Q & A with Losang Samten
Losang Samten is a native of Tibet and an ordained Buddhist monk who was the personal attendant to the Dali Lama for five years. Samten is the guest of honor at the Tibetan Cultural Festival at Lake Tahoe, which runs through Saturday.
Q: When was the first time you came to the U.S., and what were your first impressions?
A: It was 1981. The first thing I thought was you have so many things. It was in New York, and I remember going into a supermarket and being amazed at all the variety. There were so many kinds of toothpaste! Where I grew up in Northern India, there wasn’t so much. Even your different kinds of milk; I was shocked. I quickly learned that you needed to have some kind of a plan before you went into a supermarket, or you would get lost.
Q: You’ve come back nearly every year since. What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen in this country?
A: After 9-11, there were tremendous changes. Some for the worse, some for the better. So much is going wrong in the world, but it’s important to remember that there is hope. It’s easy to get frustrated, but everything can be changed. Life is a circle. You shouldn’t lose hope.
Q: How are things in Tibet now? Are they getting better?
A: No, unfortunately. The people are still at odds with the policies of the Chinese government. Even our Tibetan people are losing hope. But we shouldn’t. It’s like the Berlin wall; who would have thought that one day that would come down? The situation in South Africa changed. You need to have determination to make a difference.
Q: What do you think of Tahoe?
A: Tahoe is very beautiful. The mountains here remind me of Northern India, where I grew up. The mountains in Reno remind me of Tibet. This place is so beautiful, but the most important thing is to create the beauty within. When you share that beauty with the world, good things will happen.