so have not written for a while so will give a brief run down of adventures since New Year.
We visited to the old town in Dehli and I would recommend for anyone who is visiting to go there, but pick a day when feeling brave and prepared for all senses to be bamboozled as sights, sounds & smells are overwhealming yet incredible because of that. Also we visited to the Red Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Also another UNESCO World Heritage Site. These medieval Hindu and Jain temples are found in groups all over the small city and were said to be at the pinicle of indian archetecture. Famous though for the erotic (or romantic, depending on perspective!) sculptures that depict stories of ancient parties, festivals and life on the outsides of the temples. It is said that the karma sutra on the outside of Hindu temples portray that once seeing the deity one is supposed to leave their sexual desires outside the temple before entering. The sculptures though were exisite with perfect curvy bodies , one guide (the strategy was to subtely take photos besides groups that had bought guides and evesdrop inconspiciously) said it was because they did yoga and ate good food everyday, and the problem with nowdays is that while we still enjoy good food, people dont have time to exercise everyday !
Then while walking the streets, all young Indian kids are always very interested in you – “what is your country”, “what is you name”, “do you have biscuit”, “do you have pen”… but a couple of young boys with no shoes took me on a tour of the local old town. It was very interesting as they still have class society there, as we moved through the narrow streets you could reconise that you were entering into a new class by the small hump on the road. They showed me the wells that were near empty as they are lacking water this winter, and the cow patties used for burning on fires and insulating roofs.
HH Dalai Lama in Bodhgaya
The whole of Bodhgaya was packed with foreigners and monks that came from all over, all guest houses put their prices up by 4 times every year reaping in the rewards from this annual course. Apparantly Richard Gere had also come along but I didnt run into him. I did though by chance happen to say hello and hold the hand of HH Dalai Lama to help him down a step or two as he was getting into his car 🙂
Was great to spend the week listening to this impressive speaker and charismatic leader, along with giving commentary to some buddhist texts he really stresses for people to be aware of the situation in Tibet, that the human rights situation is detiriorating with heavy controls and continued torture and violence, there is said to be one army officer for every 10 people now and any foreign reporting is forbidden. Exploitation of Tibets minerals and the much bigger concern of survival of Tibetan culture is as stake as the Chinese government increasingly encourages Han Chinese to migrate there for higher wages, pushing the Tibetans out. HH Dalai Lama tells the public to please visit there ourselves, and check out the situation for ourselves objectively. And if we don’t think that there are these problems he will stop talking about it. But it is interesting to talk to the Tibetans and they each have their own story. I also met one Tibetan Human Rights Activist living in Sweden, he said that governments were presented a list of Chinese spies that operated in each country, apparantly USA and Australia evicted theirs straight away but alas in NZ we didnt do anything, at least officially as far as he knows. He has been thretened a few times and cannot be in contact with his family.
Lived here in the backstreets close to the ghats on the holy river ganges. One can stroll along the river and see the many sadhus washing themselves in the (extremly polluted) holy water. Also hindu funerals are performed here, where they burn bodies by the river.
Visited to Saranath the deer park where Buddha first taught the Dharma – The 8 Fold Path & The 4 Noble Truths. There is also a small museum that hosts many artifacts from ruins that were excavated from the Ashoka period.
Back to Bodhgaya
This time a longer stay of 10 days. The Nyingma (the old school) moelam was really impressive with around 9000 monks and nuns, including a whole section full of Ngapas & Ngagmos (non monastic yogis & yoginis) and around 250 tulkus. Also an inspiring line up of masters such as the new Dujom Rinpoche, Rabjam Rinpoche, Mingling Khenchen Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche and more. One evening as the sun was going down the Ngagmos gathered together and performed the famous chod (practice for cutting through the ego) ceremony. Many people gathered to watch this enchanting practice absorbed in the airy tune accompanied by darmaru (hand drum) and bell. The darmaru is held in the right hand to a single beat with the left hand operating the bell in double time, I tried this once and my brain can not cope!
I met with Rabjam Rinpoche (the successor of Dilgo Kyenste Rinpoche of Sechen monestary) a couple of times he has promised to come teach in NZ some time next year so watch this space…. !
Then also visited to Rajgir – Vulture Peak Mountain where Buddha gave the prajnaparamita and also to the ruins of Nalanda University – “one of the first great universities in ancient history”. This was a day bus tour that I went on with the whole bus full of Nepali mountain people. They sang heart felt songs all the way and the ladies high, strong cries in these songs bought a tear to my eye 🙂 was really wonderful songs and told them I will now go find a CD.