His Holiness, the Dalai Lama: An Open Letter

Written by Harold McNeill on May 10th, 2012. Posted in Editorials


This photo provides a stark reminder of the challenges faced by Tibetans and how a few young Monks have sought to bring attention to the plight of their people.  The letter that follows encourages His Holiness the Dalai Lamas to return to Tibet to stand with his people as others have done when their people were being oppressed and brutalized.

“Tibetan culture, religion and identity face “extinction” and (the) residents of Tibet (are) living in ‘hell on earth’.”  A quote by the Dalai Lama made at the Dharmsala Conference, India, on March 11, 2009. (Reported by Emily Wax, Washington Post)

His Holiness, The Dalai Lama
May 11, 2012

Dear Holiness,

Re: Has the time come to go home and stand shoulder to shoulder with your people?

During your recent visit to Canada, I noted Prime Minister Harper warmly greeted you (photo left), but did so in a rather low key fashion. I suspect that was because he did not want to offend the Chinese Government as China has become an extremely important trading partner for all manner of Canadian resources, goods, and services. Your reception by other world leaders seems to follow the same general trend – respectful, but low key and not likely to influence China one way or the other regarding their harsh treatment of the people in Tibet.

I also note your status as a media darling has grown substantially in recent years and while you grant many interviews, those interviews must be closely scripted as I cannot remember hearing one hard question ever being asked of your Holiness. In a recent clip broadcast on a Canadian News Network station and in other interviews, the hosts were extremely deferential and never came close to asking a probing question. In this open letter, I will take a few lines to pose a few questions and make a few observations, some which beg for answers from your Holiness. I choose this medium because it is the only one available as I am unlikely to ever have the chance to speak with you personally.

After scanning one of your books, as well as several web-based articles by others, I personally think your return to Tibet is long overdue. You need to go home in order to better support your people on the front lines for, as you state further in the Washington Post article by Ms. Wax: “Even today, Tibetans in Tibet live in constant fear, and the Chinese authorities remain constantly suspicious of them…Tibetan people are regarded like criminals deserving to be put to death.” (Washington Post Link).

Losing the Tibetan culture would be a devastating loss to humankind, as the reflective nature of Buddhist spiritual teachings that have emanated from Tibet over the centuries, continues to play an important role in building a respectful and peaceful world. In that regard, as the world leader of the movement, you should play a much larger role.

While you have used strong words, as noted above, many think you are stuck with words and your celebrity status and that more is needed. Perhaps if you spent time standing shoulder to shoulder with your people, it would provide a wonderful example not only to your own people but also to the downtrodden around the world. I realize your jet setting lifestyle – meeting Heads of State and being interviewed by the world’s top reporters – must be very exciting, but really, does that not just feed the ego and not the soul? Does it really help the people of Tibet? I think not. As observed by the actions of others, the real work is done in the trenches.

Take a few minutes and reflect upon a few of the many men and women who choose to fight those battles on their home turf and at great personal expense. Nelson Mandela (photo, above right, in Robban Island Prison) spent twenty-five years rotting in that miserable South African hell-hole, before his quest for the freedom of his people became a reality. Mahatma Gandhi (photo of the statue, left) followed a similar path by remaining on the front lines while leading his people. While Mandela and Gandhi never shied away from the spotlight, they always did so from the front lines, side by side with their people.

In the United States, Martin Luther King, (photo below in US prison) paid the ultimate price as he worked to free his people from the oppression under which they lived. He was always on the front lines and many times was thrown in prison for his peaceful actions. Within the Christian tradition, Jesus was one well-known individual who gave his life for his people. Like you, Jesus is reported to have had a special advantage which I will briefly discuss near the end of this letter.

A more recent example of one person making a difference is that of Aung San Suu Kyi, (photo near the end of this letter) the Burmese activist who spent fifteen years under a house arrest ordered by the military dictatorship. Much of her work was done while confined to her home and by steadfastly clinging to her ideals as well as being faithful to her Buddhist underpinnings. Recently released, Aung San continues to play a major role in bringing about change in Burma  That young woman is an example of just one Buddhist whose footsteps you would do well to follow.  (November 2018: For whatever the reason, Aung San Suu Kyi was not able to continue advocating for her people: From peace icon to pariah. Do you suppose this is what happened to you, sir?)

Even among your own devoted monks, many have immolated themselves (photo below) in protest to the harsh treatment of your people and by China’s plan to pick the next Dalai Lama. I am not suggesting for a moment that you immolate yourself, but I think you should be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with your monks in leading your people to a better life. Should you be jailed, even for the remaining years of your life, you will have made a lasting testament to your beliefs that will live far beyond the earthly trappings that currently dress your office.

I know of no great military or world religious leader whoever won the battle for the hearts and minds of the people while living a life of affluence in the safety of the back lines, and, at the same time, becoming a prop in a photo op for world leaders and celebrities or as a set-piece in media interviews.

