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Tibetan Monk Palden Gyatso’s Summer Speaking Tour

Tibetan Monk Palden Gyatso’s Summer Speaking Tour

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.

He has presented before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva and the Human Rights Forum in Oslo.  He is also the author of ‘Fire Under the Snow.’

Palden had a profound effect on my life — in fact, profound is an understatement: he has literally changed it.  Three years ago, on my first trip to India, I read a copy of Palden’s book.  I cried page by page, appalled that one person should suffer so much for their dedication to their country, teachers and religion — and nakedly aware of the atrocities one human can inflict on another.

I would frequently see Palden on the streets, and I would look at him silently in awe, cursing myself for not being able to speak with him in Tibetan. His book recounted hellacious experiences: starvation, numerous means of torture, witnessing executions and forced labor. I struggled to initiate a conversation.

Over the next three years, I was fortunate enough to be in his exiled hometown of Dharamsala, and soon, we became friends.  I’ve interviewed him on numerous occasions, but my fondest thoughts are of the afternoons we would spend having small tea parties in his house — talking through my friends who translated, and me speaking in broken beginner Tibetan.

It was Palden, his endurance of imprisonment, his brave escape to exile and his relentless testimony for human rights that led me to start my own NGO, Built on Respect.  He was the spark that fueled my relentless work to speak for the voiceless, the constant reminder that no matter what me or my friends and family experienced, it paled in comparison to his suffering.  He changed my life, and taught me compassion, skillful action and happiness.

Earlier this year, Palden asked me to coordinate a speaking tour for him in the US, and I’m humbled to say that today, he has arrived in the US for a four month visit.  Built on Respect has coordinated a series of speaking engagements for Palden, kindly assisted by Care2 and the Robin Reed Trust.  The tour is a combination of private and public events, including top socially conscious technology companies, cultural institutions and two unique teachings at San Quentin Prison hosted by the Insight Prison Project.

I highly encourage you to attend one of these amazing events, and to continue to check back for updated dates:

Monday, June 13th  7:15-9:15pm – Spirit Rock Meditation Center

5000 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard
Woodacre, CA 94973
(415) 488-0164

Sunday, June 19th 5-7pm – Tibet House US

22 West 15th Street, New York, NY 10011

(212) 807-0563

Thursday, June 23rd 8-9:30pm – Jivamukti Yoga

841 Broadway # 2
New York, NY 10003-4704
(212) 353-0214

Saturday, June 25th 1:30-3:00pm – Jacques Marchais Museum 

338 Lighthouse Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10306-1217
(718) 987-3500

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Photo credit: Built On Respect

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28 comments

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8:06PM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

Yeah, I hate to see people harming other people. People harming animals. I just wished there will be peace not hate but love one other and care for every children and animals in this world.

5:32AM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

I read Sorrow Mountain by Ani Pachen some years ago, and was moved (& very disturbed) by her incredible years of suffering and torture at the hands of the Chinese. Now, to think that Palden Gyatso and her could walk past one another, in peace and freedom, on the streets of Dharamsala, gives pause for hope.
And it does sound, Heidi, as if you have crossed paths with Gyatso in a very beautiful way. Thanks for the article, good luck with your Tibetan studies.

3:49AM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

Such an amazing person, as are so any Tibetans. So disillusioning that because Tibet has nothing commercial to offer, the big governments will do nothing against China to risk their economic cooperation. So self-serving.

2:59AM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

Thanks for sharing

12:29AM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

Quite a human being...

11:17AM PDT on Jun 11, 2011

Free Tibet!!!!

10:38AM PDT on Jun 11, 2011

Thanks a lot.

8:16AM PDT on Jun 11, 2011

I wish I could go to one of these events. I would love to hear him speak...

9:55PM PDT on Jun 10, 2011

Slave labour camps are an outrage everywhere and China and North Korea are still the main culprits.. this state of affairs is so wrong..

Enjoy your freedom Palden Gyatso..

8:29PM PDT on Jun 10, 2011

Today we attended two classes at San Quentin. It was amazing, the inmates were so happy to meet him. There was such amazing respectful, intelligent dialogue -- we are very grateful to Insight Prison Project for making this opportunity possible.

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