Sunday, January 30, 2011
Of course there were a lot of the usual things seen at Tibetan variety shows but the quality was more refined than usual. Also to add, a street dance routine was thrown in the mix with a group of young Tibetan boys showing off their top rockin’, windmillin’ and pop n lockin’ skills claiming that they are the future. When I saw this I thought, though b-boyin’ started in the hoods and barrios of South Bronx by Blacks and Latinos kids, the moves that were created there, created in the tempered fire of battling crews who wanted nothing but street cred’ has now in some ways become a part of the global domain without copyrights and patents. The MC was totally hilarious having the crowd rolling in there seats with sidesplitting talk of beautiful girls and handsome boys. They also performed a skit that was a spinoff of a popular T.V. show was done with devastating humorousness.
I sat with some of my classmates who were thoroughly enjoying the extravaganza. One of my classmates told my the look at the principal who was seating front stage center because he seemed to have donned a stern façade especially during a couple dance performance which according to Sarah standards might have been rather risqué. There were some solo female dances that had some, god forbid, hip movements. Anyways, maybe the performers were influenced by the spirit of the water bearer to strut their stuff, to shake what their mama gave them, Tibetan style of course. Their overall performance was excellent and I look forward to seeing them perform if they visit Sarah again next year. Their show definitely made my week.
Gen la is almost finished with teaching the “Presentation of Signs and Reasonings” through I have only gotten half way through the text. I guess he will start the “Presentation of Mind and Awareness” (blo rig gi rnam gzhag) next week sometime. We have a little under a month until our exam and it makes a lot of us nervous to think about it.
This morning the news about a raid on the HHK’s residence at the Gyutö Tantric monastery in Sidhbari where a booty load of cash of various currencies from all around world was found and confiscated, has been the talk of the campus, though no one knows in detail what’s the dealee’o is, it is of definite concerns to many of my schoolmates. We will see and hear the situation as whatever rumors are floated about by the Dhasa rumormill is circulated, whose reliability is rather dubious. I think I will leave this entry at that and I hope that you are feeling loved where ever you are at.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Even when one loves what they are doing with their life, a plethora of insecurities still manages to arise and reigns havoc in ones mental stream. In my case, due to the rapidity of going through the lessons and the feeling of not being able to keep up, I have pushed the blame onto myself as an inadequacy within my own being, the incapacity to learn at the appropriate rate. I have already mentioned that what we study for the first year is traditionally done in three years. Now that we have been studying “The Presentation of Signs and Reasonings” for the pass two months or so and the fact that our yearly exam looms, I have been feeling that I am unable to so because I get the feeling that I do not have what it takes. I see my classmates moving and advancing in their studies and in their comprehension of the subject matter and I am not anywhere near their level. I know that a major part of it is that the Tibetan language is not my first tongue and so my Himalayan classmates who at the beginning class were struggling with the most basic reasoning sequences which we studied, those reasoning sequences that I had found simple, have now surpassed my level of understanding.
I started to feel really bad about myself and when I do that I tend to sleep a lot as a coping mechanism. But for this course it is not a very good one since it caused me to miss some class time, which for sure is not smart. As I slept to avoid my insecurities, my classmates had concerns for me. I did not give any reason to my lack of appearance and they started to come to my room to ask me what the hell was wrong. I felt that my classmates wouldn’t understand my predicament but after my third day of such nocuous behavior, our class captain visited me bringing me some Kinnauri apples from his home village since I had not eaten much throughout this time, I knew that I was acting like a total bitch. The next day I went to talk to Gen la and it was a great thing to do. It was the first time that I had had a one on one with him. He fed me and he told me that there is nothing more important to do with my life than being in this course. Though I am a weak student, I am not the worse. I do study hard and it might take me several years to get fluent with this process. I think that Gen la has some understanding of what western students go through in the study of Buddhist philosophy through the dialectical method. It is not easy for Tibetans and I can not expect to be on par with them at the beginning. He told me that my expectation level is too high and now that I have not met up with my expectation I started beating myself over it and there is actuality no point in it. Genuine wisdom takes time to manifest, but in order for it to do so the work must be done, which I am in the process of doing. As long as I continue then it will come. I told him that I was feeling like I have not improved that all, but he said that that is of course not true even though I feel that way. I listened carefully to what he said. It is funny because I know all those things that he mentioned but hearing it from him helped me snap out of it.
Later on that day, some classmates, a nun of Singapore and a Korean layperson who were concerned about me asked me where I was for the pass few days and when I told them what my deal was, they were so encouraging and they told that they too go through the same motions, these students I admire so much for they really took to the process and are excelling wonderfully and they have these feelings though they have better coping mechanisms. We tend to look at the other and compare ourselves with each other, which is really damning. We must learn to overcome such tendencies. Oh, how I have struggled with this theme! When I think about it, it is really that childish aspect in all of us to do so. It might be the case that we have been accustomed of doing so since kindergarten and it some respects we are indoctrinated to do so by our teachers. Since then we are taught that if we want to succeed in life we must strive to be the best. And of course, in one sense this is natural. Just look at all the things we give recognition to, the person with the highest G.P.A, making the honor roll, graduating college summa cum laude, the highest this and best that and it goes on and on. I have never in my life been the best in anything and through out my life so far I have just accepted it. But when I reflect on it, this has had some detrimental consequences in my life. Maybe if my high school teachers pretended that they cared more or interfered more I might not have skipped a lot of class to smoke pot with my friends and maybe I would not have even had those friends to get high with if their teachers pretended to care for them. Maybe if my pre-algebra teacher did not make me stand in front of the classroom several times my sophomore year, promising to give extra-credit to those students who could resist the longest from the temptation to laugh at me since I was so damn funny looking, I might have done my pre-algebra homework or even taken interest in studying it. Of course, it took only a second of looking at me before the whole class erupted in laughter; no one got the extra-credit, what a jip! I was the only black kid in that class and a rather feeble looking one at that, my teacher was black and was also the coach of the J.V. Basketball team. Maybe he thought that such humiliation would boast my confidence level, you know put some hair on my chest as they say, but that failed horribly.
