The Buddha said:
This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds
To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance.
A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky,
Rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain.


What the caterpillar perceives as the end, to the butterfly is just the beginning.

Monday, 31 December 2007

India, Day 3 - Camp 3 and internet cafe

Monday, 31st December 2007

After breakfast, a group of us decided to walk to Lama Camp 3, approximately 4 kms away, leaving Gyakham Khangtsen through the back gate (from this perspective you can see the accommodation block we stayed in, opposite the main house; I was sharing one of the rooms on the first floor seen just behind the gate).

On the way out of Camp 2, we walked past Palden Drepung Tashi Gomang Monastic University,

the New Assembly Hall,

several bullock carts,

and many doorless, Indian taxis, craming up to ten monks, half on them hanging outside, holding on to the car's roof rack.

Arriving at Camp 3, we walked past groups of monks sitting outside around tables at the Kamala Juice Centre, next to the government authorized Rail e-Ticket Booking Centre. The monks, just like the lay people, looked at us with the same interested curiosity we looked at them.

On the left side of the dusty road, groups of monks were looking at posters with images of the Dalai lama, the New Assembly Hall, and all sorts of Buddhist symbols and imagery. Most were displayed on the floor, and some were hanging in ropes tied around the nearby trees. 

Eventually we saw the Western Union Money Transfer building, just behind a three wheeled black taxi surrounded by yet another group of monks, all attempting to get in.

We saw watermelons for sale, mostly piled up on the floor, some on a stall, cut into slices, ready to be sold to the children on their way to or from school.

I looked around one of the side streets which cornered with the money exchange agency,

where I tried to get some ruppees. The queue was huge, so I stood on the balcony, admiring the view. During the Dalai lama's teachings the money exchange agency gets very busy and at times runs out of money. From the balcony I could see right in front of me a 'stall' selling door covers, some white, others yellow, and some embroided with the Tibetan Buddhist eight auspicious emblems.

To my left, two market stalls selling fruit and vegetables next to a tiny 'cafe' with three monks sitting around a table having a drink of water, tea, and fruit juice.

Soon after leaving the money exchange building we discovered what seemed to be the main shopping area of Camp 3, a U shaped 'square' with lots of things for sale. There were nuns looking at t-shirts, shawls, malas,

and lay people looking at hats and mobile phones.

What fascinated me the most was an open clothes shop where old fashion, manual, treadle sewing machines were operated by both men and women. The atmosphere was joyful and relaxed, the sewers happily chatting with monks who sat next to them as they continued to male all sorts of clothes and small lama bags for the monks and nuns.

Next to it, a tiny shop filled with colouful items in different tones of reds, yellows, marroon, blue and green. Inside, a display of silk wall hangings and organisers with three separate compartments each. In the glass display cabinet, a choice of offering bowls and other shrine items. Outside, saffron lama bags made from cotton, and monastic robes hang on the walls. Several Tibetan rugs were also on display on top of a table.

Looking all around, I could see prayer flags, coca cola banners, clothes for lay people, old motorbikes,

Tibetan ponchos and blankets. You name it, they had it all! After a good look around the camp we decided to walk back to Gyakham Khangtsen, as it was getting late and we were meant to be back for lunch. 

Later that afternoon, when the temperature started to cool down a little, Alan practiced tai-chi outside Nechung monastery, and I found my way to the internet cafe at Drepung Loseling's Library. The connection was incredibly slow, and we were only allowed 15 to 30 minutes a day, as there were only eight computers for public use at the camp. Nevertheless, it allowed me to stay in touch with my parents in Portugal and my son in the UK. 

On New Year's eve there was I, surrounded by Tibetan monks, telling my parents how delicious the Tibetan food was, to which my dad, with his usual sense of humour, replied,

"We wish you the continuation of positive currents and bright light, in the simultaneous presence of chakras, mantras and the like. If you see Rinpoche, give him compliments, not only mine but also from Cucas Abelgas."

To complete the day, a gathering with Geshe Damcho, who welcomed us all to 
Gyakham Khangtsen, and reminded us that "good qualities, like love, compassion, and harmony, are natural. It is just that our mind, like computer, has virus. Don't just live life like an animal motivated for material things, we need to develop spiritual and religious knowledge." 

Continues here.

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