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Korean monk pleads Dalai Lama to return to Tibet

Ven. Dongbong, chief monk of Daegaksa Temple, poses at his temple in Seoul, on June 12. He wrote a letter to Dalai Lama in March, marking the 60th anniversary of the Tibetan spiritual leader's exile. / Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

By Park Jin-hai

With the news that the aged Dalai Lama is being treated for various illnesses, revered Korean Buddhist monk urged the Tibetan spiritual leader to end his 60 years of life in exile and go back to his old Tibetan home under the rule of China.

In his letter to Dalai Lama, Ven. Dongbong, of Daegaksa Temple, home to the Korean independent fighters under the tyranny of Japanese colonial rule, wrote: "Relinquish all attachment to life as the Buddha taught and please go back to your homeland Tibet… To live among Tibetans is the way you should walk to the end of your life, even though it may seem humbling to you. Rather than speaking in front of millions while in exile, this would be much more beautiful and sublime."

"Time is running against him. If he dies outside his old Tibet home, not being able to reach his people and hold their hands, his death will be the death of a great religious leader and nothing more. It will not bring any difference in Tibetan independence history," said the Buddhist monk during a recent interview with The Korea Times at Daegaksa Temple in Seoul.

The 66-year-old chief monk of the temple became a Buddhist monk in 1975. After a visit to Tanzania in 2004, he stayed in the African country for four and a half years. He raised funds to help its people fight Malaria and donated the 35-acres of land he bought with his own money to build an agriculture school. The Borigaram Agriculture Technical College opened in Tanzania in 2016.

"The Dalai Lama should risk his own life to end his long exile and force his way to his home. Even if he is unsuccessful, having been deterred by the Chinese government, or dies while trying, his act of trying to return to his people will become the greatest catalyst for Tibet's independence. Without it, Tibetans will not be able to gain the explosive energy it needs as a breakthrough for their prolonged independence movement," the monk said.

The respected Tibetan leader, 83, the 14th Dalai Lama, has been in India's Dharamsala in exile for the past 60 years, since Tibet's anti-China uprising failed in 1959. China incorporated Tibet in 1950 and during China's Great Leap Forward campaign, between 200,000 and 1,000,000 Tibetans died. Some 6,000 monasteries were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.

The 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso has been leading peacefully as a refugee and has devoted his life to mobilizing international support for greater Tibetan autonomy or independence. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

Although he gives great Buddhist teachings through public talks, conferences, and discussions with his followers around the world, Ven. Dongbong said that is something that other Buddhist monks can do. "Buddhists can only exist after there is a nation with its people. Without a country and its people, what is the use of Buddha's great teachings? The great spiritual leader should return, get near to his people and embrace their tormented hearts," he stressed.

This year, sixty years after his exile, Tibetans are concerned about the post-Dalai Lama world. Gyatso has also expressed fear that the Chinese government would manipulate any reincarnation selection in order to choose a Pro-Beijing successor.

Referring to Ven. Yongseong ― the revered monk who established Daegaksa Temple in 1911 and scarified his life for Korea's independence movement ― Ven. Dongbong said Ven. Yongseong, too, could be remembered as a great man, because of his devotion to people. "If he just stayed within the temple and sought Buddhist principles and teachings alone, he would not have become the national hero that we remember now. It is through his noble deeds of sacrifice for the independence and for its people that made him a great man, surpassing the realm of a respected religious leader."

Ven. Dongbong in his letter to Dalai Lama wrote: "Perhaps before crossing the Tibetan border, an unexpected affliction may come. However, please set aside all attachments. As good as an omen, an affliction can also be your honor. Sacrifice your freedom for the Tibetan people. As far as Tibet is concerned, you are the heart and soul of Tibet. If you die for Tibet, Tibetans will memorialize you forever! When you sacrifice your life for Tibet, You will be as a lotus flower for your beloved people."

Below is the full text of Ven. Dongbong's letter to Dalai Lama;


To His Holiness, the Dalai Lama,
A Korean bhikku, Dongbong, respectfully offers this petition.

To Tenzin Gyatso, a venerable Tibetan saint,
Your Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama!
A young bhikku student, Dongbong, in Korea
offers this written petition while burning incense.

From the most beautiful land on Earth
A snowy country called the roof of the world.
You are the ruler of Tibet and a spiritual leader,
the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism, Tenzin Gyatso.
I am faithfully devoted to your great power,
your sharp and clear wisdom
and your endless compassion.

I reverently beseech his Holiness.
Now please cast aside all honor and disgrace.
Go back to your Tibetan homeland
so your body may be interred there.
Before becoming the Buddha's disciple,
and the 14th Dalai Lama,
red Tibetan blood flowed through your veins and still does.

Your Holiness the Dalai Lama!
You are not only a Tibetan but also
the ruler of Tibet who represents all Tibetans.
In 1959 you left Tibet to begin your life of exile.
Even if more than 6,000 temples are destroyed,
the 120,000 noble people should be remembered and honored.

Your Holiness the Dalai Lama!
Tenzin Gyatso, Dalai Lama,
Please go back to your home country.
Return to your homeland Tibet now.
Take your life in your hands and return to your country.
Please return to your homeland Tibet.

