Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Buddhism According to I, Me and Self

As a born Buddhist, I never really had to think deep about Buddhism.  It was in my blood and soul.  However, during a recent interview, I was asked a series of questions about Buddhism which pushed me to think again.  Think again about how I describe Buddhism and its relation to self.  Think again on my knowledge of Buddhism.  Think again on how Buddhist I am.  Let me share my interview experience here.

"Buddhism, to me, is all about self-reflection, self-realization and self-improvement."
"I am less into rituals."
"Buddhism has to make sense to me."
"I believe less in theory and more in practice."
"Both rich and poor should have an equal access to Buddhist teachings."
Let me go details into each of these statements.



"Buddhism is all about self-reflection, self-realization and self-improvement"

In Buddhism, God does not exist.  We believe Buddha as a great teacher/master and his teachings as a guiding framework for meaningful life.  In this modern world, it is nearly impossible to attain enlightenment for oneself.  However, one path to enlightenment is to refine the self in you.  And in order to refine the self, you need to better yourself as an individual.  This is where self-reflection, self-realization and self-improvement comes into play.

No matter what you do in this life, it is important to reflect on your past actions; realize your own mistakes; and identify different ways to improve yourself.  Life should be a continuous circle of self-reflection, self-realization and self-improvement.  Though you may not attain enlightenment in this life, I can assure that you will age young and wise.

"Less into rituals"

Many rituals are meant to better yourself - seeking karma, better health, or amassing wealth - with the help of others.  Either you offer goods/money or invite others to satisfy the rituals.  By doing this, many fail to see or realize the ultimate need of self-improvement.  They just take the easy route i.e., seek others for the benefit of your Self.  I believe this is very contradictory to Buddhist teachings.  It seems Buddhism, to many, is just the outer rituals - anything you could see or show to others.  The inner development of Self never seems to take precedence over outer rituals.

More disturbingly, some of these rituals have become a public space for asset display.  As an example, a grand and lavish ritual becomes a talk of the town whereby people gossips about how much wealth this particular family has amassed over the years.  The rituals have turned into a public medium to showcase your wealth.

By rituals, I do not mean to include prayers or recitation of Buddha text books.

"Buddhism has to make sense"

The beauty of Buddhism lies in its subjectivity.  If any of the Buddhist teachings fail to make a connection to your life, you have the right to disregard it.  Simply put, Buddhism has to make sense to you and your life.  This being said, I do not mean to disrespect the teachings.  What-does-not-make-sense to you may make sense to others.

Every individual is different.  All I am saying here is that if any of the Buddhist teachings fail to make a sense to you and your life, you can just put it aside for the time being.

"Less in theory and more in practice"

Many Buddhist devotees dedicate a lot of their time on preaching.  When I say preaching, I mean the act when there is an absence of learning.  For instance, many will pray for the benefit of others.  However, when it comes to helping their own ailing neighbors, they will do nothing.  The prayers of helping others exist only in words.

In addition, I have seen Buddhist who pours in thousands and thousands of money into a monastery's treasure but when they see a beggar outside the monastery, they do not even take a look at him.  Where and when the theory meets the practice is a difficult question to answer for many.

"Equal access to Buddhist teachings" 

In continuation to the rituals described earlier, in recent years, some monasteries have been charging an enormous amount of fees for conducting the requested rituals.  For poor, it seems impossible to do such rituals.


In the West, it's expensive to attend a dharma teachings or retreat.  Sometimes, even with a discount or scholarship, it is still expensive for a common people.  The principle of equal access to Buddhist teachings seems too good to be true.

For anyone interested in learning Buddhism, I would highly recommend traveling to India or Nepal where most teachings are free or at nominal fees.



Disclaimer: The intention behind this piece is to only share the personal experience. It has nothing to do with one or other...


Read Also:  An Audience with His Holiness The Dalai Lama at Hotel Beacon, New York



Monday, December 22, 2014

ALERT: Knock Out Game in Woodside, Queens


Normally, my Tibetan friend Joe (name changed) returns my call within an hour.  After three hours,  I called him again with no success.  I was not worried since he lives in the "safe" neighborhood of Woodside, Queens, New York.

