NOTE ON THE SITUATION IN TIBET
Located in "the hidden heart of Asia," Tibet is home to one of the world's highest inhabited lands. With its sophisticated Vajrayana traditions and primary emphasis on compassion, Tibetan culture has been blessed with a spiritual expanse as vast as the windswept passes and mountains of its terrain.
Sequestered amid the arid elevations of the Greater Tibetan Plateau, Tibet's Buddhist culture flourished in an unusual isolation well into the 20th century, spawning an outpouring of spiritual practice and philosophy the West has discovered only recently. But Tibet's removal from neighboring conflicts came to an abrupt end when the Chinese Communists invaded in the 1950's.
Faced with the increasingly radicalized policies of the Chinese occupation, the Dalai Lama was forced to flee Tibet for India in 1959, making a political refugee of the leader of the Tibetan people. And so began a term of exile and occupation that continues for all Tibetans to this day.
The physical impact of China's policies in Tibet has been both incompletely documented and appalling: 1.2 million Tibetans have died as a result of the occupation. Over 6,000 monasteries have been destroyed, as a systematic influx of Chinese settlers has threatened to make Tibetans a minority on their own land. Meanwhile, most of Tibet's spiritual practices have been made forcibly illegal for decades.
While a growing segment of the world community has learned about and sympathized with the plight of Tibet in recent years, persecution there, both cultural and religious, still continues.