top of page


Here is some clues to understand more about this documentary film:

Tibetan Buddhism

When Buddhism was introduced from India to Tibet early in the Seventh Century A.D.,
Buddhism linked itself with Bon,the local religion, and became its own version of
Buddhism--Tibetan Buddhism. It is often called Vajirayana Buddhism, and with Hinayana
and Mahayana Buddhism,is considered one of the three main branches of Buddhism.
                                                     Tibetans' lifestyle and cultural identity are largely based
                                                     on Tibetan Buddhism. Once, nearly every village and
​                                                     town throughout Tibet featured a monastery or temple.
                                                     The bigger monasteries resembled monastic cities.
                                                     Commonly, Tibetan people displayed their Buddhist

                                                     altars and images in their homes.  Tibetan people lived

                                                     in a unique society based on Tibetan Buddhism for

                                                     more than 1,200 years. Prior to the 1950s, and for

more than 350 years, the peoplehad lived harmoniously under the spiritual and temporal

leadership of the succession of Dalai Lamas, revered as the incarnation of
the Buddha of compassion (Avalokiteshvara). However, since the Chinese Communist
government invaded Tibet in the 1950s, the Tibetan Buddhist society and culture have
been devastated.


                                                     The Chinese Communist government has occupied
                                                     Tibet since 1959, claiming Tibet as a part of China.
​                                                     However, according to the Legal Enquiry Committee of
                                                     the International Commission of Jurists, that claim is
​                                                     not based on any historical evidence.  On the contrary,
                                                     records show Tibet has not been a part of China, but
                                                      rather, autonomous.  Between 1959 and 1965 the
​                                                      United Nations General Assembly discussed the

                                                     question of Tibet on numerous occasions. Three

                                                     resolutions were passed by the General Assembly

                                                     condemning China's violation of human rights in Tibet
                                                      and calling upon China to respect those rights,
                                                      including Tibet's right to self determination. However,
                                                     the Chinese government 
has ignored such resolutions
                                                      by the United Nations. Besides,the government has
                                                      consistently refused conversations with the Dalai
                                                      Lama until now though he has proposed various 
                                                       ideas to solve the Tibet issue.  According to many
non-governmental organizations, such as Amnesty International, Refugee International,
the Scientific Buddhist Association, or the International Campaign for Tibet; 1.2 million
Tibetans-one-fifth Tibet's population-died as a result of China's policy. Many more have
languished in prisons and labor camps as political prisoners. More than 6,000 Buddhist
monasteries, temples, and other historic buildings inside Tibet were demolished over
the past decades, especially during the Cultural Revolution. Since 1959, when the Dalai
Lama left Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, a total of some 100,000 Tibetans have escaped
over the Himalayas on foot to settle in refugee camps in India and Nepal. Many Tibetan
refugees, including many unaccompanied minors, fell prey to Chinese and Nepalese
border guards or to the elements. Not only has frostbite been common in the Himalayas,
but so have arrest, rape,and torture. Yet, according to the 1996 World Refugee Survey by the U.S. Committee for Refugees, during 1995, 2,076 Tibetan refugees reached Katmandu, the Nepalese capital.

Present Condition

                                                      According to the 1996 World Refugee Survey, about

                                                      130,000 Tibetan refugees live in India and Nepal.

                                                      Everywhere, refugees have encountered suspicion,

                                                      commercialism, and the harsh demands of economic

                                                      survival. Refugees have built several hundred

                                                      monasteries and nunneries outside Tibet, which help

                                                      maintain Tibetan cultural identity. The Tibetans strive

                                                      courageously to persevere in maintaining their heritage

                                                      and way of life. However, their ancient way of life is still                                                           facing danger. Despite the successes of a few, most monasteries are barely surviving. They lack  the consistent support from their communities that they had in Tibet,because the refugees in exile struggle with subsistence and can hardly afford to support the monasteries. According to Refugees International, the 1990 average annual income of a Tibetan in India was approximately US$400. The situation has been similar in Nepal.

Third Generation

Despite these tough conditions, many of the first and second generation of Tibetan

refugees,including the Dalai Lama himself, consistently revere Tibet as mother earth and

homeland. Inspired by the Buddhist teaching, they continue to use nonviolent means in

their struggle for recovering their homeland. However, many members of the third

generation of exiles, born and raised in India or Nepal, hardly share the older generations'

concern of maintaining the Tibetan identity. They can hardly see a specific vision for their

future as Tibetan exiles. Many tend to lose patience with the nonviolent struggle; thus

they simply express their nationalistic and patriotic feelings, consisting primary of strong

hatred for the Chinese Communist government.  They have hardly nourished their

emotional and religious attachment to their lost homeland and its traditional culture of

Tibetan Buddhism as did the 1st and 2nd generations. At the same time, consumer-

culture attracts them. These grandchildren of exiles tend to assimilate, losing their unique

cultural identity as Tibetans in daily life. Thus Tibetan Buddhism seems to increasingly
                                                     give way to American-derived consumer culture in their
​                                                      new host countries. P. Christian
Kilinger, the author of
                                                      Tibetan Nationalism (1992), describes a result of such

                                                       enculturation: a prototypical Tibetan exile is "mid-
                                                       twenties and raised in the large Tibetan
                                                       community . .He has completed his secondary
                                                       education, one which
emphasized fluency in English
​                                                      . . . . He likes popular Western music, and is a fan of

                                                      Rambo and Chuck Norris videos." A young refugee of
                                                       the third generation, born and
raised in India, recently
                                                       said, "We don't know where our future lies!" His
                                                       irritated and
frustrated words express the main
                                                       challenge| for Tibetan identity, and articulate the
subject of this documentary: How are members of this third generation expressing their

i                                                      identities? How do they struggle to come to terms with ancient traditions, exile

                                                       communities, host cultures, and the global market?

bottom of page