The Myth of "Enlightened Society"

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The Myth of "Enlightened Society"

Post by Tara » Wed Jul 03, 2019 7:13 am

I started reading, “Red Shambhala: Magic, Prophecy, and Geopolitics in the Heart of Asia, by Andrei Znamenski, and I came across this paragraph in the preface:
Red Shambhala is the first book in English that recounts the story of political and spiritual seekers from the West and the East, who used Tibetan Buddhist prophecies to promote their spiritual, social, and geopolitical agendas and schemes. These were people of different persuasions and backgrounds: lamas (Ja-Lama and Agvan Dorzhiev), a painter-Theosophist (Nicholas Roerich), a Bolshevik secret police cryptographer (Gleb Bokii), an occult writer with leftist leanings (Alexander Barchenko), Bolshevik diplomats and revolutionaries (Georgy Chicherin, Boris Shumatsky) along with their indigenous fellow-travelers (Elbek-Dorji Rinchino, Sergei Borisov, and Choibalsan), and the rightwing fanatic "Bloody White Baron" Roman von Ungern-Sternberg. Despite their different backgrounds and loyalties, they shared the same totalitarian temptation -- the faith in ultimate solutions. They were on the quest for what one of them (Bokii) defined as the search for the source of absolute good and absolute evil. All of them were true believers, idealists who dreamed about engineering a perfect free-of-social-vice society based on collective living and controlled by enlightened spiritual or ideological masters (an emperor, the Bolshevik Party, the Great White Brotherhood, a reincarnated deity) who would guide people on the "correct" path. Healthy skepticism and moderation, rare commodities at that time anyway, never visited the minds of the individuals I profile in this book. In this sense, they were true children of their time -- an age of extremes that gave birth to totalitarian society.
These spiritually-inspired, politically-inclined seekers may have been "children of their time," but they wouldn't feel out of place today, when a new generation has become intoxicated with the Shambhala myth. In any age, there are utopian fanatics. Shambhala followers, unlike other Tibetan Buddhists, look forward to an enlightened society on earth. This distinguishes them from other Tibetan Buddhists, particularly Nyingmas, who study Vajrayana as a philosophy, a path to enlightenment, and don't expect to transform earthly reality or establish an "Enlightened Society."

Shambhala people are -– let’s face it -– “a little” crazy. What makes them think that any of the rest of us want what they want, which is some marauding Buddhist army killing everyone they think is evil and establishing control under some “Shambhala” king? You can see their totalitarian mindset, in how they push their vision as the only possible vision for Buddhists -– and everyone else -- of the future. Are they going to listen to people who say “no” to their plan? They seem more interested in telling us that that’s just the way it’s going to be.

And what a funny coincidence between the communist ideas of Shambhala and Communism proper? Having studied the Nazis intensively for almost 20 years now, Shambhala followers remind me of Hitler’s SS: partying up a storm while they think they’re going to take over the world. Such arrogance and hubris, such secret joy in oppression. Where did they get the idea that this Shambhala idea was “Buddhist” and much less even “good”? I suspect they’ve never even questioned it for what it really is. Somehow, they just got swept up in the ecstasy of the idea that they were going to rule the world.

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Re: The Myth of "Enlightened Society"

Post by Tara » Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:27 am

Are the lamas not responsible for Tibet being the way it was? Were they not the elites of their culture? Did they not determine what would and would not happen in Tibet? Are they not responsible for the poverty and ignorance of the people? Here is a typical picture of Tibetans, which everyone will recognize as true:

The Tashilumpho monastery, headquarters of the Panchen Lama, 1910s.

Is this a result of the greatest psychological and religious understanding on the planet?

If so, I don't want any of it for me or my children or anyone else and their children.

So maybe everyone should just forget about Tibet being the standard for anything except "primitive." And free their minds of this silly, false, shangri-la idea of Tibet. We have the proof now. They can't push this myth on us anymore, without us pushing back. The only reason our elites love the Tibetan lamas is because they were so controlling and authoritarian, and of course our elites love that. Look at how they get the so-called "smartest and brightest" to start bowing and scraping to any ignorant Tibetan who comes along, like Sogyal "Rinpoche." He was nothing when he came here. I saw him in the very beginning, and he was absolutely nothing. He was not a lama. He is a complete charlatan who gave himself the title of "lama." Is that not power you would want to use?!!! The fruit of complete Pavlovian conditioning?

But why should we go backwards and lose the few gains we've managed to extract by force from our elites? I'm sure if anyone thinks about it for very long, they won't want to lose whatever small freedoms we have to think what we want and be free from at least overt slavery.

