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April 2017

Dalai Lama’s Journey Provokes China, and Hints at His Heir

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At stake on this journey, scholars said, is the monumental question of who will emerge as the Dalai Lama’s successor — and whether that successor, typically a baby identified as the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, will live inside or outside China’s zone of influence.

By visiting Tawang, a Tibetan Buddhist stronghold that was the birthplace of a previous Dalai Lama, he is expertly needling Beijing, which maintains that this area should be part of China. He is also consolidating his sect’s deep roots among the population, potentially laying the groundwork for a reincarnation there.

“He is a wise Lama, and he is thinking far ahead, as he always has,” said Brahma Chellaney, an analyst at New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research. “He is not given to sentimental reasoning. There is nothing about his trip to Arunachal Pradesh that is sentimental in its nature.”

Tawang is home to the Monpa people, who practice Tibetan Buddhism and once paid tribute to rulers in Lhasa, 316 miles to the north. Though the town’s population is about 11,000, officials said they were expecting as many as 60,000 to gather for the Dalai Lama’s appearances at Tawang’s monastery this weekend.

“We have been preparing for the last two months,” said Lobsang Khum, secretary of the monastery. “Everybody wants to see him, get his blessings, touch his feet. For us, the Dalai Lama is more important than our lives.”

The most treasured lore among the Monpa surrounds Tsangyang Gyatso, who in 1682 became the sixth Dalai Lama. People here make pilgrimages to his childhood home, where a stone is displayed with a faint footprint said to be his, and speak longingly of the possibility that it could happen again.

“That is the dream of many people here, that the next Dalai Lama should be born in Tawang,” said Sang Phuntsok, Tawang’s deputy commissioner. Tsering Tashi, a local legislator, said that, as a layman, he had no business commenting, but in the end he could not restrain himself. “I wish that the reincarnation of the next Dalai Lama happens in Tawang,” he said. “That’s all I can say.”

The Dalai Lama has been enigmatic about how his successor will be chosen.

In the past, monks have turned to visions and oracles to lead them to a child conceived just as the previous Dalai Lama died. Having identified a child, they administer tests seeking to confirm that he is the reincarnated lama, such as asking him to pick out objects belonging to his predecessor.

But that method would leave Tibetan Buddhism without a leader for at least a year, allowing China to identify and promote its own candidate. The Dalai Lama has hinted that he may instead opt for a nontraditional selection process, selecting a child or an adult to succeed him while he is still alive.

Aging Tibetan Buddhist lamas have, in some cases, visited places where they would later be reincarnated as babies, and the Dalai Lama’s visits to Tawang and Mongolia seemed to fall into that pattern, said Robert J. Barnett, a historian of modern Tibet at Columbia University.

“This is a way of getting under the skin of the Chinese, of probing them, and reminding them that they have no control over where the next reincarnation occurs,” he said.

As the Dalai Lama’s arrival in Tawang grew closer this week, Chinese statements grew increasingly bellicose, a tactic that has succeeded in pressuring officials of many countries to snub the Tibetan leader.

On Wednesday, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said India had “obstinately arranged” the Dalai Lama’s visit, causing “serious damage” to bilateral ties. On Thursday, The Global Times, a state-run tabloid, suggested that China could retaliate by supporting the anti-Indian militancy in Kashmir.

“Can India afford the consequence?” it asked sarcastically. “With a G.D.P. several times higher than that of India, military capabilities that can reach the Indian Ocean and having good relations with India’s peripheral nations, coupled with the fact that India’s turbulent northern state borders China, will Beijing lose to New Delhi?”

Though India is typically wary of provoking China, several officials have been unusually pugnacious in their responses. Pema Khandu, the chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh, took the unusual step this week of stating that an independent Tibet, not China, is India’s true northern neighbor.

“Let me get this straight,” Mr. Khandu told journalists. “China has no business telling us what to do and what not to do because it is not our next-door neighbor.”

The Dalai Lama, for his part, has been characteristically jovial to the crowd of journalists trailing after him, expounding cheerily on subjects from quantum physics to global warming. He hardly needs to do more, Mr. Barnett said.

“He doesn’t have to do anything except exist and be his usual beaming self to embarrass the Chinese,” he said. “He will be right on the border, he will be a complete free person, he will be only meters away from Chinese territory, but they cannot do anything about it.”

The Dalai Lama also revisited his escape from Tibet in 1959, when he fled a Chinese military crackdown in Lhasa. Disguised, and with a small group of aides, he crossed the mountain passes to safety in Tawang.

