Palden Gyatso on Tibet and Overcoming Anger

As Heidi Minx, founder of Built on Respect wrote previously for Care2:

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

(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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Will Rogers
Will Rogers7 years ago

Very interesting, it made me do a little more research on the Dalai Lama and Tibet. He left in 1959. At that time not only did Tibet not have even 1 university, it also did appear to have any schools at all! They had no hospitals! A complete theocracy. They had 200 religious holidays a year where it was compulsory  to attend. Though as buddhists they had no death penalty,they  would beat a person to within an inch of their lives and then cast them out onto the freezing hillsides to die. Amputation was a popular form of punishment, and also punitive taxation. Eg. Paying money to secure your release from prison. Tibet was also one of the last places to outlaw slavery. 1959. After the Dalai Lama left! Essentially Tibetans who were not part of the ruling theocracy were slaves with the better off ones as serfs. I have always wondered about this grinning man who seems to be saying wise words that under scrutiny are just empty words and platitudes. 

Danuta W.
Danuta W7 years ago

Thanks for the useful information.

Krista Israel
Krista Israel7 years ago

People like him give hope to everybody in this messed up world.

heather g.
heather g7 years ago

We can hardly claim to have evolved very much as humans when there is still so much cruelty and war around us in the world.

Richard O.
Richard Ozanne7 years ago

I visited Lhasa Tibet in the newly opened territory in 1985 and heard of many issues. Our religious believers should have a special place here, this I believe wholeheartedly after visiting Tibet, visiting the Potala Palace and overlooking the entire terrain below as from the top -having a very noble and old Tibetan Lama greet me for blessings, as well as top official of the Tibetan Autonomous region as guide of this spacial and holy realm of the Palace before the era of tourism. Tibet is meant for PEACE.

Alexandra Rodda
Alexandra R7 years ago

Free Tibet!

carlee trent
carlee trent7 years ago


Judy Molland
Judy Molland7 years ago

Wonderful commentary, Cori Ann. Thank you so much for writing this.

Zee Kallah
.7 years ago

Anger covers fear.

Ego covers fear.

I think we need a safe world.

Salome Waters
Salome Waters7 years ago

In my sect of Buddhism, we strive to welcome challenges, eager to learn from them, and find the benefits on the other end. Each new challenge or group of challenges, are shouts of joy.

This leader has met great challenges. He must be very happy.