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Frustrated by lack of objective info on Tibet

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posted on Mar, 17 2014 @ 04:41 AM
I didn't really know where to put this thread because its not really about religion, but it's not entirely about politics, either. In a way, that is the essence of the problem right there...but I digress. Anyhow, if the moderators want to move it please go ahead.

I have been interested in Tibet for a while, but the frustrating thing to me is how hard it is to get any sort of objective information about the country at all. Of course, all history and news is slanted to some extent, but for whatever reason, the issue seems far worse than anything I have ever seen with any other country.

On one side, you have all this fluffy new-age stuff about his Tibet was this perfect paradise of ethereal enlightened beings, which is complete nonsense. This is a nation of humans, not Tolkein elves. They are humans like you and me, which means they have all the same fleshy human issues the rest of us do...only it's really, really hard to get any kind of concrete, non-nonsense historical info that is not tied up in religious stuff or hippy dreamland.

On the other hand, you have a bunch of obvious propaganda by the Chinese government about how it was this evil medieval dungeon-world of sorcery and black magic liberated by the benevolent Chinese invaders. That is just the other side of the coin, and equally ridiculous.

Part of the problem is that for most of its history, Tibet was a theocracy. It would be a little hard to write about the Vatican without mentioning Catholisim, so I understand you can't completely divorce the Buddhist element. But that's not a good enough excuse. Tibet had non-religious kings (the Yarlung dynasty and before), and it was a huge chunk of land with a sizable population. Wars were fought, there was intreague among different factions, tribes had skirmishes, there was a functional economy. You can read about the history of the US economy or the British economy or the Russian, Chinese, or Korean economy. Where are the no-nonsense books about trade, war, finance, and politics in traditional Tibet?

There is SOME info on these things, but it's either dry-as-dust academia or one or two general books that try to be objective but have little detail. In both cases, anything that tries to stake out middle ground gets attacked by people from both sides of the debate.

Everything is "Free Tibet" or "Tibet is China." There is no nuance, no balance, no objectivity. Everyone has an axe to grind and it seems very few are interested in what actually happened as opposed to fulfilling some strident ideological or religious agenda.

Why is that????
edit on 3/17/2014 by KarensHoliday because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 17 2014 @ 04:49 AM
reply to post by KarensHoliday

Don't really know a lot about Tibet myself.
Maybe everybody's too busy meditating there to write books?

posted on Mar, 17 2014 @ 05:07 AM
reply to post by EA006

No, see thats the problem right there. Most people in Tibet farmed or were animal herders. And as noted there were wars, trade, tribal feuds, etc. But they are shrouded in secrecy.

Imagine how surreal it would be to have this conversation about, say, France. "Who knows what went on in old France. Maybe they were all too busy praying to Jesus to have a history." That doesn't fly for France...why should we have to say that about Tibet?

posted on Mar, 17 2014 @ 05:09 AM
Or maybe they're still meditating and haven't yet realised They're now part of China and Tibet is no more

And you can't find anything because China has erased its history and all information on the net regarding these sleepy farming elfs
edit on 17-3-2014 by TritonTaranis because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 17 2014 @ 05:13 AM
reply to post by TritonTaranis

Doubt it. There is tons of political activism by both the Chinese and the Tibetans.

What's missing is a basic picture that doesn't treat the Tibetan people like wizards in a fantasy role-playing game.

posted on Mar, 17 2014 @ 05:23 AM

And you can't find anything because China has erased its history and all information on the net regarding these sleepy farming elfs
edit on 17-3-2014 by TritonTaranis because: (no reason given)

Ok you added this part after I posted my reply. That is a strong possibility, and certainly part of the problem. cant be that simple. There are tons of other ethnic minorities in China and while doubtless their history has been mucked about with by China, they aren't romanticized and exoticized to the same degree as the Tibetans.

Understand, I am neither Tibetan nor Chinese. (I'm Korean-American). I have no agenda or bias. I would just like to to read the same kind of history about Tibet that I can read about Korea...or even Mongolia, which if anything had even less of a textual tradition than Tibet.

Why is Tibet such a "special case?" See how odd this conversation is getting? The Spanish wiped out the indigenous cultures of the Mayans and Aztecs more completely than then Chinese have hit Tibet, yet we know more about daily life among the Mayans 1000 years ago than we do about the Tibetans 100 years ago.

edit on 3/17/2014 by KarensHoliday because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 17 2014 @ 05:52 AM
Two countries, China and India, with close to half the worlds population between them.

Tibet, rather unfortunately, is a very poor region, that both countries want to own as a military buffer zone.

If you have to fight a war, best to do it on someone elses turf. It is the meat in the sandwich, much like Ukraine.

China took it, basically so no one else could put missile bases on it. It covers the high ground and that is militarily important.

Some parts are very important choke points. Remember, it is in the Himalayas. To get a real feel for it you need a 3D map.

That is how I see it.


edit on 17/3/2014 by pheonix358 because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 17 2014 @ 06:03 AM
reply to post by KarensHoliday

I think the reasons for the obscurity are mainly practical.
Tibet has always been a country which westerners did not reach and whose language they did not read, to a much greater extent than Russia, China or Korea, let alone France.
There was the expedition of Colonel Younghusband from India a century ago, and Christian missionaries following in his footsteps, and that's about it.
Even mediaeval Chinese travellers would be on their way to India and by-passing Tibet to the north or by sea.
This means that knowledge of Tibet has to come through dry academic study by specialists.
This is not going to be translated into more accessible histories without some popular demand.

