Tibetan Buddhist Peace Garden in London

by Tom Turner @ 6:50 pm June 28, 2013 -- Filed under: Asian gardens and landscapes,Buddhist gardens and environmental ethics,Garden Design   

 Interesting that it is quite possible to do a good design which is also the wrong design. This is what I think happened in the case of Hamish Horsley’s 1999 design for the Tibetan Peace Garden beside the Imperial War Museum, as explained in the video. Part of the problem is the small scale and obscure location of the Peace Garden vis-a-vis the War Museum. Surely we all prefer peace to war and to not want to see peace tucked away in a convenient, if noisy, corner. I think the scale problem could still be resolved, and cheaply, by placing prayer flag high in the trees – to let them waft their prayers for peace to every corner of the globe.

14 Comments »

  1. Having just been bitten by a Tibetan Shih tzu cross dog (yes it must have been angry about something as it was barking at me…), I am finding it very difficult to feel peaceful! [ http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/eriklam/eriklam1012/eriklam101200027/8414066-mixed-breed-dog-tibetan-terrier-and-shih-tzu-isolated-on-a-white-background.jpg ] It doesn’t look like the sort of dog that would bite?

    Comment by Christine — June 29, 2013 @ 1:31 am

  2. Cute little bundle of cuddliness but, sadly, loving kindness has its limits. Have you considered an alternative response? http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3416/3545698597_03cacd67f5_z.jpg?zz=1

    Comment by Tom Turner — June 29, 2013 @ 3:30 am

  3. Yes it seems the debate on eating dogs is raging in Asia. [ http://www.rjkoehler.com/2012/01/20/do-you-still-want-to-eat-dogs-after-looking-at-these-photos/ ]

    But I am still for peace and loving kindness. It seems it was the dogs Tibetan temperament that made her attack me (the Shih tzu genes are affectionate to strangers). She has been breed to be a guard dog for Lamas, which translates to the family, so you can’t blame her for doing her job, even if she was overzealous in my regard.
    [ http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f0/National_Palace_Museum_RightSide_Lion.JPG/250px-National_Palace_Museum_RightSide_Lion.JPG ]

    Hopefully my forgiving understanding response will give me good Karma and an increase in the Christian virtues of meekness and charity!

    Comment by Christine — June 30, 2013 @ 2:51 am

  4. Well, if being bitten by dogs makes one more virtuous then one has to be in favour of it – but what might this might lead to? Taking mastifs to Sunday Schools to bite the children? Might cause further damage to church attendance.
    Please could you explain about ‘Lamas, which translates to the family’.

    Comment by Tom Turner — June 30, 2013 @ 4:28 am

  5. You have such a good sense of humour!

    Yes, basically Tibetan Spaniels were breed to be the guard dogs of Tibetan Llamas. [ http://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/2000/archives/2000/roadtests/dog_breeds/tibetan_spaniel ]
    So instead of guarding the Llama and the monastery, she guards the family and the house.

    Alert with strangers is an understatement! [
    http://tellingtonttouch.wordpress.com/2010/02/11/ttouch-prac-sandra-klein-interviews-venerable-gonsar-rinpoche-about-dogs-in-tibetan-monasteries/ ]

    This is a Buddhist question: How does one tell if the dog is a re-incarnated Llama or monk that sinned in a past life? Or is merely a dog dog?

    Would it make any difference in the dog’s reasons for biting you?

    Comment by Christine — July 1, 2013 @ 4:54 am

  6. Interesting. The Dalai Lama speaks of Tibet as though it had always been a peaceful country full of peace-loving people. I wish some part of the world WAS like this. But if you look at the design of the Potala in Lhasa it is immediately apparent that it was a fortress as well as a monastery – and people do not live in fortressess without good reason. A garden palace, or monastery garden, provides for a much pleasanter lifestyle. Indian Buddhist monasteries were planned as gardens. They were called sangharama [from sangha (community) and arama (garden). India had mighty fortresses and monasteries – but it did not have fortress-monasteries.
    Some Buddhists have knowledge of previous re-incarnations but, it seems, not all of them. Details of the Buddha’s previous incarnations are available and I think at least one of them was as a dog. At least 13 of the Dalai Lama’s former incarnations are also known.
    Very interesting about Tibetan dogs. Dogs are a big problem on the DWLS site. Everybody loves the dogs and the dogs love the planting we are doing. They like the shade and they love pulling the plants out of the ground. One can have too much love.

    Comment by Tom Turner — July 4, 2013 @ 5:56 am

  7. The story related on the UNESCO website of the monastery at Lhasa and the selection of the site of the Dragon Palace by Princess Wen Cheng and subsequent events in 823 where the Tibetan regime and the Tang Dynasty entered into an alliance do not on the face of it bode well for Tibet.

    “To commemorate this event a stone was erected outside the monastery, known as the Stone Tablet of Long- Term Unity.” Buddhism came to Tibet with Princess Wen Cheng when she entered into a political maarriage with Songtsen Gampo.[ http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/707 ]

    The conflict between Tibet and the Gurkas seems to be the start of the modern difficulties with China and the Dalai Lama. [ http://www.dalailama.com/biography/reincarnation ]

    And oh, it gets so complicated! [ http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?165029-Gurkha-group-to-raise-quot-guerrilla-force-quot-to-defend-against-any-Chinese-invasion ]

    So, yes, it is easy to understand the need for monastery alarm dogs to protect Llamas!

