Archive for tibet

Images on the Road ’16-’17

Practicing Tai Chi – Beside the Forbidden City, Beijing

I’ve been on the road for over a year; Spain, Italy, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Greece, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Nepal, India, soon to be Ethiopia (flying visit), Lebanon….. I enjoy taking photographs and I challenged myself to pick a few of my favourite images to show you. I came up with these.  All taken on my Mum’s old phone.

Girls dressed up for a festival – Kathmandu

The Togean Ocean – Sulawesi, Indonesia

Annapurna 1 – Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal

Graffiti – Valora, Albania

One of a Billion Diety – Kathmandu, Nepal

Have a coconut – Pondicherry, India

Green Canopy – Somewhere in Indonesia

Shepherd Family – The Accursed Mountains, Between Albania and Kosovo

Flower Shower – Tiger Leaping Gorge, China

Chai Stop – Mcleod Ganj, India

Books by the Fire – Pokhara, Nepal

Snack Time – Kolkatta, India

Guru Bar – Anjuna, Goa

Incense Offerings – Henan, China

Streetside Art – Lecce, Italy

Mountain Donkeys – Annapurna, Nepal

Little Monks – Kopan Monastery, Nepal

Old Men Gambling – Guangxhi Province, China

Concrete Nightmare – Guangzhou, China

Baba – Kathmandu, Nepal

Home grown Chilli – Longchi Rice Terraces, China

La Azhoia Sunset – Murcia, Spain

Longchi Rice Terraces, China

Meditation – Kopan Monastery, Nepal (Taken by Jase Web)

Monkey Minds – Bins, Mcleod Ganj

Sewing Machine – Kathmandu

Riding Effortlessly on the Great Wall – China

 

 

Advertisements

Comments (6) »

Lessons for Living – The Dalai Lama


I read this list of rules when living and working in London, I had them posted near a light switch in my bedroom.  London is a place that sometimes seems inhumane (inhuman) and certainly a little immoral, especially when you are trying to earn a living.

Guidelines/ wisdom from great teachers are a huge boost to my spirit, they remind me that the grey concrete world is out of line, not myself.  They focus the mind on the way that I’m are interacting with it all, from thought to action to stillness.

His famous quote:

Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

Always made me smile, as I was working in catering and am constantly in love with something or other.  It also conjured up an image of the Dalai Lama in my kitchen cooking dinner!

I was so blessed to actually be around the Dalai Lama for a short time in India (see my post here); regardless of his position as a ‘God King’ or whatever you feel about him, you cannot argue with the wisdom that he bestows upon us, his non-violent approach and the karma that he is making his way through.

I love the simplicity of these lessons, they had a profound effect on the way that I viewed my actions and came along at just the right time.  They certainly help me navigate the turbulent big city environment and emerge relatively unscathed.  I hope they resonate in your space, bring light and perspective:

1.Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.

3. Follow the three R’s:
– Respect for self,
– Respect for others and
– Responsibility for all your actions.

4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.

7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and
think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.

14. Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.

15. Be gentle with the earth.

16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

19. If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.

20. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

Leave a comment »

The Science of Miracles – Gregg Braden

How are you today?  I hope you are shining away.

Do you have time for a little inspiration?

This is a 59 minute clip that changes everything.  A wake up call to a timeless, collective awareness offering a link to an underlying field that connects us all.  This mirror, our reality, which reflects what we have become within.

This is an incredible video. Greg Braden explains the nature of miracles and the coming together of the ancient spiritual with the modern scientific.

An empowering programme that leaves me feeling in tune with the infinite potential of human energy to heal and enhance our collective love.

“We can always have the feeling of peace within our hearts….we are part of all that we see…..in the language of those that have come before us, we must become that which we chose to experience in our lives……in that way building a better world.”

