It appears the smooth, or rather, semi-smooth waters between the United States and China have developed a few uncomfortable ripples. In meeting with the Dalai Lama, President Obama has apparently incensed the Chinese government. According to senior officers within the Chinese hierarchy, the President of the United States never should have instigated a meeting with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader in the first place. In so doing, he has created tension between the three countries involved and strained relations between the two biggest powers in the world. Has he imperiled America’s fragile harmony with Beijing? President Obama’s only purpose in meeting with the Dalai Lama was to show support for the human rights of all Tibetans living in China. For some reason, that has outraged the Chinese leaders. But why would this move threaten their position with Tibet, or America, if their feelings toward the Tibetans living within their borders were as upstanding as they have claimed?
Meanwhile, the composed, outcast, yet ever-virtuous Dalai Lama has been accused of being a separatist by Chinese leaders. The spiritual leader asserts, however, that all he wants for his people is more autonomy from China, not total independence. Throughout history, Tibet has fallen at various times under Chinese overlordship. Although the smaller country has striven to maintain its own political structure over the centuries, being situated on the border of the super power and composed of a number of small principalities and tribal groups, it inevitably fell under Chinese rule more often than not. With China literally breathing down the neck of the small conglomeration of Tibetan citizens dwelling under the watchful eye of their benefactor, it has been a struggle to maintain any form of autonomy, much less total independence from the power-driven demands of the People’s Republic of China. It’s their land, after all. You live there, you must serve the greater good of China in some way.
Speaking of the greater good, isn’t that what most Buddhists say they strive for each day? Good relations, harmony, peace, and love … all for the greater good. And of course, stay detached. Keep your own space and don’t infringe on anyone else’s space. According to Lao Tzu, or Laozi, the Chinese Master who flourished with his teachings in the 6th century BC and composed the Tao TeChing writings .…
“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.”
― Laozi, Tao TeChing
Is Beijing living up to these teachings, this way of being in the world without disturbing the world … or their neighbors? It would appear they have forgotten the Master’s words. But what kind of leadership do the people of China want?
“A leader is best
When people barely know he exists
Of a good leader, who talks little,
When his work is done, his aim fulfilled,
They will say, “We did this ourselves.”
― Laozi, Tao TeChing
It is certain Beijing would not agree with this passive stance. If the Tao teachings influenced the early development of Buddhism, the religion most Chinese inherited at birth, then perhaps Chinese power-hungry leadership has fallen far from this branch of love, peace, and harmony.
In truth, only the Dalai Lama and his followers are living up to the principals of the Tao Master, and a chat with the President of the United States can only reap a harvest of goodwill and fruitful benefit, which will ultimately serve the greater good of all mankind.
Editorial by Christine Schlichte