Tibet and Taiwan

Taipei Times reports:

President praises Dalai Lama as the `world’s greatest’
By Huang Tai-lin
Thursday, Jul 07, 2005,Page 1

Two Tibetan monks from Gyutod Tantric Monastery in Dharamsala create a sand mandala yesterday at an exhibition featuring photos of the Dalai Lama and other exhibits presenting Tibetan culture. The exhibition was sponsored by the Tibetan Religious Foundation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and is a part of events celebrating the 70th birthday of the 14th Dalai Lama.
President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday joined dignitaries and celebrities from around the world in sending a birthday greeting to the Dalai Lama, who turned 70 yesterday.

Chen praised the Tibetan spiritual leader as “the world’s greatest religious leader” and expressed hope that the Buddhist icon would make a third visit to Taiwan to “allow an opportunity for believers in Taiwan to be showered in his wisdom and cheerful presence.”

Noting Taiwan and Tibet’s similar predicaments, in which both have suffered due to Chinese military expansionism, the president said “Taiwan can identify with Tibet’s experience, and is willing to step up efforts enhancing exchanges and cooperation between Taiwan and Tibet.”

[Read the rest of the article on the original site]

For some reason this article neglects to mention the rather interesting fact that the aforementioned exhibition is actually taking place inside Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall! As chance has it, I had lunch after class yesterday with two friends, and we decided to try the Tibetan restaurant near campus, where a non-Chinese English speaking Tibetan fellow patron told me about this exhibition, which started yesterday and will run for about one month. I decided to stop by, but I got there a bit too early and it was really in the process of being set up. Still, there were several lamas (Tibetan Buddhist priests around) and I spent a few minutes chatting with a couple of them.

Of course, while all of the visiting priests are Tibetan, none of them are actually residents of Tibet, but of Tibet’s government in exile, located in the Indian city of Dharamsala. Of the two I spoke to, one had actually been born and raised in Tibet, and only left for India at the age of twenty five, whereas the other had actually been born outside of Tibet. There is no actual Tibetan community in Tibet, and no real Lama Buddhist temples, but there is a “Tibetan Religious Foundation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” where they are based for their stay in Taiwan. I asked if they expected the Dalai Lama to visit Taiwan again soon, but they seemed to think that he would be keeping away for the time being to avoid political friction, although considering he has visited twice in the past, and even visited Mongolia quite recently over extreme objections from China, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him.

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall main entrance
For those of you who don’t know, here is a picture of the hall, built in the style of the Ming Imperial Tombs, so that everybody knew exactly how humble Chiang was.

Dalai Lama bday poster
The poster advertising the exhibition.

Lama in CKS Hall
The two lama priests.