Heinrich Harrer · 293 pages
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“We have a saying in Tibet: If a problem can be solved there is no use worrying about it. If it can't be solved, worrying will do no good.”
“All our dreams begin in youth.”
“Wherever I live, I shall feel homesick for Tibet. I often think I can still hear the cries of wild geese and cranes and the beating of their wings as they fly over Lhasa in the clear, cold moonlight. My heartfelt wish is that my story may create some understanding for a people whose will to live in peace and freedom has won so little sympathy from an indifferent world.”
“In the time between the two wars, a British colonial officer said that with the invention of the airplane the world has no secrets left. However, he said, there is one last mystery. There is a large country on the Roof of the World, where strange things happen. There are monks who have the ability to separate mind from body, shamans and oracles who make government decisions, and a God-King who lives in a skyscraper-like palace in the Forbidden City of Llhasa.”
“Tibet has not yet been infested by the worst disease of modern life, the everlasting rush. No one overworks here. Officials have an easy life. They turn up at the office late in the morning and leave for their homes early in the afternoon. If an official has guests or any other reason for not coming, he just sends a servant to a colleague and asks him to officiate for him.
Women know nothing about equal rights and are quite happy as they are. They spend hours making up their faces, restringing their pearl necklaces, choosing new material for dresses, and thinking how to outshine Mrs. So-and-so at the next party. They do not have to bother about housekeeping, which is all done by the servants. But to show that she is mistress the lady of the house always carries a large bunch of keys around with her. In Lhasa every trifling object is locked up and double-locked.
Then there is mah-jongg. At one time this game was a universal passion. People were simply fascinated by it and played it day and night, forgetting everything else—official duties, housekeeping, the family. The stakes were often very high and everyone played—even the servants, who sometimes contrived to lose in a few hours what they had taken years to save. Finally the government found it too much of a good thing. They forbade the game, bought up all the mah-jongg sets, and condemned secret offenders to heavy fines and hard labor. And they brought it off! I would never have believed it, but though everyone moaned and hankered to play again, they respected the prohibition. After mah-jongg had been stopped, it became gradually evident how everything else had been neglected during the epidemic. On Saturdays—the day of rest—people now played chess or halma, or occupied themselves harmlessly with word games and puzzles.”
“There were only three names on the map of the region we had brought with us, but we now filled in more than two hundred.”
“There are times when visible poverty has its advantages.”
“Rich or poor, all come full of devotion and with no inner misgivings to lay their offerings before the gods and to pray for their blessing. Is there any people so uniformly attached to their religion and so obedient to it in their daily life? I have always envied the Tibetans their simple faith, for all my life I have been a seeker. Though I learned, while in Asia, the way to meditate, the final answer to the riddle of life has not been vouchsafed to me. But I have at least learned to contemplate the events of life with tranquility and not let myself be flung to and fro by circumstances in a sea of doubt.”
“The country through which we had been travelling for days has an original beauty. Wide plains were diversified by stretches of hilly country with low passes. We often had to wade through swift running ice-cold brooks. It has long since we had seen a glacier, but as we were approaching the tasam at Barka, a chain of glaciers gleaming in the sunshine came into view. The landscape was dominated by the 25,000-foot peak of Gurla Mandhata; less striking, but far more famous, was the sacred Mount Kailash, 3,000 feet lower, which stands in majestic isolation apart from the Himalayan range.”
“One of the best characteristics of the Tibetan people is their complete tolerance of other creeds. Their monastic theocracy has never sought the conversion of infidels.”
“I lacked the advice and guidance of experienced counsellors and so wasted many years before I realised that one must not pursue several aims at the same time.”
“But we had no intention of becoming shopkeepers or merely earning money. We needed work that would at the same time procure us satisfaction. And more than anything, we desired to make ourselves useful”
“Tibetans are not famed for their perseverance. Full of enthusiasm at the start, and ready for anything new, their interest flags before long. For this reason I kept losing pupils and replacing them, which was not very satisfactory for me. The children of good families whom I taught were without exception intelligent and wide awake, and were not inferior to our children in comprehension. In the Indian schools the Tibetan pupils are ranked for intelligence with Europeans. One must remember that they have to learn the language of their teachers. In spite of that handicap, they are often at the head of the class. There was a boy from Lhasa at St. Joseph's College, at Darjeeling, who was not only the best scholar in the school, but also champion in all the games and sports.”
