cover image The Division of Heaven and Earth: On Tibet’s Peaceful Revolution

The Division of Heaven and Earth: On Tibet’s Peaceful Revolution

Shokdung, trans. from the Tibetan by Matthew Akester. Hurst, $19.95 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-84904-677-0

In this short book, written after the 2008 protests in Tibet, Shokdung (the pen name of Tibetan intellectual Tagyal) responds with “joy, sorrow, and fear” to the renewed activism among his people and offers them a primer on civil disobedience and “non-violent non-cooperation.” Controversial for his previous works challenging Tibetans’ deeply religious traditional culture, Shokdung writes that it was “truly gratifying to see the Tibetan people... standing up for freedom and equality, rights, democracy and religious freedom.” After exploring with lyrical precision the significance of what he calls “the peaceful revolution in the Year of the Earth Rat,” the Tibetan people’s suffering under Chinese governance, and his fears about the future, Shokdung briefly discusses Western political philosophy and concludes with an introduction to Mahatma Gandhi’s theory and practice of satyagraha, or truth-insistence (a form of nonviolent resistance), which Shokdung offers as a possible path forward. His writing, which draws on traditional Tibetan imagery and Mahayana concepts, is clear, graceful, and analytical in the style of classic Buddhist texts. First published in 2009, this book drew attention both in Tibet and in the West; its author was imprisoned in 2010 for almost six months. Shokdung’s lucid arguments and compelling appeal for peaceful political change will interest those following contemporary Tibet and the emergence of democratic movements worldwide. (Jan.)