of the unfortunate political agenda behind the schools. It is such a shame as the school started with high ideals and those who run it now are too shortsighted to see the benefits of sticking to its original ideals.

    However, for me those who do join the school should still go there with optimism, it is still a place of learning even if the teaching and content of the lessons are not worthy of the paper the achievement is written on. Schools are to me, places to develop ideas, opportunities to meet minds and make friends from different places, vocations and culture etc. This is far more important then lessons or the qualification, as they are quickly forgotten or of little value, only thing they show in the beginning is that you have the aptitude to learn, and most of us have that anyway. However the ideas and friends can be a benefit for life, especially if you have the right ideals and determinations in life.

    So I hope more students will go there to help reclaim the good ideals of the Great Panchen Lama, and built it as a place for development of friendships and ideas.

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