    Comment by Christine — July 10, 2013 @ 4:17 am

  8. Ownership of land is a really difficult concept. I heard a super lecture from an Israeli making the point that the Arabs have a perfect case to own the land of Israel – but that the Jews also have a perfect case. So its a problem!
    And if global warming proceeds on its geological course then large areas of the Earth could become uninhabitable and places like Greenland could become very habitable. Does this mean that the Greenlanders, like the Kuwaitis, are destined to ‘own’ the country and have the former residents of India working for them as near slaves? Or will an Indian princes marry a Prince of Greenland and claim ownership of the land? Or will might become right, as it has in Turkey (from a Greek point of view)?

    Comment by Tom Turner — July 12, 2013 @ 4:20 am

  9. It seems to me that the issue can only be sorted out in the same way that estate inheritances are dealt with. There are legitimate and illegitimate transfers of land both from a legal and a moral sense. If a perfect case exists on both sides then it seem a perfect case exists for a land sharing arrangement.

    In the situation of global warming. If the Greenlanders do well out of it – then it would seem other peoples would have to negotiate arrangements with them. One would hope that Greenlanders would be morally better people than to exact a form of slavery from other peoples.

    If a Prince and Princess marry from different countries it would seem that unless one was a Crown Princess and the other a Crown Prince, the country of the Crown Prince or Princess would retain all of its current rights exclusively regardless of the nationality of the person marrying the Prince or Princess.

    If one was a Crown Prince and the other a Crown Princess – then the question seems a little more complicated. A United Kingdom might result?

    If might doesn’t necessarily become right. One then needs to look to just war theory to resolve the moral question of ‘right’ in the use of ‘might’.

    Comment by Christine — July 15, 2013 @ 1:40 am

  10. I see ‘good’ and ‘bad’ human behaviour in Darwinian terms. They are both survival strategies – and much though I would like to believe in individual karma and damnation, I can’t do it. So we need to assume that Greenlanders are a mix of good and bad, like the rest of us. This fits well with a ‘sharing’ strategy and as a people famed for their enthusiasm for compromise I think the UK parliament could offer to act as arbitrators. I feel sure this would give imigrants a better deal than either a Genghis Khan style conquest or Arabian style ‘modern slavery’ [= keeping the migrant workers in sweaty dorms if they are male and as servants (inc ‘bedroom duties’) if they are female. I once read about the curious fact that the Arab traders imported African girls for centuries without them having left any apparent genetic footprint.What happened? Were they sent back to Africa?

    Comment by Tom Turner — July 15, 2013 @ 7:05 am

  11. Under Islamic laws, slavery is explicitly permitted.[145] As Saudi Sheikh Saleh Al-Fawzan, a member of the Senior Council of Clerics had said in 2003, those who argue that slavery is abolished are “ignorant, not scholars. They are merely writers. Whoever says such things is an infidel.” [146] Muhammad himself was a slaver. He not only owned many male [147][148] and female [149] slaves, but he also sold, captured, and raped [150] his slaves. Even his wives owned slaves. [ http://themuslimissue.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/the-arab-slave-trade-and-200-million-non-muslim-slaves-of-all-skin-colors/ ]

    Comment by Christine — July 17, 2013 @ 3:39 am

  12. If bones could be chilled, this would chill my bones to freezing point. I have not done any research but wonder if it is true. One has to be even more wary of what appears on websites than of what appears in books.
    From an Atlantic perspective one gets the impression that slavery was a wicked arrangement primarily between European countries and the Americas – and the British, with their love of breast-beating, often write as though it was almost their invention. Wiki has useful articles on the abolition of slavery and on the history of slavery. The best I can say for my own country is that it was at least as prominent in abolition as in organisation of the trade.

    Comment by Tom Turner — July 17, 2013 @ 6:05 am

  13. Yes. The history of slavery and its continued existence in modern times is indeed a difficult subject. My research suggests that indigenous peoples in South America are possibly still in danger of being enslaved, and have been in the recent past.

    So it is an issue that the global community needs to keep on fighting for.

    Yes. Fortuneately Britian is equally known for its participation in abolishing slavery as it is for its participation in the slave trade. And sometimes it seems as if Britian and America were the only ones doing it or having ever done it.

    Perhaps the continued breast-beating and a joint partnership with the US on the issue could help lift the profile of the issue both historically and contemporaneously. Obama could surely help give this issue a profile in Africa where it still may be occurring. (ie child soldiers)

    If slavery did exist in Tibet, prior to the Dalai Lama leaving, it would be better for all Tibetans if there was honesty and openness on the topic. It could assist the world community to continue to eradicate slavery in all its forms.

    Comment by Christine — July 18, 2013 @ 3:44 am

  14. The migrant labour system in the Gulf states is uncomfortably close to slavery. It puzzles me why the migrants do not rise up against their masters. But I also wonder, IF they did not have a committment to liberal values, if the ‘western powers’ could have kept colonial control over these troublesome states. The compromise seems to be that the west supplies the medieval rulers of these states with the necessary firepower and political cover to effect the oppression and exploitation they no longer felt able to do themselves. Gibbon remarked that a primary cause of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was that Romans were no longer willing to shed their own blood for the good of the Empire. They employed mercenaries for the task, much as the west lets the sheiks to it. OK: call me a cynic!

    Comment by Tom Turner — July 18, 2013 @ 6:31 am

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