What is the Rle of Tibetan Buddhism in Shaping of Sino-Tibet relations Review Essay
Sep 30, 2020 in Research

Tibetan Buddhism, or Buddhism in general, remains to be one of the most important institutions and identity-shapers of the Tibetan people. This is because Buddhism is not considered simply as a religion but rather, it has remained to be a strong way of life with Dalai Lama’s influence reigning long after he was gone. It involves a level of sincerity and piety that many people in the world revere to date but with the political landscape of the Tibetan Buddhism and China, the study of this important field has been overshadowed by the political research. This means that little information can be found on the modern developments of the Tibetan Buddhism considering the fact that modern Asian literature discussing Sino-Tibetan issues majorly rely on the political developments of the region. Secondly, there exists limited information on the influence of the Sino-Tibetan relations on the development of the religion especially when one considers the conditions and circumstances under which the two sections were united or reunited politically. Lastly, there is exists limited research information on the modern development in the Tibetan Buddhism hence the need to conduct research on this area of study. Based on the above information the research paper attempts to answer the question on what is the role of Tibetan Buddhism in shaping of Sino-Tibet relations in the 1950s.

Get a free price quote

 
Price: 00.00
 

This paper presents a proposal on the study of modern Tibetan Buddhism. The main objective is to identify how modern Buddhism has been shaped or influenced by the political environment in the Sino-Tibetan relations before and after the 1951 agreement between the governments and the military arms of the two regions. The second objective relates to focusing on identifying the institutionalization of the Lamaist philosophical principles in the modern Sino-Tibet relations. Thirdly is to  identify how modern Tibetan Buddhism was affected after Dalai Lama’s escape from Tibet and after the Mao Zedong and the Chinese agencies overran Tibet as a way of asserting the power and the position of the China in the global politics. Notably, it would be prudent to hypothesize that the relations between the Chinese and the Tibetans after the 1951 political agreement influenced the religious identity of the Tibetan Buddhists. In collecting and organizing information for the completion of the study, the focus will be on three books authored by Melvyn C. Goldstein. Redacted information from the three books by this author are as provided in the sections below.

1.  Goldstein, Melvyn C. “A History of Modern Tibet 1913-1951: The Demise of the Lamaist state” University of California Press. 1991.

Summary of the Book

The period between 1913 and 1951 was probably the most difficult period for the Tibetan authorities considering the heightened conflict between Tibet and China. Goldsetin in this title follows through the political landscape of Tibet through the life of the 13th Dalai Lama and the 14th Dalaim Lama in during the period. Goldstein sough to achieve his study through the use of interviews and from his studies, the information collected does not only help in espousing only the political information but also the factors underlying the rather tense relations between Tibet and China. More particularly, the book helps in providing information about the contribution of the Lamaist philosophy to the political situation between the two regions at the time and how these Buddhist religious cornerstones were shaken by the conflict between China and Tibet as well as by the leadership of Tibet which includes both the 13th and the 14th Dalai Lama.

Relationship of the book to the first point

In relation to how modern Buddhism has been shaped or influenced by the political environment in the Sino-Tibetan relations before and after the 1951 agreement between the governments and the military arms of the two regions, the book tracks down influence of the key Buddhist tenets on the choices made by Dalai Lama the 13th and Dalai Lama the 14th. Buddhism is a religion associated with strong meditation and in meditation are the key influencers of piety. Secondly, Buddhism was considered to be one of the reasons why Tibet had managed to stick together for long before the fall in 1951. The book contains information on the religious and philosophical standing of both Dalai Lama the 13th and Dalai Lama the 14th and considering that religion was assumed to influence the choices of the two leaders, then the book helps in determining and identifying some of the decisions that the two leaders made and how these influences modern Tibetan Buddhism.

Relationship of the book to the Second point

In relation to the institutionalization of the Lamaist philosophical principles in the modern Sino-Tibet relations, the book identifies the proliferation of the Buddhist principles in the Tibetan forces. It also indicates how this influenced how the Tibetan engaged the Chinese over the period in the presence of Dalai Lama the 13th. Selflessness is one of the key tenets addressed by the book in relation to the Tibetan forces especially when Dalai Lama the 13th was exiled and also in his coming back. The same honor was accorded to Dalai Lama the 14th but differences were evident from the perceptions after the 14th Dalai Lama started engaging the Chinese in a manner in which the Tibetans considered unholy and unethical. For instance, the books discusses the corruption of Dalai Lama the 14th in light of how this possibly contributed to the fall of Tibet to the hands of the Chinese and at the same time influencing the future development of Buddhism.

