Towards the last two months of my last visit to India in the spring of 2012, I encountered the Tibetan community in exile in India experiencing painful news of their people self-immolating in fire one after another in China-occupied Tibet. My experiences in the past visits in India (drawing a cremation site in Varanasi, documenting fire pits, cremation alters, and contemplating on life and death around fire) synchronized with this particular movement, an extreme way of ‘offering’ their bodies to ‘fire’ for asking freedom and peace.I could not help drawing large and small drawings as emotional response and with a sense of mourning.

After coming back to Vancouver, the self-immolation kept happening and I felt that my personal and professional task is not finished.

I have come back to India to continue to document and draw under the same theme.

20 November 2017

Three kinds of water in Tibet

Ama la is from Tsang, Tibet. I have known her and her family for over 10 years.  

She escaped to India from Tibet in 1959 and is one of that first hardcore generation of Tibetan refugees  who had to undergo unimaginable hardships in order to be able to rebuild their lives in the new and unknown land of India. Even after the trauma of having to escape from their native homelands, so many of their generation died afterwards from illness, disease, malnutrition and grief.

She is the one of the beloved elderly Tibetans who taught me the value of sharing, kindness, strength and power of practice.  Despite enduring inconceivable hardships,   she maintained all beautiful human qualities till she passed away.

When I think of her, I think of the many stories and meals that she offered me. When I heard of her passing from across two great oceans,  the first story that came up in my mind was about water in Tibet:

Water in Tibet is better than milk in India.
There are three qualities of water in Tibet.
The first one is water from a glacier.
The second one is from a stream.
The third one is from a spring. 
Each water has healing property, especially one from a glacier.
By drinking it, a sick person gets healed.
All sources are sacred with spirits living within, 
so we shall not contaminate such water.

Ama la managed to return to Tibet in the 80s when the political situation in Tibet softened for a short period of time.
One of her children, who is now a monk with a Geshe degree, told me that the first thing she did when she saw a stream was to run to it and scoop up some water with her hands to drink it.  She was overjoyed.  

Only this one time could she go back to Tibet in almost 60 years in exile.  

Ama la a safe journey to the next. 
May mountains, glacier, rivers, streams, and every being in your homeland
remain clear and vital despite of destructions so as you can go back to drink water that heals again. 

アマラ(チベット語でお母さん)はチベットのツァン出身。彼女と 彼女の家族と知り合ってもう10年以上になります。

アマラは 1959年、中国共産党のラサ侵略、ダライ・ラマ法王の亡命を機にインドに逃れ 慣れない土地で苦汁の生活を強いられた チベット人一世のひとりです。

アマラから 分け合うこと、親切、慈悲、忍耐、信じることの力 の価値を身をもって おしえてもらいました。彼女は 何人かの私の愛し尊敬する チベットの気骨のある老人たちの一人です。私の想像を絶する苦労をしてきたにもかかわらず、人間性のすばらしいところをすべて備えておられました。
その何人かも母国の土を踏むことなく近年次々亡くなり、アマラの訃報も 大洋をこえて 最近伝わってきました。

彼女のことを思うとき、まず心に浮かぶのが 何年か前に話してくれた

チベットの水は、インドの乳より おいしい。
最後に 湧き水

アマラは 1980年代、一度チベットに戻ることができました。
アマラは故郷の大地を歩いているとき、せせらぎを見つけて、よろこびに我を忘れて 岸辺にかけより、手で水をすくって飲んだと、彼女の子供たちの一人で 今は仏教の博士号をもつお坊さんの友人が話してくれました。彼女が少女にように水に駆け寄る姿が目に浮かんだのを覚えています。

亡命の生活の60年あまりで、 故郷に戻れたのはその一回きり。

母国の大地、山、川、水が 無意味で無謀な開発にもかかわらず 強く