Working amongst the Tibetan community in exile, I’ve been exposed to the many facets of its culture. And in doing so I continually search for ways to translate what I witness so it can bring benefit to all.
For I believe we have so much to gain from their wealth of Buddhist wisdom and in turn these displaced people have so much—if not everything —to gain from our help.
Both worlds are fighting demons. The internal demons of our Western psyche and the external demon that is the government of the People’s Republic of China.
My latest discovery I’d like to share is a documentary called My Reminiscences: Prisoner of Conscience which I first saw at a Tibetan film festival in Dharamsala, India.
This is a film that’s been made with courage and zeal rather than funding and fancy technology. It affords a welcome break from the delusions of Hollywood.
Lhamo Kyab, born in 1978 to a nomadic family in Chinese occupied Tibet, tells his story in this documentary. Highlighting truths such that Tibetan nomads are a dying ethnicity due to policies of enforced urban settlements by the Chinese government.
Having a nomadic upbringing makes fleeing from Tibet to the safety of India a challenging life-changer on many levels. For example, basic skills such as using a computer which are so important in this new world are totally alien. Yet despite such difficulties, Lhamo walked over the Himalayas and into India in 2003.
Upon arrival there, his dream to see the Dalai Lama was realized. And it was a few years later when, upon hearing the wisdom of this Tibetan master, a seed of determination was planted firmly in Lhamo’s mind.
He decided to walk back to Tibet in 2006 carrying with him the banned national Tibetan flag and a purpose of generating awareness about the Tibetans still suffering in Tibet.
This documentary is his personal account of that journey. My suggestion is you endeavor to look beyond the grammatical errors and lack of special effects. Instead be open to a different kind of captivation, that we have an incredibly brave soul here that has so much to teach you.
Sacrificing everything he walked forward knowingly into the jaws of his demon.
And I would like to add that perhaps another hidden layer of bravery. The community Lhamo lives in now is a small one in Dharamsala, India. In this town I have found that once the tourist surface is scratched, typical local layers are revealed.
As with all small communities the world over people watch one another closely. Judgements, opinions, differences of character all flow in and out the Tibetan tapestry of this place. I have a saying I always remind myself of in situations like this.
It’s the tallest flower in the field that gets its head chopped off first.
This stands here as much as anywhere for we are all human. So when in the latter half of his video Lhamo criticizes his local community for being self-centered and forgetting the Tibetans still in Tibet I couldn’t help but mentally take my hat off to him. For I know that would have had a localized backlash to it.
Lhamo Kyab abides in a layer that runs deeper than most are even aware exists. And I don’t think I’m alone in that belief.
The actor Dominic West who stars in the HBO series The Wire, also seems to think so. He does a short excerpt of Lhamo’s testimonal which you will see 17 minutes into the documentary below.
I am honored to have been entrusted by this great man to help share his story. He does not charge for his film as the reward of its message heard is far greater.
When interviewing Lhamo I asked him what can I tell people to do? How can us Westerners help?
His response was one I have heard many times from the Tibetan community. We must keep putting pressure on our governments to stand up to China. To simply say enough.
The world is made up of nations. And nations of its people. If this movie can change us one by one there is hope for all of us.
Collectively we allow our demons, collectively we can lay them to rest.
Lhamo also said that if any of you feel you can help him in any way with his cause you are welcome to contact him directly at lhamokyab12(at)gmail.com.
May peace prevail. And may the tallest flowers amongst us continue to blossom.
Photos courtesy Lhamo Kyab
Ed: Lynn Hasselberger