Inspiring documentary portrays Tibetan life in exile both sacred and ordinary.

23 04 2015


TASHI JONG opens with a montage of archival photographs shot in Tibet and northern India, providing a brief historical context for the story of this refugee community. In 1958, the eighth Khamtrul Rinpoche, a renowned Buddhist teacher, fled from Kham in Eastern Tibet with a small group of followers to seek a haven in India. The following year, when tens of thousands of Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama, escaped from increasing Communist Chinese oppression, many more monks and lay followers joined Khamtrul Rinpoche in exile. This was the genesis of a community unique in the Tibetan diaspora because of their ability to stay together through hardship, hunger, and disease and to reconstruct, on foreign soil, the ancient fabric of their lives. It was Khamtrul Rinpoche’s vision to establish the community of TASHI JONG with KHAMPAGAR MONASTERY as a traditional Tibetan community for the preservation and perpetuation of Tibet’s endangered culture, sacred arts, and Buddhist heritage.

This inspiring documentary portrays how the vitality of the community’s faith and determination permeates all activities, sacred and ordinary. The penetrating photography takes us on an intimate journey through the daily life of this community of three hundred lay people and one hundred monks.We see lay people engaged in the traditional arts and crafts of carpet weaving and woodblock carving; a nun bending to sweep a courtyard while chanting prayers; an elderly woman walking down a footpath with a spinning prayer wheel in hand; and a master lay artist painting a sacred Buddhist scroll (thangka) with devotion and unbroken concentration. We visit the Tashi Jong school, where children are learning English to prepare them for the modern world and Tibetan to sustain their cultural identity, and a secluded yogi Togden (one who has attained realization) teaching a monk the ancient Tibetan medical art of pulse diagnoses and herb preparation. We enter the sacred prayer hall, where the young ninth Khamtrul Rinpoche (b.1980) sits on a high platform presiding over Buddhist prayers and rituals, and we join a truckload of community members who travel to a nearby Indian town to participate in the annual March 10th commemoration of Tibetan Uprising Day. The video culminates in a stunning visual feast of sacred lama dances that were first performed in Tibet more than 300 hundred years ago. Khamtrul Rinpoche carried the knowledge of these dances into exile, and they have been performed faithfully ever since. Dressed in elaborate costumes of silks and brocades, with some dancers wearing intricately carved and painted masks, the monks dance in highly stylized movements. Solemn chanting and rich tones of traditional temple instruments accompany the dancers, creating a meditation in sound and movement. This sacred ritual concludes with the community gathered in a large circle as the lamas pass each bowed head, bestowing the blessings of peace that have been gathered during the ritual. Against a backdrop of the snow-covered Himalayan mountains, the constant beat of drums extends these blessings to the people of Tibet and to all people everywhere. The atmosphere of this poetic documentary is endowed with a sense of harmony, compassion, and serenity. Tashi Jong seeks to reveal how the indomitable spirit of the Tibetan people remains unbroken after forty years of hardship in India and how, with faith, devotion, and courage, they have continued to preserve their ancient heritage as a living reality in exile. The narration, imbued with Buddhist teachings, is spoken by a Tibetan woman and is based on the thoughts and words of the spiritual teachers and lay people of the Tashi Jong community.
This was the genesis of a community unique in the Tibetan diaspora because of their ability to stay together through hardship, hunger, and disease and to reconstruct, on foreign soil, the ancient fabric of their lives.

After two film excursions to Tashi Jong Community in 1992 and 1994 at the invitation of then TJC president Choegyal Rinpoche, Barbara Green created the Tibetan Video Project as a project of the non-profit Four Corners Foundation in order to help preserve and educate about Tibet’s ancient heritage, unique culture, sacred arts, and Buddhist teachings. Later in 1998, with the encouragement and guidance of then Tashi Jong Community President Tsoknyi Rinpoche,TVP/FCF completed a 45 min award-winning documentary-TASHi JONG:A Traditional Tibetan Community in Exile. Director/Cinematographer:Barbara Green, Editor: Nathaniel Dorsky and Narrator: Dechen Bartso with Chanting by Khandro Thrinlay Choden, the film aired on PBS in USA and Canada, Korean Television and festivals in USA and Brazil.

In addition to filming for Tibetan organizations, Barbara serves on the boards of the non-profit organizations: Committee of 100 for Tibet and Bay Area Friends of Tibet. She has been a presenter at conferences and workshops on Tibetan culture and the principals Non-Violence. TASHI JONG and KHAMPAGAR MONASTERY:




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