Relationship of the book to the third point

In relation to the third point, which relates to how modern Tibetan Buddhism was affected after Dalai Lama’s escape from Tibet and after the Mao Zedong and the Chinese agencies overran Tibet as a way of asserting the power and the position of the China in the global politics, Goldstein in this book describes how Tibetans signed a controversial pact with the Chinese government and how that ended up influencing the perception of the Sino-Tibet relations over the time. The analysis includes a peek into the destruction of places of worship in Tibet and this was understood as the way through which Mao Zedong asserted his power. This began the downfall of not only Tibet but also the Tibetan Buddhism.

2.  Powers, John. “Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism” Snow Lion Publications. 2007.

This second book tracks the political and passively, the religious history of the Tibetans after the Sino-Tibetan integration in 1951. Particularly, the book covers the focused assessment of what Tibetan Buddhism entails and particularly in the period after 1951 which is the period during which the Tibetans were considered to be assimilating the fact that their region was no longer independent. The period saw to the onslaughts on Tibetan Buddhism of the Lamaist philosophies as a way of life among the Tibetans. During this period, Dalai Lama the 14th was exiled to India. The political class of Tibet faced the heavy hand of Mao Zedong and the religious leaders feared being seen in public. Young children from Tibet hardly got the chances to learn more about the Lamaist philosophies and at the same time, the Chinese were exerting their influence on the region. It was during this period that corruption among the Tibetan political class stood at the highest point. The major part of interest in the book includes chapters 5 and 6 where a lot on the history of Tibetan Buddhism and the modern Sino-Tibet relations were presented.

Relationship of the book to the first point

In relation to how modern Buddhism has been shaped or influenced by the political environment in the Sino-Tibetan relations before and after the 1951 agreement between the governments and the military arms of the two regions, the book tracks down information on how the cooperation between the Tibetans and the Chinese authorities shifted the power in religious relations. On one hand, Mao Zedong laid his heavy hand on the religious institutions in Tibet while on the other hand he showed a lot of respect for Dalai Lama the 14th. Notably, it was during this period that most interactions between China and the Tibetans were high and at the same time, the assimilation of the Tibetans into new cultural and religious backgrounds took place during this time. From a political perspective, the period discussed within this book was the period during which religious liberalization took place in the region and the differences between Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism became evident. The two became the back which the Sino-Tibet relations were anchored other than the political relations

Relationship of the book to the Second point

Focusing on the relationship of the book to the institutionalization of the Lamaist philosophical principles in the modern Sino-Tibet relations, the invitation of Dalai Lama to Beijing marked the most important point in the acceptance of the Lamaists to the political class in Beijing. This is because by showing respect to Dalai Lama, Mao Zedong showed the commitment to making the relations between the two regions work. He also showed that the Chinese government was ready to accept the full integration of the region and the religious philosophical principles in the government. However, the institutionalization was made difficult by the observation that some players in the Chinese government actually expressed their detestation for Dalai Lama and possibly the Lamaist principles hence indicating the level of tension that characterized the period.

Find out our advantages

Relationship of the book to the third point

The third point focuses on how modern Tibetan Buddhism was affected after Dalai Lama’s escape from Tibet and after the Mao Zedong and the Chinese agencies overran Tibet as a way of asserting the power and the position of the China in the global politics. From this book, Powers shows the existence a moment of calmness and tolerance between the two sides. He shows the image of a relationship that was set to work and one that was meant to focus on the philosophical and ideological prosperity of both sides of the Sino-Tibetan rift. In other words, the author sought to show that despite the strained relations between the two sides, the religious relations remained strong. However, Powers also indicated that to a certain level there was intolerance and this was one of the reasons why Dalai Lama was exiled. While this relationship between Mao Zedong and Dalai Lama was considered political, the institutionalization of the relationship was considered ideological considering that it was supposed to be the advancement of Tibetan Buddhism, which was the source of the ideological standing and principles of Dalai Lama and the Tibetans in general. Analyzing content from this book therefore shows the close relationship between the development in the new political environment, Tibetan Buddhism, and the Lamaist philosophies into the future of the integrated region.

