Living Tibet: The Dalai Lama in Dharamsala (Snow Lion Publications; Ithaca, New York; 1996), a softcover, white, coffee-table book, is a collaborative, creative photojournalistic work by writer Nanci Rose and photographer Bill Warren. Both had been working at The Ithaca Journal in 1989, when Nanci’s research paper on the monastic dances of Tibet was accepted by the Society for Dance History Scholars for presentation at an international conference in Hong Kong. Bill, who had previously photographed the colorful Tibetan culture of Ladakh, asked Nanci if she’d like to work with him on a book about Dharamsala, while she had planned to stay for an extended period during the time of her Hong Kong presentation. Nanci agreed.Arriving several months prior to her photographer/co-author, Nanci methodically visited frequently each important location within the Tibetan community at Dharamsala, seat of the government-in-exile and now home to His Holiness of the Dalai Lama. Beacaue of her dance research and association with Wisdom’s Goldenrod Center for Philosophic Studies, the Dalai Lama met Ms. Rose on several occasions and gave her certain special permissions. This led the way for entry into otherwise inaccessible locales and individuals for the book with Mr. Warren.Once Bill arrived in Dharamsala, Nanci took him throughout the area and explained the import of specific traditions, monasteries, schools, offiecs and various activities. Not being specifically a student of Buddhism himself, Warren’s photographic approach was for a direct initial impact, capturing each scene and every individual with a spontaneous and warm impression. Rose’s narrative adds to the pictoral essence of the transplanted spiritual and cultural tradition by providing accurate information and sympathetic commentary. The book contains separte sections on key areas of life in the Tibetan community, including a full descriptive section with photos of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. There is also a back section giving travel tips for visitors.

LIVING TIBET celebrates the inherently joyous and positive outlook cultivated by a unique Tibetan Buddhist philosophy which permeates all aspects of daily life. Further, the book gently remembers the difficulty of over forty years of extreme hardship these exiles survived following the takeover of their homeland. The Dalai Lama has provided a foreword praising the authors for giving testament to his people and their community and their spiritual and cultural heritage.

Living Tibet: The Dalai Lama in Dharamsala received an excellent review in The New York Times. It is now a collector’s item, as copies have become scarce. Some can be found online through sources such as: Amazon, Alibris, and Paljor Publications.

Excerpt from Living Tibet: The Dalai Lama in Dharamsala

Finally, it is time to meet the Dalai Lama. You are escorted, by a monk-attendant, along an outdoor walkway leading to an inner meeting area. Surprisingly, His Holiness the Dalai Lama waits to greet you on the sidewalk. Bowing slightly and beaming broadly, he is thoroughly happy to see you, as though finally reuniting with a dear and long-lost special friend. As you offer him a white silk greeting scarf, or khata, he laughingly places it around your neck in return greeting.In the simply furnished meeting room adorned with a few Tibetan Buddhist paintings, you wonder how this session should begin. The Dalai Lama waits. Gradually it dawns on you that it is up to you alone to set the tone. In fact, His Holiness seems to absorb the mood, responding at each moment to your own state of mind. If you have philosophic or mystical questions, His Holiness aligns himself as closely as possible with the tradition or experience from which you speak. If your focus highlights political or social concerns, his responses mirror your framework.As usual when the Dalai Lama meets Westerners, an English-speaking Tibetan interpreter is present to help clarify words or meanings. The Dalai Lama’s English, like his Tibetan, rises and falls in a wide range of expressive tones, highlighted by an infectious sense of humor. His voice is calm and penetrating. Scholars say he speaks with incomparable eloquence in the Tibetan language. He delivers Buddhist teachings in his native tongue but speaks English when conversing generally

Prominent cheekbones meet the fine network of creases at his shining, penetrating eyes, as he listens and nods and smiles encouragingly. His unusually glowing skin accentuates a single, inquisitive, v-shaped line that runs the length of his high forehead. Regardless of the topic, brief words of practical advice and grounded viewpoint are woven into a conversation that begins and ends with your own initiative. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, believed to be an incarnation of the Buddha of Compassion, is not interested in gaining converts or becoming embroiled in passionate debate. He is simply there for you, to become engaged in a warm, personal exchange.You notice, fleetingly, that the Dalai Lama’s hands are exquisite. His long, slender fingers close gently around each other as he earnestly listens to you. Suddenly his hands open wide, then pull together in a hollow clap as he breaks forth into laughter. It is true that His Holiness does love to laugh. Whether in rippling giggles or a clear open gale, his sense of joy pervades his entire being. While he may roar briefly in response to something you have said, never do you feel ridiculed, for this great monk is laughing beyond irony or personal psychology. And his outburst is generally accompanied by a comment that clarifies the deep level of his humor. His is an unaffected, unselfconscious mirth; he seems to be the Elightened One smitten with the glory of being alive. Suddenly, your concerns, your doubts, your preoccupations vanish in the presence of this bright-eyed Tibetan monk.”

Hundreds of monks gather in Dharamsala for a candlelight
vigil in November of 1994 to plea for the return of a free Tibet.

Text by Nanci Rose

Photographs by Bill Warren

Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, NY; 1996


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