I guess what I am trying to say is that, just by looking at me and other people of a certain demographic, financial status, I was automatically not expected to achieve anything. My guidance counselor could not find his way around campus nonetheless try to provide proper guidance to a troubled youth as myself. To be fair I had two incredible teachers who did care, but by the time that I had met them it was too late. I was pushed to take the least demanding classes whose population was filled with others who were not expected to accomplish a damn thing in life, the rouge crew of gangbangers and freaks. I found an odd comfort being a loser. If I skipped school to get high or came to school high as a kite, they did not care or intervened. I and us others were a hopeless cause not worth the bother. And now, all those years later after being homeless, after finishing college, I am here in India and luckily I have found something that I love but that old mentality created during those high school years which partially happened without my total awareness is popping up. In high school I only had two main academic interests, music and the environment, and I probably could have succeeded in those fields but I lacked any encouragement from my seniors. With what I am studying now, my interest level is higher than it has ever been and I felt that that would have been enough to make rapid progress. But I now see that that is not the case and I automatically turn that lack into a serious and inherent insufficiency within myself.
That night which was a Wednesday, a Vietnamese nun who has been my classmate since 2007 when we both started the Tibetan language foundation course called me. The first thing she said was that she looks up to me; I was taken aback. She said that she admired how hard I have worked and all the progress I have made with the Tibetan language. We are all very lucky to be where we are at and by the strength of each of our internal shadows, it cause us to easily overlook that fact. Most importantly she told me that though we are taught in the Buddhadharma to have compassion for others, we must have compassion for ourselves, first and foremost. So we all must first be happy. She brought tears to my eyes, I was so happy that she felt it worth it enough to call me and give me encouragement, it was through talking to her and my other classmates that I started to think about the third precious jewel (dkon mchog gsum, triratna). As a neophyte first encountering Buddhism, one learns about them and that a practitioner must take refugee in them and more importantly constantly reflect on them. They are the Buddha jewel (sangs rgyas dkon mchog), the Dharma jewel (chos dkon mchog) and the Sangha jewel (dge ‘dun dkon mchog). The very act of becoming a Buddhist is by taking refugee in these jewels but what do they mean.
The context of the third precious jewel, it has been traditionally viewed as taking refuge in the monastic community of Buddhist practitioners mainly through their support by the laity financially or otherwise. The word used in Tibetan gendun (dge ‘dun) is also an honorific title which monks are addressed as. Gendun could be translated as “the ones who are intent on virtue” while the Sanskrit Sangha shows the meaning of community or a group. In Hindi that is the connotation that it carries. Back at home, it appears that word Sangha seem to refer to only the people that are closely involved in ones particular Dharma group or center. Quite often, when I meet other Westerner Buddhists the question of which Sangha I belong to always pops up and I cannot answer that question. My interactions with Dharma centers have been mostly negative and I have felt a lot of racist overtones which has turned me off to the whole thing. But still, beginning with my dilemma and following it through with the care, consideration, encouragement that I have received from my teacher and my classmates, I focused more on what it means now as I study Buddhism more in depth. Our course is not only about the text we study or the philosophical position we adopt as we advance, it is also about all the other aspects of our lives as well. So far I have arrived to that, yes! It is a community but not just a community in the sense that we live together because we share similar demographic or socio-economic status. It seems to have the potential of being an emotional, stabilizing, encouraging powerhouse. A powerhouse that seems to include rather than exclude, one that seems to not let one slide so easily into unnecessary self-destructive behavior, one that focuses on a person’s strengths and their potential to increase it, one that is constantly putting one into check and forcing them to look deeper into ones actions, intentions, and ones mind carefully.
There is definitely a lot more that I could say, but I hope that one can get the gist of what I am trying to convey. The fact is that the Sangha was what encouraged me to peruse my highest potential from day one not the ones that did not care or who did not bother because it was my lot to be a zero. The Sangha does not have the capacity to see us as zeros but it has the immense capacity of seeing our inherent potential and holds us up to it. The Sangha sees the ultimate, elusive, ephemeral zero of all phenomenon, that motivating powerhouse of potential. This might be why the Tibetan word kunchok (dkon mchog) precious literally means something like supreme rarity. These jewels though existent are not found in abundance, our very societal paradigm of ‘me first’ tends to smother it.
Though traditionally the Sangha is seen as consisting of only Buddhist, I am willing to expand it further than that for myself, all those out there who have acted in such a way, that have helped or has been helped to seek the depths of their positive potential are apart of the Sangha. This has been a part of my minute life experience since so many folks have acted in such fashions and they have belonged to a cornucopia of faiths or some have claimed to not aspire to any religious creed but they all have made their positive uplifting impressions on me and have forced me to look deeper, they stepped outside the colloquial paradigm and looked for the potential not for the best. Although my vision of the Sangha might or might not coincide with the proper Buddhist view and so far I am not sure, I think that it a step in the right direction. We live on one planet and the Sangha is global, it is all of us and thus in turn, I will learn and will eventually habitualize myself so that I can be to others what so many have been to me and therefore enriching my taking refuge and my reflections. This is what I learnt this week.
Around 2:00am early Wednesday morning I was once again gyrated by the oscillating movements of the dorm. For about 4 or 5 seconds I heard that deep tenor-like cracking and rubbing of concrete and rebar in surround sound stereo. My ears were filled with this sound from everywhere and then it smoothly stopped. I expected to hear the bell being rung but only silence pursued. This tremor felt a lot stronger than the one that had struck in the fall and it seemed to have lasted longer but I guess everyone else was in a deep enough sleep that they did not feel the earth move under their bodies. Then the first thing I thought about was if an earthquake had struck in Pakistan or Afghanistan. A day later I read in the newspaper at a 7.4 earthquake struck in Pakistan at circa 1:39am hence taking the seismic wave about 20 minutes to travel and to rock Dharamshala. It was felt as far south as Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh.
Since we did not have an all-night debate before the previous second Saturday we had it this week. Huge lamb mutton Amdo momos were cooked for us; this was the first time that a carnivorous dish was served at an all-night debate. It was definitely one of the liveliest debates that we have had as a class so far. There were really some fireworks going on that night. Some students definitely showed some distinction that night and I am very proud of them. Since the momos took a long time to cook, we did not take a break until pass 11pm and my group was still left to sit as defenders so we did not finish until 12:45am-ish.