“The name Kyirong means “the village of happiness,” and it really deserves the name. I shall never cease thinking of this place with yearning, and if I can choose where to pass the evening of my life, it will be in Kyirong. There I would build myself a house of red cedar wood and have one of the rushing mountain streams running through my garden, in which every kind of fruit would grow, for though its altitude is over 9,000 feet, Kyirong lies on the twenty-eighth parallel. When we arrived in January the temperature was just below freezing it seldom falls below -10 degrees Centigrade. The seasons correspond to the Alps, but the vegetation is subtropical. Once can go skiing the whole year round, and in the summer there is a row of 20,000-footers to climb.”
“They were nice, friendly people, and they invited us to share their fire and drink a cup of rancid butter tea with them.”
“I have always envied the Tibetans their simple faith, for all my life I have been a seeker. Though I learned, while in Asia, the way to meditate, the final answer to the riddle of life has not been vouchsafed to me. But I have at least learned to contemplate the events of life with tranquillity and not let myself be flung to and fro by circumstances in a sea of doubt.”
“shall always remember the next day for one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had. As we marched forward we caught sight, after a while, of the gleaming golden towers of a monastery in the far distance. Above them, shining superbly in the morning sun, were tremendous walls of ice, and we gradually realised that we were looking at the giant trio Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Manaslu. As”
“It was inevitable that Red China would invade Tibet, and then there would be no place for us two friends of Tibetan independence.”
“I shall always remember the next day for one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had. As we marched forward we caught sight, after a while, of the gleaming golden towers of a monastery in the far distance. Above them, shining superbly in the morning sun, were tremendous walls of ice, and we gradually realised that we were looking at the giant trio Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Manaslu.”
“What has since happened in Tibet is hardly to be believed. More than 1.2 million Tibetans lost their lives and of about six thousand monasteries, temples, and shrines, 99 percent were either looted or totally destroyed. In”
“Decades of destruction, suppression, genocide, sterilization, and political indoctrination could not break the Tibetans’ will for freedom, or their deep-rooted religious beliefs. On”
“On October 7, 1950, the enemy attacked the Tibetan frontier in six places simultaneously.”
“Floating down the river, I could not keep my eyes off the Potala; I knew the Dalai Lama was on the roof looking at me through his telescope. On”
“We were told that the name Dalai Lama is not used in Tibet at all. It is a Mongolian expression meaning “Broad Ocean.” Normally the Dalai Lama is referred to as the “Gyalpo Rimpoche,” which means “Precious King.” His parents and brothers use another title in speaking of him. They call him “Kundün,” which simply means “Presence.” The”
“In the country where I'm traveling - Tibet - people believe if they walk long distances to holy places, it purifies the bad deeds they've committed. They believe the more difficult the journey, the greater the depth of purification.”
“Heinrich Harrer: That's the Olympic gold medal. Not important.
Pema Lhaki: This is another great difference between our civilization and yours. You admire the man who pushes his way to the top in any walk of life, while we admire the man who abandons his ego.”
“The absolute simplicity. That's what I love. When you're climbing your mind is clear and free from all confusions. You have focus. And suddenly the light becomes sharper, the sounds are richer and you're filled with the deep, powerful presence of life. I've only felt that one other time.”
“Thought is yours only. Nobody can alter or influence the use you mean to make of it.”
“So I found myself telling my own stories. It was strange: as I did it I realised how much we get shaped by our stories. It's like the stories of our lives make us the people we are. If someone had no stories, they wouldn't be human, wouldn't exist. And if my stories had been different I wouldn't be the person I am.”
“It is our diffidence about the afterlife that leads us to religion”
“Mister Geoffrey, my experiment shows that the dynamo and the bulb are both working properly," I said. "So why won't the radio play?"
"I don't know," he said. "Try connecting them here."
He was pointing toward a socket on the radio labeled "AC," and when I shoved the wires inside, the radio came to life. We shouted with excitement. As I pedaled the bicycle, I could hear the great Billy Kaunda playing his happy music on Radio Two, and that made Geoffrey start to dance.
"Keep pedaling," he said. "That's it, just keep pedaling."
"Hey, I want to dance, too."
"You'll have to wait your turn."
Without realizing it, I'd just discovered the difference between alternating and direct current. Of course, I wouldn't know what this meant until much later.
After a few minutes of pedaling this upside-down bike by hand, my arm grew tired and the radio slowly died. So I began thinking, "What can do the pedaling for us so Geoffrey and I can dance?”
“This volume probably contains more promises and less evidence per page than has any publication since the invention of printing,” the Nobel physicist Isidor Isaac Rabi wrote in his review of Dianetics for Scientific American.”
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