Richard Gere And The Dali Lama Essay
, Research Paper
During the seventh century, Buddhism was introduced into Tibet. Tibet was controlled
by the Chinese empire from the 1600?s until 1912, when most of it gained its
independence. Half a century ago, in 1949, Chinese troops invaded Tibet, once again
ending it’s isolation beyond the Himalayan mountains. The Chinese communists rejected
Tibet’s unique brand of Buddhism and forbade the practicing of any such religion. At
first, the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual and temporal leader, was allowed to serve as a
domestic authority there. Later, however, in the midst of the invasion, the Dalai Lama
and over 100,000 Tibetans were forced to flee into exile in India. After 1959, things only
got worse. Over one million Tibetans, nearly one-fifth of the country’s population, died
as a result of China’s new policies. Many more were thrown into prisons and labor
camps; and thousands of temples and other historic buildings were destroyed . In the
years after, Tibet’s remarkable culture, and its inhabitants, have been persecuted and the
Tibetans have struggled to get back their freedom and keep their culture intact.
As Tibet?s fight for independence continued, people around the world became
aware of the situation. Upon hearing of the devastating events that took place, more and
more people wanted to help out in any way possible. . There have been several
Hollywood stars who have supported Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism. They include Goldie
Hawn, Harrison Ford, Barbara Streisand, Meg Ryan, and Robert Thurman. One man in
particular has, time and time again, showed his dedication to supporting Tibet; his name
is Richard Gere.
Gere was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1950, and was raised by his
parents Homer and Dolores on a farm in Syracuse. He was a very normal child and later
in life found himself to be very successful in the acting world. During his mid twenties,
Gere began to study Zen Buddhism, and became very interested in it; it inspired him. He
felt that the religion that he was brought up in, Christianity, was not reliable, and had
little to do with Christ. He used Buddhism as an escape into another world. He began to
see Buddhism as a dreamers world; one filled with selflessness. After meeting the Dalai
Lama in person, he realized that it was not a dream – it was actually attainable. He
decided to use His Holiness as his example that he would strive to follow. Gere was also
drawn to Tibet itself, and saw it as a place that was very old and very wise – unlike the
young and corrupt United States. Although he did not see Tibet as a perfect world, he did
recognize it as a place of compassion and open-minded people. He was devastated at
what had happened to the land and its people. He felt that the universe is filled with
suffering people, and our ?little selves? are nothing in comparison. All of our energy
should be put towards helping others; sacrifice is a big part of the religion. By helping
others he felt that he could also make himself feel better.
?It hurts my heart that these gentle people have been the object of abuse. I
meditate for the freeing of Tibet and therefore the freeing of mankind,? Gere said.
For a long time, Gere was very secretive about his interest in this. It was not
something that he openly shared or wanted the press or public to find out. Around 1985,
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, asked Gere if there was anything that he could possibly do
to help with the Tibet situations. It was at this time that he began to openly speak about it
in public, and became a spokesperson for Tibet and the Buddhist movement. He felt it a
sense of responsibility to use his position to help in any way possible. This was also a
way for him to, in a way, save himself, as well as the Tibetans – his way of purifying
himself. Both him and his wife, Carey Lowell, are very committed to Buddhism. Since
his decision to go public, Gere has used his popularity to promote various projects to help
?I had no interest in being public about that part of my life for a long time,? said
Gere, ?I was quite protective about it. It was really at the request of my teachers,
specifically the Dalai Lama, that I did what I could as a Westerner to help. I had access to
the media and it was my responsibility to use it an effective and generous way.?
Gere began to speak about Tibet and the Buddhist movement and started to realize
that people were genuinely interested in the situation. This made him excited to talk
about it and pass his knowledge onto anyone willing to listen.
Gere feels that his unique ability can be used to make an impact. He used his
acting skills in a movie about Tibet to help raise awareness about the situation. In the
movie, the Chinese are looked down upon for their treatment of the Tibetans.
Another one of the most well known things that Gere did for this cause was the
establishment of the Gere Foundation and the foundation of the Tibet House in New
York. The Gere Foundation is a non-profit organization that contributes to the Dalai
Lama and the Tibetan community-in-exile. It aids in the survival of the Tibetans by
helping with education and health among many other things.
At the Oscars, Gere made a speech about the harsh treatment of the Tibetans by
the Chinese before a television audience of over one billion people. He attacked China?s
leader, Deng Xiaoping, and his country.
?If something miraculous, really kind of movie-like could happen here where we
could all of send love and truth and kind of sanity to Deng Xiaoping right now in
Beijing– that he will take his troops and take the Chinese away from Tibet and allow
these people to live as free independent people again.?
Gere?s comments were loudly applauded, which showed the support that Tibet
was receiving. Soon after he was invited to China and Tibet, by the Chinese film
ministry, where he was actually treated nicely. Since then he has not been allowed back
into the country. Gere was satisfied with his visit, however, because he felt that his words
were much stronger because he was talking directly to Tibetans – not just the refugees.
Recently, Gere hosted a three day event in New York for the Dalai Lama. His
Holiness spoke to over forty thousand people in Central Park about leading a life of
kindness and happiness. Many of the people that attended, like Gere, were looking for
some sort of insight from the speech. This event also brought more attention to the Tibet
situation, and afterwards many people tried to find ways to help.
Gere has done many other things in support of Tibet. Among these included his
support of a Tibetan hunger strike in Geneva, where he accused China of a ?50-year
genocide?. He also attended the events in Dharamsala, India to mark the fortieth
anniversary of the failed 1959 Tibetan uprising against the Chinese Rule. Also, he has
met with the Dalai Lama many times and is a personal friend of his.
As exemplified, Richard Gere is very committed to the Tibetan movement and is
involved in it in many ways. He is a very sincere and generous man who has bettered
himself by his good deeds. It is because of men like him that Tibet and its refugees are
gaining support around the globe. Hopefully, because of his efforts, many other people
will join in the fight for Tibet?s independence. Gere also signifies the compassion and
love of the Buddhist religion. Both him and the Tibetans are able to fight back against
the Chinese without violence. It demonstrates the wisdom and peacefulness of this