My thoughts and activities in Dharamsala

Monday, October 04, 2010

Vande Mataram

Vande Mataram

10-02-2010 Gandhi Jayanti, The birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, Indian newspapers were filled with praises to the Father of their dear Nation of Bharat. I was wondering if it was a bad omen that my Gandhi pin, which I have had since college, accidentally fell into the toilet this morning for if it was any other day I wouldn’t even bat an eye, but now I am a bit suspicious, hmmm. Anyway, we normally would have had a day off but I think that with the approaching HHDL teachings and the Sarah College picnic next week that it won’t make sense to give us an extra day off. On the official calendar it stated today as a holiday but obviously it was cancelled since I was clapping and stomping in debate this morning. I guess sometimes it is no good to have ones hopes up. Every week I am surprised that the end of week has arrived so quickly. Anyone looking at Sarah from the exterior could not possibility imagine the level of busyness that is happening here since everything seems so relaxed; I know that I have not held a schedule this rigorous since working at Tokico; luckily this schedule is more conducive to practicing inner contentment and gaining knowledge than slave driving in a factory.

Last Sunday as I was having a late breakfast one of the Miami University guys invited me to Tatavani, a hot spring about an hour a way from campus. I had planned a day of review, but as thought it over, maybe sitting in a hot spring was not such a bad idea. The hot spring is situated in a small village Shiva temple. A bit off to the side is a small white tiled pavilion with a square hole on the ground for performing Agni (fire) pujas (ritual). In front of that is a small altar where a Shivalinga took the prominent position. To the far side of the pavilion it looked like some sort of graveyard filled with marijuana plants and several small pyramid-like tripled tiered structures with Shivalingas on them scattered in the area. The actually hot spring is next to the altar down a few steps where there is a room with a square pool big enough to fit about six people. To the back of the room about a foot and half above the pool is a stone carved lion’s head jutting out of the wall with hot water continuously pouring out of its mouth. I have been here a couple of times and I love the spot and since the acoustics are excellent it is also a good place for practicing throat singing, when no one is not around of course. I have some serious kinks in my upper back and shoulders so I like to let that hot lion water work on it for bit. If it was up to me I would stay in the hot spring all day long.

Before we had gotten there, normally there is a path that starts a bit up the hill. The hot spring is by a river and with the normal path one only had to the cross the river once but for some reason it seemed like that path was closed and the taxi driver took us to a spot where we needed to cross the river three times. I have to say that I was not too enthusiastic about our future venture, those rocks are slippery, I was carrying some books with me so if I fell in that would have blown chunks, and it was hard to tell how deep that water was, with it sometimes reaching my chest. But slowly we did it, and I mean slowly. Thanks to my trusty chacos I did fine, another guy at times was on his hands and knees from slipping on the rocks constantly. At some points I had to place my bags on my head to avoid them from getting wet. One of my books did get wet but not too bad. By the time we had finished the third river crossing we met the initial group of Miami students (accompanied by some Sarah students and staff) who had been at there since that morning. They were heading to another spot in the opposite direction from which we had just came from, a friend told me that they had decided to change locations since a group of local hard legs where gawking at the fair & lovely ladies from abroad. After we were done at the hot springs we returned to meet with the bigger group, first having a rock skipping contest and then we swam in the river for a bit and chatted with some of the local boys. I have not swam in a while so a little of bit swimming tired me plum out. Some parts of the river are not very wide but swimming across it about done me in, my ass is out of shape for sure.

On the way back to Sarah we stopped in Gaggal for some food and a lassi and it gave me a chance to chat up the Miami kids up for a bit. Though they have been here for several weeks now, I have barely had the opportunity to chat with any of them. They all seemed very nice and also to be enjoying their time at Sarah. Since being at Sarah I have met many of the study-abroad students that come through and it seems to me that each group is always different. When I chat with them I get to feel like I am back at home for bit. Anyways, after it was all said and done I was very happy to have had that last minute invitation to the hot spring.

Moving right along, after one of monks from the Advanced Hindi Teachers Training Course schooled all of our three group’s assertions on Friday night’s damja, he gave us an impromptu glance into the Tibetan views on the energy systems of the body. I was quite impressed that this monk had so much knowledge particularly about Tibetan and Ayurvedic medicines, a knowledge that he used to defeat our final assertion. In the Tibetan system it seems that all impermanent phenomenon are made out of eight types of minute particles or atoms (rdul rdzas brgyad): 1 form particle (gzugs rdul), 2 smell particle (dri rdul), 3 taste particle (ro rdul), 4 touch particle (reg bya’i rdul), 5 earth particle (sa rdul), 6 water particle (chu rdul), 7 fire particle (me rdul), and 8 air particle (rlung rdul). Certain impermanent phenomenon would have one or a combination of these particles in dominance depending on what it is. For example, though ice is said to be mainly dominated by the water particle its solidity is held together by the earth particle.

Our minds or souls are said to reside with our bodily winds that traverse throughout a kind of nervous system within our bodies and so it is composed primarily of the air particle. This thought is not unfamiliar to those who know Reiki or Kundalini yoga. Where groups of nerves meet or intersect along the spinal cord in large concentrations are called chakras (rtsa ‘khor), in which the monk pointed out on his body where they were located. He was telling us that accomplished yogis are capable of controlling their minds through various practices, like visualizations, meditation, etc. This idea is not only found in Buddhism but also in other faiths of the sub-continent, Hinduism, Jainism and maybe to some extent Sufism as well. This is generally mostly heard of on teachings on tantra (rgyud). All of our classes are sutra (mdo) classes for it is not until one has finished all of their sutric studies that then one is allowed to study the tantras. But this also depends on which sect of Tibetan Buddhism one is studying under and ones teacher, for they all defer in this respect. Because the prize teachings of the Tibetans are their tantric teachings many sects tend to guard it for lineage of transmission is very important, secrecy is very important and a solid understanding of the sutras are very important. Anyways, it was nice for this monk to share with us his knowledge in other fields of study, we all were very appreciative. I am a bit tired, catch ya later!


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