Wednesday, March 26, 2008

This is from MSN: The Chinese government says at least 22 people have died in Lhasa; Tibetan rights groups say nearly 140 Tibetans were killed, including 19 in Gansu province.

So far, the U.S., Britain and Germany have all condemned China for its response to the protests, but stopped short of threatening to boycott the games or the Aug. 8 opening ceremony.

But French President Nicolas Sarkozy has suggested he could boycott the opening ceremony."Our Chinese friends must understand the worldwide concern that there is about the question of Tibet, and I will adapt my response to the evolutions in the situation that will come, I hope, as rapidly as possible," he told reporters in southwest France.

Belgian Vice Premier Didier Reynders, meanwhile, said officials in his government had not excluded the possibility of staying away from the Games. The sports minister of the northern Dutch-speaking region of Flanders has already said he will not attend the opening ceremony of the games, arguing the ceremony is used to promote Chinese propaganda.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Breitenbush Hot Springs


I read this on an ICE sign lining the drive home from Breitenbush Hot Springs. Be nice. If anything, my retreats at Breitenbush always remind me of this. Be nice to myself, to others, to the earth. For the first time, I went alone and, for the first time, I joined one of the organized retreats, this one led by Ashtanga Yoga teacher and Kirtan chanter, David Garrigues. It was an amazing weekend. The snowline was down, so families of deer grazed just beyond my reach as I soaked in the hot springs. I came within feet of a woodpecker, so close I saw that he had red on his cheeks as well as on top of his head. Kirtan, chanting, hours of revitalizing yoga, deep forest scenery, clean air and organic food all came together at 4:00 in the morning when I was jolted awake, vitalized and humming with energy. I crept out for a soak just a few feet from sleeping deer, and then wrote as the sun rose. Ah, be nice. I wish I could be that nice to myself all the time.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Matt's Blog

Take a look at Matt's blog and read his entry on Tibet. It is very interesting to read Andrew's comments to Matt's entry. Andrew presents the views expressed by the Chinese. For years I've been trying to understand these views--very important considering that Cheng is a Han. I don't agree, but I want to understand why reasonable, peaceful people support such policy.

Uprising in Tibet: Tibet on Fire

Read the three posts below to find some websites to visit for more information about the uprisings in Tibet and also to sign a petition. I will be honest, I've been signing petitions since college, but I doubt the Chinese government will respond to international pressure on this subject. They never have before. Beijing's line is that the "separatist" Dalai Lama has hoodwinked the foolish Hollywood liberals into spinning a fairy-tale story of Tibet, and all the pressure to Free Tibet comes from this. Beijing has been unmovable in their disdain for Western intervention on this matter. However, there are new factors coming into play now. These factors give me enough hope to spread the word. Sign Petitions, keep informed, get involved because if ever there was a time, it is now.

Here's why: The Olympics. China as a viable player in the world economy. If China wants to trade, they will want to run a nice looking show at the Olympics. If they want to run a nice looking show at the Olympics, they can't have a bunch of Tibetans burning down Han stores. It is the serpent eating its tail, but it does present a new spin on this issue. In any case, I did sign the petition.

I think this uprising was inevitable. The impending summer Olympics has fanned fires, but the embers have been rising for a few years. The completion of the supertrain in 2006 pushed these tensions higher. The Chinese are incredible road-builders. Build a road or a supertrain and you have a better economy. That is what Chinese did in Tibet. According the The Economist, Tibets GDP growth has stayed above 12% for the past seven years. I read in The Economist and elsewhere that while that may be true, most Tibetans perceive that the bulk of the new wealth has gone to the Hans. You see, while these roads and trains bring better trade and mobility, they also bring more Hans. The plan has been to dilute the Tibetan culture and destroy its roots. It is a slow, methodical process, but since the new rail link in 2006, a dam has broken. This flood of Han immigrants probably had a lot to do with the recent uprising.

This leads to a second point, and that is the idea of identity in Tibet. When I lived in Turkey, I learned this lesson of cultural identity firsthand. Ataturk said, "how happy to be Turks." This motto is everywhere in Turkey and for good reason. Turkey was, and still is, a land of many disparate cultures. The only way Ataturk was able to unite his fledgling country was to bring them all together under one identity. Sure, you can be a Kurd, Arab, or Armenian, but only if you display your pride at being a Turk first. Swear your allegiance to and your identity to the Turkish land it its ideals, then eat some Kurdish food with your Turkish friends. The problems in Turkey are with those subcultures who still consider themselves "Kurd" first and Turk second. It is the same in China. A popular pop singer is a Tibetan girl who sings in Mandarin and wears "hip" clothing. She is the ideal Tibetan, one who thrives in Han culture. Most know of the Chinese campaign to stomp out the culture of Tibet, "patriotic education" it is called. However, many do not realize that moving Hans into Tibet, clearing the land of its people, is the most effective. This same relocation has happened in areas of Mongolia and Xinjiang. In fact, for many years Hans were paid money to relocate and marry a person from the subculture.

