Ti­betans en­joy re­li­gious free­dom

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

The year 2014 marks the be­gin­ning of the Year of the Horse in China and the “Year of the Wooden Horse” in the lu­nar cal­en­dar of Ti­betan people. The Year of the Horse is also the “re­cur­rent birth year” of Gang Rin­poche (or Mount Kailash), a holy moun­tain in west Ti­bet. Since cir­cling Gang Rin­poche in the Year of the Horse is a scared tra­di­tion among Ti­betan Bud­dhists, this year has seen an end­less stream of people flock­ing to the re­gion to per­form pil­grim­age.

The Ti­betan people’s free­dom of wor­ship has been re­spected and pro­tected in the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion and other ar­eas in­hab­ited by Ti­betan people since the re­gion’s peace­ful lib­er­a­tion, es­pe­cially since the adop­tion of re­form and open­ing-up.

Ti­bet has more than 1,700 tem­ples and other places of wor­ship, and over 46,000 monks and nuns. The other ar­eas in­hab­ited by Ti­betan people in the coun­try have about 1,800 tem­ples and nearly 100,000 monks. In to­tal, China has about 360,000 re­li­gious cler­gies, with more than one-third of them be­ing Ti­betan Bud­dhist monks and nuns.

Ti­betan Bud­dhism has many sects, each with its dis­tinct char­ac­ter­is­tics de­vel­oped over cen­turies. The Gan­dan Monastery of the Gelug sect, best known in the West as a Ti­betan Bud­dhist school, the Dorje Drak and Min­drolling monas­ter­ies of the Ny­ingma sect, the Sakya Monastery of the Sakya sect and the Tsur­phu and Dri­gung monas­ter­ies of the Kagyu sect are im­por­tant learn­ing and teach­ing cen­ters of Bud­dhism. They are also im­por­tant re­li­gious cen­ters of dif­fer­ent Bud­dhist sects.

Monks and nuns from dif­fer­ent Bud­dhist sects now en­joy a full free­dom to preach and con­duct re­li­gious ac­tiv­i­ties. Be­liev­ers are also free to visit monas­ter­ies and holy moun­tains to wor­ship and per­form re­li­gious rit­u­als. They can cir­cle the holy moun­tains, re­cite Bud­dhist scrip­ture and spread Bud­dhist teach­ings, and take part in all kinds of re­li­gious ac­tiv­i­ties.

Ti­betan Bud­dhism also has a va­ri­ety of col­or­ful fes­ti­vals such as Mon Lam Chenmo (Great Prayer), Saga Dawa, Lhabab Duechen, But­ter Lamp Fes­ti­val and Sho­ton. The birth and death an­niver­saries of the founders of dif­fer­ent Bud­dhist sects have be­come im­por­tant days for Ti­betan Bud­dhists, and per­form­ing rit­u­als on these days is an im­por­tant part of their re­li­gious life. In ad­di­tion, some monas­ter­ies have de­vel­oped some fes­ti­vals of their own such as the Buddha Un­fold­ing Fes­ti­val cel­e­brated by Tashilumbu Monastery.

The Ti­betan trans­la­tion of Trip­i­taka, the core scrip­ture of Bud­dhism, is well known for its ac­cu­racy. The wide-rang­ing Ti­betan trans­la­tion pre­serves even the large vol­ume of In­dian tantric scrip­ture that has been lost and those not con­tained in Chi­nese and Pali trans­la­tions. The Ti­betan trans­la­tion also has other Bud­dhist and med­i­cal records and pre­cious ac­counts on astron­omy and crafts­man­ship.

Thanks to the sup­port of the Chi­nese cen­tral govern­ment, the Ti­betan trans­la­tion of Trip­i­taka has be­come the largest, and most sys­tem­atic and au­thor­i­ta­tive pub­li­ca­tion. The new ver­sion of the Ti­betan Trip­i­taka in­cludes Kangyur and Tengyur, which runs into 4,842 vol­umes.