On the next day, he called me to share what had happened to him.  He was hit on the head on the early morning of Sunday around 3:00 AM.  When I asked about the spot, he was very unsure.  He said, "I fell down and immediately ran off a few blocks for safety."

After an hour, I saw him in person with cuts on his right cheek and bloody right eye.  I was curious to know about about this incident.  Initially, I thought its just a case of attempted robbery.

Using Google Maps, we figured that he was hit somewhere on the 64th Street between 39th Ave and Broadway of Woodside, Queens, NY.  I was totally shocked and didn't know how to react.  I know this place well.

He didn't see anyone coming from the front or back.  He was just walking normally with phone on his hand and scrolling his Facebook wall posts.  It was just one huge blow out of nowhere; strong enough to knock him down.  The perpetrator did not try to hit him again.

Though Joe lost his phone with the hit, it was clear from his description that the motive was not robbery.  I then asked him, "do you know about the knockout game?" He has no idea what I was asking about.  Its an evil game played on a complete stranger for fun and thrill.  Some of the victims have even died.  Watch this ABC News coverage for more details on this game.


If the perpetrators are in a game, other members might hit again to show their turn of strength.  Please watch carefully when you walk alone.  The next victim could be you.

After seeing this ABC News coverage, my friend said, "I am lucky to be alive."

Please share this post as many Tibetan and Himalayan people lives around this neighborhood.




Monday, December 1, 2014

How to Put an End to Prescreened Credit Card Offers, Unwanted Marketing Calls, and Interest-Based Ads on Your Web Pages



Ever wondered how Capital One Bank or other banks got access to your home address by mailing you prescreened (or pre-approved) Credit Cards? Ever intrigued by how you keep getting those mail-in offers from companies that you have never heard of? Did you get calls from marketing agencies trying to sell you a product that you have no idea what it is? These are usually not scams. They are allowed under Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) of the United States.

Under the FCRA, the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies are permitted to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers to make firm offers of credit or insurance that are not initiated by you (Source: Optoutprescreen.com). As an example, when you open a bank account or applied for a credit card, some of your information including name and address are pooled in the "Marketing List" - this list is shared among companies interested in making offers to you such as credit cards.

According to Federal Trade Commission, prescreened offers can help you learn about what's available, compare costs, and find the best product for your needs. Because you are pre-selected to receive the offer, you can be turned down only under limited circumstances. The terms of prescreened offers also may be more favorable than those that are available to the general public. In fact, some credit card or insurance products may be available only through prescreened offers.

However, some people (including myself) prefer not to receive these kinds of offers. This may also be good for individual who changes their address quite often for one or other reason.  If you are among these people, the FCRA provides you the right to "Opt-Out" which prevents Consumer Credit Reporting Companies from sharing your information for these offers. There are three different opt-outs:

ONE

You could put an end to mail solicitations for credit and insurance offers by going to www.optoutprescreen.com or call 888-567-8688. You will be opt-out for the next five years. However, if you want to opt-out permanently, you need to fill and mail Permanent Opt-Out Election form available on their website.

When you call or visit the Website, you will be asked to provide certain personal information, including your telephone number, name, social security number, and date of birth. The information you provide is confidential and will be used only to process your request to opt out. 

TWO

The federal government's National Do Not Call Registry is a free, easy way to reduce the telemarketing calls you get at home or on your cell phone. To register your phone number or to get information about the registry, visit www.donotcall.gov, or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to register. You will get fewer telemarketing calls within 31 days of registering your number (Source: Federal Trade Commission).  If you get a call after 31 days, you can file a complaint at the same Website.

