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Buddhadharma : Summer 2009
73 summer 2 00 9 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly In March 2008, ethnic Tibetan unrest and Chinese state suppression rocked the Tibetan plateau. As graphic images of conflict and distress circu- lated, the world was sharply reminded of the troubled relations among Tibet- ans, Han Chinese, and the Chinese gov- ernment since the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) advance in 1950. Two key elements in Tibetan protests have been the prominent participation of Buddhist monks and nuns, and calls for the return of the Dalai Lama—or at least the free- dom to express devotion to him. Under the shadow of the current situation, it’s all too easy to oversim- plify Tibetan-Chinese relations. The timely release of two new books calls our attention to this pitfall. Buddhism Between Tibet and China offers histori- cal perspectives spanning more than a thousand years, while On the Cultural Revolution in Tibet: The Nyemo Incident of 1969 investigates a brief but pivotal period fraught with tension and conflict. Together, these books provide valuable resources for understanding contempo- rary Tibetan-Chinese relations. In his introduction to Buddhism Between Tibet and China, editor Mat- thew T. Kapstein highlights the “sheer tenacity of the Tibet-China relationship” in which Buddhism often served as a bridge. Even before our modern modes of transnational communication and travel, explains Kapstein, the Tibetan Bud- dhist clergy’s “unique and heady blend of rational and charismatic authority” enjoyed broad appeal across Central and East Asia, linking diverse ethnic groups such as the Han Chinese, Mongol, Naxi, and Manchu. However, Chinese Buddhist practices never reached simi- lar levels of popularity among Tibetans. The essays in this collection focus on the presence of Tibetan Buddhism in border areas and deep in the heart of China. Sometimes Tibetan Buddhism medi- ated successfully between China and Tibet, other times not. In his contribution, NANCY LIN is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Cali- fornia, Berkeley. She is currently writing her dissertation on Tibetan adaptations of the Buddha’s lives in literature and art. Reviews on The CulTural reVoluTIon In TIBeT The nyemo Incident of 1969 By melvyn C. Goldstein, Ben Jiao, and Tanzen lhundrup university of California Press, 2009 264 pages; $24.95 (hardcover) on The CulTural reVoluTIon In TIBeT The nyemo Incident of 1969 on The CulTural reVoluTIon In TIBeT The nyemo Incident of 1969 the not-so-siMPle “tibet Question” BuddhIsm BeTWeen TIBeT and ChIna edited by matthew T. Kapstein Wisdom Publications, 2009 480 pages; $34.95 (paperback) reviewed by nancy lin