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Part 1 The Dalai Lama
Read the following extracts from the Dalai Lama’s autobiography Freedom in Exile. How does the way the Dalai Lama presents himself here relate to his reputation as discussed in AA 100 Book 1, Chapter 7?
Dalai Lama describes himself as a ‘simple monk from Tibet. I am no one special’ (Reading 7.2 in Waterhouse, 2008, p.224). ‘No one had any idea that I might be anything other than an ordinary baby’ and ‘certainly my family had no idea that I would be proclaimed Dalai Lama’. We will be looking at the connection between the present-day Dalai Lama and his predecessors, as well as the reason why Tibetans regard him as a living Buddha.
The most important Lama for the Tibetan is the Dalai Lama who has the highest religious status of its kind, and as politics and religion is combined in the Tibetan society, the Dalai Lama is also head of state. According to Tibetan tradition, it is believed the Dalai Lamas has the ability to choose their next incarnation, and even leave symbols and directions for the Panchen Lama, who is responsible for leading the search party to find the successor.
Around the time when the present Dalai Lama was around three years old, the Government sent out a search party to look for the next incarnation of the previous Thirteenth Dalai Lama. One of the signs after the Thirteenth Dalai Lama had died, was that the head of his embalmed body had turned from facing south to north-east. Another sign was when Tibet’s Regent, a senior lama, went to Lhamoi Lhatso, a small oracle lake to seek visions to assist in the search and where he received clear visions of Tibetan letters and images. The method for identifying a reincarnated Lama is not specific. Different combination of divination is being used like interpreting dreams and omens, and consulting the Council of oracles. In the DVD-Video, (Searching for a Reincarnated Lama), we can see the Nechung Oracle’s medium be in a trance. This Buddhist ritual might in the western world be seen as both frightening and superstitious. However, this process is normal within Buddhist tradition and the way they consult the Chief Oracle on important matters and finding the Dalai Lamas.
The Tibetans believe Dalai Lama is a living Buddha as well as the religious figure of Bodhisattwas of compassion, whose qualities are wisdom, generosity and compassion. Free from anger, hatred and greed. Being a monk and teacher together with the combination of having the political role as the head of the Tibetan state, he has got the ‘reputation as a god-king.’ (Waterhouse, 2008, p. 211)
Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and has become a symbol for freedom. His gentle and charismatic way which have won him a large number of followers in the West. Among the Tibetans however, Dalai Lama’s words still remains law, and he can be both severe and strict about behaviour and beliefs.
The reputation of Dalai Lama in China is somehow very different. The Dalai Lama fled into exile in 1959 during a failed uprising against Chinese rule. He was granted asylum in Dharamsala in northern India which has become home to the Tibetan Government-in-exile.
The Chinese embassy (in Reading 7.5), points out that ‘the local government of Tibet headed by the Dalai representing feudal serfdom under theocracy and has long since been replaced by the democratic administration by the Tibetan people themselves’ and ‘the destiny and future can no longer be decided by the Dalai Lama and his clique’. (Reading 7.5 in Waterhouse, 2008, p. 228). Tibet is still under Chinese rule and the majority of people in Lhasa are Chinese, ruled by a Chinese selected Panchen Lama which of whom the Dalai Lama does not recognize as it is by tradition the Dalai Lama who is responsible for the search of the new Panchen Lama and vice versa.
‘This fact has great implications when it comes to searching for the successor of a particular person’, and ‘if I die before Tibetans regain their freedom, they might not have use for a Dalai Lama anymore’, the Dalai Lama points out.
‘Dalai Lama-Searching for a reincarnated Lama’, (2008) AA100 DVD Video
Waterhouse, H. (2008) ‘The Dalai Lama’ in Moohan, E. (ed.), Reputations (AA100 Book 1), Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp. 197-229.
Part 2 the Faber Book of Beasts
Compare the following poems: ‘The Mouse’s Nest’ by John Clare and ‘To a Mouse, On Turning her up in her Nest, With the plough, November, 1785’ by Robert Burns, from The Faber Book of Beasts. In no more than 600 words compare and contrast how these poems depict mice.
In John Clare’s poem we are having the speaker describing in detail an incident on a farm, probably a childhood memory. The speaker finds a ball of grass among the hay and wishfully hopes to find a bird, but instead of a bird, a mouse comes out with all her babies hanging at her teats. Shocked and disgusted by the look of something ‘so odd and so grotesque’ (line 7) he runs away.
In Burns’s poem on the other hand the speaker is clearly a man, a farmer, who accidently destroys a mouse’s nest when ploughing the field. Feeling guilty, he assures the mouse that he will not try to kill it. The whole poem is written as a speech, as the farmer is speaking to the mouse, whilst John Clare’s, is more of a written observation from a memory.
John Clare has written his poem in a non-conventional sonnet form. There are 14 lines within this single stanza poem and grouped into 7 rhyming couplets. The lines in this single stanza are of similar length, and with an end rhyme scheme of AABBCCDDEEFFGG, which gives the effect of strong sense of order and regularity. The rhythm is influenced hugely by the use of iambic pentameter with the combination of stressed and unstressed syllables.
Although there is no formal punctuation it feels easy to read, as the phrases finish at the end of the line.
Robert Burns’s is a vernacular poem, and in contrast to Clare’s single stanza, contains 8 stanzas. Each stanza has 6 lines, of which line 4 and 6 are deliberately shorter. The rhyme scheme is AAABAB, and mainly iambic pentameter. The rhythm remains the same throughout the poem. Burns has used a combination of exclamation marks, commas, periods, colons and semicolon.
The language in Clare’s poem is largely simple and colloquial with the use of some dialect words like ‘proged’, ‘agen’ and ‘oer’. The imagery is simple and familiar, described merely as an observation. After the mouse has returned to her nest, everything goes back to normal, describing the surroundings and finishing off with; ‘And broad old cesspools glittered in the sun’ (line 14).
In contrast to Clare, Burns has used lots of different literary devices when writing his poem. ‘o, what a panic’s in thy breastie!’ (line 1-2), the sentence finishes with an apostrophe, a common device used in poetry when a poet addresses something that is not able to respond.
The repeated B sound in ‘bickering brattle’ (line 4) is an example of alliteration to describe the angry mouse’s chattering’.
Burn does not only personify the mouse, he also personifies the ‘pattle’ as a ‘murd’ring pattle’ (line 6), though we know, the speaker would be the one to murder the mouse, not the ‘pattle’.
The speaker draws a connection between himself and the mouse through analogy when he says; ‘At me, thy poor, earth-born companion, An’ fellow-mortal!’ (line 11-12) Meaning that they both were born on earth, and are both mortal, so they should get along.
The farmer speaks to the mouse as if it were a human and compares his troubles to those of the mouse’s. ‘But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane’ (line 37, stanza 8) Pointing out that; the mouse is not alone of wanting to plan for the future, but sometimes things do not go according to plan, whether you are a mouse or man.
‘Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi me!’ (line 43, stanza 8) Saying the mouse is better off, because the mouse lives in the present moment, whilst himself, is looking back at the past with regret, and into the future with fear.
In short, both poems are depicting farm life and mice, however, Burns decided to romanticise his encounter with the mouse, whilst Clare on the other hand, wanted to show that nature is what it is, and nothing more, subsequently he saw no reason to humanise his mouse like Burns has done with his mousie.
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