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, 14 January 2008

India, Day 17 - Dalai Lama at Nechung Monastery

Monday 14th January

Long Life Prayer for HH, wrote Alan on his diary...

What a special day! H.H. the Dalai Lama was giving a teaching to Tibetans only at the Nechung Monastery (Deyang Deprung Monastery), which had just been completed.

Perhaps because it was right behind our accommodation block, one of the monks at Gyakham khangtsen knocked at my room's door and said, "come, quick!" Not quite sure what was happening, I quickly put my shoes on and followed him down the stairs. "Quick, go!" he shouted, pointing at Deyang Deprung Monastery. I gladly obeyed. The way was totally clear, as everyone was already inside the building. I walked up the empty stairs and entered the monastery, where everyone was already sitting quietly on the floor listening respectfully to His Holiness. This time I had my camera with me, and didn't resist the temptation to take a picture!

I sat with the Tibetans, not understanding a single word, but trusting that somehow I was receiving a direct mindstream transmission.

When the session was over, I noticed and delighted in the beauty of the traditional costumes wore by the Tibetan lay people.

Geshe Damcho was leaving the Monastery by the side exit. I followed him back to Gyakham Khangtsen,

where the Westerners where chilling out on, chatting on the long balcony corridor, or sitting quietly reading a book.

Tenzin Legden, a young monk from Tsethang Khangtsen sponsored by Lam Rim Wilts and Glos, invited me for a guided tour of the settlement after lunch.

He showed me streets I hadn't been in before

and I could get yet another glimpse of the way people live in the settlement.

On the way, Tenzin Legden showed me the window of Geshe Thinley's old room

and eventually welcomed me into Tsethang Khangtsen.

I followed him up the stairs to the rooftop terrace,
where all the monks of Tsethang Khangtsen were sleeping together on floor mats

inside an improvised tent.

so that the Westerners could have their rooms.

All around the roof terrace, clothes and towels hanging out to dry.

First visit to Monastery's Kitchen

Afterwards, Tenzin Legden took me on a tour to the Monastery's kitchen.

I felt enourmously priviledged to have the opportunity to see the way Tibetan monks organise themselves and work together. I was told that a rotating team of monks cooks for all the others.

I saw them sitting together around a long rectangular table kneeding the flour dough traditionally, by hand. Dough balls sitting on the lightly floured work surfaces, waiting for their turn to be shaped into round flat breads.

Nearby, another group of around ten monks standing around what seemed like a metalic table but was actually an open stove top, cooking and turning the Tibetan flatbreads with their spatulas.

In another table, the flatbreads were pilled up on top of each other in groups of about twenty, ready to be distributed to more than 3,000 monks!

I then saw the huge saucepans used to make Bhoeja, the famous Tibetan butter tea.

 I wanted to have a closer look and walked towards the big, squared 'cookers' used for this purpose.

I didn't like what I saw. The water was green and had stuff that looked like limescale floating on it! Could it perhaps be the salt Tibetans use in the tea? I didn't know. But I stopped drinking it! No wonder a lot of monks, like Tenzin Legden, complained of stomach problems.

Meeting Ven. Gyalrong Khentrul Rinpoche

Ven. Gyalrong Khentrul Rinpoche, the deputy spiritual director of the Lam Rim Centres, joined us for the evening meal. Born in 1978 not far from Dharamsala, he was recognised as a reincarnation of an ex-abbot of Drepung Loseling monastery by H.H. the Dalai Lama. He was 8 years old when he joined Drepung monastery.

After the evening meal, consisting as usual of white rice with a vegetarian accompaniment followed by fruit, I was determined to find out if I could get a recording of the chant master. The Library Society was still open. Unfortunately, there were no recordings for sale.

Continues here.

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