That Saturday morning at 8:30 am, our class had our first outing. We rented a bus and we all crammed in and headed up to the village of Naddi above TCV. Some of my classmates had never seen snow up close before and so we used this day off to do so. It was the first time that I have been around snow since 2007. Sarah is too low for snow but just an hour ride uphill there was plenty to go around. As we passed Dal Lake we all noticed that it lacked water. It looked that it was being renovated, before the water was very muddy. Once we arrived, we stored all of our lunching items in a chai stall and headed on a road towards an International High School ran by a Sahaja Yoga Foundation, Gen la said that many foreign students study there. I remember that had I met a young Romanian lady who studied there a few years back when I was showing some friends around Dharamshala. On our walk to the school it as not too long before the group that I was walking with started receiving enemy snowball fire. Some monks had climbed up a bit up hill beside the road and with devastating accuracy started launching snowballs at us. At the first I wasn’t sure where they were firing from but once I found out I was able to send retaliating shots of my own. I had a feeling that this skirmish was just a taste of what was to come. The view of the mountains that morning was spectacular from Naddi.
The school was closed for the winter and no one said anything to us. We set up shop underneath an oak tree next to the parking lot of the school. The school seemed to consist of a three-storey high brick building constructed to emulate the Gaddi-style houses seen throughout the mountains in Himachel Pradesh. We saw some people but not one said a word. If this was U.S. we would have been kindly or not so kindly been asked to leave the premises with the quickness for trespassing. We took over the parking lot; we had snacks, threw volleyball around a circle, kicked some hacky sack and played badminton. Some one had brought some mini-Uno cards and once my classmates had gotten the hang of the game they were so loving on it and even though we had long pass our debates on colors many of my classmates still could not tell the difference between blue and green. A few times the volleyball went bouncing down the hill besides the oak tree and we all laughed as we watched a classmate trying to climb down the precarious slope over and over again to retrieve it. Some of the guys were getting a kick out of placing huge chunks of snow down each others shirts. I walked over to the school building and I noticed some posters illustrating the each of the seven chakras of the astral body one by one and what they meant, but it was all written in Hindi. I asked one of the guys who is good in Hindi to translate but he told me that the commentary on these posters had a lot of difficult language that he did not know.
At around lunch time we returned back to the chai-stall and had our lunch. Since Friday we had Tibetan food, for the picnic we had Indian food. Our Indian classmate cooked up some really nice egg curry and vegetable curry. He himself was unable to attend but we sure did enjoy his food. By that time also there were tons of Indian kids and families all over the place coming to get a chance to enjoy the snow. After we had eaten, through the strong urging of my classmates, they wanted me to rap and so a spat out an old one for them using a khachori, a flaky Indian breadstick, as a mike. A short while into the spitting session many of those snow-gazing tourists joined as an audience. They busted out their camera-phones quicker than a New York minute. Who knows want they thought when they saw our group, an odd conglomeration of Tibetan monks with a sprinkle of Aphro-America, Taiwan, Singapore, Korea and Vietnam.
For the rest of the afternoon, we scouted another spot not far from chai-stall that was located below the construction site of guest-house which was terraced. Some of the guys immediately started to play some cricket. I played tons of Uno for a good long time while drinking pop and various assortments of junk-food that had been brought with us. Eventually all hell broke loose though, it started with what seemed to be an innocent mis-aimed propelling snowball and it turned into an all out battle. Gen la was cautiously warning us that we could sick, but that was not enough, even Gen la got hit once as collateral damage. The battlefield consisted of three terraces plus the empty skeleton of a guest-house on top of that. Most of all of us got involved. It was just so brutishly hilarious. I had not been involved in such a snowball fight since grade school. Since I was on the low ground and being so stinking tall, I made an easy target but was able dodge a shit ton of incoming fire. No one was safe. Snowballs were such flying to and fro in utter chaos for about one solid hour and all the dirty tricks in the book were busted out in full. Below us we could see Gen la sitting cross-legged on a mat laughing so hard at the ridiculously absurd carnage that ensued before his eyes. Later, two guys had built a midget snowman and we all gathered around it and took pictures. We were all still giddy from the previous battle.
Throughout that entire outing, Gen la was cracking jokes the whole time. Before we left, he was trying to get some of us of take some of the leftovers; he gave me a whole piece of Amdo bread which is significantly bigger than regular Tibetan bread. He grabbed another piece and said that it could be used to play discus with, he assumed the position of a discus thrower about to throw it with the bread. That imagine was just so uproarious, Gen la in his maroon robe with a red scully on, his habitual sunglasses looking like he was about to launch big round chunk of Amdo bread into the abyss that laid a few yards below us, classic.
On a totally unrated side note, I saw Lhasang Tsering wondering around were we were kickin’ it at. It did not look like he was there to check out the snow. I remember seeing him walking solo around aimlessly. It just seemed so random to me. Whatever!
At 4pm our rental bus arrived and we all crammed back on in. We had lost some classmates along the way. Some went to the hospital, some who had never seen TCV went to check it out and some went to Lower Dhasa. The ones who went to TCV we picked up on the way down and we got another one at the bazaar but before too long we back in good ole’ Sarah. The campus was getting ready for a concert. The students from the Emory Tibetan Studies Study Abroad program had arrived the day before it was their welcome to Sarah concert. I ran into an old friend of mine who was with the same program but two years ago who was recently visiting Dharamshala. He has been travelling around India with a friend and it was so great to him, I was very happy. Also the director of the program this year is a friend and I was glad to see her back in da’ house.
And so after a week of various undulating tectonic plates, events, thoughts and emotions, I close with hope and an arrivederci.
P.S. I did not have internet access for awhile so two entries are posted today.
Man! It was just beginning to have a feeling of warmth up around these parts. For a few days, the cold was held off by some solid days of clears skies and the bright shining face of our solar ruler, but and there is always a but, Friday greeted us with dark, dark clouds and cannon like booms of thunder. From the vantage point of our classroom, the strikes of lightning reaching its slender, quicksilvery tentacles extremely briefly towards the valley floor made it seem like a far off and terror stricken land, full of misgivings. The temperature suddenly dropped. I have already been having a hard time getting out of bed on time and this did not add any new incentives for doing so. By Friday night during group debate, we had the dual droppings of claps. The vicious piercing handclaps of our theses inside the temple, the claps of analysis jabbing at the defender’s assertions seeking their antonyms, the loose chink in the wall and the thunderclaps of the storm which seemed as if the demigods were both trying to take pictures of themselves with colossal cameras in poor lighting and like a war between negatively and positively charged electrons with their subwoofer-like booms rattling our innards.