Tibet in 1938 before the Chinese took it over

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Re: The Myth of "Enlightened Society"

Post by Tara » Mon Aug 26, 2019 9:58 pm

Is the selling of Marpa House a good example of "enlightened society"? Is taking 40 dharma students' "enlightened society" apartments away from them a good example of "enlightened society"? For that matter, Is rape and sexual abuse, orgies, drunkenness, drug-taking "enlightened society"? Is a chaotic spiritual life -- any spiritual-psychological-psychoanalytical "tradition" will do -- enlightened society"? This isn't even a good normal life, much less "enlightened society."

It's proved at this point that Shambhala people know absolutely nothing about how to build an "enlightened society," that they actually have a completely twisted view of what "enlightened society" is, and should not be allowed anywhere near a table constituted for the purpose of building an "enlightened society," and so should definitely at this point let go of their pride of thinking they know how to build one. They don't even know how to complain. There were only two comments on the Denver Post article about the sale of Marpa House when I posted my comment. Apparently, everybody is too scared to make a peep. Their samaya might get them! Yeah, those big bad protectors are going to come and squash you like a bug. Take my advice, because this is what I did when those big bad protectors came around threatening me: I stood up tall and screamed at them to "Get the fuck out and never come back!" And they never did. All you need to do is stand up for yourself.

There was a lot of strange cruelty that happened in the process of selling Marpa House. This guy John Kirkland, the developer who bought the place, went out of his way to inflict cruelty on the group of residents who in their drunken delusions thought they might be able to buy Marpa House. He reminded me of someone sent from Black Cube, the Israeli intelligence group sent out by Weinstein to infiltrate and spy on his accusers. In my mind, he seems to be acting as an agent of cruelty for Shambhala as he tricked them into thinking that he was going to help them protect their homes against Shambhala's financial crisis, but instead he just gained their trust and received all their confidential info, and used it for his own benefit.

Then he stabs the knife in deeper with his cruel comments that he assumed everyone at Marpa House who was trying to keep their homes had only the organization's best benefit in mind, and should shut up since they received the benefit of Shambhala's "subsidized housing" for years. He pretends that the group's offer to Shambhala to pay 4.2 million to keep their homes didn't mean a thing, as if they were there as a front group for Shambhala to jack up the price as high as possible with a false offer, so that he'd have to give an extra 700 grand, pretending he didn't believe a word they said as to their true intention to actually buy it. Then he talked about how "honored" he was to do the deal with Shambhala, and how he was going to fix the huge mess they had made by turning the house Tibetan -- a mess made not only to the house but also to the neighborhood -- by returning it to the pristine condition it was in in the 1920s (what was "pristine" in the 1920's?). And he pretended to be flummoxed at people's claims of betrayal after he approached them with the offer to give them money for their plan, invited them to dinner, brought bottles of wine, sent email, and measured the house -- all for them.

He seems to be warning the Marpa house residents: "shut up and be obedient to your organization." It's a strange message to be coming from a developer. He sounds more like a vindictive insider to me, or someone sent to thwart plans of slaves escaping from their masters.

How is it that people who supposedly practiced awareness out the ass didn't notice the disconnect between what was actually happening in Shambhala throughout the years and the idea of "enlightened society"? Was their view so off to begin with? They thought a world of slaves and masters and drugs, alcohol and sex were "enlightened society?" Could they really have such a degraded Crowleyian view? What was wrong with these people? And then they have the nerve to call themselves "teachers"! And go on and on about "sanity" and "basic goodness". What would they know about it? They don't even know what's right and what's wrong.

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Re: The Myth of "Enlightened Society"

Post by Tara » Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:19 pm

-- Tibet and the British Raj, 1904-47: The Influence of the Indian Political Department Officers, by Alexander McKay

-- The Shadow of the Dalai Lama: Sexuality, Magic and Politics in Tibetan Buddhism, by Victor and Victoria Trimondi

-- Buddha's Not Smiling: Uncovering Corruption at the Heart of Tibetan Buddhism Today, by Erik D. Curren

-- The Buddha From Brooklyn, by Martha Sherrill

-- The Myth of Shangri-La: Tibet, Travel Writing and the Western Creation of Sacred Landscape, by Peter Bishop

-- The Other Side of Eden: Life With John Steinbeck, by John Steinbeck IV & Nancy Steinbeck

-- The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant, by John Riley Perks

-- Traveller in Space: In Search of Female Identity in Tibetan Buddhism, by June Campbell

-- Oracles and Demons of Tibet: The Cult and Iconography of the Tibetan Protective Deities, by Rene De Nebesky-Wojkowitz

-- Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa, by Diana J. Mukpo with Carolyn Rose Gimian

-- The Great Naropa Poetry Wars, by Tom Clark

-- Red Shambhala: Magic, Prophecy, and Geopolitics in the Heart of Asia, by Andrei Znamenski

