Before the Chinese occupation, Tibet was Shangri-la, some say. A remote and pristine place home to a gentle people of superior moral character. In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge, how a pretty myth threatens the cause of a free Tibet. Also, the tale of Alexandra David-Neel, the woman who opened Tibet to the West in 1924.
Robert Thurman teaches Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University. He tells Steve Paulson that Tibet has both spiritual and ecological significance to the rest of the world. A champion of Tibetan culture, Thurman believes that the Chinese colonization of Tibet is doomed to fail.SEGMENT 2:
Barbara Erickson spent three months in Tibet at the invitation of the Chinese government. She tells Judith Strasser that what the Chinese call the "peaceful liberation" of Tibet in 1959, was to the Tibetans simply an invasion, followed by attempts to stamp out their culture. Erickson chronicles her trip in "Tibet: Abode of the Gods, Pearl of the Motherland." Also, Donald Lopez, author of "Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West" tells Judith Strasser why Western fantasies of Tibet as Shangri-La or a Buddhist heaven-on- earth deprive the country of its ability to take effective political action on real-world issues like the Chinese abuse of human rights.SEGMENT 3:
Barbara Foster tells Jim Fleming about Alexandra David- Neel - who penetrated Tibet in the 1920s disguised as a Buddhist pilgrim, and launched the Western fascination with Tibetan Buddhism. Foster is co-author with Michael Foster of "The Secret Lives of Alexandra David Neel."Cassette copies are available at 1-800-747-7444. Ask for program number 98-10-25-C.
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