No time is more apt than right now for me to post an audio interview I conducted a few months ago. The time is apt because of what’s happening in Tibet over the past two weeks (best reports are at the BBC – search for Tibet). During most of its human history, Tibet was an isolated and difficult-to-reach high plateau, which only remotely came under the influence or control of the Mongols or the Chinese from time to time. The Dalai Lamas were in fact assigned their name and governmental role by Mongol overlords around 1578.
Tibet only “opened up” to the non-Asian world in mid-twentieth century. My introduction was via Lowell Thomas Jr.’s book Out of this World (published in 1950 – I will have more to say about the book elsewhere). And I read this book when I was a teenager in middle America, some time after Tibet was occupied by the Chinese army and just before the 14th Dalai Lama went into exile in India. The Chinese government claims that Tibet has always been a part of China. Those of us who have come into contact with Tibetan people know them as hard-working and dedicated, open and welcoming, and will never forget our encounters.
Last year I met Jane Bay. Jane has worked within the film industry for some time, and Jane came to know Tibet thru some interesting events – but most directly because she sponsored and adopted a Tibetan refugee daughter. Initially her daughter, Namgyal, lived at the Tibetan Children’s Village in Dharamsala, India, but due to circumstances and political pressure she moved back to Tibet. And Jane lost touch with her. This story is told in Jane’s first book, Precious Jewels of Tibet.
But that wasn’t the only loss in their relationship. Jane regained contact with Namgyal, in Tibet, where her daughter was studying traditional Tibetan medicine. And they began to plan a life-long relationship in which Namgyal would be able to move back and forth between Tibet and the US, observing the traditional and the modern in all its variation.
But it was not to be. In 2003, Namgyal suddenly died. Arising out of Jane’s shock and grief, and based on exchanges of email that she had with friends, she wrote a book Love & Loss: A Story About Life, Death, and Rebirth. In this book she chronicles the email exchanges she had following the death of her adopted Tibetan daughter in 2003. Far from being impersonal, the email exchange turned deeply touching and intimate. Technology ended up being the enabler that allowed Jane to move thru a time of crisis. And to share that story with others.
|I interview Jane Bay.|
|The importance of the 49-day period after an individual’s death.|
|How stories promote change.|
|Jane talks about digital media.|
|The Internet is more important than the printing press.|
[Updated Feb 2017 and Mar 2018 to use HTML5 audio tag]