-- Seven Years in Tibet, by Heinrich Harrer
The guy quoted at the bottom of the page [Mukposdingdong] cries out that “nobody thinks about how people who took the oath to the Sakyong were betrayed by him,” and he doesn’t want to have anything to do with “Buddhists” who don’t feel sorry for all of those betrayed by him. The Shambhala people took oaths like Freemasons and Mafioso, I suppose they were oaths that similarly said, “We will rip out your hearts and guts if you violate this oath, and kill all your relatives and descendants.” If they didn’t say that explicitly, then they meant it implicitly, and every Shambhala person knows it. What else could be the reason for their cowardly attitude when the Sakyong betrays them, that they refuse to betray him back? Oh, they would never do that. They want to protect the betrayer, so he can betray others. That's what's called "virtue". Betrayers never have anything to worry about from the people they betray. They won't say a thing, nothing specific. Only a handful of Shambhala persons, Leslie Hays, and a few women at the Buddhist Sunshine Project, have provided any details of the nasty shit that went on behind the scenes in Shambhala. What’s going on? It must be far nastier than anyone wants to let on. It’s been long enough since it happened, as far as I’m concerned, that it’s been proved that Shambhala people for the most part have absolutely no backbone, no fight, no struggle for existence, they are almost like Aristotle says “born slaves”! So take note all you white racists: Good white people have been shown to be “born slaves.” Whites can be just as weak and pitiful as any other colored peoples, and probably more so. Not the slightest backbone to fight back at all. They just want to cry and die.

Where are all the secret texts and “teachings” they got all these years? You can’t get your hands on any of them for anything in the world. On Reddit, Charles asked for some brave persons to send him copies, but he’s got nothing. Despite the fact of their mass betrayal, I suppose the Shambhala people still keep their “Great Eastern Sun,” “Scorpion Seal of the Golden Sun,” “Court Vision and Practice,” “Golden Dot,” “Letter of the Black Ashe,” etc., high up on a shelf, to be revered in all these books' betrayal and irreverence until the end of their lives. And then they don’t want to be blamed, and told “they should have known better.”

Well, a lot of people it is true, don’t know better about a lot of things they get betrayed for. But when it comes to secret oaths and teachings, we should know better to get away from organizations that promote this kind of danger. Freemasons and CIA spies, both, and military persons, take an oath of loyalty to organizations before they even know what they’re getting into. What kind of sense does that make? In the CIA, you don’t even get to know who you’re taking orders from, necessarily. Some guy or gal appears out of nowhere, hands you some instructions or money and tells you to do something, and you just do it. You don’t know who he or she is. He or she could be the devil himself, someone impersonating your officer in command, and you’d faithfully go about their business not knowing a damn thing about what you’re doing. For all you know, you’re protecting the terrorists so they can take down the World Trade Center! And Tibetan Buddhists do that all the time too.

Certainly, we should all know better.

Tibetan Buddhism is NOT Buddhism! Yes, we've all been had! There was a giant conspiracy on the part of all the self-deluded lamas and powers of the world to present ancient Tibetan shamanistic religion as "Buddhism." But it was never Buddhism, and it never will be. Tibetans have not the slightest doubt in their crazy self-deluded "Buddhist" culture. Even when they go to the West, and come back to Tibet, they still tremble when Rahula eats the moon at an eclipse. And we didn't do the slightest bit of background checking. How many Tibetan "Buddhists" have read the books about Tibetan "Buddhism" that have come out by various authors over the last 100 years? I know the answer. Hardly any of them. Including myself until I got wise.

We have seen that issues which might reflect badly on the cadre, such as cash payments to influential Tibetans, did not emerge into the public knowledge. There was also a gap between what the cadre themselves knew or believed, and what they divulged, as we have seen with Neame's article, which avoided mentioning both the purpose and the results of his mission. This can also be seen clearly in two cases where Politicals posted to Gyantse formed views which differed significantly from the usual cadre perception. It is significant that neither officer remained in Tibet for more than a few months. They were not therefore, by my definition, accepted members of the Tibet cadre.

The recorded memories of 1933 Gyantse Agent Meredith Worth, suggest an image of Tibet closer to that presented by Communist Chinese sources than to that offered in British sources. Interviewed in 1980, Worth recalled that
My memories are of many cheerful parties in the Fort and in the homes of wealthy families, the dominance and brutality of the Lamas and officials towards the serf population and the prevalence of venereal diseases....It was, therefore, for me a relief to read recently in Han Suyin's book "Lhasa, the Open City" [which promotes a polemically positive view of Communist rule in Tibet] that those conditions no longer exist.[20]
Paul Mainprice confided to his 1944 diary that
I have serious doubts whether Tibet is at all fit for independence and whether the present system of Government should be bolstered up. Would China in control of Tibet really be a very serious menace to India? As we don't seem to do much developing of Tibet, I question whether the Chinese would not be able to do it to our own mutual advantage. Of course the Tibetan aristocracy and officials would not like it, but the peasants preferred the Chinese regime in Eastern Tibet in the early years of this century. [21]
Neither Worth nor Mainprice appear to have expressed these views publicly during their imperial service. They were doubtless aware that views diametrically opposed to those of their superiors would be censored, and were unlikely to advance their careers. This must have acted as an incentive to self-censorship. As a result, the dominant image of Tibet was not affected by alternative views, even those of members of the Political Department.