THREE

The Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) Mail Preference Service (MPS) lets you opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial mail from many national companies for five years. When you register with this service, your name will be put on a "delete" file and made known to direct-mail marketers and organizations. This will reduce most of your unsolicited mail. However, your registration will not stop mailings from organizations that do not use the DMA's Mail Preference Service. To register with DMA's Mail Preference Service, go to www.dmachoice.org, or mail your request with a $1 processing fee to:

DMAchoice
Direct Marketing Association
P.O. Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512
(Source: Federal Trade Commission)

It is important to note that removing your name from prescreened lists has no effect on your ability to apply for or obtain credit or insurance in the near future.  Also, you can Opt-In anytime.

If you register with the above three opt-out options, you will receive no or less solicitation mails and calls. However, how about ads you get on your webpages such as Facebook page? Did you notice the ad that shows up on your Facebook page are the ones you recently viewed? For instance, if you are shopping for a car, you will see a lot of car ads on your Facebook page. To put it simply, these ads are customized to your recent online behaviors. Scary! Isn't it?

According to Online Behavioral Advertising, some of the ads you receive on Web pages (including Facebook) are customized based on predictions about your interests generated from your visits over time and across different Websites. This type of ad customization - sometimes called "online behavioral" or "interest-based" advertising - is enabled through your computer browser and browser cookies.

Again, you have a right to opt-out from these online behavioral ad tracking system.  As of this date, there are 116 participating companies who were interested in online behavioral advertising.  You can opt-out from some or all of these companies by going to this site http://www.aboutads.info/choices/ if you are in the United States; http://youradchoices.ca/ if you are in Canada; or http://www.youronlinechoices.eu/ if you are in Europe.

You only need to opt-out once to take care of this customized online behavioral advertising.


Read also: Why is it important to file Tax Returns?


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

An Audience with His Holiness The Dalai Lama at Hotel Beacon, New York

On the morning of November 4, 2014, the board members of Global Tibetan Professional Network of North America were given an opportunity for a special audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Hotel Beacon, New York.  With an enormous feeling of joy and excitement, I took a Subway train to the hotel.


As I stepped out from the Subway station and started walking towards Hotel Beacon, I saw a large group of people covering the entire sidewalk of the block.  Initially, I had no interest in this group as it is very common to see people greet His Holiness the Dalai Lama wherever he goes.  However, as I came closer to the group, I saw a number of White people in Buddhist robes.  Walking further towards the hotel, I saw drums and banners that says "Stop Lying Dalai Lama."  Immediately, I realized that this group (Dorje Shugden practitioners) is protesting against the visit of the Dalai Lama.


Being a Tibetan and facing the protest for the first time made me really uncomfortable.  I never saw people protest against the Nobel Peace Laureate His Holiness the Dalai Lama in my entire life.  He is always respected for his principle of non-violence, love and compassion.  For Tibetan, he is a father who single handedly nurtured the Tibetan communities in exile and continues to be revered as a beacon of hope for the reunification of Tibetan people.

On the next sidewalk of the street, there were Tibetans holding banner that reads "Long Live His Holiness The Dalai Lama."  It was an ugly confrontation on the streets of New York between two groups: one who supports the Dalai Lama and one who accuses him of lying and denying religious freedom.  As a Tibetan who revere the Dalai Lama as an embodiment of Avalokiteshwara, I felt angry and humiliated by these Shugden practitioners.

After taking in all the emotional turbulences, I waited in the Hotel lobby with other board members for the audience.  At around 8:45 AM, we were ushered by a security guard towards the backside of the Beacon Theatre entrance (I believe).

As we waited, we were all excited but very unsure about how the audience will go.  Will he ask questions? How many minutes will he spend with the group? Will there be a group photo? Are we good enough with our Tibetan language skills? How and who will introduce us? and many more.

In about half an hour, we saw His Holiness the Dalai Lama walking towards the group.  Holding a white scarf and black rosary, I was ready to greet.  After a quick introduction of the group, he gave us around 5 minutes of spontaneous teachings.  Among the teachings, he stressed on the importance of learning "Science of Mind" and "Emotional Therapy."  He further emphasized the need of lifelong learning by providing himself as an example.  Though he is 79 years old, he said he is learning everyday from the Nalanda teachings.  There is no better example of a lifelong learner than the Dalai Lama.

