Tibet Treasures

Tubrig Dorje and his family love Ashland. He has a prosperous business, Tibet Treasures, located at 291 East Main St. His wife, Sonam Drolma, helps tend the store, and the family practices Vajrayana Buddhism at Tashi Choling in the Colestin Valley. His daughters Urgyen, 15, and Tsering, 17, attend Ashland High School. His son Dorje, 12, was recognized as a tulku or reincarnated lama and is being educated in a Buddhist monastery in Southern India by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche.

While Tubrig feels safe and content with his life in Ashland, he is anxious for his friends and relatives in Tibet. Before the recent uprisings in Lhasa in March, people's lives in Tibet had been fairly stable. Now there is mounting anxiety as the rebellion has spread to even the most remote parts of the country. The suppression of news from Tibet by the Chinese government only heightens Tubrig's worries.

For Tubrig, the recent uprising in Tibet triggered memories of his own escape from the Land of Snows in 1959. His nomad family had been in the capital city of Lhasa on pilgrimage from their home region of Kham in Eastern Tibet when the 14th Dalai Lama fled the city on March 17, 1959. Soon Tubrig Dorje's own family joined the flood of other Tibetans in exodus from their homeland. Tubrig's family spent an entire year braving 17,000-foot high passes and evading Chinese patrols before they finally reached safety in Sikkim.

Beginning at age 7, Tubrig practiced Buddhism in Gangtok, Sikkim under the tutelage of the 16th Karmapa, the second highest lama of Tibet. However, soon after the family's arrival, Tubrig's parents died from the combined effects of exposures to new diseases and the changes in diet and altitude. He recalls that those days were truly hard, as there were few international organizations that could afford help to the refugees.

Tubrig Dorje believes that Tibet Treasures is a fitting name for his homeland as well as his business. He believes that if people could appreciate the cultivation of meditation techniques, the ancient tradition of natural medicine and the deep reverence for the environment that characterizes Tibetan culture, they would truly understand what a treasure Tibet is. Tibet Treasures sells handmade carpets, jewelry and exotic clothing. Their statues (or rupas) of various buddhas are hand-made in India and Nepal. Master painters in Nepal create their thangkas, the silk-framed paintings of a religious nature. These various goods expose even the most casual of Ashland's tourists to but a tiny fraction of the sophisticated and highly developed religious as well as secular culture of Tibet.

— — Tulku Teglo Rinpoche, center, teaches at the Tashi Choling Buddhist retreat in the Colestin Valley on April 15.

Even the Chinese are in agreement that Tibet is a treasure land. The Chinese word for Tibet is Xi Zhang, which means Western Treasure Land. But the Chinese Communist culture is at dramatic odds with the traditional values that Tibetans have so vigorously defended throughout their history. In contrast to the Chinese view, in Tibet it was against the law to mine for precious stones and minerals. Hunting wild animals was greatly discouraged and fishing completely outlawed. The Tibetans felt that it was their duty to safeguard the natural environment instead of exploiting it.

Tubrig prays that the free world will respond with compassion to the growing number of Tibetans that will begin to filter into India and Nepal after the recent troubles. With the current political instability in Nepal, where he lived for 10 years, he feels apprehensive for Tibetans there also. In Nepal as well as India, less than — percent of Tibetans residing there have been able to obtain citizenship, whereas the Tubrig Dorje family obtained U.S. citizenship five years after immigrating to this country.

Tubrig is deeply appreciative of the warm and stable life Ashland has offered him and his family. He only wishes the same good fortune for his fellow Tibetans.

Share This Story