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Submitted by marisaviola on Tue, 3/20/2012, 10:20am
On Wednesday at 4:30pm there will be a march in support of Tibet, beginning at the Chinese Consulate on 42nd Street and 12th Avenue, and winding up at the site of the hunger strike on 43rd Street and 1st Avenue. That will be followed by a public sit at Washington Square Park from 7-9.
It's been a very intense past week. I've spent a lot of time at the strike. Being in the presence of the strikers is heartbreaking and complex to process. I find it hard to support the actions of self-immolation and possible death by hunger strike, and would not want to encourage others to take these actions. But I don't find it hard to support the people taking those actions. They are willing to set themselves on fire and starve themselves to death in the hopes that it will begin some action to eventually ease the suffering of others. I don't imagine that they expect instant results. As my friend Jean-Claude van Itallie said, they are turning themselves into burning arrows to shed light on the situation. This is how far they are willing to go to draw attention to the decades long inhumane treatment of Tibetans by their conquerors. I'm in awe of such courage. But that's not why I'm marching.
This part is not complex to me: I practice Buddhism, and it has transformed my life. I study at IDP, which was founded by Ethan Nichtern. Ethan is also the teacher who has had the greatest impact on me. His father, David Nichtern, was a student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was a Tibetan exile who endured enormous suffering and still brought the dharma to the West. This is not just a theoretical web of interdependence, this is a direct link between me and Tibet, and specifically the suffering of Tibetans. Following that chain, I am able to practice BECAUSE of the suffering of Tibetans. As I sit on my cushion at home in NYC, or at IDP, or on the sidewalk in front of the U.N., Tibetans are prohibited to practice Buddhism, or to speak their own language. I have such deep gratitude for my teachers, Ethan and Jean-Claude (who was also a student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's), and Miles Neale and Joe Mauricio. Out of that gratitude for them, and for their teachers, I'm marching on Wednesday in support of Tibet. And out of love for my sangha, whether they are those who surround me where I practice, or those who I am linked to through the teachings, I am marching in support of Tibet.
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