Holed up in cosy cafe in Mcleod Ganj, decorated with prayer flags and embroideries of the Potala palace, monks slap tables and play with their mobile phones, the mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ is played quietly from a giant, flashing speaker. I’m sipping a special teas, Tibetan in origin it has dried lychees, plums, goji berries and some unknown foreign fruits floating around in it. More of a fruity soup than a tea really. As the rain lashes down in the narrow streets and freshly snow capped peaks are cloaked by by a swirling silver mist, I am left a window from which to reflect on my times so far up here in the heart of the Tibetan community in exile. An wonderfully homely and inspiring place. Mcleod Ganj is a place that cannot help but capture and challenge your heart equally, when the reality of the situation here sinks in, humanities light and dark sides are finely exhibited. This is especially true when you hear individuals tales of suffering and incredible human feats of courage, grief and resilience. Every Tibetan citizen here has seen their lives violently uprooted and have suffered great loss and torment.
Being in Mcleod Ganj feels a long way away from India at large, it’s like being in the centre point of the most vital page of an ancient cultures history. History seems to move slowly at the moment, too slowly for some of the younger Tibetans, but the Dalai Lama stands firmly within the peaceful, middle way, the way of Guatama Buddha. The only way form him and Tibet. Their way.
In Mcleod Ganj we witness a displaced and gloriously elaborate community re-establishing its culture, proudly maintaining its unique identity in a melting pot of craft, cooking, music, literature, art and worship; whilst attempting to face up to incredible and almost impossible circumstances. Dealing with the Chinese Government, a real life David versus Goliath situation, with peace and re-conciliation as their only weapon. An awesome feat, led by an awesome human being….
Today I watched the Dalai Lama teaching from the eight verses of mind control. The discourse related directly to esoteric Tibetan teachings but His Holiness always kept (and keeps) things contemporary and relevant to the audience, mainly the Tibetan lay community. The Dalai Lama embodies ancient Tibetan ritual, ceremony and scripture and yet remains focused on moving Tibet forward, assimilating Western practices and technology.
Witnessing the veneration of H.H. by Tibetans is a deeply moving and humbling experience. The Dalai Lama speaks like an empassioned father, amazingly forceful and yet tender at the same time, the audience is utterly rapt to his every word, you could hear a pin drop, if you could find an empty scrap of floor space to drop one. The large courtyard is a sea of shaven heads, wide eyes, craned necks and the occasional cluster of hairy Western travelers, highly incongruous and yet warmly very welcomed. A little FM radio was offered up by a friendly nun sitting on my foot and I was able to catch bits and pieces of the English translation. The Dalai Lama is irrepressible, radiant and a wonderfully pleasant person. Being in his presence brings a sense of peace and always a chuckle or two. This goes for the Tibetan community at large, when they weep and angst fills their faces, it seems like the world is filled with the deepest woe, all hearts lie broken and bereft; but when they smile, its as if sunshine and joy were never ending. Gladly, in Mcleod Ganj, you will mainly see Tibet’s lighting up the streets with the broadest grins and much hearty laughter.
After yesterdays post, I started to read more of H.H.’s quotes and couldn’t help but share more. The Dalai Lama is 80 years old, but is still the worlds most outspoken advocate of peace, tolerance and compassion. Our only options for a better world.
Spending time in the presence of His Holiness and so many softly spoken and devote Tibetan Monks and Nuns emphasises the importance of not only kind words, but practice, discipline and action infused with good intention. I am a great one for talking about peace and spirituality, but in practice; the actual daily experience of living, well lets just say that things can be a very different matter!
The Dalai Lama brings sometimes complex philosophy and metaphors into such simple and profound phrases. He speaks to us from a universal space of love and a sense of deep rooted humanity. He shares his own life experiences and subsequent revelations. He claims to be a simple monk, but we all know that he is much, much more……
The words we need for dramatic evolution and end to the travails of existence and harmonious new dawns are all below. They are simple and yet profound. The big challenge is can we put them into action? Can we stick to them? Do we really want to make the sacrifice, change, give it a try? We are at a point in human history where something needs to give, we either destroy ourselves, our planet and everything that we share it with, or, we wake up to our current situation. Ignorance rules. Money and material gains do not bring peace or happiness of oneself or ones society. Can we individually break down cultural, religious and all mind based delusions of separateness? Can we realise true happiness? Can we embrace our precious human life? Can we see the light and potential that shines within us all? The Dalai Lama would smile an indefatigable yes. Then he’d concisely show you how…….Be loving, be fearless, be free.
Long life H.H. the Dalai Lama!
You can find the official account of yesterdays ‘Long Life Ceremony’ here.