Palden Gyatso is a Tibetan monk who suffered 33 years in prison in Tibet. He attributes the work of human rights organizations for his release — everyday people using their voices to support him. Today, there are still hundreds of political prisoners in prisons in Tibet.
At 80, Palden is full of life, wit and wisdom. He campaigns tirelessly for political prisoners, human rights and awareness for Tibet. A life-long Buddhist, Palden is a gifted speaker on meditation. He says that only through meditation was he able to survive his sentences, and have compassion for his oppressors.
Care2 worked with Built on Respect and the Robin Reed Trust to plan and sponsor Palden’s multi-city speaking tour and on Tuesday night, I was fortunate enough to get the chance to hear Palden speak in San Francisco. I was completely blown away by the power of his story and his incredible spirit.
Most of us cannot imagine the trauma and anguish that would come from spending more than three decades being isolated, tortured and abused, and to hear the story from someone who has lived through those experiences is incredibly inspiring. Palden’s recounting of losing his teeth after being tortured with an electric cattle prod is heartbreaking and terrible, but the way that he shared it, with bright smiles, made me feel hopeful and determined.
Palden’s answer to a question about how he deals with the anger of his imprisonment and the oppression of his country made the biggest impact on me. He spoke about anger being a very destructive force and the need to let it go before it engulfs you. As an example, he said that if a couple holds on to anger, it will eventually tear the family apart. Tibet has seen enough turmoil and needs to be freed and healed with love and patience.
In honor of Palden’s compassion and dedication to educating people about the injustices inflicted upon Tibet, Care2 presented him with a Care2 Compassion Impact Award.
I left the presentation feeling inspired by the strength of Palden and his convictions and determined to be as focused and, well, determined in my own life and work.
I encourage everyone to attend one of these amazing events and to check back for updated dates:
Sunday, June 19th 5-7pm – Tibet House US
22 West 15th Street
New York, NY 10011
Thursday, June 23rd 8-9:30pm – Jivamukti Yoga
841 Broadway #2
New York, NY 10003-4704
Saturday, June 25th 1:30-3:00pm – Jacques Marchais Museum
338 Lighthouse Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10306-1217