ABSTRACT

In this chapter I examine the vision of the Central Tibetan Administration (the Tibetan government in exile in India) regarding the good life for Tibetan polity alongside a more explicitly religious Tibetan Buddhist account of the good life from the work of the nineteenth-century Tibetan philosopher Patrul Rinpoche. These converge on a normative account foregrounding spiritual over material values, concern for others over self-interest, and abstract, rather than concrete, values. I then ask whether this normative account is descriptively adequate for understanding how actual Tibetans view the good life. Data from a brief survey of Tibetan and non-Tibetan Americans shows that indeed Tibetan values are very different from American values on these dimensions.