The doubts which Mainprice expressed over British policy in Tibet do reflect a different perspective from that of other cadre officers. Mainprice 'was always concerned for the underdog'. He was one of the few imperial officers to gain good relations with the Mishmis during service in Assam, and his diaries record his later sympathy and support for the Muslim populace of Kashmir, which led to his being detained and expelled by the new Indian government.[22]

Mainprice's perspective indicates how the emphasis on relations with Tibet's ruling class resulted in a marginalisation of the voice of the majority of Tibetans, those outside ruling circles. Bell was aware that the peasants were often treated 'abominably' and even admitted in his first book that 'There is no doubt some foundation for the Amban's claim that the poorer classes in Tibet were in favour of China.' But Bell's policy of support for the existing Tibetan leadership meant that this perspective was not represented by the British. The condition of the lower classes was heavily criticised on occasion, Macdonald being particularly critical. But a positive image was maintained by attributing misrule to the era of Chinese domination, and describing how conditions were improving under the Dalai Lama's rule. This positive note was enhanced by the constant stress on the overall happiness and contentment of the peasant class, which is a recurrent theme in British accounts of Tibet, where even 'the slavery was of a very mild type'. [23]

-- Tibet and the British Raj, 1904-47: The Influence of the Indian Political Department Officers, by Alexander McKay
Taking Samaya with Sakyong Mipham and some side thoughts
by mukposdingdong

Something reminded me of the vows we took with Mipham recently.

The part I want to share is that when we were being groomed to submit to his command, what was made very clear by the acharyas coaching us and the little piece of paper cheat sheet we were given at Vajrayana seminary, was that we weren’t taking a vow about committing to creating enlightened society but a vow committing to MIPHAM’s vision of creating enlightened society. The difference was reiterated several times. And I guess that’s the basic point of taking a Vajrayana teacher on — you commit to their expertise or method. Literally, his world.

But in the last couple years, I’ve heard so many Shambhalians say things to the effect of, the women he sexually ab/used had the wrong view (they could have said no, or you’re not literally meant to do what the teacher asks, or, he’s just human — you don’t actually view him as the Buddha, or, well actually it’s the guru within, not the external guru that’s important). I’ve also heard non-Mipham students affiliated with Shambhala (mostly Trungpa followers) say things like, what you were doing under mipham is not what is meant by enlightened society, etc — here’s the correct view... (and then they proceed to offer some interpretation, their own conceptualization/variant on the true meaning or intent of “the teachings” or explain vajrayana by importing instructions from another teacher). But the fact is, the samaya vows we as Mipham’s students took, were of and TO HIS vision. We were to defer to HIS discernment about reality, what to do with our minds, how to behave, follow his instructions, INCLUDING the sexual ones. It wasn’t enlightened society general, it was Mipham’s view of enlightened society. And the better you followed, the better student you were considered, rewarded and valuable to have around and near.

I guess I’m sharing this thought because I’ve watched so many sangha members dismiss Mipham in the last couple of years. And in so doing they are side stepping the abuse that all of his students endured BECAUSE they were his students committed to his view. A type of betrayal that those who weren’t his students cannot know because they didn’t commit to him or put their faith in him in the same way if at all. It makes me think that people who weren’t Mipham’s students, who didn’t take that vow with him cannot possibly understand the same betrayal or advise his students because they weren’t viewing him or their paths in the same way. And it seems a lot of the “schisms” I have witnessed — schisming between old Trungpa students (some now with other teachers) or don’t-need-a-guru/king-to-do-Shambhala types and Mipham’s Vajrayana students ride on this difference.

Maybe others feel differently, but part of the betrayal I’ve been feeling from community members (or ex members) is definitely from those trampling over and bypassing the particular betrayal many of Mipham’s Vajrayana students (even if they are no longer his students) have been experiencing. Some old Trungpa students are even doing happy dances he’s been outed but don’t care about his students’ suffering. A lot of, I told you so mentality. But the fact is, we were groomed to take a vow to Mipham’s vision of enlightened society — not yours. It’s no wonder some of us don’t want anything to do with Buddhism anymore — our teacher who we took the highest vows with to do as he said betrayed our trust and the sangha celebrated his misconduct being outed by throwing him under the bus and trying to keep the ship afloat without really relating to what the tradition has done to our lives. Basically, traumatized us by eroding the deepest trust and ab/using our vulnerabilities, showed us the hollowness of all we committed to in this so called tradition, that community doesn’t care about the individuals within it to the point they make it impossible to stay, that friends and family will choose religion or keeping “cool” jargon and unconventional identities or romantic memories of childhood from their upbringings over having each others’ backs.

