Mountains of Peace in Tibet
An illustrated talk by Tess Burrows
We recently had the pleasure of a visit to Aberdeen by Tess Burrows, well-known
mountaineer and author of "Cry from the highest Mountain."
Tess has climbed many of the world's highest peaks, and is a well-known
figure in the international climbing fraternity. She also has
a deep concern over the situation in Tibet, and has dedicated the
publicity surrounding her expeditions to expounding the truth of what
is taking place in that region.
Whilst giving an illustrated lecture in Aberdeen University, Tess, who
has spent a considerable amount of time in Tibet and Nepal, mentioned
some revealing insights that would not have been available from
less well-informed sources. It is clear from her comments that even today,
fifty years after the invasion, the average Tibetan suffers
considerable hardship under the Communist regime, and that there is in
effect a system of apartheid operating in favour of Chinese immigrants
to Tibet. One manifestation is that houses belonging to Chinese are
modern and new, whilst many rural Tibetans are forced by their
financial circumstances to live in huts or even tents. Work
for Tibetans is extremely scarce, even in Lhasa it is highly unlikely
that a Tibetan applicant will be granted a job whilst there are Chinese
applicants for the same post.
One thing she was immediately aware of on entering from the Nepalese border was the Tibetans' generosity;
despite their hardship they were always wonderful hosts,
invariably offering to share their tea and food with her team. Perhaps
even more suprisingly, most bear no resentment for the Chinese; this is
simply a facet of the Buddhist line of thinking that you should not
bear malice to others under any circumstances, neverhteless it speaks
volumes about the resilience and good-naturedness of these people that
they show compassion even to an invader of their land.
To illustrate the sheer level of repression, Tess flashed a slide on
the screen, saying that if she had dared show this slide in Tibet, she
would have been sentenced to two terms of imprisonment, one for seven
years and the other for six. The slide contained an image of the Dalai
Lama, and the Tibetan flag. Apparently many Tibetans asked her for
pictures of His Holiness, but she had to decline the request for
reasons of their safety as much as her own.
On her travels, Tess has visited many of the sacred sites and
monasteries in Tibet. She remarks that many were razed to the ground
during the most fanatical stage of the Maoist revolution, but later
were rebuilt once their value to the tourist trade was realised.
However, the rebuilt sites have a sham feeling tot hem, and few seem to
be active places of meditation or study. She did however have the
opportunity to meditate in some of the surviving ancient and holy
places, and remarked that the experience of meditating in these
buildings was an electrifying one, like none she had experienced
before. Somehow the sheer energy of these places makes a deep state of
meditation, and even spiritual visions, relatively easy to achieve.
An incident on her Mount Kailash expedition illustrated the kind of
persecution that goes on in Tibet; at a checkpoint, a dog approached
their group. It woas doing no harm, just seeking attention as dogs do,
but Chinese guards pulled-out their electric stun-guns and began
zapping it repeatedly until it ran away. The guards thought this was a
A point she made, however, is that the majority of Chinese citizens
show great concern for the plight of the Tibetans; many perform acts of
kindness or generosity towards them, such as a Chinese soldier who went
to a great deal of trouble to provide a group of Tibetans with a
specific type of fish they were looking for but had been unable to
find. The problem, as she underlined, is not with the Chinese people
living in Tibet, but with the policies of the Communist government
itself, and its hired thugs.
Next she related the inhuman way in which Tibetans are treated by the
Authorities; for example a large number being herded-into and locked in
the grounds of a school for the duration of a Communist official's
visit. It became clear that conditions in Tibet have not improved
significantly, Tibetans are still very much a conquered people.
You can download the talk here, in MP3 format. (9MB, broadband advised)
Her book can be ordered from Amazon (USA) or Amazon (UK)
Many thanks for Tess and Phil for
journeying to Aberdeen, and to the University for the use of the
lecture-room and AV facilities.