Around the world we have all heard of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who have fought and continue to fight for that elusive right we so often take for granted, the right to freedom.  Although the world is steadily becoming a more peaceful, thousands still live and die in abysmal conditions in which they have little hope for a better life for themselves or their children. Your Holiness is certainly not yet in a category with those brave souls even though you have a tremendous advantage over mere mortals.

As you have proclaimed to the world, you are the 14th incarnation of the Dalai Lama, after having first appeared in 1391 AD. After your death in your current incarnation, only a short period will elapse before you will again incarnate as the 15th. The process will repeat, I assume, ad infinitum.  From my point of view, this advantage leaves the Chinese Government stuck between the proverbial ‘rock and a hard place’ and both they and you know it. As good as the Chinese Government is at controlling their people, as well as domestic and international outcomes, I don’t think they have yet achieved any form of control over incarnations.

As with that mythical person Jesus (painting left) Mandela, Gandhi, King, Kyi (photo above) and hundreds of others over the centuries, you can just step forward and face down the oppressors of your people in the peaceful fashion of a Buddhist. Returning to Tibet would bring the full and undivided attention of the world to the plight of your people?

You now have enough standing in the world that the Chinese Government will be hard-pressed to find a means to effectively silence you. For that matter, why not take the fight directly to Beijing and the heartland of the oppressors? Perhaps on Tiananmen Square, you could stand squarely on the spot where that young Chinese dissident, Wang Weilin, (photo below) in a singular display of peaceful courage that is seldom equaled, faced down those tanks and an entire system of repression. That courageous young man will long be remembered by his people and by people around the world as a symbol of peaceful resistance far beyond anything you have yet to achieve.

When you take that stand, the Chinese Government will posture and push, but you will have placed them squarely in the middle of a public relations nightmare far greater than anything they could possibly imagine. It could very well provide the impetus needed to lessen their chokehold on your people and, who knows, perhaps may inspire a whole new generation of peaceful dissent within China and around the world as that which followed Gandhi in India and the others that have been mentioned.

That the Chinese Government will try to silence you is a given and they may even throw you in jail. They may surreptitiously try to have you killed, but what good would killing you do? It would only bring even more worldwide attention and, if you should die, it would simply postpone your fight until you incarnate to again pick up the challenge.  How can the Chinese Government or anyone for that matter, successfully quell the spirit of someone who is able to return again, and again and again? What could silence your message, however, is to have the Tibetan culture extinguished and a puppet Dalai Lama installed by the Chinese Government.

Perhaps you think my questions disrespectful, but believe me, I am not. You are the respected leader one of the world’s great belief systems which has much to offer that is sorely missing from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and similar traditions, traditions that have developed an underlying propensity for intolerance and violence, particularly as relates to each others world view.

You Holiness, you need to help your people, your homeland and yourself by taking up the challenge. Go home now before it is to late before the children in the photo below become a footnote in history and your legacy is forever lost. For you too then incarnate again and again into a world where your people have been lost would truly be living in eternal hell.

Come Home Your Holiness and Lead us to Safety and Peace.

Yours very truly,

Harold McNeill

If you think this message has some merit, please forward it to the Office of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. The following contact points are provided for your convenience:

Office Email: ohhdl@dalailama.com

Website Feedback:  webmaster@dalailama.com

Mailing address:
The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Thekchen Choeling
P.O. McLeod Ganj
Himachal Pradesh (H.P.) 176219

Link to HH Website  


The following information about His Holiness is copied from the Web:

The institution of the Dalai Lama has become, over the centuries, a central focus of Tibetan cultural identity; “a symbolic embodiment of the Tibetan national character.” Today, the Dalai Lama and the office of the Dalai Lama have become focal points in their struggle towards independence and, more urgently, cultural survival. The Dalai Lama is regarded as the principal incarnation of Chenrezig (referred to as Avalokiteshvara in India), the bodhisattva of compassion and patron deity of Tibet. In that role, the Dalai Lama has chosen to use peace and compassion in his treatment of his own people and his oppressors. In this sense, the Dalai Lama is the embodiment of an ideal of Tibetan values and a cornerstone of Tibetan identity and culture.

Verhaegen mentions the trans-polity influence that the Institution of the Dalai Lama has had historically in areas such as western China, Mongolia, Ladakh in addition to the other Himalayan Kingdoms:

The Dalai Lamas have also functioned as the principal spiritual guide to many Himalayan kingdoms bordering Tibet, as well as western China, Mongolia, and Ladakh. The literary works of the Dalai Lamas have, over the centuries, inspired more than fifty million people in these regions. Those writings, reflecting the fusion of Buddhist philosophy embodied in Tibetan Buddhism, have become one of the world’s great repositories of spiritual thought.  (Link at Dalai Lama)

Potala Palace in Lhasa home to His Holiness

Below, Celebrities Meet to Exchange World Views
in a well staged photo op


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  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

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    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

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    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

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