As I walked out from the hotel, I was left speechless and lost.  This was the moment I will never forget to cherish.  For the next few minutes, I kept trying to transfer this 5 minute teachings onto my long-term memory.

However, as I step out from the hotel and started walking towards the Subway station, I again saw Shugden practitioners beating drums and rhyming Stop Lying Dalai Lama.  Initially, I thought I will just cross the street and avoid the displeasure of walking in front of these protestors.  Then, I thought about the advice I received a few minutes earlier from His Holiness the Dalai Lama about science of mind and emotional therapy.


Immediately, I decided to walk in front of these large group of Shugden practitioners.  While walking, I looked at them with no feeling of anger and dislike.  I was no more uncomfortable.  Rather, I was inclined to talk to them but I resisted as my knowledge on Shugden is limited.  Nonetheless, I felt the power of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  His advice on the Emotional Therapy was what we all need to practice including followers of Shugden deity.  If we all work on healing our emotion (including anger and hatred), there will be no ugly confrontation on the public streets.



Note: If you are interested in knowing more about Shugden controversy, please click HERE to read an excellent piece from Prof. Robert Thurman.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

More vs. Less: Who is the Winner?

In present days, we know very little about the more and more about the less. With information overload and shrinking memory power, this phenomenon could be seen in most societies.  There is no problem until a culture develops around it where telling truth about little is proving fatal and telling lie about more is gaining momentum.  This culture is already magnified in the United States and finding its strong foothold in the emerging economic powers of the world.


In the so-called modern world, you are always encouraged to say "I know" even though you know very little.  You are encouraged to speak more even though you know less.  You are pampered to speak good about others even though you know you are lying.  You are not welcomed or labeled as weirdo if you tell the plain simple truth.  Almost everything looks fake and fabricated.

It seems the faking is the new truth in the modern world.  May be it is the new culture where comforting is valued, soothing is demanded, compliment is appreciated and happiness is expected.  Whatever you do, make sure others are happy - even at the cost of lying.  The lying is the new mantra.

Moreover, modesty is at it's lowest level. It has lost its value.  Today, if you are modest, people will look down on you.  Some will go to the extent of advising you, "please don't be modest."


You are also engulfed in the world of advertisements where you are provided instructions on how you should dress, how you must look, how you utter a word, and how and what you should consume.  People have forsaken moral values over monetary gain and excelled in the art of telling truth about lying.

Faking and lying has one thing in common - both falls under the category of knowing little about your need but knowing more about your want.  Want is the invisible driver that is softly killing the values human endeared for centuries as an extraordinary species.  Humans are losing its natural instincts.  They forgot to think without a computer, they forgot to communicate without a phone, they forgot to socialize without social networks, they forgot to function without a gadget, they forgot to shop without an advertisement and the dependency list goes on.  Human has never been so dependent in their entire human history.  Without technology, it seems human will stop functioning and the life will stand still.

In the future, truth will not matter.  What matters will be how you assert your position to the others.  Even if it is a lie, people will start believing in it.  Modern world will gradually and involuntarily turn deaf ears on the truth.


Now, you may be wondering - is this guy telling the truth? Is truth relative, subjective, or absolute?  If you have any of these questions, you are on the same boat sailing towards an unknown destination.  Welcome aboard!


Read also: Is Future Really Relevant?



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Results: Online Survey on the Relocation of the Office of Tibet, New York to Washington DC

 
 
The following is just the results. The analysis will be shared and discussed later.


Q. 9. Do you think Tibetans in North America should have a say in the decision that led to the relocation of the Office of Tibet from New York to Washington DC?



Yes 62% and No 31%
Nearly two-third of the survey participants responded YES while less than one-third NO.

 
 
Q. 7. Do you agree with the relocation of the Office of Tibet, New York to Washington DC?


Yes 36% and No 41% 
Nearly 41% of the participants did not agree with the relocation while 36% agree.