Throughout the night, dreams upon dreams of apocalyptical combat filled my continuum, mixing awaken and somnolent worlds in a seamless stream of consciousness. Nature’s war of electrons that raged in the sky above appeared to have consumed us and made us participants, greasily peon foot soldiers, pawns, using us cheaply to promote their atmospheric but futile gambits. By morning even though the boom of attack and the sound of skirmishes had totally disappeared, the clouds of lasts night’s battle hung low and pervaded thickly through out all the land and hints of the potential for another epic battle were perceptible. The screams of the fallen, the fallen temperatures was hauntingly audible. These agonizing screams made ones blood curl and still as I sit here, I cannot tell if this was all dream, all a grand hallucination. All this caused me to reflect on my fascination and fantasy about storms as grand atmospheric battles.
Subconsciously, part of it I think came from being a teenager in South Florida were the language of battle was used by meteorologist on the boob-tube to describe the dangers and hazards of the multitude of tropical depressions, storms and hurricanes that frequented the state which stuck out into the Atlantic Ocean like sore thumb pronouncing its negation. The ominous names given to these beasts of rain and wind which brought within their whirling wings tornados performing an ole’ skool cavalry charge also added to the fear. I will never forget these storms. This language thus must have partially entered my subconscious though such subliminal means.
The first time that I remember that it started to surface into my awaken consciousness, was the first time that I had brought some “tickets to Oz” as an adolescent. I probably was no more than 16 years old when I ingested two of these blotter paper tickets. I had brought them from this wanna-be gangster kid that I knew from school. I was living at the time in Margate, Florida but went to school in Coral Springs and everyday I would ride my bike 30 to 45 minutes to and fro. My bike ride home that day began my first journey to Oz, I was curious as to how long the trip would last, I thought that it might be similar to my then habitual 4:20 excursions with my friends where after sometime one gets incredibly hungry and eats all the junk food that can be eaten which meant that within a few hours that one would be back to earth. I should have know better, I had done previous research about these supposed little blotter paper tickets with a picture of Felix the cat on them, which suggested hours and not a few of them by any means, as I found that day.
So I took the tickets, placing them in their habitual delivery slots like the ones on a municipal bus which upon impact send small electric-like shocks deep within my tongue, I then hopped on my bike and rode the 45 minutes back home. 25 minutes into the ride a storm was brewing really thick. I always rode my bike with the traffic and not on the sidewalk. I remember at one point looking up into the cloud filled sky, blazed with lightning, that all the dark formidable clouds that surrounded me overhead transformed themselves into frightful Greek chariots on the warpath before my very eyes. The details and the depths to these illusions were unexpected, they appeared to have possessed a life of their own that breathed and raged even though they were immensely huge. In my mind it seemed like these charioteers were on my side. The stormy sky was filled with tons of them plus phalanxes and other gruesome implements of ancient warfare. Time seemed to move backwards, but my body did not feel a thing. I was still on my bike and I was moving but all that must have been automatic. To me I felt like I was protected by these cumulonimbial warriors on the blood thirsty charge.
I guess that everyone’s first experience of journeying to Oz will be the most memorable though I was so young, stupid and immature then and only slightly more mature and less stupid now. My association of storms and war still circulate within me as it was made apparent by my dreams and my imagination last night and this morning.
On a side note I wished I had a fancy ass camera to take pictures of these great highland storms. The lightning show is just incredible, especially standing on the roof of the dorm, I know! not such a bright idea when you are over 6 foot tall, where exchanges of lightning between cloud happens right above your head, it takes up all of your peripheral vision and one feels like it could be touched. I wish I could take of picture of such moments but I don’t possess the skill or the type of camera to do so. My camera is pretty good but I have been having problems with it, like all the pictures I take come out super blurry. It never did that before, so I need to fuck around with the settings I guess and I might accidentally find a solution. That picture would be so rockin’ for sure.
In class as we further our studies of the “Presentation of Signs and Reasonings”, as we pierce deeper into the implications that it involves, a concept has been coming up over and over again, it is called, valid or prime cognition (tshad ma, pramana). At this point, although since the beginnings of our course we have been flinging this term out at each other left and right but what it truly is appears as a phantasm. It is not entirely clear and when one tries to grasp it, it just flows like smoke between ones fingers. We do know so far that there are two kind of valid/ prime cognizers, 1) direct perception valid cognizer (mngon sum tshad ma, pratyakSa-pramANa), whose defining characteristic is: a new, incontrovertible, non-mistaken knower that is free from conceptuality (rtog pa dang bral zhing ma 'khrul ba'i gsar du mi slu ba'i rig pa). 2) Inferential valid cognizer (rjes dpag tshad ma, anumAna-pramANa), whose defining characteristic is: a knower that is new and incontrovertible with respect to its object of comprehension, a hidden phenomenon, in dependence upon its basis, a correct sign. (rang gi rten rtags yang dag la brten nas rang gi gzhal bya lkog gyur la gsar du mi slu ba'i rig pa).
Now, in the ‘Presentation of Signs and Reasonings’ we deal only with inferential valid cognizer since it seems to govern the realm of thoughts and concepts. But I have gone a bit off the topic and have been thinking about direct perception valid cognizer. This valid cognizer can only cognize things or as they are sometimes called functioning things (dngos po, bhava), whose defining characteristic is: able to perform a function (don byed nus pa, artha-kriyA-samartham). This means that any object which is able to produce its own effect is a function thing which significantly narrows things downs to those that are impermanent and within the Buddhist school which we having been studying, the Sutra School (mdo sde pa, sautrantika), functioning thing and impermanent are equivalent. It is said that for us ordinary beings who do not possess deep realizations, that only our initial moment of cognizing a functioning thing is direct and that the rest is inferential. According to its defining characteristic it also has to be free from conceptuality. This could be the reason why only our first moment of cognizing a functioning thing is considered valid, we also have to keep in mind that it is said that in some schools that there are 65 moments in a blink of an eye. Now, for beings such as the Buddhas of the universes, all their perception is said to be always direct. That is, they can even directly cognize the all atoms within a mountain. This means also that they cognize things free from conceptuality which I think that for most people this might seem a bit hard to swallow, but we won’t know until we achieve Buddhahood, right?
A doubt as arisen in my mind concerning this idea and since I have very minute knowledge into the topic being so fresh into my studies and it being a topic which takes years to grasp, it just might lead me to a thought experiment that I might be able to explore as we move beyond the introductory texts on valid cognition like we are doing now and into the realm of the Indian root texts. I was thinking about this one night as I was staring off into the night sky. Light travels and it take a certain though extremely miniscule amount of time to get from point A to point B in short distances. When this is blown up to astronomical proportions, let’s start with something near like the sun, what we are actually experiencing is the heat, light and radiation of the sun 8 minutes after it has left there. It would seem as though all of our dependence on the sun is truly a dependence on the sun eight minutes into the pass not on the present sun, of course without the present sun being the cause we on earth would be severally fubar-ed. Anyways, so even if the naked eye could look at the sun, it would not and could not look at the actual sun in the present moment because what one would be seeing would be an effect of the sun. If we were to move on to the stars being that many sit billions of light years away, the sense of our true microscopic-ness can be imagined.
