Tibetans claim that they originated from apes. There is a legend that the god Deres that is able to take on different appearances, once took on that of the ape. He was sitting in his cave and reflecting upon his life. Suddenly he realized that the only thing that was missing in his life was a woman. To his disappointment there were no women in his time. However, there was a mountain spirit who was a female. Deres united with her and as a result first apes appeared on the planet. Later on they started multiplying. Those who retained the divine genes had their tails shortened. When their tails disappeared at all, apes turned into humans and started living humanly.
Any tourist can see this story in pictures on the walls on any Lamaist temples. Tibetans are firmly convinced that Charles Darwin did nothing but steel his evolutionary theory from their religion. At any rate, 2000 years before his birth this hypothesis had been already illustrated.
Tibet is an amazing land full of mysteries and inexplicable phenomena. Its mountains, for instance, are constantly moving. And just in some years its landscapes may change drastically. Tibetans think that the continent Moo (known to the Europeans as the Land of Lemurs) ran into Asia. As a result the ocean floor went up forming the territory of present-day Tibet. That is why its mountains consist of sand that is washed out by the rains, crumbles and forms new mountains in new places. Landslides or stonefalls are an every-day event in Tibet. Earthquakes are very rare on the other hand. Repair teams are constantly on duty on the roads. They crash stones with hammers (!), load them by hand and take them away.
It is there that you can see how a crack appears in a mountain, how it widens and deepens, how stones and sand fall their from the slope and then in a moment a large mass that was a mountain just several seconds ago collapses opening the view of the blue sky. In several years there will be a new mountain of stone and sand here. In a hundred years it will be overgrown with grass and shrubs and then water will raze it to the ground again.
Not only mountains are so changeable in Tibet. Political system is not so stable either, although everything is decent on the surface – there are no rebellions or disorders. Some think that still there are “Chinese dummies” that follow every word that comes from Beijing. True Lamaists together with Dalai Lama ran away to India. It is there that they propagate the true doctrine. However, the Tibetan Lamas think that only those who understand nothing in religion may think so. Lamaism is an ancient well-structured system and if the leader is out of the country it has nothing to do with religion. It is mere politics.
40 years of Dalai Lama cannot deny a thousand-years history of Lkhasa. His portraits are in every temple. Although now and then they are taken away by Chinese authorities, they appear again and again. During the Chinese “exploration” of Tibet about 17000 Lamas were done away with, yet they could not be subdued.
Panchen Lama who is living in Lkhasa is too powerless to take governmental decisions. The former one died recently. As his death followed the conflict with Chinese government, Tibetans think he was poisoned. However, this is politics that is impossible to understand in a couple of days in Tibet.
Which is the “truest” Tibet – Chinese or Indian – is the question that is more frequent for foreign followers of Buddhism and Lamaism. Many people think that the doctrine is preserved only in India because Dalai Lama is there. It may be true but in Chinese Tibet everything is the most…
First of all, it is Lkhasa with the royal palace. It is the oldest temple – the unique Potalla. The whole history of Tibet is presented in faces, pictures, statues and temples. Take also the outstanding Tibetan medicine. Tibetans themselves are people who remain strange and mysterious to us. For them happiness is so different from what we usually consider important…
Today the Chinese Tibet is a closed territory. In order to get there one has to apply for a special visa, which is issued by the government of China. In general tourists are usually allowed to visit only Lkhasa and its surroundings. We were lucky to visit a place, which is not frequented by the foreigners.
Visit to a tribe that practices the bon-po magic is the most unforgettable experience. Frankly speaking, there no people who practice it in the proper sense of the word, they just keep up some traditions. For example, they can kill a person whom they liked. A special poison for which there is no antidote is prepared. It can take effect in a minute as well as in a year. Usually an old man has a bit of poison under his nail and he drops it into a guest’s drink. It is said that when this person dies his spirit enters the body of the old man and stays in the house forever after the latter dies.
Bon-po is the oldest magic belief. However, there are almost no true followers left, even in Tibet itself. Those who could be regarded as magicians were took away to Germany during 1920-44. Their followers could not develop the magic art and gradually descended to the level of pure prisoners. We must admit, though, that they reached the perfection in this sphere.
Windows and doors of Tibetan houses are circled with a wide black stripe. According to the belief it defends home from the evil spirits. Near each house there is a pole with goat’s or yak’s skull hanging on it. This totemic sign also is a guardian of house and land. Pictures of guarding demons are hanging on the walls inside the house. They look ugly to the Europeans but Tibetans laugh: who will be afraid of the guardian who is good looking?
Evil, good and happiness are understood here in a way different from ours. Every person has the so-called windmill of happiness. The person rotates it whenever he goes. The number of turns equals the number of joys in life. If the windmill breaks down it is a bad sign. Tibetans who are philosophers in their hearts often have only a pair of shoes and a piece of bread for dinner. Still their eyes are full of joy and their hearts are full of love.
Tibetan wedding is very beautiful and exotic with a lot of obligatory rules and conventions. In the mountains several brothers may share a wife. This is a custom that seems really strange to us. This wife may prefer only one of them for a long time. Group sex is not possible. Woman chooses herself whom to spend a night with. Fertility is not controlled here, although Chinese government does not allow Tibetan families to have more than two children.
The way of burying the dead is also peculiar here. There are five types of burials. Only social outcast and criminals are buried in the European way. Tibetans think that the ground above the body prevents the soul from its further development and thus its reincarnation becomes impossible. Cremation is the most preferable. However, it is an expensive ritual – there is not enough combustible material in Tibet. Poor people’s bodies are usually thrown into the river. The most spiritual saints in Tibet are immured into the walls of temples. Special tombs are constructed in temples in their honor.
The most common burial is a so-called celestial one. Body is taken to a high mountain where its muscles and bones are crashed to pieces with the help of stones. The remains are then left to the mercy of griffins and eagles. Although the authorities are trying to ban this way of burial it remains the most common among the Tibetans.
Another mystery from Tibet. It turned out that the bones of saints become colored whereas those of ordinary people are usually either white or yellow. Japanese scientists have been trying to solve this mystery for many years but have not come to any results yet.
Tibetan medicine is very popular and effective. Nowadays there are no obstacles on the way to Tibet if you want to receive Tibetan medical treatment. There is a clinic of Tibetan medicine in Beijing where experts from Lkhasa come specially to help patients. However, it is better to visit Tibet for this purpose.
Tibetan doctors keep their traditions in secret and share them with none. Traditions are either inherited or passed from teacher to a student. Even Chinese people are not able to master the skills of Tibetan medicine, not to say about the Europeans.
Unfortunately, the so-called “experts” on Tibetan medicine are multiplying these days, which makes people distrust the true doctors. That is why experts from Tibet suggested opening a hospital in Vladivostok where doctors from Lkhasa will come for certain periods of time to cure the patients. Lets hope that this project will see the light in the nearest future.