In a forum elsewhere someone recently said something to the effect of, clergy sexual misconduct is a very bad thing and I take it very seriously and am so sorry, but please don’t take it out on the dharma or Buddhism — I want to keep my own goodies going because the thing that hurt you only hurt you, not me. If that’s really the Buddhist approach or view of relating to ones own and others’ suffering, then why would anyone abused and taken advantage of by mipham and the Shambhala community ever want to hear Buddhist words ever again? Sometimes it’s hard to tolerate your tolerance for Shambhala and your complete inability to see what it’s done to people let alone care. Your comments that you believe are more to the point than Mipham’s because you know best or it works for you, that you have the true or right version, know the point of everyone’s life, suffering and Buddhism are completely a turn off. The arrogance and self-centeredness of people wanting Shambhala to continue sans Mipham (especially those who haven’t even admitted to and related to his betrayal of his students) continues to appall me. If you are taking on the ship, you’re responsible for the harm it caused — doesn’t matter if mipham is king or not.

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Re: The Myth of "Enlightened Society"

Post by Tara » Wed Jan 01, 2020 10:35 pm

Whatever respect I had for Tibetan Buddhism, whatever love I had for my lama, Gyatrul Rinpoche, I hereby now violently repudiate for all time in the light of this new evidence that I have come upon of Tibetan cultural/political/religious corruption at the highest (lowest) level, which can in no way be doubted as to its truthfulness. It seems that Tibetan Buddhism is the worst nightmare that I personally have ever feared, which is, the return of the Catholic Spanish Inquisition witch prosecutions, as recorded by Heinrich Kramer and James Springer in their Malleus Maleficarum. A greater crime to humanity has never occurred; neither a greater crime to reason. We should never punish people on the basis of made-up superstitious beliefs of gods and demons. Yet, this is clearly what is in store for us when we re-establish Tibetan Buddhism in the West, and it also explains all of the crimes of the various lamas that we have seen manifest in recent years.

The evidence speaks for itself, and is corroborated in many other reliable sources, like Heinrich Harrer's "Seven Years in Tibet;" Erik Curren's "Buddha's Not Smiling"; The Trimondis' "Shadow of the Dalai Lama;" Laurence Waddell's "Buddhism of Tibet;" and in the various biographies of people who traveled to Tibet.

The negative aspects of these stories may have been played up to support a British political and religious agenda, as Peter Bishop in "The Myth of Shangri-La" asserts; but we also know from Alexander McKay's "Tibet and the British Raj" that the converse was the case with the Tibet Cadre, in that anyone who criticized Tibet was removed from Tibet, their goal being to give the West only a positive view of Tibet. Nevertheless, the facts speak for themselves, and nobody doubts their truthfulness.

No wonder the Conservative British and American Establishments wanting to counter the positive democratic effects of the American and French Revolutions; the Theosophical Society and Catholic Church wanting to conquer the Anti-God, scientific influences of Charles Darwin; and the League of Nations/United Nations wanting to conquer the world for the Anglo-American Establishment and establish their new one world religion of total control, found their way to the Tibetans likes flies on shit. Here was the chance they had always been waiting for to return us to the Beloved 13th Century when the whole world was in order under the Catholic Church. Therefore: "We'll send Tibetan Buddhism West via our mutual agent, Freda Bedi, and that will be the end of Democracy!"
Three Years in Tibet [Excerpt]
by Shramana Ekai Kawaguchi

CHAPTER LVI. Tibetan Punishments.

One day early in October I left my residence in Lhasa and strolled toward the Parkor. Parkor is the name of one of the principal streets in that city, as I have already mentioned, and is the place where criminals are exposed to public disgrace. Pillory in Tibet takes various forms, the criminal being exposed sometimes with only handcuffs, or fetters alone, and at others with both. On that particular occasion I saw as many as twenty criminals undergoing punishment, some of them tied to posts, while others were left fettered at one of the street crossings. They were all well-dressed, and had their necks fixed in a frame of thick wooden boards about 1⅕ inches thick, and three feet square. The frame had in the centre a hole just large enough for the neck and was composed of two wooden boards fastened together by means of ridges, and a lock. From this frame was suspended a piece of paper informing the public of the nature of the crime committed by the exposed person, and of the judgment passed upon him, sentencing him to the pillory for a certain number of days and to exile or flogging afterwards. The flogging generally ranges from three hundred to seven hundred lashes. As so many criminals were pilloried on that particular occasion, I could not read all the sentences, even though my curiosity was stronger than the sense of pity that naturally rose in my bosom when I beheld the miserable spectacle. I confess that I read one or two of them, and found that the criminals were men connected with the Tangye-ling monastery, the Lama superior of which is qualified to succeed to the supreme power of the pontificate in case, for one reason or[375] another, the post of the Dalai Lama should happen to fall vacant. The monastery is therefore one of the most influential institutions in the Tibetan Hierarchy and generally contains a large number of inmates, both priests and laymen.

