Siddharth Varadarajan

Journalist | Writer | Analyst

Conversation with a Professor of Philosophy, Lhasa (via Amit Sengupta of Hard News)

The latest issue of Hard News has some excellent coverage of the pre-Olympics situation in China and Tibet. Amit Sengupta was part of a delegation of Indian and Italian reporters who were taken on a ‘conducted tour’ of Lhasa and Linzi by the Chinese authorities. His reportage shows you can ’embed’ a journalist but you can’t cage his mind. Read his full dispatch here but I can’t resist reproducing this little gem:

Conversation with a Professor of Philosophy

At the brand new and sprawling Lhasa University at Lhasa, yet another lavish gift of the government of China to the Tibetan people, neither teachers nor students are choosing to speak on the March uprising. As if nothing happened. That few know English helps to sustain this organised censorship. Indeed, those who know English, they too start speak in riddles, so omnipresent is the fear of the State. Excerpts from a conversation with a philosophy teacher while climbing down the stairs of the fourth floor of the university.

What do you teach?
Philosophy. Buddhism. There are big Indian influences on Tibetan Buddhism.

Do you teach Marxism? Mao’s Red Book?
Yes, we teach Buddhism, western philosophy, Marxism. It’s part of the course content in the campus.

How are students and teachers reconciling the synthesis of Buddhism and Marxism? Is there a synthesis?
They are separate subjects, taught according to the curriculum.

Was the university affected by the March protests in Lhasa? Was it shut? Did the teachers and students participate?
I can’t pre-empt this question. I can’t consider this question for a suitable answer.

(Long silence)

It’s all in the mind isn’t it?
Yes, it’s all in the mind. Everything is in the mind. If you are able to control the mind, then there is inner peace. That is what Buddhism teaches.

Do you have inner peace?
It’s in the mind.

What if the mind hides realities from its own self?
The mind has to be in control.

What if the mind knows and pretends not to know?(Smiles) The mind knows everything.

Does your mind know everything?
Some things.

Is your mind hiding something? Does the mind know what it is blocking?
The mind can hide if it wants to hide a certain thing.

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This entry was posted on August 6, 2008 by in China.

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