In a recent conversation with Ven Bagdro, I asked him what kept him alive while he was in jail. I knew he tried to commit suicide several times in order to end his torture and abuse, and I wanted to understand how he eventually managed to get through his ordeal – especially because Bagdro comes across as a happy, fully functioning human being, writing books and living a normal life. Without batting an eyelid, Bagdro answered, “It wasn’t my karma.” This translates to “It wasn’t meant to be”, “It wasn’t my destiny” or “It was fate”.
However, karma as seen by someone like Bagdro is far more active than mere “fate”. As Carl Jung quoted: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate”. We perceive fate in a mostly passive way, with a shrug of the shoulder. Often commenting that it’s just “one of those things”. But, karma as seen by Bagdro is an active phenomenon of interrelated cause and effect. And, according to Bagdro, he has not done anything wrong – he was fighting a just cause in the right way and with the right motivations. Bagdro’s feeling that it wasn’t meant to be comes from a very deep personal philosophical foundation. This belief translated itself into an attitude, which filled him with a defiant energy to overcome anything the Chinese could do to him. Essentially, his deep-rooted beliefs manifested into an attitude modulation which filled him with death defying energy and purpose. This is a spectacular example of how someone can find meaning in any situation to keep on living despite the circumstances.
Bagdro also made a further comment. “If I would die,” he said,” I would have neglected the Tibetan people and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I would have neglected my duty, and it was my life task to survive and tell the rest of the world what is happening here in Tibet.” Bagdro was pointing out the refuge one receives from doing something for someone or something else when confronted with potentially depressive situations.
Bagdro points towards two very important antidotes to depression and suicidal tendencies. This could be seen as an oversimplification, however, it nevertheless gives us a clue of how to better understand someone suffering from depression – doing something for someone or something other than ourselves, and defiantly taking a stand no matter what the circumstances. These two antidotes may not be easily accessible for anyone suffering from depression, but the point is that the connection potentially exists and the tools of Logotherapy, counsellors or coaches could provide meaningful assistance.
After Bagdro’s escape from Tibet (now China) to India, he met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama as all escapees do. Telling his story, Bagdro urged His Holiness the Dalai Lama to allow the Tibetans to take up arms. “The time is right to fight back,” Bagdro said. According to Bagdro, the Dalai Lama just smiled and proceeded to convince him to rather take up the pen and write books about the situation in Tibet. “There are many Chinese,” the Dalai Lama said. “Many more than us Tibetans, and they will wipe out our nation very quickly.” Furthermore, and more importantly, the Dalai Lama added, “Fighting is not the right way to approach this situation. So every time I see Bagdro in the streets of Dharamsala, I know there goes a monk on a mission – with a smile on his face and a pen in his hand.