Peace and Love to you all X

Leave a comment »

Dr Fred Alan Wolf talks Quantum Physics on Thinking Allowed

Quantum Physics. What is it? I hear it mentioned in spiritual circles constantly. I know the famous atheist Richard Dawkins sees it as a new crutch for spiritual folk to turn to when cornered by the prickly rational sorts. A get out clause, a new age myth loosely based on science. It gives credibility to any spiritual argument because it is technically scientific, but really based on nothing and completely unexplainable. In this, I find its vital element. The quest to explain the unexplainable will surely fascinate humans at a higher state of consciousness until the end of our days. The shamans are there, but in our concrete boxes, we can only seek crumbs of understanding from people like Fred Alan Wolf, a man I could watch talking all day long.

Here is Dr Wolf on a strange talk show, but he lights it up as he talks of a fascination in magic and a ‘spiritual universe’.

The meeting of the spiritual world with the scientific is a fascinating connection being made in these times. The rational mind meets a concept of infinite potential. I first saw Dr Wolf on a documentary about the Dalai Lama, where he was briefing the Dalai Lama on the advancements in Quantum Physics. A field I know that Tibetan Buddhism is very interested in and sees many parallels with its own teaching.

Dr Wolf talks with Mr Mishlove about philosophy and the spiritual worlds relation to modern science.  What is the soul?

Thinking Allowed (http://www.thinkingallowed.com/)

Is an in-depth independent TV show, that interviews some of the world’s top intellectuals.  For me, it is becoming the education I would have liked to received at school or university, if I’d have had any idea what was going on back then.  Someone should have told me this!  I am now getting this education via youtube.  An enlightening show.

Comments (2) »

Dhankar Monastery, Spiti Valley, India, July 2010

Dhankar Monastery, Spiti Valley

Dhankar Monastery (or Gompa) was built as a fort monastery (Dhan=cliif, Kar=Fort) built on the the Tibetan pattern.  Nestled on a 300 metre rock spur, high above the confluence of the Spiti and Pin Rivers.  The gompa stands at 3894 metres above sea level.

I stayed here for a while, in the nearby new monastery, home of more than 150 monks.  The old monastery only has a few hardy monks living within.  Most of the monasteries buildings are derelict, including rooms full of old frescoes, images of Buddha in his many incarnations and Lamas.  The main monastery building has an incredible energy, ancient, with its crocked stairways and small musty rooms.  Very little renovation has taken place, giving it ancient mystique and a reverential air.

From my bedroom window I could see Dhankar hanging on its precarious rock tower, above the silver veins of the rivers and the mighty granite Himalayan peaks that surround.  All along the valley I witnessed similar rock towers collapsed, piles of red rock beside the only road.  This is due to an increase in rain fall in this, the highest desert on earth.  Global warming seemingly to blame.  The views around Dhankar are truly magical and imprinted on my minds eye forever, this is the most beautifully situated building I have ever seen.

Its history dates back to the 12 century (maybe longer) and was the capital of Spiti for many years.  In the 17th century the rulers of Spiti, The Nonos, used Dhankar as their capital.  Its main feature is a statue named ‘Vairochana’, it also holds many important ancient scriptures and tankas.  The Dalai Lama has visited many times and it is possible to see the small bed that he, and every Dalai Lama has slept on in the main ceremonial room, below a large golden prayer wheel.

Making prayer flags in the monastery

I spent time with the monks, who were very open and hospitable, inviting me to meditation and prayer sessions.  One memorable session ended with Mary and I being offered gifts of decorated sweetened barley stupas, biscuits, crisps and chocolates.  The giant golden buddhas were offered the same, but they also received bottles of coke.  We were always well looked after, lots of sweet chai or salted butter tea on offer.  After hours chanting, the monks needed some liquid refreshment.  I loved how they all had their own decorated mugs.  It seemed to keep most of them awake, there where many bobbing bald heads in the morning sessions and much yawning.

