A Dying Breed
Tibetan Monks are a dying breed. There is no way around it. It is sad and it is unfair, but the reality of the situation is that they have been under the control of an occupation state who's interest lies far from that of the Tibetans. To put it bluntly, it may be another few decades before they are technically extinct.
Those were the thoughts going through my mind when I was watching these jovial monks go about their daily chores at the Tashilhunpo Monastery next to the city of Shigatse. I was trying to reconcile the images I had formed in mind when I was a boy with the reality I saw as an adult. As a kid, I had imagined coming here to see a thriving culture bustling with life and ancient wisdom. As I walked around the monastery and the surrounding town, the acute absence of life almost seemed to echo off the walls of hundreds of small, vacant buildings. There were certainly people around, but the people were disconnected from the purpose of the structures in some strange way so that you knew that time had passed the monastery by.
What would happen in another few decades? Would the last of the Tibetan Monks be replaced with Chinese actors for the sake of continuing the lucrative tourist industry? I think that in some way, that mockery would injure the essence of this once-sacred place beyond repair and the world would have lost yet another reason for being proud of its heritage.