Your Holiness the Dalai Lama!
Thirty years ago in 1989
You received the Nobel Peace Prize.
And in 1994, both the Roosevelt Peace Prize,
and the World Security Peace Prize.
Now at the age of 83,
Your Holiness has lived longer than the Buddha.
Relinquish all attachment to life as the Buddha taught.
Please go back to your homeland Tibet.

Naturally, there may be fear.
However, it is better to return to Tibet
and live a simple life among Tibetans
than to live a brilliant life outside your homeland.
To live among Tibetans is the way you should walk
to the end of your life, even though it may seem humbling to you.
Rather than speaking in front of millions while in exile,
this would be much more beautiful and sublime.

Respected and compassionate is His Holiness the Dalai Lama!
Perhaps before crossing the Tibetan border,
an unexpected affliction may come.
However, please set aside all attachments.
As good as an omen, an affliction can also be your honor.
Sacrifice your freedom for the Tibetan people.

Tenzin Gyatso, a venerable Tibetan saint,
Your Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama!
We know your single-minded devotion to Tibet.
Your loyalty is to the Tibetan people
and the beautiful country of Tibet.
We know you will not abandon your country.
However, because you are exiled from Tibet,
your loyalty is just a disgrace.

As far as Tibet is concerned,
you are the heart and soul of Tibet.
If you die for Tibet,
Tibetans will memorialize you forever!
When you sacrifice your life for Tibet,
You will be as a lotus flower for your beloved people.

Ultimately, people around the world will remember
your mind of peace and non-violence forever.
Then all people of this world will adorn you with monks' robes
Don't be afraid. You have no need for worry.

Please return to your country with dignity.
No matter how small and insignificant a creature may be,
even little things return to the nest when they die.
They never forget their roots.
Tibet is your country, your home of eternal rest.

Oh King of Tibetan Buddhism! You are the supreme spiritual leader!
Your Highness the Dalai Lama, the King of Tibet!
Preaching the Buddhist path is important.
During your long exile,
You have preached the Four Noble Truths,
the Noble Eightfold Path, and the Law of Dependant Co-arising.

It is quite natural for you to teach such Buddhist truth.
Your Honorable Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama!
To return home is a decision you will never regret.
Please return your weary body to your Tibetan homeland,
upon the 60th anniversary of the Anti-China uprising.
I earnestly present this petition to Your Highness
from the bottom of my heart.


87 Yulgokno 10-gil
Seoul, South Korea
Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism
Daegak Temple
Abbot Dongbong



Ven. Dongbong, chief monk of Daegaksa Temple, poses at his temple in Seoul, on June 12. He wrote a letter to Dalai Lama in March, marking the 60th anniversary of the Tibetan spiritual leader's exile. / Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

By Park Jin-hai

With the news that the aged Dalai Lama is being treated for various illnesses, revered Korean Buddhist monk urged the Tibetan spiritual leader to end his 60 years of life in exile and go back to his old Tibetan home under the rule of China.

In his letter to Dalai Lama, Ven. Dongbong, of Daegaksa Temple, home to the Korean independent fighters under the tyranny of Japanese colonial rule, wrote: "Relinquish all attachment to life as the Buddha taught and please go back to your homeland Tibet… To live among Tibetans is the way you should walk to the end of your life, even though it may seem humbling to you. Rather than speaking in front of millions while in exile, this would be much more beautiful and sublime."

"Time is running against him. If he dies outside his old Tibet home, not being able to reach his people and hold their hands, his death will be the death of a great religious leader and nothing more. It will not bring any difference in Tibetan independence history," said the Buddhist monk during a recent interview with The Korea Times at Daegaksa Temple in Seoul.

The 66-year-old chief monk of the temple became a Buddhist monk in 1975. After a visit to Tanzania in 2004, he stayed in the African country for four and a half years. He raised funds to help its people fight Malaria and donated the 35-acres of land he bought with his own money to build an agriculture school. The Borigaram Agriculture Technical College opened in Tanzania in 2016.

"The Dalai Lama should risk his own life to end his long exile and force his way to his home. Even if he is unsuccessful, having been deterred by the Chinese government, or dies while trying, his act of trying to return to his people will become the greatest catalyst for Tibet's independence. Without it, Tibetans will not be able to gain the explosive energy it needs as a breakthrough for their prolonged independence movement," the monk said.

The respected Tibetan leader, 83, the 14th Dalai Lama, has been in India's Dharamsala in exile for the past 60 years, since Tibet's anti-China uprising failed in 1959. China incorporated Tibet in 1950 and during China's Great Leap Forward campaign, between 200,000 and 1,000,000 Tibetans died. Some 6,000 monasteries were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.

The 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso has been leading peacefully as a refugee and has devoted his life to mobilizing international support for greater Tibetan autonomy or independence. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

Although he gives great Buddhist teachings through public talks, conferences, and discussions with his followers around the world, Ven. Dongbong said that is something that other Buddhist monks can do. "Buddhists can only exist after there is a nation with its people. Without a country and its people, what is the use of Buddha's great teachings? The great spiritual leader should return, get near to his people and embrace their tormented hearts," he stressed.