How do I feel about what is happening in Tibet? Angry, but strangely hopeful. For so long, the Tibetan people suffered silently. When I see a Tibetan emboldened by the riots to disrupt Olympic events, I think "go, man, go." This silent suffering and release is encapsulated in the story of one man I interviewed named Karma. Having grown up in Tibet, Karma was a rare man to meet here--a Tibetan who had lived in his homeland. I meet so many first, second, third, fourth generation refugees. He told me that he left Tibet as a man. In fact, he grew up in the area where my book takes place. One day, Karma told me, he realized that he could not live one more day without freedom. He just got on a horse and rode, found a way across the border, and finally was able to come to the U.S. I asked him if he told his family he was leaving and he told me that he hadn't. He said that if he told anyone he would have endangered their lives. He said that every day he wondered about his family, but he felt sure that they understood his decision. I imagine Karma, brooding at the rolling dark clouds, watching a sunbeam rise and sink, and finally lacing his boots and riding to the pulse of his fate.

Could this be that possible opening for Tibet? If only the Tibetans can squeeze through this space and breathe. What will that feel like?

Economist Correspondent in Tibet

With the Olympics around the corner, China was opening up some of their constraints on journalists in a bid for goodwill. As a part of this opening up, the Chinese allowed The Economists' journalist into Tibet just days before the uprising in Lhasa. He was the only Western journalist in Tibet when the violence erupted. Go to to read about the account from The Economists' Beijing correspondent.

This is from the Tibetan Community: Petition and Informative Site

After decades of repression, Tibetans are crying out to the world for change. China's leaders are right now making a crucial choice between escalating brutality or dialogue that could determine the future of Tibet, and China.

We can affect this historic choice -- China does care about its international reputation. But it will take an avalanche of global people power to get the government's attention. The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has called for restraint and dialogue: he needs the world's people to support him. Fill out the form below to sign the petition--and spread the word.

sign the petition

This is another site where you can find information on what is happening in Tibet.

A Message from the Venerable Geshela Kalsang Damdul

This is a recent message from the spiritual director of the Shakyamuni Tibetan Buddhist Center, the Venerable Geshe Kalsang Damdul. I have had the honor of attending his workshops.

The situation in Tibet is very sad and difficult. Hundreds of inocent
people have been killed by the Comminist Chinese. Over eight hundred
people have been imprisoned. More and more people are coming out in
the to protest in almost all parts of the world.

For more information, please kindly go to the web site of Tibetan
Center for Human Rights and Democracy:

Here we all are praying at the temple for those who have lost their
lives and those who are in prison and the families of the victims. The
situation in Dharamsala is really very tense. The pictures of the
people killed and wounded are put on the walls. Every now and then we
receive fresh news about arrests in Tibet. So please kindly keep
Tibetan people in your prayers.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Motherless Child

My friend Maureen and I talked for over three hours tonight. It is only within the space of that time that people can really understand themselves and their friends. It is like diving to the depth of our reality. These conversations sustain me. Yeah for great friends.

After talking to Maureen, thinking about the motherless child. Thinking this archetype will be the central person in my next novel. Thanks Maureen!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Listen to Yourself

One thing I was never good at was listening to my body or my heart either when it comes down to it. I have these very sensitive instinctual feelers that drag before me like a walking cane, tapping against the needs of others, directing me towards some rather crooked goals. It's been a heavy way of getting on in the world, and sometimes very confusing. So, I've started listening, tuning into my body. I discovered at the age of 39 that my bronchial tubes constricted, sent out all sorts of antihistamines, and just plain impeded my breathing when I exercised. I went on a little singular pill and I was able to run. I've been running ever since, and plan on finishing my first half marathon this summer. Crazy that I never really tuned in to notice it before, but I was so busy pushing past the pain. This is me finishing a 5 K Shamrock Run this morning in a 30 minute jog. Not racing, just feeling the course out with my breath rather than a walking stick.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Spring with my daughter

It is spring. Coranna is riding a real bike now, helping me in the garden, running a race, and just all around so much fun. Today we went to a birthday party for one of her friends.

Having a kid in the season when I feel most like a kid is like peanut butter and chocolate.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Magic Realism

Click on the link above to read Neil Ayres' article "Magic Realism Defies Genre." I haven't even taken on Magic Realism yet on this blog. I need to. Before I take a deep breath and plunge into that discussion, read this article. Ayres argues that Magic Realism has been around a long time and is the work of great fiction, fiction that transcends others. I happen to agree. Did I mention that Secret of the Plains contains the elements of Magic Realism?

It's Raining

It's raining against my window. The familiar sound is strangely unfamiliar, reminding me it has been a dry, sunny spring--so unPortland. I've appreciated, noticed, and soaked up the sunny patterns brightening my school walls, the ability to walk and bike. But, it is Oregon, it is spring, and I need the rain, welcome it back, feel order has been restored by the light tapping against the window behind my back.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Who is Tara?

Tara, Bodhisattva of Compassion. Clink on the link above to read an article I wrote about Tara. My artistic friend, Marianne, took this photo and the one heading this blog. She bought her White Tara statue in Kathmandu while helping me search for my own Kali, my obsession at that time, though now I prefer the quieter Tara. This very green looking White Tara sat in the corner of a shop and Marianne was immediately drawn to her, though she also told me that she wasn't there to buy statues. I bartered a bit with the man, and when he went down a little in his price, Marianne immediately clasped Tara to her, and paid the shop keeper. We laughed at her easy conversion to Buddhist relics. There is something otherworldly and comforting about this statue. Who knows maybe she pried open this novel.