This is a follow up to my introductory article about Tibet House US, which is located at 22 W 15th St, New York, NY 10011. In that article, I discussed how and why Tibet House was founded, as well as its value and relevance for secular Buddhists.
In this article, I would like to introduce a Tibet House publication titled, Man of Peace – The Illustrated Life Story of the Dalai Lama of Tibet, or ‘MOPeace’. This historical graphic novel was a major project that lasted six years. The original idea came from William Meyers and his late wife, Dr. Mary Meyers. The project was brough to completion under the guidance of co-authors Professor Emeritus Robert Thurman (President of Tibet House US), Jey Tsong Khapa (Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University), and Michael G. Burbank (Executive Director of MENLA, a nature resort and spiritual retreat center sponsored by Tibet House US).
|To purchase the book, please click here.
The Dalai Lama’s three commitments in life
The patron of Tibet House US (NY) and the protagonist of the graphic novel is H.H. the XIVth Dalai Lama. The story starts from the ﬁnal days of the great XIIIth Dalai Lama amidst World War II, and continues narrating the life events of the Great XIVth Dalai Lama until July 14, 2011 when His Holiness gave the Kalachakra initiation in Washington, DC to 8,000 people. The novel’s Epilogue illustrates His Holiness’ 80th birthday and states his view of the Three Main Commitments in Life: 1) expanding compassion in the world, 2) fusing the inner science monastic curriculum with a modern-day university curriculum, and 3) spreading Tibet’s Nonviolent culture across our war-torn planet.
In more detail, these three commitments are:
- As a human being, ﬁnding ways to promote human values such as compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self discipline. All human beings are the same; we all want to gain happiness and avoid suﬀering. Even those who do not believe in religion recognize the importance of human values as a source of happiness in their lives. His Holiness the Dalai Lama refers to these human values as secular ethics.
- As a religious practitioner, ﬁnding ways to promote religious harmony and understanding among the major religious traditions of the world. There are ideological and philosophical diﬀerences among religious traditions, but they all have the same potential to create good human beings. It is therefore important for all religious traditions to respect one another and recognize the value of each other’s respective tradition. One truth and one religion are relevant on an individual level. At the same time, religious traditions need to enter into a dialogue with the insights and understandings developed in science. For the community at large, several truths, several religions, and scientific knowledge are necessary.
- As a Tibetan holding the title of the Dalai Lama, who is fully trusted by Tibetan people both within and outside Tibet, the third commitment is to endeavor to preserve the Buddhist culture, to strive for Tibet’s cause and to assume the role of an independent spokesperson of Tibetan people living under oppression.
The historical graphic novel also highlights historical events that connect global power politics with the nonviolent, cultural view of the Tibetan Buddhist leaders, many of whom have since passed on. As a secular Buddhist, I feel the value of this graphic novel is to understand from its narration how those aforementioned Three Main Commitments went into critical decisions that His Holiness and his compatriots had to make with the knowledge that these decisions involved self-sacriﬁces for themselves, their people’s needs and their land and culture for the sake of world peace. How can you be an ordained monastic bound by the Bodhisattva vows and simultaneously survive deadly politics without calling for violence? Below are a few interesting illustrations from the ‘Man of Peace’ which show the self-sacrifice of the His Holiness and other Tibetan Buddhist leaders.
‘Man of Peace’ will be coming out in Tibetan, German, and Spanish versions, and we hope to fundraise for this. The hardcover version has a marvelous cover jacket designed by Alex Grey, founder and former Director of The New Museum, NYC, an iconic artist famous for his art of human molecular energies.
Tibetan master artist, Rabkar Wangchuk, volunteered at the very beginning of the project and helped ensure that the book reflects an authentic Tibetan cultural aesthetic. Steve Buccellato of Legendhaus studio, a well known Californian digital artist became the Creative Director for the MOPeace project. If you are a diehard fan of comic books like Marvel and DC Comics, you probably have seen Steve Buccellato’s incredible artwork. Ultimately, Steve helped Tibet House US to find and guide a team of seven graphic novel artists and digital painters, enhancing immensely the artistic quality of the book, and sped up the production of this amazing 300-page graphic novel. The novel also had a cartographer, Tsering Wangyal Shawa. Robert Beer, the world renowned Buddhist and Newari Tantric artist, created exquisite line drawings of Buddhist symbols for the novel.
A compelling book
Michael G. Burbank, who was mentioned as one of the co-authors of the project, recounted how, when he was on an airﬂight to India, a Tibetan woman caught sight of the ‘Man of Peace’ and asked to borrow it. She read the entire 300 pages during that ﬂight, and later told Michael that she was not a book reader and had trouble with her attention span, but she could not let go of the graphic novel. She was so grateful that it was available in this format. To capture the life story of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is extremely diﬃcult to capture in just words – this graphic novel has managed to capture the many layers and complex global events with which His Holiness was involved - and tell it in a way accessible to all.
This graphic novel is a labor of much love by many dedicated writers, artists, editors and publisher. We hope it will bring much light and love to you as a new collector and reader as well.
Robert ‘Bob’ Thurman says in the ‘Acknowledgements’:
In case any reader who has come to feel close to the Dalai Lama from following his adventures and being aware of the crisis in which he continues to stand and persevere wishes to express that closeness by calling upon him as a spiritual friend. I wish to close by sharing his personal mantra:
OM AH GURU VAJRADHARA MANJUSHRI VAGINDRA SUMATI SHASANADHARA SAMUDRA SHRIBHADRA SARVASIDDHI HUM PHAT
Which is his name in Sanskrit, and means “ OM Vajradhara, Manjushri, God of Speech, Oceanic Upholder of the Teaching of the Loving Minded One, Glorious Goodness – may all wishes be accomplished!
|To purchase the book, please click here.