But this idea can be applied to anything we perceive with the five senses but possibility less so with touch and taste. That same night that I was staring at the stars, I think that there was a black out in Sarah too because I was thinking about how we were enveloped by a pseudo-black hole since all the surrounding areas had electricity, I looked up the hill towards the lights shining from Naddi village and McLeod Ganj and looked at the lights shining from Kangra down in the valley. So all light travels, I am looking at lights from these places but in truth I am not seeing those lights in the present moment. Though the differential is absolutely subtle and my eye could not possibility perceive it, it is non-the-less true, right? And would not the same hold true to everything else that I see, including my own body? It is clear with sound, as in the case of storms, lightning and thunder are produced at the same time but since light travels faster than sound we hear the thunder of an approaching storm after the lightning has struck, unless it is right over your head. So, can the valid cognition of a Buddha defeat the processes of the physical universe? For obviously us as human beings, being a part of the physical universe, we seem to be locked in or subjugated by those processes. Maybe that is what it partially means to be enlightened, at least it is as close of an understanding as a gross and ignorant being such as myself could ever get up to for the time being. If we equate the physical universe with cyclic existence (‘khor ba, samsara) this could make some sense since achieving release from cyclic existence is a most valued aim.
So far, for us as ordinary beings, when we perceive something validly, that new, incontrovertible, non-mistaken knower that is free from conceptuality is then actually perceiving the pass directly, as in the valid cognition of a sunrise and if one is truly getting at that very first moment of light which has departed from the sun eight minutes ago, it is still unmistaken? According to the Sutra school the past and the future are non-existent leaving only the existent present moment. Would that mean that only things which are near at hand could be validly, directly perceived? This rant of questions has no end. For now from where I stand it is not known if the Buddhist masters of antiquity even thought of these things. Many of these ideas, as far as the speed of light are concerned, are brand spanking new ideas. I suck at mathematics so I would never have made a good physicist and I wonder if I would ever make a good dialectician either. Regardless, this is a path of exploration, exploration of the world in all it contexts from the internal to the external, from the subtle to the gross and vice versa. Though I am not a scientist I do have a lab of sorts, the imaginary lab of the mind and it the context of my course the lab of the debate courtyard where many thought experiments are investigated.
Now it is 5pm, the clouds have cleared just for a second and it looks like Naddi Village, TCV, and even McLeod Ganj received snowfall last night, the snow of the fallen from that great battle in the sky filling the ground not with red blood with pearly whiteness. There is supposed a concert on campus tonight; by a group called the Charity of White Tara (sgrol dkar byams brtse tshogs pa) and if I remember correctly it consists of talented TCV orphans doing various skits and musical performances. It is sponsored by a Taiwanese man who wants to provide a creative outlet to young Tibetan orphans who otherwise would not have gotten to the chance to do so. They performed around this time last year and I am sure that they will rock da’ house again.
Saturday, January 08, 2011
A solar eclipse it was, it had happen on Tuesday on this side of the globe and I was perturbed that I had missed the event when I saw it mentioned in the newspapers on Wednesday. I had not seen any thing about it prior when I think about it. I figure that I would have noticed it if were in the papers but I must have missed it. With my gradually arising lunar-philia (I have this odd notion that my crusty butt is somehow connected the moon) missing this felt like being stood up by a lover. I was really distraught. I remembered my experience of seeing a partial solar eclipse the year before and after it was done I thought or felt that I would not see another. That might be the case as it stands now. I am just amazed that it happened again and at least it can be said that there is some hope of witnessing another again and that I would need to be more attentive, keeping my eyes open to the possibility of it.
A few days after the solar eclipse, after the set sun had rendered the lower horizon of the western sky in a lengthy panorama of layered and whispery pinks, reds, maroons and oranges, above in the dark purple-violet of the near encompassing night smiled the pearly white smile of the Cheshire cat with a visible invisible shadow above it that completed the rest of its missing lunar circle. I mentally welcomed it back knowing that each evening the smile will grow wider and wider. I was glad to see it more directly, even though sensing its presence as it blocked the sun’s eight minutes worth of light would have been way gnarlier.
On that day of solar and lunar conveyances, Sarah was visited by an American scholar of Tibetan Culture and History; at least I presume that to be his profession, from Indiana University, Bloomington. Prof. Elliot Sperling spoke about Tibetan History, the issues of Tibetan independence found in ancient annals and how some of these annals have been used to justify Tibet as a part of China since antiquity by the Chinese propaganda machine. This has been the first time that I have seen a western scholar of Tibet visiting Sarah and the first time that I have heard one give the entire lecture in Tibetan. I was quite impressed to say the least and I know that my schoolmates were initially shocked for it was a first for them too. But he laid it down really well. I can say that many Sarah students study their history very well. We have a well-known Tibetan Historian on campus and though I have never taken any of his classes, I have interacted with his students and chatted about Tibetan history and history in general with them. So they know their shit. So having an American scholar busting it out straight up to them in Tibetan must have been a bit of shock to them.
He also demonstrated his knowledge of the Chinese language and Chinese history, especially when and where it dealt with Tibet, how Tibet was perceived by the Chinese throughout various historical annals written for different Chinese dynasties. He talked about pass Mongolian, Manchurian, Tibetan relations and it was quite fascinating. Also he mentioned a by-gone Tibetan-Mongolian treaty that I have never heard of. In a way, I felt that he was trying to impress on the students that they should have the feeling of responsibility towards their own history. To search through the many histories that exist out there in Tibetan alone will be great. I think many of them know this already. He definitely was not an advocate of the “middle way approach” taken by Tibetan Government in Exile as its main policy with the P.R.C. and he mentioned that here is an idea floating out there that maybe the Tibetans in Tibet can fight for their rights just as African-Americans did in the U.S. during the Civil Rights movement of the ‘60’s and maybe even have their own Obama, a Tibetan president of P.R.C. someday. When he mentioned this I laughed. I hope that these ideas are not taken seriously because it is utter non-sense and would be a major folly if pursued with any seriousness.
