Another October 5, 1989, thirty-three years ago today, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announces that, of the approximately five billion people who live on Earth —according to the UN calculation of the last July 11, first World Population Day -, who “has worked more and better in favor of brotherhood among nations, the abolition or reduction of armies and the celebration of peace processes” is a Buddhist monk who answers to the name of Tenzin Gyatso. Given his merits, he has just been honored with the Peace Nobel.
In reality, although the laureate, in his infinite humility, defines himself as a simple Buddhist monk, what emanates from him is the compassionate wisdom of Buddha. That is why, at the age of two, as a child from the small village of Takster, in northwestern Tibet, on July 6, 1935, he was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama. So Tenzin Gyatso is a holy man. In fact, his Holiness is the treatment that corresponds to him, because we are talking about the fourteenth Dalai Lama, who on a day like today was deserving of the most famous of the awards that reward pacifism. And it is true that desires for harmony and understanding have never lacked him. Transferred to Lhasa to undertake his studies, at the age of twenty-five he received a doctorate in Buddhist philosophy.
“It was 1954 when, together with a large commission of civil and religious dignitaries, the Dalai Lama traveled to Beijing to hold talks with Mao Tse-Tung“
The bad thing was that, before obtaining his doctorate, the Chinese communists were not for contemplations and in 1950 they stormed Tibet with their army. The country, which had already been under Beijing’s rule from the 18th century until British troops entered Lhasa in 1904, only enjoyed a short-lived independence between 1912 and 1950. It was not a problem for China to defeat the army of the nation that, for the Western view of the last century, would have been a haven of peace on top of the world.
His Holiness was only fifteen years old when, in addition to being the spiritual guide of Tibet, still a teenager, he had to assume political control of the state. He was running in 1954 when, together with a large commission of civil and religious dignitaries, The Dalai Lama traveled to Beijing for talks with Mao Tse-tung. The commiseration that he gave them when receiving them “The great helmsman”, the supreme leader of China, came to nothing when, already in 1959, Lhasa rose against red China. The uprising was put down with the usual diligence and forcefulness of the communists, who, along with the fascists, will go down in history as the great enemies of the 20th century. A few days after the entry of the red army in their country, the Tibetans already counted their dead and prisoners – who in most cases were never seen again – by tens of thousands.
“Practically, the Dalai Lama has met with spiritual directors from all over the planet. Among so many visits there are two popes: Paul VI and John Paul II“
Convinced that the only way to save Tibet from the red terror was the word – not in vain emanates from him the compassionate wisdom of Buddha -, the 14th Dalai Lama crossed the Himalayas on foot on his way to exile in India, on a journey worthy of those chosen by the gods. Long ago, in the 17th century, the Jesuit Antonio de Andrade also crossed the Himalayan mountains on foot—and, presumably, climbing where necessary—becoming the first Westerner to enter Tibet. Already at the end of the last century, his Holiness would have to be the most famous and admired Tibetan in a disbelieving West, already more than Christian.
A resident of Dharamsala (India) since 1960, proselytizing his cause has led the Dalai Lama to speak of non-violence to sixty-two countries, convincing the most powerful world leaders to intercede for the Tibetan cause with the Chinese government. Beijing has ignored them all. And even more so to the religious leaders of the majority of the five billion inhabitants of the planet —although, it must be insisted, disbelievers proliferate everywhere and in all faiths—. Practically, the Dalai Lama has met with spiritual directors from all over the planet. Among so many visits there are two popes: Paul VI and John Paul II. Being in those appointments all holy men, it goes without saying that the two pontiffs agreed on the proposal of the spiritual master of Tibet to put the wisdom of religions at the service of the good of all beings.
In the wake of gandhi, Martin Luther King and the rest of the champions of extreme pacifism, His Holiness does not lack merits for the glory of the Nobel Prize. Perhaps the most curious thing about its stellar moment is how representative the award of the prize is of the interest in Eastern spirituality of certain Western elites.
To tell the truth, the thing is not new. Jack Kerouac, Allen Gingsberg, and a few other members of the Beat Generation became Buddhists, as did some beatniks and many others of hippies what happened to them. The youthful sedition of the second half of the last century had three of its earthly paradises in Nepal, India and Tibet.
“That new orientalism that is perceived after the Nobel Peace Prize of 89, in the coming years will goad even former Stalinists“
Others of those young people, lost on the roads of Asia, they returned to their countries of origin converted to Krishnaism —not Hinduism— of Krishná, whom his followers in Bengal say is the main form of god. Here in Europe, the devotees of Krishna were those who chanted the Hare Krishna mantra while dancing in the streets.
Now, in the eyes of the European layman, all Asian creeds tend to be confused. Because everyone is inspired by a good will that, here, superficially, tends to be associated with a certain good vibe, common to all Eastern spiritualities, in which everything fits, from taichi to yoga. In a certain sense, by awarding the Nobel to the Dalai Lama, he comes to distinguish himself from all that.
And it is paradoxical at the end of the century -limiting it to a stellar moment is nothing more than falling short- that, having already lost its native spirituality, a more secularized Western society that never comes to demonstrate the interest in Eastern spirituality that it is showing. Hergé, the creator of Tintin, immersed in a personal crisis, was one of the first to show that restlessness by taking, to Tibet precisely and in 1959, while the Chinese were devastating it, his endearing character.
But, that new orientalism that is perceived after the Nobel Peace Prize of 89, in the coming years will goad even former Stalinists, such as the otherwise interesting Italian filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci. And the former revolutionaries —who exchanged the faith of their fathers for that faith in humanity that was communism— will go from obscene cheers to red czarheard in ninety (1976), at good rollism tibetan wrap little buddha (1993). Already in 97, Martin Scorsese went further, reaching a biopic by Tenzin Gyatso. Richard Gere, one of the last leading men in Hollywood, is an apostle of Tibet. Mecano, the flagship group of Spanish pop, was one of the first to sing to that glory. your album Aidalaidedicated to the Dalai Lama, appeared in 1991 and was the last of his greatest hits.
Who knows if the later boom of Asian cuisine also has something to do with all this. This is how history is written.