And even the academic studies may not reveal much about things like economics.
It is very difficult to write about some aspects of the past if the people of the time do not provide the information.
I have no idea whether the Tibetan states had the kind of financial and legal records which are so useful when studying the history of mediaeval England.
If the records are helpful, you can write things like "the herders paid such-and-such a tax to their lords, who had to provide their superiors with miltary service" or "the herders in that region practised transhumance, and that other region was depopulated for more than a century by a very dry spell".
But if the surviving documents are chronicles of wars and religious treatises, historians won't be able to write about much else.

edit on 17-3-2014 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 17 2014 @ 03:56 PM
Almost all of the missing info can be directly related to the Chinese takeover. They wanted to and did do...a great job of erasing anything that could be attributed to Nationalist Tibet (my term). They didnt want anything to imply or confirm any type of independency from them as a nation.

Temples were burned, monks killed, scrolls and books destroyed. Still, that doesnt answer your real question about any info and documentation on in finances, history, old politics and agriculture out in the rest of the world. A lot of that seems to have disappeared worldwide.

I know I too once looked for info, and then again in a decade or so later...and to this day...not much exists, though Im sure its out there. You'd think there would be a huge library or collections available on all-things-Tibet? Sadly, I dont believe there is one.

The best one can do is to independantly and individually search out info on each topic and not in any grand volumes on the country and its wonderful history. They dont seem to exist even if they did once.

PS Great movie on Tibet: Brad Pitt in "7 years in Tibet".

PPS The Dali Lama when asked once about leaving Tibet...replied "I did not leave Tibet".(pointing to his heart)"Its right here!"
edit on 09-22-2013 by mysterioustranger because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 17 2014 @ 09:09 PM
Thanks very much for the well-thought-out replies. As always, its probably a combination of factors.

There are still people alive with living, personal memories of pre-China Tibet. Sadly, most of them are growing old. It would be a wonderful project to interview as many of these people as possible for details on the more mundane aspects of Tibet, rather than the arcana of Tantric Buddhism, which seems to monopolize academic time and resources.

posted on Jun, 30 2014 @ 07:03 AM
Found this, if anyone cares. Kind of interesting:

FRESNO, CA -- Writing a column on the military history of Tibet seemed like a good idea in the good old days, a week ago, before I started actually trying to research it. I’ve never, ever had a harder time finding decent info on a topic.

But some of the stuff on Tibetan military history is just so damn weird it made me feel like that scene in Ghostbusters where Rick Moranis gets possessed by some ancient demon and starts ranting: “During the rectification of the Vuldronaii the Traveller came as a very large and moving Torb. Then of course in the third reconciliation of the last of the Meketrex supplicants they chose a new form for him, that of a Sloar. Many Shubs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Sloar that day I can tell you.” ...

“…The troops of approximately ten myriarchies of Central Tibet (Tib. dbus gtsang) marched toward the [Stod Hor—the Mongol army, I think—GB]. They met on the dpal mo dpal thang. [Oh, that thang!—GB Sorry, couldn’t resist.] The ten myriarchies of Tibetan troops defeated the many hundreds of thousands of Stod Hor troops. As proof of having killed many thousand Hor, they cut off only the right ears [of the dead] and put them into many donkey loads (Tib. ‘drel khal). Having made Gad du Rin chen and the Dgon pa dbon prisoner and having taking [sic] them along, the ears started stinking. After they had exposed them to the sun on a cool plain, the stone enclosure where the [smell] disappeared, is today known as ‘stone enclosure of the ears’ (Tib. Rna ba’i lhas).”

And that’s one of the lighter bits. If life has been too easy and fun for you lately, you’re welcome to read the whole article in a volume with the catchy, original title of “Tibet: Past and Present.”

And it goes on...longish read but unusual perspective.

posted on Jul, 2 2014 @ 04:00 PM
This is an interesting topic, that I have often thought about myself. Star & Flag from me.

I can't remember where, as it was years ago, but when I was trying to unearth some of this information myself, one reason postulated by the author was that in previous times, where the ability to travel and reach inaccessible parts of the world was inhibited by poor equipment, technology and ability to travel and survive torrid conditions, severely limited understanding the previous history of Tibet. I would imagine this is quite likely as Tibet is situated in an area where traveling and surviving in those conditions is tough.

Tibet has always been shrouded in mystery and intrigue, partly due to the rumours and tales that leave Tibet and the lack of people able enter and verify and see for themselves. It has only really been in recent history where people have been able to access more information and this is coupled with Tibetans being notorious private people, due to the beliefs and cultural history of the people being persecuted. Rumours of secret caves with masses of archives, books and 'secrets' become less make believe and potentially possible.

I will keep my eyes peeled on this thread with great interest.

posted on Jul, 2 2014 @ 07:09 PM
Hmm. I'm not sure if you are in a position to benefit from this, but just in case I'll post it.

posted on Jul, 3 2014 @ 10:01 PM
a reply to: BlueMule

Thank you for contributing. But with all due respect, that is exactly the OPPOSITE of the kind of information I am looking for. Which is the whole point of this thread.

Everything on Tibet is religious-mystical, hopelessly romantically idealistic, or, on the other end of the spectrum, ridiculously slanted Chinese polemics.

I want info that treats Tibetans as human beings with a human history. Not some kind of Jedi knight metaphysical fantasy.
edit on 7/3/2014 by KarensHoliday because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 3 2014 @ 10:07 PM
a reply to: KarensHoliday

I guess it hasn't occurred to you that people really are Jedi underneath. Oh well.

posted on Jul, 3 2014 @ 11:21 PM
a reply to: KarensHoliday

Sometimes wilkipedia is excellent for finding relevant sources on subject matter by looking up then looking at sources/notes down the bottom of the page. You can then search for their sources aka like... Tibetan Civilization by Rolf A.Stein and see the contents in google books to see if its suitable for your research: =0CB0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Tibetan%20Civilization%20by%20%20Rolf%20A.Stein&f=false

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