By Kunchok Dhargyal
NEW DELHI, India, 8 July 2020
My father passed away seven years ago with His Holiness in his heart. My family in Tibet kept it a secret from me for more than eight months, thinking that it would muddle my school studies. I stipulated to myself to pass over it even though I had already heard the truth. I resolved to kill myself because I would never see my father again in the rest of my life, but fortunately or unfortunately, I managed to stay alive. I still remember how I tried to jump from the window to the ground floor.
It’s an epic game I tried to play with my life, and an experience when I think of it now. It was my father who had crumbled my whole attention on His Holiness the Dalai Lama when I was in Kham (the eastern part of Tibet and one of its three provinces). In my father’s wooden case there was a photograph of His Holiness, and none of us were allowed to take it out without his say. We would see it only two times in a year, only on the first and second days of Losar, the Tibetan New Year.
He would make sure that our hands were clean washed and negative emotions were out of the mind for a moment. Once he had carefully performed it, he would place it back with a white scarf. I was very young at that time, and many questions were left unanswered in my mind till I saw His Holiness in 2007. To my surprise, none of my Chinese teachers had ever instigated anything related to His Holiness, and that strangeness gradually fabricated one of the biggest confusions and puzzlements in the core of my heart till I reached India.
On 15th July in 2007, I saw His Holiness in person for the first time. We were sitting in his temple, only a few steps away from his throne and I was unable to keep my eyes rolling at him closely. I perceived that he was quite different to the photograph that my father had kept with him. I didn’t know what was happening to me as I couldn’t control my tears flooding over my face like the rest of the newcomers sitting in the temple. In Tibet, I thought His Holiness might have been a good friend to my father — but I had a strange feeling that there was something not right.
On the very first day, I saw a lot of people pairing faiths to His Holiness and it made me realize that my father had unconsciously feigned his whole life in such a way that nobody could ever understand what was happening in his mind. I would have suggested to my father that His Holiness has more friends than you had ever imagined if he was still alive. The reflection point of his unmoved faith in His Holiness drove me into another load of aloofness towards my late father after seeing His Holiness with my own eyes, with the heavy memory of my late father and his deeply-rooted faith.
Even so, in 2012 I was in a Tibetan Children Village School. It was two years before taking the CBS Exam by The Central Board of Secondary Education, a national level board of education for public and private schools in India. In a massive gathering, we joyfully celebrated an award ceremony for His Holiness receiving the Templeton Prize honored by Templeton Foundation at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. His Holiness became the second Templeton Prize laureate after Mother Teresa had won the first in 1973. Both were Nobel laureates as well. It’s often described as one of the most prestigious awards in religion, worth more than $1.6 million. But His Holiness immediately donated all the money for orphans in India and poor people in Africa, and that somehow moved me a lot.
As I entered into a new chapter of my life, with a different picture of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, I got an idea of His Holiness as a global peace icon. In my mind, I conveyed to my father that His Holiness is neither like a good friend as I had simply assumed, nor as I had deluded in my mind for many years in Tibet. By the same token in 2016, after two years of myself being out of secondary school. Sonia Singh, author of the book Defining India Through Their Eyes, had set up an interview with His Holiness through NDTV on 7th April 2016 in New Delhi.
I kicked off my Shakespeare classes and chose the interview instead. I was driven by some powerful words of lightning from the man of peace commonly known as “A Simple Buddhist Monk” and “A Laughing Monk”. From then on, I have gradually become more realistic knowing the unrevealed secrets of my late father and the delusional mind I had ever experienced.
By fall of 2018, I had read one of His Holiness’ most popular works, Beyond Religion. I received great positive impacts and lessons, incredibly important in the day-to-day life of the 21st century. In August 2019 I had the privilege to attend the Global Youth Peace Program initially organized by the Regional Alliance for Fostering Youth in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Community Empowerment in Male, Maldives.
There were more than thirty-five international delegates. I was the only Tibetan Refugee youth representing Tibet, a place that most of them had no idea of, or what it matters to the rest of the world. Maldives is a beautiful tourist place and none of them welcome any other religion than their designated religion Islam, but the people I had conversations with knew His Holiness and the country Tibet. If some are thinking of visiting, I found everything is affordable for a few weeks in Maldives, a top searching country with beautiful beaches and oceans.
On the last day there was a cultural night. We had good interactions with new faces from different parts of the world. Except some countries like Australia, India, the US, and Bangladesh, but a few delegates from the Philippines, Singapore, and Iraq. They had no idea about Tibet till I threw out the name ”Dalai Lama”, and then I certainly realized that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is a face of peace and compassion for the entire world. The same happened in Taylor University of Malaysia where I attended a conference for two days.
With the experiences I had gone through, the books I had read, the people I had met over the last few decades, I have drawn a conclusion to my late father: Dear father, you are a such amazing man knowing everything about His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama whom you had never seen in person like I had, and your strong faith in a place where even a photograph of His Holiness is not allowed by China.
After fifteen years, I have achieved millions of affirmations and reasons why you had kept us in a deluded world, and why you had been so respectful and so faithful to a photograph of His Holiness that we also had not dared to take it for granted.
Dear father, this year we are celebrating the 85th Birthday of His Holiness and I’m a few hours away from his residential palace which you had probably never seen in your whole life. There are millions and millions of followers, among them very popular personalities like Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist, George Walker Bush, an American politician and the 43rd President of the United States, and also Richard Tiffany Gere, one of the most popular American actors. On this 85th Birthday of His Holiness all of them are wishing “Happy 85th Birthday” to His Holiness.
In the near-most, I want to say thank you, dear father, for your mountainous faith which has brought me closer to His Holiness. Now I am also ready to follow your footsteps like you passed away with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in your heart and I would never shatter your faith and respect to His Holiness. With your face in my heart, now I’m wishing him “Happy 85th Birthday, May You live long and healthy, Your Holiness.”
The photographs were the same as those that my late father used to keep with him till he passed away. I found these photographs on the Internet after fifteen years in India, and the same photo is still kept in my home in Tibet. I think my father would not exchange it if I took this photograph to him.
Happy 85th Birthday for His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
About the author
Kunchok Dhargyal is a postgraduate from Delhi University in MA English literature, and currently working as a Community Resource Consultant at Rights Action Lab.