Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Day with My Tibetan Monk

Originally staying in a nice room overlooking the mountains, I decided I could find something even better for less the price.   Walking up the dirt road with my all my stuff, I approach a monk wearing his traditional, long maroon colored robe with his mala beads in his hand and a small, black knapsack around his neck.  He asks me if I need help finding a room and I tell him I have some places already in mind.  I impulsively ask him about the Dalai Lama.  Dharmasala is a common place for Daila Lama teachings at the Kalachacara temple.  He responds that he is unsure about these teachings, but he can check for me.  
Being eager to check again, I already spoke with another local who said the Daila Lama was at the temple yesterday at 11:30am.  What does this mean? THIS MEANS I MISSED SEEING THE DALAI LAMA BY ONE DAY=( Although, he is not the Dailai Lama, my monk makes me feel content and I enjoy talking with him.  We decide to go have some Chai together.  Akash sees me with my backpack and is telling me he has a room for 300 rupees and I decline his offer and keep walking with my monk.  We share some Chai at the Tibetan café with everyone from Tibet except for me and a fellow New York photographer.  He is here to shoot Tibetan monks in exile. 

Shortly after chai my monk asks to accompany to the Kalachacara temple.  I accept his invitation and off we go to the temple through the amazing McLeod. There are many Tibetan crafts, restaurants, bakeries, wine shops, and nuts/dry fruits are quite popular.  I did not realize how high the elevation was until our stroll through the town.  People on the street are of course looking at the monk walking the tourist because supposedly real monks are not suppose to be spending time with women. 

The Tibetan temple grounds are outside with high ceilings and benches to sit and enjoy.  It is such a peaceful place with , great spots to mediate, custom library, and two temples to visit.  My monk introduces me to his friend inside and I sit with them.  The Monk is having lunch sipping on what looks like curds milk.  He looks like a child with a milk mustache.   I tell him I am from America and he says with “San Facisco” or “New York.” I respond with “New York.” He is so cute sitting there I just love the Monks.  Both monks (Raka and Nwonang) are both from the same village in Tibet.  They both speak of their dislike of the Chinese government and what they are doing to Tibet-lack of freedom for Tibetans and control by the Chinese.  They tell me the Chinese language has become the language that is taught in Tibet and many people are forced to comply with the Chinese demands.  The Chinese language has been taught in Tibet since 1949.  They both say that they can not go back to Tibet otherwise they will be imprisoned.  I ask about how this could be that the government would imprison monks and they do not have a specific answer.  He says that Tibetan people are slowly trying to regain their freedom.   I discover that I have to do my research and reading on Tibet because there is a lot of history I do not know about and would like to learn. 

N and I walk towards the other temple where the Dalai lama does his teachings.  There sat his golden chair with a small area for this followers to sit.  It was such a spiritual energy coming from the temple and especially this specific part.  His presence is sitting inside the temple-his spirit in the chair-and his heart present in the red rug. 

N, my monk, has to then go for a photo shoot-yes a photo shoot for the exile pictures.  He sits and makes wise jokes with the NY photographer and poses with his serious monk face ha.  He is given an orange and he gives it to me.  I open it up and share it with him as we walk along the townside together. 

At the Tibetan kitchen, we order lunch.  He orders vegetarian pizza and I order a vegetarian Tibetan dish.  We speak of his childhood and upbringing.  He has been a monk since 1983 and previously he was studying to become a monk.  I shared with him the book I just finished, “The Monk who Sold his Ferrari.” He started laughing and said, “I do not know what a ferrari is.” I thought to myself, “This is a real monk.” He had never heard of the holy Sivana village in the Himalayas and this made me wonder if this was even a real village-I had not checked it out.  While I am talking he is picking the green peppers off his pizza and sipping on a peach tea ha. I ask him about positive and negative thinking and how he controls his mind, his meditation routine, and his words of advice.  Like most spiritual figures, he wakes up at 5:30 and does his meditation early in the morning.  When he speaks, I have to really focus in because he is English is a bit difficult to understand. We leave and he asks me if I would like to come over for dinner. I immediately ask him if this is okay and he says it is fine. Thinking of my own things I have to do, I postpone it until tomorrow. I ask if we can do some talking about the exile as I would like to learn more about it.  He says he can try to explain, but it is hard to do in English. 

Some facts on temple:

Kalachakra means the Wheel of Time

Important apects of Varayana Buddhism correlation between inner and outer elements

4 traditions of Tibetan Buddhism

1950 communist Chinese invention of Tibet

722 deities embodying the body, speech, and mind of the Kalachakra

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