3.  Tuttle, Gray. “Tibetan Buddhists and the Making of Modern China” Columbia University Press. 2005.

This is the third book and the most recent on the Tibetan history as presented by Gray Tuttle. It presents information on the developments of the Sino-Tibet relations after 1955 by reflecting on the actions of the Tibetan Buddhists. He intended to show the role played by Buddhists, both Chinese and Tibetans, in the shaping of the new China based on the idea of the nation-state, the influence of these Buddhism on Sino-Tibetan relations, and how modern ideas such as nationalism, race, and religion affected the relations between Chinese and Tibetans. The book goes on to provide detailed information on the fight for autonomy by the Tibetans as well as the aggression that this struggle brought to the region. In essence, the struggle represented a shift from the traditional religion-based ideological perspectives on the autonomy of Tibet to full scale level of political aggression between Tibet and the Chinese government. In fact, the aggression also attracted the interest of other countries which supported Tibet and these include the United States and Vietnam among others. Despite the political calls, the Buddhist undertones played an important role in the conceptualization of the state of affairs in the Chinese political environment after troubles. The most important thing about this book to the advancement of the Tibetans is that it showed the zeal of the Tibetan Buddhists to fight for autonomy, identity, and recognition just before Mao Zedong put an end to the fight.

Relationship of the book to the first point

In relation to the first point, the book is an important source of evidence and information on how Buddhism was affected by Sino-Tibetan political relations in the period between 1912-1949 and after the 1951 integration. Particularly, the book is important since it tracks down the events leading to the uprising and the struggle for the autonomy of the Tibetans. One particular important observation from the books is the assertion that beyond the political milestones, the Tibetans were united by the Lamaist philosophies and the Tibetan Buddhist ideologies and this was why it was important for this community to pursue autonomy. In other words, the account is not only taken as the fight for political autonomy but also for the ideological and religious autonomy. The influence of this would be felt through the bonds of a more united Tibet during and after the struggle.

Check our essay writing service and order an essay according to your paper requirements

Relationship of the book to the second point

The second point touches on the institutionalization of Lamaist philosophical principles in the modern Sino-Tibet relations. As the Gray Tuttle, the resolution of the fight for autonomy conflict eliminated the possibility of dialogue as a solution. Instead, Mao Zedong used the power at his disposal to assert his authority in the region. The consequence of this was that more people moved from Tibet to other regions in China and this represents the new-age point of integration of the Lamaist ideologies into China. This integration led to the spread of the Lamaist ideologies based on the fact that as people settled in other regions in China, they established themselves through Tibetan Buddhism and this resulted in the modern day growth of Tibetan Buddhism in China. Ideally, this also shaped the modern day political landscape and the Sino-Tibetan relations.

Relationship of the book to the third point

The third point pertains to the development of an identity by the Tibetan Buddhists. In the midst of the struggle for political autonomy, the development of a separate, independent, recognized Tibetan Buddists and Lamaist identity is easily forgotten. The book dwells a lot on the development of a political identity for Tibet. However, beyond the political identity the Tibetan Buddhists struggled for their religious identity separating Tibetan Buddhism from ordinary Buddhism. Mao Zedong realized this and his attacks on the Tibetans targeted the places of worship as well as any places where Lamaist ideologies were taught. While the fight was majorly targeted to the political separatists, the fact that it was hard to distinguish the religious separatists made it difficult for the identity of the Tibetan Buddhists to be revealed and this is why it was difficult for this identity to be developed.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the paper showed the role of Tibetan Buddhism in shaping of Sino-Tibet relations in the 1950s. The objective of the proposed study is to reveal how the development and fight for the Tibetan Buddhist identity was overshadowed by the political developments in the modern day Sino-Tibetan relations. The research proves this by showing the links between the political environment and the religious environment existing in China at the time of analysis.

essay-banner

Related essays