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Buddhadharma : Spring 2006
buddhadharma| 89 |spring 2006 SEvEN YEarS iN TibET author DieS at 93 By Scott Armstrong heinrich Harrer, friend of the Dalai Lama and a champion of Tibetan cul- ture, passed away on January 7 at the age of 93. The Austrian-born mountaineer and author arrived in Tibet in January 1946, after hik- ing over the Himalayas from India, where he had escaped from a British internment camp. When he finally reached Lhasa, he became a tutor to the teenaged Dalai Lama, teaching him English and math- ematics. Harrer fled Tibet in 1951 when China invaded the country. Harrer’s classic book about his time in Tibet, Seven Years in Tibet, was published in 1953. His admiration of Tibetan culture led him to write other books, including Return to Tibet (1984) and Lost Lhasa (1992). In 1992, the Harrer Museum was opened in his hometown of Hüttenberg to highlight Tibetan culture. The Dalai Lama, who was reunited with Harrer in 1959 in India, opened the museum. Controversy dogged Harrer in his later years, as stories of past con- nections to the Nazi party surfaced just prior to the 1997 release of the film version of Seven Years in Tibet. He looked back at his Nazi membership as a mistake, calling it an “error,” and was not linked to any Nazi atrocities. Harrer will be remembered for his work for Tibet and its culture. Harrer spoke fluent Tibetan and had many friends in Lhasa. In 2002, he was given the Light of Truth award by Tibet’s government-in-exile in India. to 11 in Austin, Texas. Keith Kachtick, editor of Wisdom Pub lications’ second Buddhist fiction anthology, You Are Not Here, and the author of the 2003 novel Hungry Ghost, made the proposal for the Buddhist panel, which was selected from among 600 submis sions. Kachtick, Ira Sukrungru ang, Moira Crone, Kay Murphy, Rodger Kamenetz, and Kate Wheeler will discuss the “possi bilities and pitfalls of incorporat ing, illustrating, and exploring the tenets of Buddhism in the realm of [mainstream] literature.” Kachtick says his hope is that the discussion will make clear to pub lishers, editors, and other writers that “literature serving or address ing the pursuit of enlightenment can be both curative and commer cially viable.” ■ pema chöDrön and SYLvia Boor- Stein both turn seventy this July. Boorstein says, “I like to think that we were both born at an aus picious time.” (Could their mutual birthplace – New York – also be an auspicious place?) Spirit Rock will host a big birthday celebration for Boorstein; no word yet on Pema Chödrön’s plans. ■ A Birch-Bark manu- Script – one of the earliest Bud dhist texts known to exist – was recently acquired by the University of Washington Libraries from a private collector. The manuscript, believed to be from the first or sec ond century, is in the Gandhari language, a derivative of Sanskrit, and its style suggests that it comes from Gandhara, the vibrant Silk Route trade center that was signif icant in Buddhism’s spread from India to the rest of Asia. The man uscript is a teaching on abhi dharma, and in only a few weeks UW scholars deciphered nearly threequarters of the text. Accord ing to UW professor Collett Cox, the manuscript will help us to learn about “a stage of develop ment in the history of Buddhism of which, just a few years ago, we were completely ignorant.” ■ LinDa cuttS, abbess of the San Francisco Zen Center, and ruSa chiu led thirtytwo women (above) on an eighteen day trip to China last September to visit temples dedicated to Kwan Yin, the bodhisattva of compas sion. The group started in Shang hai and made its way through cities around Hangzhou Bay. One of the participants, Robin Scan lon, pointed out an auspicious correspondence between the num ber of women on the pilgrimage and the emanations of Kwan Yin – both thirtytwo. ■ In January, photographer aLiSon Wright traveled to Nepal to document a unique and heartwarming story about the Nepal Youth Opportu nity Foundation for O: The Oprah Magazine’s May issue. The NYOF runs a pigletselling program that helps rescue young Nepalese girls from forced labor. In Third World countries like Nepal, it is not uncommon for struggling families to bind their young (six or seven yearold) daughters into contract labor with households in other villages. Journalist Louisa Sidell, who is writing the O story, says, “Recruiters visit rural villages with cash and a labor contract in hand, offering to pay an annual sum of between $22 and $100 for the girls’ labor for one year. It’s a tempting incentive to a hungry vil lage family, especially in a strug gling country like Nepal, where the average annual income is under $200 per year.” In 2000, Olga Murray, a retired judge from Sausalito who was visiting Kath mandu, decided to intervene and came up with the idea of asking each father to accept a pig in exchange for keeping his daughter at home and in school. The pig is worth much more at the end of the year (especially if the pigs are bred) than the cash offered for the young girls’ labor. By fall 2005, the NYOF program had helped to release over 1,600 of an estimated 25,000 indentured girls in Nepal. For a donation of $100, the price of a piglet, you can rescue one girl. See www.nyof.org ■ kagYu Sukha chöLing (KSC), a Tibetan Buddhist Center in Ash land, Oregon, has acquired land to build a meditation center in the LIZAMATTHEWSLEFT:ALISONWRIGHT,RIGHT:LIZAMATTHEWSHEINRICH-HARRER-MUSEUM,A-9375HüTTENBERG,AUSTRIAALISONWRIGHTROBINSCANLION