One funny little side note, as Prof. Sperling was giving his lecture the college secretary approached me and asked me if I could help the professor during the question and answer session that was to take place after the talk in case he did not understand the questions from the students. I was a bit confused at the request, for one, why me? and for two, an Inji guy giving a lecture on Tibetan history to Tibetans in Tibetan is not going to need my help. I told the secretary that I would but as my intuition told me Prof. Sperling had no major problems with understanding the questions.
With the coming of the HHK to campus we had to do some major cleaning. Our class was in charge of cleaning the temple but the cleaning was more meticulous than our normal Saturday afternoon cleanings. I saw the temple bare and naked for the first time. All the thangkas of past Buddhist masters were brought down; the upper balcony area was cleaned as was all the temple windows. Since I had the height to get at places my “too short” classmates could not reach I cleaned the top windows, also standing on a shaky, rickety wooden ladder I clean fans, lights and the huge thangkas. It gave me an opportunity to see these massive works of art up close for the first time even though I was feather dusting them. Our classroom on the top floor was also being macked out. We had no class for all of Thursday due to this mass cleaning which was accompanied by some horse play including explaining the profound symbolism behind the number 69 as it was written on one of my classmate’s shirt. In retrospect, I realized that that was not proper temple cleaning talk but they were persistent in wanting to know what was soo funny about that number. It seems like some of my schoolmates come to me to ask the meanings of some very inappropriate though unknown words, like how someone asked me one day during lunch in front of everyone what did the word “mercy fuck” meant. My mouth about dropped the ground. There is not even a Tibetan word for these kinds of things and if there was I sure don’t know it. What to do? Anyways, we cleaned that temple like nobody’s beeswax; some of girls of the other classes came and gave us a hand also. I heard that some of my classmates were in the temple until 9 that night cleaning and also helping prepare the classroom for our holy visitor.
There are a bunch of extra Tibetans floating around campus for the Tibetan College student’s conference and this is why HHK was coming. Also the Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche and Gyari Dolma appeared too. The road leading into the campus was decorated with drawings of the eight auspicious signs (bkra shis rtags brgyad, ashtamangala), which was done by the students. A colorfully elaborate gate was erected at the beginning of campus. We all lined the both sides of the road holding burning sticks of incense and kataks waiting for the guests to arrive that Friday morning. First arrived Samdhong Rinpoche and then Gyari Dolma and then with a sound of a siren came HHK and then all of them were led up to our pimped out classroom on the top floor. The rest of us crammed into the temple. Once everyone was in, after a short wait, they entered the temple and took their seats with HHK seating in the middle in the front of HHDL throne, Samdhong Rinpoche on his right and Gyari Dolma on his left.
Buttered tea and scrumptious ceremonial rice was served to all of us. Afterwards many speeches were given, which was started by our beloved principal who bored the crap out of us with his talk about the all the goals and accomplishments of the college. That didn’t set a good precedent of attention for the other speakers. All the guests spoke, with HHK being the main speaker along with the opening of the conference’s official website written in English and Tibetan, and some writing awards were handed out. It was done in about two hours I think. We all marched out of the temple and lined the road as we had done two or so hours prior. The participants of the conference had their pictures taken with the guest and then they were off. That was that. All those hours of cleaning and preparation for about two hours of visit; it is well sure that the temple will probably not receive another cleaning like that in a long time to come.
A special lunch was prepared for us. Sam, an American student, and his mother visiting from stateside were here also and I had lunch with them on the court in front of the girl’s dorm. We had to resume the rest of the day’s schedule meaning mandatory study at two o’clock and debate that night. Since it was a second Saturday week we should have had an all-night debate but since we had to prepare for the guest it was canceled, maybe even postponed until next week. Instead, what we did was extend the normal debate session by an hour and instead of having our usual Friday night small group debates we had more of a freestyle debate with the entire group, two different groups of defenders sat there 3 folks at a time. Of course, the monk from the Advanced Hindi Teacher’s Training course eventually showed up and did his thing. We were given tea and lots offering biscuits to eat. As the thesis was raging, I was hoping and wishing that it the future that I will store up enough courage to join in the challenge when we have group debates like this. I stink now so I can’t do it. They had me try once last week in our smaller group debate and I totally bombed it with the other guys looking at me with shame as to my suckiness; at least I tried though I was embarrassed. But also, as I have said, I much prefer one on one debates than group ones.
Before the debate started, one of my classmates, who owns an I-Pod touch with wireless internet on it came to where I was sitting pretty, drinking sweet milk tea and hide & seek cookies to show me a picture of me that another classmate had found on a Tibetan newspaper’s website. I was a bit surprised, for at first it did not register what the website was or why was my picture in there; also my classmate stated that it had come out this year. So I was bit confused and then I remembered that about a year and a half ago a Sarah alumna had interviewed me for a Tibetan newspaper. But afterwards I did not think anything of it until now; I mean I did even bother to ask her the name of the newspaper she worked for which I now know is called the Mirror of Society (spyi tshogs me long). Anyways, what my friends had found was that article which was released in January of 2010 and it took more than a year after the interview for me to see it.
Anyways, I think that that is enough of my ranting for the day. Every time I write I wonder if anything that I write is really interesting enough to read. Sarah is a very chill place and it is not like I am writing about living the high life in Las Vegas or some European city like Madrid. I guess I just hope that I am able to keep your attention and that when you read this you are not falling asleep. I have promised myself that I will try my best to write every week and I do put a lot of effort into it. This rant is mostly about my own insecurities coming up, but also I don’t want to be putting stuff out there that not one gives a rat’s ass about either. Anyways, this blog gets me writing and gets my ideas and feelings out of my claustrophobic brain of mine. Aite, I gotta bounce, C ya.
P.S. This time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.
- Lewis Carroll-
Sunday, January 02, 2011
How does one digest a cold week comingled with melancholia, wonder, and minute lackadaisia? The normal kaleidoscope of sensations appeared subtle yet powerful as the week and thus the year of 2010 ended forever. The melancholia is hard to pin down; my mind was flooded with reviews of my pass from 1995 until now. I thoroughly looked at each memory and did my best to acknowledge the wealth of all those experiences and I tried to remember that in some way they had led me to where I am now. Another part to the melancholia, I think was because I have not felt sadness, for myself at least, in quite some time which is badass because since adolescence I have always been in the habit of cultivating that low-esteem, self-depreciating view, and now those emotions were keeping me in reality in a certain way, in a humbling way. It is as if the emotions themselves were telling me, “You have worked hard, but you are far from finished”. I know that this is probably not new many any of you but this has been a hard battle for me and it has been nice that I have not suffered from them until recently. I know that these and any emotions for that fact do not last forever and that is my joy and my weapon that will hopefully lead to the gradual elimination or influence of these emotions that I have harbored since high school. Ugh! How childish can I be? Even as an adult?
