Thirty-five-year-old Dawa works hard at balancing the demands of his centuries-old faith and holding down a career as an IT technician at a local news web-site in the heart of Lhasa.
He considers Buddhism to be more in his "blood" than in the "rituals". "I accompany my family to the shrines on important festivals, but I don't have enough time to circle the shrines every day. We young people have to find better jobs and create wealth for a better society, as is the case in any corner of the world."
Dawa finished his studies in different cities across China: primary school in Lhasa, middle school in southwestern Chongqing, high school in Beijing and university in the northwestern Xi'an.
His Tibetan culture remained with him throughout. "Even the time for our marriage ceremony was decided by the monks through augury. Buddhism is the backbone. It's omnipresent in our culture and life."
He chats with friends across the country through MSN: "Many of my friends worry about us due to the latest riots in Lhasa on March 14 and March 15."
Dawa is typical of his generation of Tibetans, according to Zheng Dui, director of the Religious Study Institute under the China Tibetology Research Center.
"Tibetans care more for the next life than this life. They worship Buddha in this life to achieve happiness in the next," says Zheng. "The older they grow, the more pious they become. Some old Tibetans never stop rolling their prayer wheels except for sleeping and eating."
Yangjain, 48, a small snack shop owner in Lhasa, prays every morning from the moment she gets up. She fetches the first bucket of water from water tap to change the bowls of water presented before the Buddha statues in her home. "The first clean water everyday should be dedicated to Buddha to show our endless respect to the divine," she says.
Many devout Buddhists in Tibet start their day this way: praying, prostrating themselves before the Buddha statues, changing water, lighting ghee lamps and going to work or circling shrines.
"Buddhism influences are omnipotent in Tibet. The most magnificent building in Tibet must be a temple, the most precious relics must be in temples, and monks are always masters of Tibetan medicines, astronomy and calendar," says Zheng Dui.
(Xinhua News Agency April 28, 2008)