Friday, April 6, 2012

One Sad Day- The Funeral Of Jamphel Yeshi

It was a quite, somber day in Dharmasala as a recent event had sent dark cloud over the Tibetan city. In town, I had asked about the funeral for the Tibetan boy, Jamphel Yeshi, who engaged in self mutilation in New Delhi just two days ago.  I heard the funeral was yesterday, which I thought I was hiking and missed it...... 
My Angel had went off to run an errand and left me at the St. John’s church.  Sitting on top of a cast with a large cross- engraved on top, I say a prayer to my higher power.  As I am sitting there, I hear shouting and figure that it is just another Tibetan parade.  
My angel comes back to pick me up and I hop on his bike requesting to go see what all the commotion is about.  Approaching, there are many police men standing in the road.  The road sides and hill tops are filled with Tibetans-school children dressed in uniform, monks, elderly, and families.  People are climbing down the hills hovering over the bottom where there is chanting and rituals being performed. 
Walking past an ambulance, I look over and see his face on a large banner plastered on the side of the van. The face of a young boy with a bright future ahead, the face of a boy who just wanted to be HEARD, the face of a boy who was too young to die. Next to his face and body in flames (the main picture that circulates around the world news/media) is the English translation of his suicide letter to Tibetans.  Here are some excerpts below:

Walking down the hills, there are many sad Tibetan faces, many wrapped in the Tibetan flag, monks holding on tight to their mala beads, prayers being said, and tears being shed.  I sit on the ledge peaking my head over the top to see the ceremony that just began.  Buddhist prayers are being recited with a loud, eerie sound. It sounds like the “Dong” that comes from the temple, but over and over again.
I run into my friend Yen and we are sitting together in silence.  We speak about the Tibetan rituals being different for his ceremony.  In Tibet, the body is left at the top of the mountain to be eaten by eagles.  When the body is completely eaten, the spirit of the body has been lifted.  Not being able to take the body to Tibet, the ceremony was being performed in a different way-burning the body. 

Not being able to see, I wanted to move myself around to the other side.  My angel did not have much interest so he was just standing back waiting for me.  I climbed on along the gutter of the roof to the other side to find many people standing with faces of pure devastation and grief.  The burnt charred smell of smoke was blowing directly into my face.  I continued to walk past 1, 2, 3, and 4 people to see the flames directly in front of me. 

In front of me was a burning body of a 24 year old boy who gave up his life to save his country.  At first, I was taking pictures and then I put my camera down and just had a dead stare into the flames.  I asked myself, “Why I am I taking pictures of this? This poor boy is dead and I am taking pictures of his body being burned in a wooden casket. Shame on me, Shame on me. 

From that point on, I just put the camera away and took out my mala beads and went into a whole different state of mind-meditation and prayer.  Like everyone else just standing around with thoughts of sadness, confusion, and questioning the injustice of the world.  I watched a group of female monks reading a group prayer together.  A man stand with his flag looking angry with this injustice.  Three girls standing together each carrying the flag leaning on each other’s shoulders. A young boy, Jamphel's age, thinking that could have been me.  Many faces with expressions of, “When is this battle going to end? Where do we go from here?"
Sitting there I saw my monk from afar and I went to stand next to him.  We just sat in silence and I began to shed tears on his shoulder.  Tears for Tibet. It is so unjust for self-mutilation as a form of communication and awareness. People may associate their act of self-mutiliation to the Dalai Lama, but he does not support this as a means of getting through to the Chinese.  Over 30 people have engaged in self mutilation in just the past year. How many people will have to die for the Chinese just let Tibet- BE TIBET and live their own independent lives? 

Unfortunately, I can answer this question with a bit of skepticism, doubt, and lack of FAITH.  The Chinese do not seem to care how many Tibetans die and I do not know when or if they will start caring.  The Dalia Lama will keep doing his part, but Tibet needs the support of it’s fellow neighbors, brothers, and sisters.  China is such a superpower that many are intimidated to go up against them, but they/we need to spread awareness and send the message towards freedom.  The help of the US is significantly needed at this time and I hope they can do their part.


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