In response to a letter to the editor from George Lytle (Letters, Jan. 20, Page 8), Richard S. Ehrlich replied: As you can read in the sentences immediately above the quote from the scab-covered monk, the story also tells of another Tibetan who told me:
"He stopped being a monk after five years because his monastery's senior lama beat novices with a stick during scripture examinations. Tibetan Buddhist monasteries often mete out such child abuse. During the Dalai Lama's time, before he fled Tibet in 1959, head lamas in his Potala Palace beat errant monks for gambling or other naughty behavior."
George, if you delve into Tibetan affairs a bit deeper you'll discover Tibetan monks beating their students in monasteries in and out of Tibet is nothing new.
For example, in 1993, a famous former political prisoner named Jampa Phuntsok -- who was one of the Dalai Lama's devoted lamas inside the Potala Palace in the years up to and including the Chinese invasion -- told me in an exclusive interview that he initially didn't like being a student in the Potala but had to go because his parents forced him.
But the rebellious Jampa ran away from the Potala several times. He gambled with cards and dice inside its sacred chambers with a handful of other unruly young novices. One day, when Jampa was 16 and especially naughty, his angry teacher sent him to the Potala's "gaygur," a traditional disciplinarian who meted out corporal punishment.
When the feared gaygur, appointed by the Dalai Lama, brandished a leather whip, Jampa told himself he would prove to the other boys that he wasn't a baby and wouldn't cry. But the gaygur was determined to break the troublesome boy's spirit. After whipping him with the required five lashes -- and still unable to make him cry -- the gaygur decided to whip Jampa until he would cry. But when he finished whipping Jampa 25 times and didn't get the boy to weep, the stunned gaygur relented.
Jampa's defiance, even in pain, had started. And that was inside the Potala, while the current Dalai Lama was ensconced there.
Perhaps you also would be interested in a photograph I shot while inside the main Tibetan-built "dzong," or fortress-monastery, in Punahka, Bhutan, in 1984 which shows a senior monk with a huge, black, leather bullwhip in hand lording over some cringing, scab-covered, maroon-robed Buddhist students in a prayer hall. While I was there, the students had been called for prayers and the last stragglers were repeatedly threatened with the raised stick-end of the well-worn bullwhip.
You may realize that with millions of kids being sent to Tibet's monasteries during the past several hundred years by parents, there are of course various problems with discipline.
You made no mention of your having ever been to Tibet, or how long you spent traveling there on your own without a guide, but the obviousness of what were thousands of monasteries managing so many children for so many hundreds of years may eventually lead you to understand why corporal punishment has always been relatively common, especially among Tibetan monks, who even fought each other for their monastery's supremacy before China invaded.
By the way, Jampa was repeatedly imprisoned for anti-Chinese demonstrations, became an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, and now lives at the side of the Dalai Lama in McLeod Ganj, India, near Dharmasala, if you would like to confirm it with him -- which may also relieve you of your admitted plight of being focused so much on CNN, which you indicated was not helping you perceive the world around you.
Meanwhile, I look forward to your continued interest in Asian affairs as reported in the Taipei Times and appreciate your question. I hope you do succeed in gaining some of what you call, "the cultural background" of Tibet and other lands.
Richard S. Ehrlich
Don't forget the ".tw"
I read with interest the article entitled "Taiwan's book sellers going online" (Jan. 19, Page 19)from the online edition of your newspaper.
I just wanted to make a correction, as I encountered some difficulties trying to find the various websites mentioned in the article.
I went to "www.books.com," as Bookland's website was listed in the article only to discover it had now joined Barnes and Noble, the huge American bookseller! Using my meager Web skills, I added "tw" to "www.books.com" and arrived at the right website -- www.books.com.tw, which has been online for four years.
No mention was made of when Eslite Books will go online, something I am eagerly awaiting as my Mandarin is very limited and when I'm in Taipei (I live in Auckland, New Zealand), I enjoy going to the Eslite Book Store near the Ren Ai traffic circle to see what English books they are carrying.
It would be great if Taipei Times online had links to Taiwan sites, like the various online book sellers (even if they're all in Mandarin) or tourism websites which would be educational and spur on those interested in Taiwan to come and visit! That's my two cents. Keep up the good work. Matt McCabe
For Xi Jinping (習近平) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the military conquest of Taiwan is an absolute requirement for the CCP’s much more fantastic ambition: control over our solar system. Controlling Taiwan will allow the CCP to dominate the First Island Chain and to better neutralize the Philippines, decreasing the threat to the most important People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Strategic Support Force (SSF) space base, the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island. Satellite and manned space launches from the Jiuquan and Xichang Satellite Launch Centers regularly pass close to Taiwan, which is also a very serious threat to the PLA,
Taiwan is beautiful — no doubt about it. In Taipei, the streets are clean, the skyline is gorgeous and the subway is world-class. The coastline is easily accessible and mountains can be seen in the distance. The people are hardworking, successful and busy. Every luxury known to humankind is available and people live on their smartphones. As an American visiting for the first time, here are some things I learned about the country. First, people from Taiwan and America love freedom and democracy and have for many years. When we defeated Japan in 1945, Taiwan was freed from Japanese rule. In
The ultimate end of a situation in which communists are in charge of a capitalist economy is economic depression, with China’s economic woes the prime example. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime has suspended monthly reports on youth unemployment, which had previously been at a record high, going beyond 20 percent and rising. It is often joked about in academic circles that when a national laboratory has made a great discovery, the institution will quickly call a news conference to announce it to the world, but when the research has been a total failure, the institution will keep it under wraps. The
Taiwan’s first indigenous defense submarine prototype, the Hai Kun (SS-711), is to be launched tomorrow and undergo underwater testing next month. It is a major breakthrough in upgrading the nation’s self-defense capabilities, and would make it more difficult for China to blockade Taiwan. Facing Beijing’s escalating military threats and ambitions of expanding across the Taiwan Strait, a domestically developed submarine was first proposed in the 1990s under then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝). The Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) program was formally initiated in 2016, as President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office, with the aim of creating a fleet of eight domestically developed submarines. The