 
Q. 8. Under whose direction, do you think the Office of Tibet in New York decided to relocate to Washington DC? (Check all that apply)


Nearly 57% of the respondent think it's Kashag;
24% Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, New York;
14% Tibetan Parliament in Exile; and
10% International Campaign of Tibet



Q. 3. Gender



Male 63% and Female 37%


 
Q. 5. In which country do you currently live?



United States 79%
India 12%
4% each from Canada and Europe


Q. 4. Age (in years)



81% of the survey participants were in the age group of  26 to 45 years



 
Facebook generated more than three-fourth of the total responses



Saturday, September 20, 2014

Scots NO for Independence: What it Means for China and Tibet?

Keeping aside the democratic system of the United Kingdom and communist regime of China, Scots big NO for independence may be a good indication that not everyone in this world prefers to be independent.  The definition of independence has evolved through centuries and centuries of industrialization, growth and development.  Now, people (including Scots) seem to tie this definition of independence to the economic viability and stability of the country in general and public in particular.

Staying with the United Kingdom continues to provide economic, structural and security benefits for Scotland.  However, new and independent Scotland may end up as a weak country with no or less resources at its disposal. Also, she may have to start from the scratch which could impact the very livelihood of its citizen.

Scots voted with brain - rather than heart -  by opting to stay with the United Kingdom.  Looking at the present world, the decision seems wise and pragmatic.


Though this NO vote by Scots is a huge relief for China - who sees its possible rolling effect on Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet, and Xinjiang if Scots voted YES for independence - it however does succeed in providing a strong and clear message that people prefers freedom over independence.

Keeping this in mind, China may have to rethink it's policy of repression and exclusion for its minorities.  Putting money into minority areas does not suffice the heart and soul of people who lives there.

The real growth and harmony will not come only from the economic development.  It has to be the combination of economic prosperity and individual freedom.  When this happens, China should not be wary of any referendum for independence.

In the case of Tibet, Scots NO for independence may have given some assurance to the United Front Work Department of CPC Central Committee that the Middle Way Approach of the Central Tibetan Administration based in Dharamsala, India has no hidden agenda for independence.


When people cherish the freedom and see the benefit of staying in One Big Union, its proven now that they do not see the benefits of separation.

Monday, September 15, 2014

How to cure Shaky hands - Tips from a 71 year old Tibetan







Note for researcher: Please contact me if you intend to use this video for your publication or presentation. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Photographs Need No Evidence: This is How I See

 

Below are ten moments that I captured on my lens during my visit to India. 



ONE
This is a very common practice in Tibetan Settlements in South India. You will also see it in Delhi's Majnu-Ka-Tilla. These water-filled bottles (or plastic bags) are hanged in the Patio (Verandah) to get rid of flies and other small flying bugs.  Not sure about its effect but it surely rules the minds of Tibetans in exile.



TWO
Myth or Fact: This stupa at camp 4 Bylakuppe is widely believed to be the Wish-Fulfilling-Stupa if you circumambulate 11,111 times. People from all corners come here to find cure for their ailing health, to seek approval for their visa application request, or to earn karma for the next birth.



THREE
Buddhist devotees believe in the power of money. They don't even spare the religious idols by tugging money into their robes.


You will also see many devotees feeding money into the hands and feet of Buddhist idols. 



FOUR
Not sure if she is feeling hot or cold in this hot summer of Leh, Ladakh. When I asked my parents the same, Dad responded, "this ra-pag (skin of goat) could be used as a cushion during the Kalachakra teachings and mattress during the night time". Ummm... Makes sense?



FIVE
In this beautiful birth place of Guru Padmasambhava, devotees feed hundreds of unharmed fish to earn good Karma. This is the place called Tso-Pema (in Tibetan) and Riwalsar (in Hindi).


However, during my visit at the end of July 2014, I saw a plenty of dead fish floating every morning on the lake.  Devotees were refrained from feeding for the next few days.  I was perplexed at these number of dead fishes.


