My thoughts and activities in Dharamsala

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Gone to Kalachakra

With Christmas just passed, many houses on Christmas day placed lights in front. I was thinking that they were for the holidays. They were, but not for Christmas. It turns out that yesterday was the day that Je Tsongkapa born and died. Who is Je Tsongkapa you ask? Well is the founder of the Geluk order of Tibetan Buddhism, to which HHDL's is also a part of. Geluk is the largest sect in Tibetan Buddhism and their highest ideal is the scholar. Je Tsongkapa was a great scholar and yogi, and is held in the highest esteem for followers of the Geluk tradition known as Gelukpa. So the lights in McLeod Ganj, were not for Jesus but for Je Tsongkapa. Yesterday morning HHDL conducted a puja, and also that night at the main temple there was another puja by the monks of Kirti monastery. It was quite a site since all around the temple butter lamps were lit. Thousands of them, plus many people circumambulating the temple. After a while monks from the Namgyal Monastery came chanting a beautiful prayer. Afterwards the monks of Kirti showed up wearing the Yellow hats that are typical of the Geluk sect. They marched from their monastery to the main temple. We could see them as we circumambulated and they chanting a different song, but eventually everything turned in one group of motion. With the walking, butter lamp lighting, chanting, prayer spinning, and incense burning I had a feeling of churning. Kind of like butter but not tangible. The monks of Kirti Monastery circumambulated once and then they sat in the Buddha temple to chant about Je Tsongkapa. I enjoyed being churned, carried away by the multiple events that surrounded me at the moment. This is going to be it from me for a while. Next Sunday I travel down to Amaravati for the Kalachakra empowerment which last for two weeks. So I won't have internet access for a weeks. I will post as soon as I can about the event. The pictures seen here are of Je Tsongkapa and the Kalachakra deity with consort Vishwamata. Catch ya later, dude.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Winding down

This a picture of a sunset from McLeod Ganj.
I took it while sitting on the roof of a cafe owned by TCV on Temple Rd. For the pass two months every single evening had sunsets such as these, but that is about to end for a while. For the pass few days heavy clouds have settled above the mountains dusting them with snow. I heard thunder for the first time in months this past Wednesday and it sprinkled a bit yesterday. A site that can not be missed in McLeod Ganj are the walking bushes. Underneath these bushes one will find small little women, but some times men. They are of the Pahari speaking Gaddi people who live around upper Dharamkot. They used to lived in McLeod Ganj, but due to the expansion and tourism they have moved. They walk a pretty long way with those bushes on their backs and they walk doubled over at the waist the whole way. So, one usually does not see them, just the bushes with legs navigating around McLeod Ganj streets. They are getting ready for the winter. They only get one type of tree. I can recognize the tree now though I do not know what the tree is. At times one can see a woman high up on a tree with out any ropes, cutting branches down with a huge knife. Changing topics..... School has ended at TCMEC. Yesterday we had a gathering/ graduation for the students with music and food. We all said our goodbyes, eventhough I will be back in the spring. I will be gone for about a month. I will be in South India attending the Kalachakra Empowerment. Check out . Well, I am now thinking of moving again. My friend Dean is currently living with a Tibetan family and I am thinking of moving in with them. But they charge is the same that Dolma ( the lady that I was living with when I first got here charged). But, I truly to would like to have a family experience. I have spoken to Dolma, and she has gone down on the price, but regardless I think I will try to live with the family. But I have not totally made up my mind yet, I do not have much time left before I head down south. McLeod Ganj, has been emptying out. Many of the Inji's have left for the New Year's trance parties in Goa. Many Tibetans have left already of the Kalachakra. It is going to be interesting when I come back in February. It will be cold and empty. But I am looking forward to it. There will be so many people at Kalachakra. I have heard estimates up to 300,000 people. Oh, I almost forgot. I might be in a documentary. There is a guy from Thailand who shot a scene with Dharamsala president of SFT ( Students for a Free Tibet) and the associate director of TCCR (Tibetan Center of Conflict Resolution) and me. I was the Inji voice and supposedly added "diversity" to the shot. It was quite fun and I enjoyed it. The holidays are here and I will attend some "fiestas". Next week I will still work in the TCMEC office until I leave for Amaravati. That is it. Merry Christmas and all that jazz.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Mist of Oceanic Wisdom

