Tibetans in Exile
The series “Tibetans in Exile” is a collection of photographs showing the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in exile regions such as Nepal/Kathmandu; Ladakh and Dehradun in northern India as well as Bir and Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. And it will be continued….
In 1959 after the Chinese invasion and the national uprising, thousands of Tibetans had to flee their country to escape from persecution. Most refugees (around 90 000) live in Northern-and South India, Nepal has a Tibetan exile population of around 20 000 people, Bhutan 1000 and in Europe are living ca. 3000 Tibetans, most of them in Switzerland.
The photographer is fascinated by the strength of these people who, in spite of losing their homes and sometimes also their families, follow the path of faith and conviction and continue to live a fulfilled and deep life of spirituality and peaceful political resistance. In the project, the images draw attention to the beauty, the living force, the peaceful and respectful life and mindset of Tibetan Buddhists.
Globally considered the forced exile situation has one endowing side-effect: it spreads Tibetan Buddhism throughout the world. Of course now one has to be careful, that this deep and complex tradition does not get diluted and superficial. But also there is a chance that it develops and mingles with other structures of mind setting and cultures and therefore can benefit people largely through tough the world. Buddhism is not a dictum; it changes with the environment and with time. But always in its essence, wherever it is applied, it has the potential to free humans through eliminating suffering and the associated negative emotions.
When it is rightly adjusted the practices of Buddhism are encouraging the values of compassion, wisdom, non-discrimination, self-responsibility and unconditional love. To achieve this, the teachings provide a path and they remind us to be of benefit to others and to be aware of our universal responsibility. Therefore it is so important that this religion of exile has places where it can rekindle and flourish again. Places where this wonderful culture of compassion and wisdom can be restored and cultivated. Tibetan Buddhism is about freedom of the mind, a fluent mind without any stiffness and blockading concepts and consequently it is about freedom of all worldly bondages. Buddhist beliefs are no myths. They are very accessible and easy to understand and nobody should feel threatened by the fact that they are associated with a religion and the wide wisdom of it could be beneficial for the whole world.
Tibetan Buddhism also gains more and more interest in the west, where even scientists have found out that this tradition of meditating and cultivating compassion increases positive attitude, pro-social behavior and better health. Right after the maxime of Mahatma Gandhi: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” No sentence manages better to describe the essence of Buddhist practice.