Shortly before my arrival in Lhasa this high post was occupied by a distinguished priest named Temo Rinpoche. His steward went under the name of Norpu Che-ring, and this man was charged with the heinous crime of having secretly made an attempt on the life of the Dalai Lama by invoking the aid of evil deities. Norpu Che-ring’s conjuration was conducted not according to the Buḍḍhist formula, but according to that of the Bon religion. A piece of paper containing the dangerous incantation was secreted in the soles of the beautiful foot-gear worn by the Dalai Lama, which was then presented to his Holiness. The incantation must have possessed an extraordinary potency, for it was said that the Grand Lama invariably fell ill one way or another whenever he put on these accursed objects. The cause of his illness was at last traced to the foot-gear with its invocation paper by the wise men in attendance on the Grand Lama.

This amazing revelation led to the wholesale arrest of all the persons suspected of being privy to the crime, the venerable Temo Rinpoche among the rest. Some people even regarded the latter as the ring-leader in this plot and denounced him as having conspired against the life of the Grand Lama in order to create for himself a chance of wielding the supreme authority. At any rate Temo Rinpoche occupied the pontifical seat as Regent before the present Grand Lama was installed on his throne. Norpu Che-ring was the Prime-Minister to the Regent, and conducted the affairs of state in a high-handed manner. Things were even worse than this, for it is a fact, admitting of no dispute, that Norpu was oppressive, and mer[376]cilessly put to death a large number of innocent persons. He was therefore a persona ingrata with at least a section of the public, and some of his enemies lost no time in giving a detailed denunciation of the despotic rule of the Regent and his Prime-Minister as soon as the present Grand Lama was safely enthroned. Naturally therefore the former Regent and his Lieutenant were not regarded with favor by the Grand Lama, and such being the case, the terrible revelation about the shoes was at once followed by their arrest, and they were thrown into prison.

All this had occurred before my arrival. When I came to Lhasa Temo Rinpoche had been dead for some time, but Norpu Che-ring was still lingering in a stone dungeon which was guarded with special severity, because of the grave nature of his crime. The dungeon had only one narrow hole in the top, through which food was doled out to the prisoner, or he himself was dragged out whenever he had to undergo his examinations, which were always accompanied with torture. Hope of escape was out of the question, and the only opportunity offered him of seeing the sunshine was by no means a source of relief, for it was invariably associated with the infliction of tortures of a terribly excruciating character. The mere description of it chilled my blood. The torture, as inflicted on Norpu Che-ring, was devised with diabolical ingenuity, for it consisted in driving a sharpened bamboo stick into the sensitive part of the finger directly underneath the nail. After the nail had been sufficiently abused as a means of torture, it was torn off, and the stick was next drilled in between the flesh and the skin. As even criminals possess no more than ten fingers on both hands the inquisitor had to make chary use of this stock of torture, and took only one finger at a time, till the whole number was disposed of. Such was the treatment the ex-Prime-Minister received at his hands.

Norpu Che-ring bore this torture with admirable fortitude; he persisted that the whole plot originated in him alone and was put in execution by his own hands only. His master had nothing to do with it. The inquisitors’ object in subjecting their former superior and colleague to this infernal torture was to extort from him a confession implicating Temo Rinpoche, but they were denied this satisfaction by the unflinching courage of their victim. It is said that this suffering of Norpu Che-ring had so far awakened the sympathy of Temo Rinpoche himself that the latter tried, like the priest of noble heart that he was, to take the whole responsibility of the plot upon his own shoulders, declaring that Norpu was merely a tool who carried out his orders, and that therefore the latter was entirely innocent of the crime. Temo even advised his steward, whenever the two happened to be together at the inquisition, to confess, as he, that is Temo, had done.

The steward, on his part, would reply that his master must have made that baseless confession from the benevolent motive of saving his, the steward’s life, but that he was not so mean and depraved as to seek an unmerited deliverance at the cost of his venerable master’s life. And so he preferred to suffer pain rather than to be released, and baffled all the attempts of the torturers. By the time I reached Lhasa Norpu had already endured this painful existence for two years, and during that long period not one word even in the faintest way implicating his master had passed his lips. From this it may be concluded that Temo had really no hand in the plot. At the same time it must be remembered that Temo was an elder brother of Norpu, and the fraternal affection which the latter entertained towards the other might therefore have been too strong to allow of his implicating Temo, even supposing that the late Regent was really privy to the plot. Be the real circumstances what they might, when[379] I heard all these painful particulars, my sympathy was powerfully aroused for Norpu, whatever hard words others might utter against him; for the mere fact that he submitted so long to such revolting punishments with such persevering fortitude and with such faithful constancy to his master and brother, appealed strongly to my heart.