It has been a very busy for the pass two weeks, just for those who have been wondering, LOL. I had decided not to update last week because of the upcoming teachings being given by HHDL. But within a week, Mcleod Ganj has experienced a up flux in new Tibetan arrivals from all parts of Tibet due to the teachings and the Kalachakra intiations next month. It is so apparent, these Tibetans carry themselves in a much different manner than Indian-born exiles, for one they all wear the traditional clothes. Some of the attire is amazing. Some men will have thick red cords that wrap around their head like a wreath. Some women will have only the back half of their heads braided in tiny braids that join at the back with neat knot. Yesterday I was walking up Temple Rd with the Venerable Tashi Tsering la, and he was telling me where they came from by looking at their dress. "Oh he is from Ladakh, they are Amdo, they are from Kham" etc. From what I hear, they are coming in the thousand from inside Tibet to go to the Kalachakra and that most will return to Tibet after it is over. At a week and a half ago there was a huge march from Mcleod Ganj to lower Dharamsala. The reason for this was because, in Lhasa, Tibet there is a colossal monastery called Drepung. Inside Drepung some of the monks staged a protest in which resulted the arrest of 5 monks. They where protesting a "re-education program" that Chinese government had placed on the monastery. The goal of this program to instill patriotism in the monks, since it is through the monastery that the Tibetan freedom in mostly alive. So it seems like throughout the world different Tibetan NGO's have been staging marches and demonstrations. That day I did not attend the march, cause I heard of it after the fact but I heard the yelling from my room. Last Saturday, Tibetans celebrated the day the HHDL received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. At the main temple there was a Himalayan festival, with music and dance from all over the Himalayan region. Then that night at TIPA, there was a contemporary music festival with some pretty good Tibetan artist. This was a bit of relief for me since the last TIPA show that I went to was pretty rough. There was one female singer named Chokey, some of my Tibetan friends told me that she is called the Tibetan Shakira. She definitely is not a Shakira, but I will have to give it to her that is the first Tibetan male or female that I have seen who knew how to move their hips. And she was energetic. Most Tibetan singers don't really move when they sing, they stand there like beanpoles. Oh, and then there was a Tibetan rap song. VERY INTERESTING!!! At the end of the concert Chokey invited the crowed on stage to do some shaking of their own, ironically a majority of the dancers where mostly Inji's and Tibetan dudes. I have had the pleasure to meet the mother's of two BC Tibetan girls. I met Tenzin Khandoe's mother just yesterday, and last week I met Tenzin Dolkar's family. It is great to meet the family side of these folks that I know from BC. But the highlight of my week was attending the HHDL teachings. Tibet Charity had cancelled school for the week so we had the time to attend. They lasted for five days starting December 12th and ending on the 16th. On the 11th people on already secured their spots on the floor, which I did also. HHDL taught in the Buddha Temple. These teachings were requested by the Korean sangha, so there was many Koreans in town. Each day the teachings starting around 9am and lasted to 11:45am and then started again at 1pm to 3pm. Each time we entired the temple we had to go through a pat down and search with security. At the beginnings of each teaching tons of folks will circumambulate around the Buddha and Kalachakra temples. Usually when I got to my spot, I will stop and watch as the crowd of Tibetans and Injis murmuring mantras under their breath walk around the Temple. Then after taking this in, I will follow suit. Obviously of the whole day the highlight is seeing the HHDL walk to and from his throne. From my spot I could clearly see him as he taught and also when he left walking down the stairs that I sat by. He'll be just feet from me. One day he had started alittle early. I was trying to go the stairs to my spot but the guard had stopped me and few others, so as we waited there he was right in front of us. We all stared as we watched him scale the stairs. The actual teachings were great, His Holiness is extreme erudite in his explanation of the Buddhist tenets. Being that he is from the Gelukpa school, known for complex scholasticism, HHDL shows his true colors in his wisdom. The knowledge that comes out of him is just incredible. The basis of the teachings on a book called "The eight verses of training the Mind". So HHDL first outlined several various Tenets' arguments on consciousness from Buddhist and non-Buddhist schools. For the most part HHDL argued from the Madyamika (Middle view proposed by Nagarjuna) prospective. The other schools that he discussed were Chittamatrin (Mind-only proposed by Vasubandhu and Asanga), Vaibashika (ancient Hindu School), and Samkhya ( Hindu School also found in various yogas). HHDL will first describe in detail all of these schools thought's on mind and consciousness and then he will elaborate on then with his own commentary. It is great to watch as he did his thing. His body and composure as spoke helps to connect with what he is teaching. If you what to learn more I suggest that you get some books. research or something for I am in no position at this point to explain what was said. But on the first day, there were a group of new arrivals sitting next to me. I had said some few things in Tibetan to them. On guy whispered to me if I know now to read Tibetan. I whispered back "tets tets" "alittle". What insued was a brief written conversation in Tibetan. I found it quite amusing for I was glad that I could at least write where I am from in Tibetan, although it is not truly a huge accomplishment. The translation could my heard in English over the FM radio, and the translator was great. He himself was a monk and a great scholar. I only understood basic words from HHDL, for he mostly spoke in Dharma language and honorific. I noticed that younger Tibetans were also listening to the translation on the radio for it if quite difficult for them too. The older folks had traditition Tibetan scriptures and were follwing along quite nicely. I hope that evenutally I will be able to understand with out radio cause it is cumbersome. I have found two courses offerings in India. One in Dehra Dun and one in Dharamsala. They are two year intensives in Tibetan, and I am trying to see if this is possibility for me. They cost money, but it is not much by US standards. I will continue to search to see what oppertunities I can find. I would total love to attend a two intensive course. I will see what develops. So now that teachings are over. There is one week of class at TCMEC, and then I will prepare to head to South India for the Kalachakra. Dorje Rinchen la aka Dorje Momo has left already for the Kalachakra. Many Injis are going to Goa for the New Year. So Mcleod Ganj is aboutt to become a ghost town with many Tibetans and Injis leaving. Yesterday at the temple there was a huge puja (ritual) to protect the area from earthquakes. Last tuesday around 3:30am a tremor had gently rocked Mcleod Ganj. I was sleeping so I did not feel anything. I found out about it through my Pema my tutor that day. Then I read the paper and saw that several tremors were felt from Afganistan all the way Fuij. So well see if the puja will help us out. I am getting a bit tired so I am going to ditch out. I hope that everyone has a great holidays, though I have to say I am so glad that it is not a big deal here. Once again reporting from the Tibetan capital-in-exile this Hotfoot saying "Peace out, Bitches"