Tuesday, March 01, 2005

the blessings

Imagine a large u-shaped monastery on the top of a mountain, the open side revealing the mountains stretching back into infinity, complete with heavenly clouds. In the courtyard, sitting amongst some trees and under some canopies, six thousand people, mostly monks, nuns, and Tibetans, all awaiting His Holiness to appear behind the large iron gate at one end (his home is attached by a small stretch of road and forest). As soon as he arrives, the entire arena becomes silent, and all gaze at the presence smiling and laughing as he makes his way down the center of the crowd to the throne at the opposite end. Shortly after he sits, every prostrates, we sing prayers with him, and then, believe it or not, a river of monks and nuns flow from behind him with rolls and tea for everyone!

Today i managed to make my way to the edge of the crowd at the end of the teachings (teachings are twice a day, from 9:00-11:30, and then 1;00-4:30), and i knelt down, by the gate (guarded with two soldiers), kneeling with mostly Tibetans, some crying, some holding up prayer beads, (and babies) to be blessed. The Dalai Lama takes time to look into everyone's eyes. When ours met, i felt more alive then i ever have, and a confidence and joy filled my mind, pushing a smile onto my face that lingers even now.

Today's teachings were about the horrible suffering experienced in the womb, at birth, during life, aging, and at death. ("When we are old standing up feels like uprooting a tree, and nobody can understand what we say") our bodies can’t do things that they used to, and do things that they didn’t used to do. He would of course tell us very funny stories. He is very funny and makes everybody laugh. Then he talked about the process of dying, the despair of leaving everything and everyone you love, knowing that you will never see any of them ever again, and then the dream objects and illusions that appear in the mind as the last breath dissolves into space.

Interestingly, Tibetans believe that if you do not recognize the "clear light mind" which is your very nature, at the moment of death, you will contract away from that light, follow after various projections of your mind, until finally you are attracted to two beings you see, a man and a woman. You will see them lying next to each other and then you will see their genitals merging; you will step between them, and descend into the womb. We choose our parents based on our karma, or work we need to do. Can you all see why you chose your parents?

Oh, and you should know that contemplating the suffering of life in the dramatic way i mentioned above is meant to be a useful method to help cultivate the desire to free ourselves from our afflictive emotions, such as anger and envy and fear, as apposed to being enchanted by and addicted to them, all in order to train ourselves to better benefit others. Remember, the whole point in Buddhism is to first tame our minds and then train our minds to be of better service.

Today before the second set of teachings Charlie and i got into a fight about where we should eat for dinner, (and about money), ending in both of us storming off in opposite directions, me toward the teachings (he went to go read). And the very teaching the Dalai Lama started of with was about, you guest it, anger! And how when we are angry we become blind and do things that aren’t rational, and usually feel embraced after the anger leaves (and we do and say things we usually regret later). How true! And how amazing that while i am in such a wonderful place n the world i am so easily stirred and bothered by my good, dear friend. "the fist thing we need to do is see suffering as suffering and honestly wish to liberate ourselves and others."

Before and after every teaching, the Tibetans (and westerners) walk along a narrow path around the temple and home of the Dalai Lama, all chanting "Om mani padme hum." He really is considered a deity, i think.

much love,

may all beings everywhere be free

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May all beings be Free and in Love.

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