The pilloried criminals whom I saw on that occasion were all subordinates of Norpu Che-ring. Besides these, sixteen Bon priests had been executed as accomplices, while the number of laymen and priests who had been exiled on the same charge must have been large, though the exact number was unknown to outsiders. The pilloried criminals were apparently minor offenders, for half of them were sentenced to exile and the remaining half to floggings of from three hundred to five hundred lashes. The pillory was to last in each case for three to seven days. Looking at these pitiable creatures I felt as if I were witnessing a sight such as might exist in the Nether World. My heart truly bled for the poor, helpless fellows.

Heavy with this sad reflexion I proceeded further on, and soon arrived at a place to the south of a Buḍḍhist edifice; and there, near the western corner of the building, flooded by sunshine, I beheld another heart-rending sight. It was a beautiful lady in the pillory. Her neck was secured in the regulation frame, just as was that of a rougher criminal, and the ponderous piece of wood was weighing heavily upon her frail shoulders. A piece of red cloth made of Bhūtān silk was upon her head, which hung very low, for the frame around her neck did not allow her to move it freely. Her eyes were closed. Three men, apparently police constables, were near by as guards. A vessel containing baked flour was lying there, and also some small delicacies that must have been sent by relatives or friends. All this food she had to take from the hands of one or other of the three rough attendants, for her own hands were manacled. She was none other than the wife of Norpu Che-ring, whose miserable story I have already told, and was a daughter of the house of Do-ring, one of the oldest and most respected families in the whole of the Tibetan aristocracy.


When her husband was arrested, he was at first confined in a cell less terrible than the stone dungeon to which he was afterwards transferred. But this early and apparently more considerate treatment only plunged his family into greater misery. His wife was told that the jailer of the prison in which her husband was incarcerated was not overstrict and that he was open to corruption, and what faithful wife, even though Tibetan, would resist the temptation placed before her under such circumstances, of trying to seek some means of gaining admission to the lonely cell where her dear lord was confined? And so it came to pass that Madame Norpu bribed the jailer, and with his connivance was often at her husband’s side; but somehow her[381] transgression reached the ears of the government, and she also was thrown into prison.

On the very morning of the day on which I came upon this piteous sight of the pillory, she was led out of the prison, as I heard afterwards, not however for liberation, but first to suffer at the gate of the prison a flogging of three hundred lashes, and then to be conducted to a busy thoroughfare to be pilloried for public disgrace.

Poor woman! she seemed to be almost insensible when I saw her, and the mere sight of her emaciated form and death-pale face aroused my strongest sympathy. The sentiment of pity was intensified when I saw a group of idle spectators, among whom I even noticed some aristocratic-looking persons, gazing at the pillory with callous indifference. They were heartless enough to approach her place of torture and read the judgment paper. The sentence, as I heard it read aloud by these fellows, condemned her to so many whippings, then to seven days pillory, and lastly to exile at such-and-such a place, there to remain imprisoned, fettered and manacled. The spectators not only read out the sentence with an air of perfect indifference, but some of them even betrayed their depravity by reviling and jeering at the lady: “Serve her right,” I heard them say; “their hard treatment of others has brought them to this. Serve them right.” These aristocrats were giving sardonic smiles, as if gloating over the misery of the house of Norpu Che-ring.

Really the heartless depravity of these people was beyond description, and I could not help feeling angry with them. These same people, I thought, who seemed to take so much delight in the calamity of the family of Norpu Che-ring, must have vied with each other in courting his favor while he was in power and prosperity. Even if it were beyond the comprehension of these brutes to appreciate the meaning of that merciful principle which bids us “hate the offence[382] but pity the offender,” one would have expected them to be humane enough to show some sympathy towards this woman who was paying so dearly for her excusable indiscretion. But they seemed to be utterly impervious to such sentiments, and so behaved themselves in that shameful manner. I, who knew that political rivalry in Tibet was allowed to run to such an extreme as to involve even innocent women in painful punishment, felt sincerely sorry for the Lady Norpu, and returned to my residence with a heavy heart. My sentiment on that particular occasion is partially embodied in this uta that occurred to me as I retraced my heavy steps:

You, everchanging foolish herds of men,
As fickle as the dew upon the trees,
To blooming flowers your smiling welcome give;
Why should your tears of pity cease to flow
When blooms or withering flowers pass away?

On my return, when I saw my host, the former Minister of Finance, I related to him what I had seen in the street, and asked him to tell me all he knew about the affair. He fully shared my sympathy for the unfortunate woman.