After hearing from several people, there were two prevailing theories behind the death of the fish.  The first one is not supported by the local Indians: That these deaths were caused by chemicals from the nearby Zoo which were washed down into the lake by the monsoon rains. 
The second one is widely supported by the local Indians: That a Tibetan man came with several bags of Soybean (Sha-Zuma in Tibetan) and fed the fish - leading to their death (Picture below).
Not sure which theory is true. 
But I definitely felt that the Act of Giving should be reasonable, sensible, and respectable.  If the local Indians are to be believed, this Tibetan man might have thought of earning a plenty of good Karmas by feeding too many Soybean. However, the end result is what you see here in these pictures.  
An act of kindness has resulted in hundreds of deaths.



SIX
At the cave on the top of Tso-Pema, there were two large boards that says, "Please don't throw scarf on statue. Don't write anything on wall".


But as you see there are names everywhere on the wall.  Are names really important to disobey the words of Cave caretakers?  Does writing names really make you more blessed than others?  Why? Why? Why?




Now on to some lighter MOMENTS... 

SEVEN
This is an ancient prayer wheel made from the skin of goat/sheep.

 


EIGHT
 In India, there are hardly any wastes. Everything is put into use: Empty glass bottles are broken down into pieces to secure the boundary walls (picture below); empty plastic bottles are reused as water bottles; food wastes are fed to dogs, cows, and the remaining into a dump hole that generates fertilizer for crops; clothes are patched again and again until it is totally worn out; and if you live in India, I am sure you have more to add...



NINE
There is no short of creative people in India.  However, there is a lack of respect for creative people in India.  The picture below is a Prayer Wheel that rotates clockwise with the help of fans created by used plastic bottle.  This is designed and created by a hermit living on the hills of Tso-Pema.


This is a hand-held prayer wheel with wings attached to it.  Since its hot in South India, this attached wing acts as a fan whenever he spins the prayer wheel.  This is designed and created by an 80 year old who lives in Elder's Home.



TEN
Finally, a moment to cherish.  In India, the culture of respect for elders is always the Highest.  You will see grand children supporting their grand parents at every corners of the country.  Grand parents are not yet replaced by Google as it is in the most developed countries.  Grand children ask their grand parents seeking answers on all of their questions.  
The one reason behind the increasing visibility of grand children-grand parent relationship could be the mobility of younger generations.  Many educated young parent move to big cities or western world seeking a better future - leaving their children with their Dad or Mom.






Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An Unexpected Encounter With a Rickshaw Wala


On the late morning of August 14, 2014, I was looking for a rickshaw from Delhi's Majnu-Ka-Tilla to go to Vidhan Sabha Metro Station. I was on my way to meet my girlfriend's sister. After bargaining with few Rickshaw Walas (Peddlers), I sensed I may not get a single rickshaw. So, without bargaining any further, I stepped onto the next available rickshaw whose peddler seems to be in his 20s. 

As my heart slows down - after a risky 10 minute ride on the wrong side of the two lane highway - I saw several cuts on my peddler's two arms.  He was wearing a long sleeve shirt but due to the heat, he rolled it up towards his ankle - baring these cut marks for anyone to see.

Initially, I thought he may be into drugs. Then, I realized, with these many cuts, he won't be in a good shape to peddle this rickshaw - carrying me on an uphill road.  So, out of curiosity (not knowing what will follow next), I asked him "App Kahan Se Ho Sadarji?" (Where are you from Sadarji?).  I was expecting Punjab but he replied, "Mein Rajasthan Se Hoon" (I am from Rajasthan).  Just to reconfirm, I asked, "Rajasthan?."  He nodded his head. 

Then, I shot the next question, "Sadarji, Apke Hath Mein Kya Hua?" (What happened to these cuts on your arms?).  

He asked, "Yeh?" (These?).  

I replied, "Haan" (Yes).  

He then immediately answered with a short note, "Yeh Saab Ladki Ke Chakar Mein Hua" (it's all because of a girl)."  

I was shocked and reacted, "Pyar?" (Love?).