Con­tem­po­rary Ti­betan Bud­dhist art with its unique tra­di­tion and dis­tinct char­ac­ter­is­tics has be­come the main chan­nel of spread­ing Bud­dhist doc­trines and Ti­betan cul­ture.

A ma­jor­ity of the more than 3,500 monas­ter­ies in Ti­betan-in­hab­ited ar­eas of the coun­try have been re­built or were es­tab­lished af­ter the found­ing of People’s Repub­lic of China in 1949 and show­case the ar­chi­tec­tural and artis­tic achieve­ments of Ti­betan Bud­dhism. For ex­am­ple, the bronze statue of Jampa Buddha at Pa­pung Monastery in Dege, Sichuan prov­ince, is the tallest Jampa Buddha statue in the Kangba area, and the statue of Sakya­muni, the founder of Bud­dhism, at Li­tang Monastery in Ganzi, Sichuan, is the largest in­door bronze statue of Sakya­muni in the world. Be­sides, Ti­betan but­ter sculp­tures are fa­mous for their crafts­man­ship and fi­nesse across the world.

Ti­betan Bud­dhism also has sev­eral paint­ing and thangka schools, with the Man­tang, Chentse and Kardri schools be­ing the three ma­jor ones. The State Coun­cil, the coun­try’s Cab­i­net, in­cluded the styles of the three schools in the first list of na­tional in­tan­gi­ble cul­tural her­itage.

The unique mu­sic tra­di­tions of Ti­betan Bud­dhism, too, have de­vel­oped and spread far and wide. Jo­nang San­skri, as one of the old­est ex­tant mu­si­cal styles, was in­cluded in the third list of na­tional in­tan­gi­ble cul­tural her­itage as a liv­ing fos­sil of Chi­nese mu­sic.

The large num­ber of monas­ter­ies and monks and nuns, the di­ver­sity of their re­li­gious ac­tiv­i­ties and the rich Bud­dhist scrip­ture, and art and mu­sic schools prove that, con­trary to the claims of some Western­ers, Ti­betans en­joy to­tal right to re­li­gion. The au­thor is a re­searcher at the China Ti­betol­ogy Re­search Cen­ter. are taken daily with­out re­gard for their im­pli­ca­tions for wa­ter avail­abil­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity — a sit­u­a­tion that be­comes even more com­pli­cated when wa­ter re­sources cross na­tional bound­aries.

In this con­text, more in­te­grated, co­op­er­a­tive ap­proaches are needed to im­prove wa­ter man­age­ment.

But ne­go­ti­a­tions for wa­ter-co­op­er­a­tion agree­ments are fraught with per­ceived risks as­so­ci­ated with is­sues re­lated to ac­count­abil­ity, sovereignty, eq­uity and sta­bil­ity. Pol­i­cy­mak­ers can mit­i­gate these risks by build­ing the in­sti­tu­tions, knowl­edge and skills that are needed to man­age wa­ter more ef­fec­tively, in­clud­ing among house­holds, farm­ers and businesses.

There is no sin­gle blue­print for in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion, but coun­tries can learn from one an­other’s ex­pe­ri­ences, em­ploy­ing strate­gies that have suc­ceeded else­where to bro­ker last­ing agree­ments be­tween com­pet­ing in­ter­ests. Such strate­gies must also be open to in­no­va­tions in le­gal and fi­nan­cial in­stru­ments and guar­an­tees, and they must be viewed as le­git­i­mate by di­verse con­stituen­cies, in­clud­ing the youth who will in­herit the ar­range­ments that are cre­ated to­day.

Ef­fec­tive wa­ter man­age­ment and san­i­ta­tion have the power to trans­form economies — and the lives of the world’s poor­est people. There is no time — or wa­ter — to waste. The au­thor is the World Bank pres­i­dent’s spe­cial en­voy. Project Syn­di­cate


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.