While Norpu Che-ring was in power, my host told me, he was held in high respect. Nobody dared to whisper one word of blame about him and his wife. Now they were fallen, and he felt really sorry for them. It was true, he continued, that some people used to find fault with the private conduct of Norpu Che-ring, and the former Minister could not deny that there was some reason for that. But Temo Rinpoche was a venerable man, pure in life, pious and benevolent, and had met with such a sad end solely in consequence of the wicked intrigues of his followers. My host was perfectly certain that Temo Rinpoche had absolutely no hand in the plot. He said that he could not talk thus to others; he could be confidential to me alone.

Tortures are carried to the extreme of diabolical ingenuity. They are such as one might expect in hell. One[383] method consists in drilling a sharpened bamboo stick into the tender part of the tip of the fingers, as already described. Another consists in placing ‘stone-bonnets’ on the head of the victim. Each ‘bonnet’ weighs about eight pounds, and one after another is heaped on as the torture proceeds. The weight at first forces tears out of the eyes of the victim, but afterward, as the weight is increased, the very eye-balls are forced from their sockets. Then flogging, though far milder in itself, is a painful punishment, as it is done with a heavy rod, cut fresh from a willow tree, the criminal receiving it on the bared small of his back. The part is soon torn open by the lashing, and the blood that oozes out is scattered right and left as the beater continues his brutal task, until the prescribed number, three hundred or five hundred blows as the case may be, are given. Very often, and perhaps with the object of prolonging the torture, the flogging is suspended, and the poor victim receives a cup of water, after which the painful process is resumed. In nine cases out of ten the victims of this corporeal punishment fall ill, and while at Lhasa I more than once prescribed for persons who, as the result of flogging, were bleeding internally. The wounds caused by the flogging are shocking to see, as I know from my personal observations.

A prison-house is in any case an awful place, but more especially so in Tibet, for even the best of them has nothing but mud walls and a planked floor, and is very dark in the interior, even in broad day. This absence of sunlight is itself a serious punishment in such a cold country.

As for food, prisoners are fed only once a day with a couple of handfuls of baked flour. This is hardly sufficient to keep body and soul together, so that a prisoner is generally obliged to ask his friends to send him some food. Nothing, however, sent in from outside reaches the[384] prisoners entire, for the gaolers subtract for their own mouths more than half of it, and only a small portion of the whole quantity gets into the prisoners’ hands.

The most lenient form of punishment is a fine; then comes flogging, to be followed, at a great distance, by the extraction of the eye-balls; then the amputation of the hands. The amputation is not done all at once, but only after the hands have been firmly tied for about twelve hours, till they become completely paralysed. The criminals who are about to suffer amputation are generally suspended by the wrists from some elevated object with stout cord, and naughty street urchins are allowed to pull the cord up and down at their pleasure. After this treatment the hands are chopped off at the wrists in public. This punishment is generally inflicted on thieves and robbers after their fifth or sixth offence. Lhasa abounds in handless beggars and in beggars minus their eye-balls; and perhaps the proportion of eyeless beggars is larger than that of the handless ones.

Then there are other forms of mutilation also inflicted as punishment, and of these ear-cutting and nose-slitting are the most painful. Both parties in a case of adultery are visited with this physical deformation. These forms of punishment are inflicted by the authorities upon the accusation of the aggrieved party, the right of lodging the complaint being limited, however, to the husband; in fact he himself may with impunity cut off the ears or slit the noses of the criminal parties, when taken in flagrante delicto. He has simply to report the matter afterwards to the authorities.

With regard to exile there are two different kinds, one leaving a criminal to live at large in the exiled place, and the other, which is heavier, confining him in a local prison.

Capital punishment is carried out solely by immersion in water. There are two modes of this execution: one by[385] putting a criminal into a bag made of hides and throwing the bag with its live contents into the water; and the other by tying the criminal’s hands and feet and throwing him into a river with a heavy stone tied to his body. The executioners lift him out after about ten minutes, and if he is judged to be still alive, down they plunge him again, and this lifting up and down is repeated till the criminal expires. The lifeless body is then cut to pieces, the head alone being kept, and all the rest of the severed members are thrown into the river. The head is deposited in a head vase, either at once, or after it has been exposed in public for three or seven days, and the vase is carried to a building established for this sole purpose, which bears a horrible name signifying “Perpetual Damnation.” This practice comes from a superstition of the people that those whose heads are kept in that edifice will forever be precluded from being reborn in this world.

All these punishments struck me as entirely out of place for a country in which Buḍḍhist doctrines are held in such high respect. Especially did I think the idea of eternal damnation irreconcilable with the principles of mercy and justice, for I should say that execution ought to absolve criminals of their offences. Several other barbarous forms of punishment are in vogue, but these I may omit here, for what I have stated in the preceding paragraphs is enough to convey some idea of criminal procedure as it exists in the Forbidden Land.

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