Now, I grew more interested in his love story.  I asked, "Kya Hua Phir?" (What happened then?).  

He responded again with a short note, "Shaadi Ho Gaye" (Got married).  

On hearing this, with some big smiles on my face, I reacted, "Kya Baat Hai!!! App Toh Dewana Nikla" (Wow! You turn out to be a real lover."

After a few seconds of silence, I asked, "App Ka Ladki Delhi Se Hai?" (Is your girl from Delhi?."  

He reacted, "Mere Gaon Se Hai" (from my village). 

On this I got little confused and threw another quick line to show my confusion, "Gaon Se?" (From your village?).  Remember, he lives in Delhi.

He finally threw his final line of clarification, "Uske Shaadi Kisi Se Ho Gayi" (She got married to someone else).  

On hearing this, my whole body started to feel numb.  I was speechless.  I thought, "How could a lady not love this guy?."

At the same time, I feel sorry for him and his failed love.  The Metro Station was just a few blocks away.  I made my final move by asking, "Apke Shaadi Ho Gaya?" (Are you married?).  

As usual, he responded with one line, "Nahin" (No). 

When I stepped down from the rickshaw, I sought his permission to take a picture of his cuts.  I paid him a little more to make myself feel better.  He responded with a gratitude "Dhanyawad" (Thank you).



On my way down to the Metro Station, I thought he may have moved to Delhi to help himself get through this difficult love life.  I just hope he finds a better women who love him as much as he love her.

For the next few hours, I regretted my stereotype behavior - assuming anyone with cut marks on the arm as drug addicts. 


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tibetan Youth Congress Should be a Neutral Organization





During my recent South India visit, I met some interesting individuals who shared their personal opinions on the recent breakdown of Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC).

My friend who works in Dharamsala but lives in Mundgod said, "there are now two Shunus (Tibetan Youth Congress): U-May Lam wala and Rangzen wala." While one Tibetan taxi driver from Bylakuppe shared, "Bylakuppe Tibetan Youth Congress made clear to the executive members of Tibetan Youth Congress based in Dharamsala that unless they are willing to discuss on U-May Lam, there is no room for talk. This change of political stand was taken by the people of Bylakuppe during one of it's public meetings."

Also, an informed individual in Kollegal commented, "now, Shunus (TYC of Kollegal) has no work (referring to protests) as they stand for U-May Lam."

Of all the people I had an opportunity to interact, I met no one who is supportive of TYC's Rangzen stand. Let me make this clear that this doesn't mean there is no one in these settlements.

However - please remember - these settlements hold the Key in terms of exile population as well as diaspora politics.

As such, I felt the TYC needs to sit and discuss with these eight regional chapters who recently moved from Rangzen to U-May Lam as their political stand/approach.

However, the likelihood of change in both TYC and these eight regional chapters' political stand/approach is very bleak. Therefore, looking at the present circumstances, I feel it may be best for TYC to have no political stand at all. In other words, TYC could be a guiding force for Tibetan struggle movement rather than a movement by itself. They could stand as a neutral youth organization that provides an international platform to magnify the voices of Tibetans living in Tibet.







Friday, May 23, 2014

Is Future Really Relevant?

Sometimes I think too much about strengthening my future but then, I stop for a while. Take a deep breath and ask myself: what was so wrong about my past and what is not enough in my present. Present life never seems enough and satisfying. Is that the order of life we live the present? If so, why worry so much about future that will be present at some point in my life?

There seems to be no good answer to look for. Then, I wonder - is life all about finding an answer to your confusing questions? Am I loosing my mind now?

But isn't answer the one magic word that every aspiring entrepreneur or scientists look for? Why this precious answer always blessed for selected few? Am I frustrated that am not among these blessed few?

But isn't every human are made different from the above? Does that mean every questions have different answers? Then, how could the questions be same for everyone? Oh boy! Am I living in this world? 

Who really I am aspiring to be? My past, my future, or my present? Are asking questions same as finding an answer? Oh man! Am I contradicting myself?

