My thoughts and activities in Dharamsala

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Movie stars and kung fu master

Since I have been in McLeod Ganj, I have gotten to hear about the numerous movie stars that have visited. Some of the stars have been a bit of a surprise to me. From the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Goldie Hawn who don't seem like harden Buddhist, to Lama Steven Seagal Rinpoche (recognized as a tulku by Penor Rinpoche himself) and Richard Gere. Richard Gere has seem to have a huge influence in the community, from setting up garbage/ recycling system to funding with the upkeep of Temple Rd, which leads to Tsuklhakhang. Thought they should change the name to Gere Rd. I have continuously heard the praises of what Richard Gere has done for the community. This is interesting to me, because in the US I know nothing about the guy, but here people are surprised when I have a neutral reaction when I hear his name. Now I can say I am glad to see a rich person using some of their hard earned wealth in good service. Right now, the Kung fu superstar Jet Li is in town, he is a die-hard Buddhist and has received teachings from H.H the Dalai Lama and H.H. the Karmapa. Now with Jet Li, I like him because he can kick some serious tush!!!. My ears popped up more to hearing Jet Li's name over Richard Gere's. Maybe if Mr. Gere did some bad ass kung fu I would have the same feeling toward him. But Kung fu masters will always have a place in my heart for the hard earned years of discipline to kick butt. Enough!!! Not sure where I was going with that thought anyways. This week at Tibet Charity, Sarah and I have been having a great time with the students. We have trying to use a more interactive methods with the students. For the most part they can write all day long, but when it comes down to saying something, it doesn't fly. And in class the students will speak Tibetan amongst each other. So we have been enforcing a no Tibetan rule in our class, so at least in that way they try some English. We had them try to construct sentences out of pictures that Sarah will draw on the board, or vice-versa give them a sentence and then they draw it on the board. This has not been perfect, like yesterday we have been teaching them about body types, chubby, thin, short, petite, etc. So we gave a student a sentence that went something like this "Sally is thin and has long hair". The poor student just laughed the whole time, she could bearly get the marker to touch the board. I tried to help her out, but she was too beside herself. We went with a another student, and he drew the picture of the sentence we had given him, but the drawing was something that made the entire classroom burst out laughing. With having the students attempt to construct their own sentences or draw pictures, we then to have a lot of fun at least, and I hope they learn something too. On other things, three days ago I had some free time, so I decided to sit on a Buddhist Philosophy teaching at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archive. The course is based on a Tibetan/ English translation of a Sanskrit text called "Nagarjuna's Letter to a friend". Nagarjuna is the main or first voice of the Madhyamaka school of Indian Buddhism, the school of the middle path. The Lama who was giving the teachings was very articulate in his commentary on the text. This text is basically used for beginners course in Buddhism for it outline the basics, focusing mostly on desire for worldly things and the consequence of having desires namely suffering. Suffering and desire keep us forever trapped in cyclic existence (samsara) and keeps us from following a spiritual life. I pretty much came in a few days after the teachings had started. I think that the Lama will elaborate on the text for about a month. The classes are pretty big and the room is small. Due the time of the teaching I will not be able to go. I think that I will need to dedicate some serious time to going to teachings regularly for me to learn anything substantial. Last night, I attended a multicultural show presented by the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC). It was quite a site, it was held in the auditorium of the Tibetan Institute of the Performing Arts (TIPA). Most of the songs were sung karaoke style, in Hindi, Tibetan and Ladakhi. There was a Hindi, English, and Ladakhi dance routine to canned music. Most of the time the sound system would fail due to the overdose of electricity the sound person was giving the speakers. At these moments the crowd would scream Tibetan swear words at the singers. My favorite was a traditional Tibetan dance with about 10 guys and girls playing the dramnyen (Tibetan lute). The men did rhythmic stomping as they sung and played the dramnyen. I was quite impressed. Overall the show was good, and I had a good time. Tonight is the Miss Tibet pageant, with only one contestant. I have heard about the pageant for sometime, and I have been asking some of the female students at Tibet Charity to entire the pageant. I told them that, "you have to give that single contestant some competition, you can't just sit a watch someone win $2300 dollars for doing nothing, I know you girls are broke, so atleast make that lone contestant work for the money". But these girls are very shy, LOL. It is bound to be interesting, at least the crowd will have something to say. Khale Shu, Later Punks!!!



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palden said...

Kangpa Tsapo la.....Can you imagine? I found you blog's URL while I was looking for news about Jet Li's visit to Dharamsala (I was curious to see how much media attention it attained!). Once reading...I found "Kangpa Tsapo"....Now I am going to keep your blog in my favorite list!
I am really impressed to know you are enjoying your time in Dharamsala....I can tell your understanding about Buddhism increased a lot. Anyway, I have my database (CSC 330) test on Friday..I am bored of studying, so just clicking on Google!


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tkaysang said...

i got here the same way as palden, isn't that funny? I must say that I enjoyed going through your blogs. You sure seem to be having a lot of fun at Dharamsala. Missing those days at Dharamsala and if you get time, you should go and check Upper TCV. I guess you might have gone there but you should spend more time with the kids. It would be an awesome experience! It must be pretty hard to teach the Tibetans but I am sure it would really help them a lot! Okie then. Get the most out of Dharamsala and it's good to know foreigners volunteering for Tibetans.Good luck!