He was reunited this week with Naren Chandra Das, 76, an Indian soldier who escorted him on the last three days. The two embraced before the cameras: the former soldier painfully thin, his eyes clouded by cataracts; the monk apple-cheeked and jovial.

“I became old, but he stays the same,” Mr. Das said. “He is a big man, the king of Tibet.”

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Joanne Kyger, Beat Generation Poet, Dies at 82

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In her “Night Palace,” from 2003, she wrote:

“The best thing about the past
is that it’s over”
When you die.
you wake up
from a dream
that’s your life.
Then you grow up
and get to be post -human
in a past that keeps happening
ahead of you

Brenda Knight wrote in “Women of the Beat Generation: The Writers, Artists and Muses at the Heart of a Revolution” (1996) that Ms. Kyger’s poetry “is exemplary of Buddhist consciousness in Beat writing, of a sensibility for which wisdom is the greatest beauty.”

Ms. Kyger’s poetry appeared in about 30 collections, drawing a devoted, though relatively small, following.

“She has been a secret to the larger, more dominant official verse culture worlds,” Ms. Waldman wrote in an email, “but already has a palpable underground reputation, and I am confident it will grow.”

She added: “She lived within the most interesting alternative communities of our time. She was Buddhist; she was an environmentalist. She lived her ethos daily, modestly, below the radar, and with great attention to the natural world and the magic of the cosmos.”

Joanne Elizabeth Kyger was born on Nov. 19, 1934, in Vallejo, Calif., to Jacob Kyger, a Navy captain, and the former Anne Katharine Lamont, who worked for the city of Santa Barbara’s coroner and police and fire departments.

When she was an infant, her family moved to China after her father was posted there for a time, but she was largely raised in Long Beach, Calif.

Her first published poem appeared in her elementary school literary magazine when she was 5. She shared the title of features editor of her high school newspaper with Leland Hickman, who later became a poet and publisher of Temblor magazine. After graduating she enrolled in the University of California, Santa Barbara, but left a few credits short of getting a degree in philosophy and literature.

By then she had been drawn to Zen Buddhism.

“My own interest in Zen came about because I had been studying Wittgenstein and Heidegger in Santa Barbara,” Ms. Kyger told an interviewer. “Their philosophy just comes to an end saying you just have to practice the study of nothing.”

Ms. Kyger moved to San Francisco in 1957 and soon became a student of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, the Japanese-born monk who helped popularized Zen Buddhism in the United States. She entered a world of consciousness-raising hallucinogenic drugs, meditation and Eastern religion communal living.

Ms. Kyger had earlier marriages to Jack Boyce, a painter, and, in 1960, to the poet Gary Snyder. They lived in Japan for four years and were divorced in 1965, after she had tired of playing wife and hostess to other Beat guests, Ms. Knight wrote.

Ms. Kyger and Mr. Guravich, an artist, poet and her closest survivor, had lived together since 1978 and were married in 2013.

While teaching occasionally at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., and the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute in Colorado, Ms. Kyger became associated with the West Coast School of writers that also included Richard Brautigan, Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer and Philip Whalen.

She published “The Tapestry and the Web,” the first of her collections of poetry and prose, when she returned from Japan.

In that book she re-imagines Penelope’s story in “The Odyssey,” casting doubt on the received image of her as the long-suffering wife who fends off male suitors while waiting patiently for Odysseus to return from his adventures. Kyger paints her as in control of her life and even suggests that she had been unfaithful to her husband.

I choose to think of her waiting for him concocting his adventures bringing the misfortunes to him— she must have had her hands full

In a critical essay, Matilde Martín González wrote, “Kyger’s practice consists of re-imagining a more fruitful account of the story for framing her own life and career in the early 1960s as a woman involved in all-male poetic circles, no matter how benevolent to her.”

Ms. Kyger’s last collection, “There You Are: Interviews, Journals, and Ephemera,” is to be published in September.

Her travels in Japan and India provided grist for her witty and well-received nonfiction work “Strange Big Moon: Japan and India Journals, 1960-1964” (1981). In one passage, she recalled meeting the 27-year-old Dalai Lama, “lounged on a velvet couch like a gawky adolescent in red robes.”

“And then Allen Ginsberg says to him how many hours do you meditate a day,” Ms. Kyger wrote, “and he says me? Why I never meditate, I don’t have to.”

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