This year, sixty years after his exile, Tibetans are concerned about the post-Dalai Lama world. Gyatso has also expressed fear that the Chinese government would manipulate any reincarnation selection in order to choose a Pro-Beijing successor.

Referring to Ven. Yongseong ― the revered monk who established Daegaksa Temple in 1911 and scarified his life for Korea's independence movement ― Ven. Dongbong said Ven. Yongseong, too, could be remembered as a great man, because of his devotion to people. "If he just stayed within the temple and sought Buddhist principles and teachings alone, he would not have become the national hero that we remember now. It is through his noble deeds of sacrifice for the independence and for its people that made him a great man, surpassing the realm of a respected religious leader."

Ven. Dongbong in his letter to Dalai Lama wrote: "Perhaps before crossing the Tibetan border, an unexpected affliction may come. However, please set aside all attachments. As good as an omen, an affliction can also be your honor. Sacrifice your freedom for the Tibetan people. As far as Tibet is concerned, you are the heart and soul of Tibet. If you die for Tibet, Tibetans will memorialize you forever! When you sacrifice your life for Tibet, You will be as a lotus flower for your beloved people."

Below is the full text of Ven. Dongbong's letter to Dalai Lama;


To His Holiness, the Dalai Lama,
A Korean bhikku, Dongbong, respectfully offers this petition.

To Tenzin Gyatso, a venerable Tibetan saint,
Your Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama!
A young bhikku student, Dongbong, in Korea
offers this written petition while burning incense.

From the most beautiful land on Earth
A snowy country called the roof of the world.
You are the ruler of Tibet and a spiritual leader,
the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism, Tenzin Gyatso.
I am faithfully devoted to your great power,
your sharp and clear wisdom
and your endless compassion.

I reverently beseech his Holiness.
Now please cast aside all honor and disgrace.
Go back to your Tibetan homeland
so your body may be interred there.
Before becoming the Buddha's disciple,
and the 14th Dalai Lama,
red Tibetan blood flowed through your veins and still does.

Your Holiness the Dalai Lama!
You are not only a Tibetan but also
the ruler of Tibet who represents all Tibetans.
In 1959 you left Tibet to begin your life of exile.
Even if more than 6,000 temples are destroyed,
the 120,000 noble people should be remembered and honored.

Your Holiness the Dalai Lama!
Tenzin Gyatso, Dalai Lama,
Please go back to your home country.
Return to your homeland Tibet now.
Take your life in your hands and return to your country.
Please return to your homeland Tibet.

Your Holiness the Dalai Lama!
Thirty years ago in 1989
You received the Nobel Peace Prize.
And in 1994, both the Roosevelt Peace Prize,
and the World Security Peace Prize.
Now at the age of 83,
Your Holiness has lived longer than the Buddha.
Relinquish all attachment to life as the Buddha taught.
Please go back to your homeland Tibet.

Naturally, there may be fear.
However, it is better to return to Tibet
and live a simple life among Tibetans
than to live a brilliant life outside your homeland.
To live among Tibetans is the way you should walk
to the end of your life, even though it may seem humbling to you.
Rather than speaking in front of millions while in exile,
this would be much more beautiful and sublime.

Respected and compassionate is His Holiness the Dalai Lama!
Perhaps before crossing the Tibetan border,
an unexpected affliction may come.
However, please set aside all attachments.
As good as an omen, an affliction can also be your honor.
Sacrifice your freedom for the Tibetan people.

Tenzin Gyatso, a venerable Tibetan saint,
Your Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama!
We know your single-minded devotion to Tibet.
Your loyalty is to the Tibetan people
and the beautiful country of Tibet.
We know you will not abandon your country.
However, because you are exiled from Tibet,
your loyalty is just a disgrace.

As far as Tibet is concerned,
you are the heart and soul of Tibet.
If you die for Tibet,
Tibetans will memorialize you forever!
When you sacrifice your life for Tibet,
You will be as a lotus flower for your beloved people.

Ultimately, people around the world will remember
your mind of peace and non-violence forever.
Then all people of this world will adorn you with monks' robes
Don't be afraid. You have no need for worry.

Please return to your country with dignity.
No matter how small and insignificant a creature may be,
even little things return to the nest when they die.
They never forget their roots.
Tibet is your country, your home of eternal rest.

Oh King of Tibetan Buddhism! You are the supreme spiritual leader!
Your Highness the Dalai Lama, the King of Tibet!
Preaching the Buddhist path is important.
During your long exile,
You have preached the Four Noble Truths,
the Noble Eightfold Path, and the Law of Dependant Co-arising.

It is quite natural for you to teach such Buddhist truth.
Your Honorable Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama!
To return home is a decision you will never regret.
Please return your weary body to your Tibetan homeland,
upon the 60th anniversary of the Anti-China uprising.
I earnestly present this petition to Your Highness
from the bottom of my heart.


87 Yulgokno 10-gil
Seoul, South Korea
Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism
Daegak Temple
Abbot Dongbong



Park Jin-hai jinhai@koreatimes.co.kr


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