One day in class Gen la spoke briefly about meditation. It is quite apparent that most of my classmates do not meditate though I think that some of them will eventually take to the practice. He was talking about that how now a days in the western world, the word ‘meditation’ is connected to only a kind of relaxation period were the mind can just blank out. He said that this concept is severely flawed for he believed that such a concept implied that the mind did not have to do any work, where in fact it is the opposite. There is a lot of work involved, not just blissing out. He told the class that for beginners it is good to take a particular scriptural passage and contemplate over it, word by word, phrase by phrase. This suggestion is also popular in many other Indian religious traditions as well. He added that this practice is closely tied to the practice of memorization in its entirety. As one verbally recites the object to be memorized one can not help but not think about what one is memorizing. It is true in some sense, but I do feel that if the mind is more focused during the memorization session then that can turn into a powerful and insightful practice.
When I am downloading my text I always bring my mind back to the object, just I would during meditation and though I might not understand what I am downloading at the time, when Gen la explains the passage I have it with a pretty good beginning clarity to start digging on the meaning. But there is a danger, I was warned by a senior international dialectics student that if one forces the mind during memorization instead of calmly and naturally bringing the mind back to the object there is a risk of suffering from ‘wind (rlung, vayu)’ disorder, which is similar to what we see in the west as a beginnings of a nervous breakdown. I remember when I started studying Tibetan at Cornell the summer of ’04 when someone pointed out to me that the bridge I was walking on which hovers over a high gorge was known to having at least one law school student per year jump into the gorge from all the stress of school; here that might have been considered as an untreated wind disorder. Anyways, I stopped and looked over the railing and hocked a big ole’ loogy over the side, I counted 20 seconds until it disappeared below me, that’s a long way down, boys!
Continuing, with this practice it really takes the individual to be mindful of the mental process as one memorizes or we end up like what Gen la called, “Those who recite the four immeasurables but are only thinking about the ‘I’”, The four immeasurables are: 1) May all sentient beings enjoy happiness and the causes of happiness; 2) May they be free from suffering and the causes of suffering; 3) May they never be separated from the great happiness devoid of suffering; 4) And may they dwell in the great equanimity that is free from attachment and aversion, (sems can tham cad bde ba dang bde ba’i rgyu dang ldan par gyur cig/ sems can tham cad sdug bsngal dang sdug bsngal gyi rgyu dang bral bar gyur cig/ sems can tham cad sdug bsngal med pa’i bde ba dam pa dang mi bral bar gyur cig/ sems can tham cad nye ring chags ldang gnyis dang bral ba’i btang snyoms tshad med med pa la gnas par gyur cig//), Gen la said, “that we must not to be like the person who from the mouth is saying ‘may all sentient beings’, or ‘may they’, when in actual fact one is thinking ‘may I’. We must learn to focus on the meaning within the passage and slowly the intention and motivation of it will gradually become clearer and clearer. Everyday right after Gen la enters the classroom and after we have done our prostrations we recite refuge and the four immeasurables and so Gen la’s advice really hit home.
This week we were given the boot out of our classroom on the top floor of the administrative building and had to set up shop in the temple. Though we normally study and sometimes debate in there this was the first time, since the prior Buddhist philosophy course, that we have had class there. We were booted out because next Friday a very special guest will be at Sarah College. His Holiness the XVII Karmapa will be here next Thursday on the 6th of January and so our classroom and the other rooms adjoining it needed to be cleaned up and pimped out for him. Though I am not sure why he is coming to Sarah, I have a feeling that it could have something to do with the Tibetan college student’s conference that will be held on campus next week bringing in Tibetan college students from all around India. I am looking forward to it, though. HHK spoke my very first week at Sarah so it is like the ending and starting of a cycle for me, one that started as a beginning Tibetan language student in ‘07 and another that starts as a beginning dialectics student in ‘11.
The sense of wonder struck me one day as I was downloading on the roof above our classroom. The roof stands at about 4 floors high between the boy’s and the girls dorms. On the roof of the boy’s dorm I noticed one of boys trying to get a kite airborne. The kite that he used reminded of the kind of handmade kites we used to make in Panama out of sticks and newspaper about 2ft by 2ft in a diamond shape though this kite was obviously factory made. The boy at first was having difficulty getting the kite to fly. I went back to the goal at hand and later at one point I saw a string floating towards the back of roof almost level from where I was standing. The string was white and thin so I was unable to follow it. At this point I turned to the boy’s hostel to see the guy was still trying to get the kite to fly. I was rather struck at this white string floating from the back of the building a few yards in front of my face though. Eventually I found the end of the string way, way off in the distance far passing the girl’s hostel. A small white kite flew over the village and was flying over a ravine where a river flows that is about perpendicular to the school. I was astounded at where that kite was in flight.
Again I went back to my task and after a while I noticed a piece of notebook paper swaying back and forth over the boy’s hostel. At first I thought, “Damn, dem’ boys made a kite out of a piece of notebook of paper! That‘s pretty badass”. But as I watched the paper swaying and elevating, I noticed that it was not moving as if the wind was forcing it, as if it is was leading, but as if there was something else that was causing it to move in its erratic swaying pattern, something else was leading it. So I slowly lifted my head following an imaginary 65 degree angle, taking in as I did this the full nude rocky face of the Dhualadhar range, the clear skies and the brisk ominous wind that was blowing the temperatures down a bit until I noticed a tiny black diamond with silver glittery tails flying behind it way above in the sky. It was another kite and this one was flying the highest I have ever seen a kite fly. The contrast was startling against the deep blue backdrop of the sky and the streaks of wispy cirrus clouds floating in rows that stretched themselves all the way to the mountains from above us where we stood. I assumed that the notebook paper was strung so that these ole skool aviators could keep track of the kite.
The another guy, the first one I noticed who was attempting to fly his kite finally got his fly and I watched as it floated pass me, gaining distance and height. And so, there were a total of three kites flying from the roof of the boy’s hostel, a black one and two white ones. Later I noticed that the string that was floating in front of me was severely sagging and that the kite that was flying over the river was not there anymore. That kite was lost and I had a feeling that they would lose it and so did the first guy also lose his kite. But the black kite reigned as victor of the skies that day, flying high with high soaring birds of prey as its only competitors.
