does anyone know __anything__ about Tibet???

Les Schaffer godzilla at
Mon Jul 6 11:36:14 PDT 1998

>>>>> Jim heartfield writes:

Jim> and relocate to the West Coast of America. Makes you reflect

Jim> on what those two societies have in common.

thats funny...

Jim> What is the

Jim> community of interests between the sedentary life of a

Jim> monastic leisure class living off of the surplus labour of

Jim> serfs, and California?

good question.

still, i am searching in vain for corroboration of this claim that lay Tibetans lived as serfs. What exactly was the economic structure of life in Tibet pre-1959? Are people confusing/equating/comparing the practice of religious donations with indentured servitude?

What little i know about Tibet and more about Buddhism, i would more __supsect__ that lay Tibetans made offerings/donations and what not to the religious crowd. But they did not live on the monastery lands and work the fields with all but a subsistence share of the crops being made available back to them. If thats the case, why call it __serfdom__?

In short, did the Tibetan political/religious order literally live off the rest of the populations sweat, or were the monasteries also more or less self-sufficient, in the sense that monks grew their own food, tended their own cattle, built their own monasteries etc.... Was it a 20/80 relationship? 80/20?

How did the Tibetan religious order collect wealth from the lay community?

>>>>> Gary McLellan writes:

Gary> Before he left Tibet the Dalai Lama gathered a huge amount

Gary> of gold together and headed off to India with it.

thats one i never heard before. where did you hear that?

Gary> He stands for the brutal exploitation in the name of

Gary> religion of a down trodden people.

i understand your point vis a vis Buddhist attitudes towards (homo)sexuality. personally, i would never look to any old & organized religion for guidance on these matters.

But 'brutal exploitation'? I would agree with this, for example, if you could show evidence that gay people in Tibet were routinely flogged, imprisoned in monasteries, shamed publicly, etc.

note that such evidence -- if you are correct -- would seem to me to be easily gathered. there was an article in the Sunday New York Times about Tibet, purporting to explode the twin 'myths' of 'brutal exploitation' and 'Shangri-La'. Above the article was a picture of the palace da dalai lama lived in prior to the chinese invasion. It was freakin HUGE! and everytime i see pictures of Tibetans, they have these huge smiles with teeth missing, houses are just shacks, etc, while dalai has this beautiful smile. thus i would think that real factual accounts of the exploitation of Tibet would be easily come by. but discussion here on lbo-talk has revealed precious little of that type of evidence.

I would give the benefit of the doubt to someone who knowledgeably told me a story like:

"""yes, lay Tibetans were coerced into building these monasteries in lieu of their own families' welfare. the method of coercion was threat of everlasting life in bardo states after physical death. they were required to work 23.5 out of a 40 hour work week (thats a joke...) on building the monastery. For each basket of food they grew, .5777's of that basket needed to be 'donated' to the local monastery if that family wanted medical care from the monastery physician."""

... then i's say, yeah, okay, (mystical) serfdom is the right word for the structure of economic life in Tibet, the people are brutally exploited through threat of hell, etc. ....

-- ____ Les Schaffer godzilla at ___| ------->> Engineering R&D <<-------- Theoretical & Applied Mechanics | Designspring, Inc. Westport, CT USA Center for Radiophysics & Space Research | les at Cornell Univ. schaffer at |

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list