Although I don’t agree with everything Michael Parenti writes in his new book God and his Demons, he does make a lot of good points about the Dalai Lama. He points out the dark side of many religions from the many evils committed in the name of “holy causes”. The majority of his criticism of Buddhism is aimed at the Dalai Lama and the feudal theocracy of old Tibet. Below are some excerpts from the book.
Tibet was no Shangri-la
“Many Buddhist maintain that, before the Chinese crackdown in 1959, old Tibet was a spiritually oriented kingdom free from the corrupting lifestyles and egoistic materialism that beset modern industrialized society. News media and Hollywood films have portrayed the Tibetan theocracy as a veritable Shangri-la. The Dalai Lama himself stated that “the pervasive influence of Buddhism” in Tibet “amid the wide open spaces of an unspoiled environment resulted in a society dedicated to peace and harmony. We enjoyed freedom and contentment.”
“Until 1959, when the Dalai Lama last presided over Tibet, most of the arable land was still organized into manorial estates worked by serfs and owned by monasteries and secular landlords… The commander in chief of the Tibetan army, a member of the Dalai Lama’s lay Cabinet, owned 4,000 square kilometers of land and 3,500 serfs. Old Tibet has been misrepresented by some of its admirers as “a nation that required no police force because its people voluntarily observed the laws of karma.” In fact, it had a professional army, albeit a small one, that served mainly as a gendarme for the landlords to keep order and hunt down runaway serfs.”
“One twenty-two-year-old woman, herself a runaway serf, reports: “Pretty serf girls were usually taken by the owner as house servants and used as he wished.” Fugitive serfs who fled were hunted down by the landlord’s men and beaten mercilessly. Serfs were taxed upon getting married and taxed for every birth and death in the family. They were taxed for planting a tree in their yard and for keeping animals, taxed for religious festivals and for public dancing, and taxed for being sent to prison and upon being released. Those who could not find work were taxed for being unemployed, and if they traveled to another village in search of work, they paid a passage tax.”
“Whatever wrongs and new oppressions introduced by the Chinese after 1959, they did abolish slavery and the Tibetan serfdom system of unpaid labor. They eliminated the landlords’ crushing taxes, started work projects, and greatly reduced unemployment and beggary. They established health clinics and secular schools and constructed running water and electrical systems in Lhasa. Since 1950 the Tibetan population has doubled and its life span has risen from thirty-six years to the present average of sixty-five years.”
“Both the Dalai Lama and his advisor and youngest brother, Tendzin Choegyal, claimed that “more that 1.2 million Tibetans are dead as a result of the Chinese occupation.” The official 1953 census – six years before the Chinese crackdown – recorded the entire population residing in Tibet proper at 1,274,000. Other census counts put the population within Tibet at about 2 million. If the Chinese killed 1.2 million in the early 1960s, then almost all of Tibet would have been depopulated, transformed into a killing field dotted with death camps and mass graves, of which there seems to be no evidence. What is difficult to procure is hard data on the number of Tibetans who might have perished because of the Chinese occupation.”
The Dalai Lama’s connections to the CIA and big banking financiers
“The Dalai Lama’s organization itself eventually admitted that it had received millions of dollars from the CIA during the 1960s.”
“Into the twenty-first century, the US Congress continued to allocate funds to the Tibetan exile community via the National Endowment for Democracy and other conduits that are more respectable sounding that the CIA. In addition, the Dalai Lama received money from financier George Soros.”
Background information from Wikipedia
George Soros was a former member of the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) regularly provides funding to opposition candidates in elections in countries other than the USA. According to Allen Weinstein, one of the founders of NED, “A lot of what we [NED] do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”
On its official website, in the history section, its difference from the covert nature of CIA activities is explained:
In the aftermath of World War II, faced with threats to our democratic allies and without any mechanism to channel political assistance, U.S. policy makers resorted to covert means, secretly sending advisers, equipment, and funds to support newspapers and parties under siege in Europe. When it was revealed in the late 1960’s that some American PVO’s were receiving covert funding from the CIA to wage the battle of ideas at international forums, the Johnson Administration concluded that such funding should cease, recommending establishment of “a public-private mechanism” to fund overseas activities openly.
“What of the years of carnage and destruction wrought by US forces in Iraq, a war condemned by most of the world – even by a conservative pope? The Dalai Lama was undecided: “The Iraq war – it’s too early to say, right or wrong.” Earlier he had voiced support for the US/NATO military intervention and seventy-eight days’ bombing of Yugoslavia, and the destruction of that viable social democracy. He also supported the US/NATO military intervention into Afghanistan.”
The Karmapa controversy
“A difference arose over the selection of the seventeenth Karmapa, head tulku of the Kagyu, with the Dalai Lama and others supporting one candidate and most of the Kagyu monks supporting another, firing a dozen years of conflict, punctuated by intermittent riots and the looting of the Karmapa’s monastery in Rumtek, India, by supporters of the Dalai Lama.”
The Dorje Shugden controversy
“The Dalai Lama manifests a less than perfect tolerance for other religious denominations. He banned the worship of certain old masters and deities, claiming that such devotions cause Tibetan Buddhism to degenerate into idolatry. Many Tibetans living in India who venerate the Dorje Shugden deity testified to being subjected to threats and severe beatings. Their homes and crops were burned and their herds taken away by self-identified supporters of the Dalai Lama. While claiming to have not heard of these violent incidents, the Dalai Lama did opine that “if the goal is good then the method, even if apparently of the violent kind is permissible.”