That night the winds really started to kick in, I could hear doors slamming through the dorm. I could hear the water tanks on the roof squeaking as if holding on for dear life. I knew what was coming, from the sudden arising of the cold winds of the afternoon and from the brief glances I took at the newspaper. One headline read, “Cold and fog keeps planes on in down in New Delhi”, which means for us up here that eventually that those clouds and that that cold will visit the rest of North India eventually and that was exactly what happened the next day. A cold icy rain blew in that night rattling everything. I brought my poor orchid inside to protect her from the violence. After I had refilled my hot water bottles and wrapped them in my shawl, I cuddled with them in an unrelenting vigor as the temperature dropped and the delicate sounds of thunder tapped my ear drums.
The next day was completely overcast and the rain continued. After lunch the power went out and it stayed that way. Several times during the day the clouds would just break a bit to reveal what has taken place up on the hill. That night one of the B.A. classes had a roundtable debate scheduled but it had to be postponed due to lack of juice and so many of us had not prepared anything for that night’s debate. We did our initiatory prayers in the temple under candlelight and one of our classmates had brought us all sweet milk tea to drink. The mood of the prayers that night carried with it a laggard sense with it as if everyone’s mind was just not there, lacking somehow. I even tried to add some pep into my chanting but it was futile. The ambiance had done set in and it was too strong to remove. Afterwards, it was decided that we would have group debate reviewing previous topics from the “Presentation of Collected Topics” up until our current text. Everything was candlelit. Two impromptu debating groups were formed with each have three folks sitting as defender and everyone else could join the vociferous challenge. As soon as we started, the monk from the Hindi class showed up and started dropping bombs. The level of noise in the temple with the screaming, clapping and stomping felt like a huge phenomena adding to the eerie candlelit environment. I imagined for a second if this was how it could have probably looked like back in the pre-Chinese invasion days in Sera, Drepung and Gandan monasteries in Tibet. I quickly brought myself back to the moment happening in front me. Obviously my romantic side has not dwindled has much as I would have liked. Afterwards in my room with no light I was unable to refill my hot water bottles and slept a very cold sleep, the cold in all its coldness was my cuddle buddy that night.
The next day being New Year’s Eve, the sky had cleared up and we were gifted with a beautifully white New Year’s Eve gift. The white of the mountain burned against the blue sky and the snowline was very low, the lowest that I have ever seen it. The newspapers that day stated heavy snow through Northern parts of the Himachel Pradesh province and the province of Jammu Kashimir. Dal Lake in Srinagar had totally frozen over the first time in years. Indian tourists were flocking to these winter wonderlands to get first hand experience of the white frozen stuff. But not only India and it seemed like Europe and the eastern seaboard stateside has been hit with crazy-ass cold and snow. Too all of you who live in those areas, NYC, Massachusetts, Kentucky, etc and my European comrades I am thinking of you and hope that you might feel the warmth of my heart taking off some of the bite of the cold away. I know, wishful thinking, but I had to try.
That morning we had a surprise guest, though I had missed it as I had overslept. Tsering Shakya, a modern Tibetan Historian was speaking at Sarah. I was really disappointed that I missed his talk. I read his book, “The Dragon in the Land of Snows” many years back and was very impress with it. Some of my classmate filled me in on what he said though. During class the light came back on, we were all happy for that. The day started to overcast though and by afternoon it was gloomy again, but I saw something that I did not expect to see on such a gloomy day. At around 4pm I walked on to my balcony and I saw a partial rainbow starting from behind a tiny hill to the left of my room and it seemed as if to dissolve directly into the dark clouds behind it like it was entering a tunnel. It took me aback and I jumped. I was not expecting a rainbow with this weather on a cold gloomy New Year’s Eve day. Because of the foggy background, the colors of ROYGBIV seemed more brilliant than usual, I stared at it until it had completely dissolved back into the nothingness that it had once come from and towards the end I could not tell if a remembrance of it still remained or if my mind was playing tricks on me telling me that it was still faintly there.
The last rainbow of 2010 was accompanied by the last sunset of 2010 in its entire splendor that an Indian sunset has to offer. I was about to descend down the stairs to get dinner and I waited and faced the setting sun and gave him my goodbyes, “See you next year, duder!” After dinner another surprise came, I had pack all my things and was getting ready to go to prayers but I noticed that the TV hall is open and that the TV was on. I was like WTF? I walked into the TV Hall and I saw a bunch of my classmates in there on the floor watching TV. It was 6:30pm and prayers were to start, so I entered and asked one of my classmates if there was no debate that night. He said that the school captain had announced the rest of Friday night a holiday. Sweet I thought and returned to room. As midnight approached, I thought about how last New Year’s Eve I sat on the top of dining hall building with my German friend Katharina, I think that the waning moon was up too, and while looking at it we talked about life, our aspirations for the future and all that jazz. There was a bonfire party out in the woods somewhere that night, we were snickering because we could clearly hear a loud American girl’s drunken laughter from where we stood and if we could hear them then the principal could probably hear them too. These kinds of things are against the rules at Sarah, but many things also get a blind eye.
Anyways, Katharina and I took a toast of Old Monk for the New Year and went to bed. This year it was just me and the expansive skies. I placed my computer clock up on the screen at 11:59pm and watched it hit 12:00am Saturday, January 1st, 2011 and I thought that at 10:30am India time that day that the east coast state side’s clocks will hit 12:00 and folks will be partying down. I then prepared me a toast and walked a flight up to the roof. I toasted to the stars. Then ten minutes of fireworks were exploding in Kangra way down in the valley, a few screams of “Happy New Year’s” filled the halls but it was all over quickly. The International New Year really doesn’t mean squat shit here, so it is does not have the same feeling as Diwali does. If one didn’t read the newspapers or listened to the news one would not know that it was New Years. Anyways, after my toast with stars, those that I then stared at, whose light could have possibly taken billions of years to reach my eye consciousness. Many of those very stars could very well not exist right now, since we have only the light of those objects to depend on as far as their existence is concerned even if we use the most high-tech expensive telescope in the world we are still dependent on their light to know if they exist. It will be only when the end of a certain star or galaxy’s light actually hits the earth that it would be known that a star or a galaxy has died, billions of years after the fact. With that in my mind, after glaring and contemplating into our cosmic pass, I hope, decided, and intended into our forever unborn universal future.