...which represents impressions, opinions and possibly insights gained during a twenty day
tour which selectively dipped into a very large and complex society.

Friday, August 21, 2009

July 18: Bakhor Bazaar
Today we visit Bakhor Bazaar. It remains a showplace of Buddhist culture and religious expression in the old section of Lhasa, near our hotel. Throughout our tour our guides make a big point of emphasizing contemporary Chinese tolerance for religious expression -- as long, of course, that it does not challenge the power of the State.
Buddhism in Tibet, like all religions, has supported ignorance and wasted human energy in the perpetuation of mind numbing rituals; for centuries it has enshrined a privileged priestly class. But in the hierarchies of human stupidity and cruelty Buddhism is a lesser offender than the religion of Communism as practiced under Mao Zedong. The soldiers who stand guard everywhere, as hundreds of American tourists, wander in the marketplace are a testament to contemporary China’s hunger for the resources and land of others.
I like the first picture a lot. It captures a modern Tibetan woman, stylish, yet traditional. She has prayer beads in one hand, a cell phone in the other and the ever popular Chinese “swine flu mask” dangling from her ear. Two of the soldiers standing guards are seen in the background.



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