But isn't Buddhist suppose to believe in the law of contradictions? Am I more Buddhist with these contradictions? 

It seems life is all about questions, answers, and contradictions. That's why life is complicated. 

Complication is a complex web of contradictions too. If you know what complications are, why don't you get rid of it? Are we used to accept complications as your fate?

Now, what is fate? Is it the result of my past deed? If yes, past does matters. Then, if past shapes present, what role does the future play? Is future really relevant?

Alas! Am I just stupid to worry about strengthening my future when there is no future?



Note: wrote this piece on the iPhone Note while I was traveling to office on the G train this morning. I kept it original to capture my realtime feeling, emotion, and meaning. 


Read also: More vs. Less: Who is the Winner? and Humans Are Animals Too: My Weird Philosophy


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Perceived Negative Attitudes of Tibetan Towards its Own People



“… as one becomes familiar or closer, he or she may be less willing, interested, open, or committed to help support his or her own group of peoples.”

The above quotation comes from a research conducted on skills education for adult Tibetan immigrants in the United States. At the time of research in 2012, it was unclear why many participants (Tibetan professionals in the United States) were less willing, committed and interested in supporting his or her own group of Tibetan peoples when it comes to providing direct services such as educational programs and volunteering.

After more than a year of working directly with the Tibetan community in New York, the writer seems to have gathered sufficient evidences to support the research finding on the perceived negative attitude of Tibetan professional towards his or her own group of peoples. These evidences are shared through three personal experiences below.

To add context to what this article intends to communicate, my current job allows to work on a federal grant that helps refugees and asylees. For more on this grant, check the picture on the right. This is a federal grant for all refugees and asylees in New York and neighboring states.

The first and most recent experience kicked in a couple of days ago. At the request of an eligible Tibetan asylee, I sat down with him to share more details about the grant. I shared ins and outs of this grant with the hope that he clearly understands the objectives and requirements. For an hour’s meeting, I asked several times for questions and additional clarifications. At the end of meeting, I gave him a time to think about the grant (including consultation with family members) and if interested, contact me again for appointment.

As this is a matched grant, a new client needs to open a smart savings account with the partnering bank, Capital One Bank at Jackson Heights. It’s a special account with no minimum balance requirement as well as no service fees or fines.

As of writing this piece, he did not contact for a follow-up appointment. However, the problem is what I heard from someone who he knew and I happen to have conversation with. There were questions asked about the grant that should have been asked when I met him earlier. Most disturbingly, one question was pointed towards my integrity with a baseless accusation – that I receive commission from the Capital One Bank for opening a new bank account at its Jackson Heights branch. I could explain in details about why I don't get commission from the Capital One Bank but the crux of matter here is about making wrong assumptions and thus, spreading rumors.

The second incident was experienced after five or six months into my job. It’s was a phone call from someone I believe was using a fake name. He was looking for a commission for every client he refers to the federal grant. During the conversation, I wished to slap him but I can’t. I humbly declined with a note that this grant has no problem with enrollment. The only reason I post flyers on social medias and local business centers in Jackson Heights is to attract more Himalayan and Tibetan people for the grant. It was more of an information sharing.

The final incident relates to the notion of Tibetan and Himalayan people that the enrollment in this federal grant will impact benefit programs such as food stamps, Medicaid, and citizenship. Despite my sincere efforts to clear these rumor-based facts through writing and counseling, it still persists. When I explain, many Tibetans believe I am saying these truth (they see it as lies) for the sole reason of convincing them to enroll in the grant.

With these prevailing negative attitudes, it becomes frustrating as well as difficult for a Tibetan professional to sincerely work for its own group of peoples.

I sometimes wonder if I am not a Tibetan but a white Caucasian, do Tibetan and Himalayan people will have the same negative attitudes towards him/her? I am interested in knowing more about your thoughts and experiences. Please share and discuss freely.


Read also: Tibetan Immigrants in the United States: Extended Version and Dominance of Rumor-based Facts in Immigrant Communites