A gang of young monks in the old monastery invited me to watch an England world cup match, but after trekking over there and bashing on the old red door (nearly taking it off its hinges) there was no answer.  The old monastery is fitted with its own Tata satellite dish!  These young dudes seemed interested in all things modern, which could be down to the Shakira videos they were watching most days.  It must be hard to be a teenage monk up here.

Most of the monks were locals, living in the village Shichilling directly below, but many of the younger monks came from other villages in Spiti Valley.  Dhankar is very prestigious monastery, one of the most important in the whole region, along with Tabo and Key monasteries.

Dhankar Monastery with sun low

I stayed in the hostel attached to the new monastery and many travellers and seekers make the steep ascent, I regularly had company.  Always and interesting crowd.  I became friendly with the owners of the hostel and one of my favourite times there was helping to deal with over 40 English public school girls, who turned up unannounced with a huge amount of baggage carried by an army of donkeys and porters.  They had the look of  an epic expedition as they came over the brow of the valley.  They were a nice bunch, strange to bump into so many English people in this little isolated pocket of the world.  I helped to cook them omlettes and a curry, with vats of tea, as the cook was detained in a local police station.  The hostel only has around 10 rooms, so their were young, shrieking English girls littered all over the place.  Still, they left seeming happy enough, in a brisk, detached British fashion.  We were glad to see them disappear in a huge cloud of orange dust and goretex, getting back to the business of doing nothing.

With Manik and S********(could never remember his name!), Team Hostel

I have many happy memories of clamouring down the steep, loose rocked, village paths to one family home or another, looking for barley wine for an evening tipple.  This happened normally with only moonlight to guide me and without a common language.  The villagers seemed to know what I wanted, especially after a few attempts and I invariably ended up sitting in an old crones kitchen, above the cattle, with immaculately arranged shelves of silver pots and pans.  The old dear would scoop empty plastic water bottles of the potent spirit, out of a pale and then we’d sit and laugh; pull drunked faces, sip the brew, pick hay from our teeth.  The wine seemed to evaporate before it reached the gullet and after 15 minutes you were actually completely smashed.  This stuff had turned many a monk blind.  Being well oiled, the walk home was always a little easier, the crevasses seemed not so deep, the shepherds dogs just feisty puppies.

Dhankar kids, Upper Dhankar Village

I liked the guys from the hostel and the monks and villagers, so I used it as a base for exploring this part of Spiti Valley.  I was overwhelmed by the beauty and isolation of this area.  The diversity of landscape and colour leave you speechless and humbled.  It was difficult to imagine such a place in winter time, when temperatures plummet to around minus 30oC and the entire valley is cut off.  The locals told me they just sit at home with the family or visit friends, drink barley wine, laugh and sing old songs.  This seemed to me like a good way to spend a large part of the year.  Reaffirming bonds with the ones they love past and present, it would go some way to explain the strong sense of culture the people of Spiti have maintained despite being colonised throughout history.

Dhankar Village

Buddha with cosmic enlightenment surround

The people of Spiti Valley are peaceful, and there aren’t many of them, around 10,000 in modern times.  Throughout history they have been invaded and re-invaded by the Tibetans, Hindus, Sikhs, British etc.  I was glad to hear that the Brits did some good up here, documenting the history of the area for the first time, building roads and bringing a form of democracy.

Dhankar is part of the Gelupa (the yellow hats) branch of Tibetan Buddhism, the same as the Dalai Lama, the reality is that many Indian (or Spiti) elements are woven into the belief system.  Its more Indo-Tibetan Buddhism.

Padmasmbhava, the Tibetan tantric mystic, responsible for bringing Buddhism to this part of India, passed through here in the 8th century.  Converting and incorporating local belief systems.  One such cult still exists, the ‘Bons’.  The holy men wear colourful garments and have dreaded, long hair.  Their religious ceremonies resemble a circus performance.  They chop large rocks off each others chest, using swords.  The men also hover in mid air, their full body weight balanced on the tip of an upturned sword.  I regret that I could not see this with my own eyes, the Bon monastery is quite remote.

Dhankar is sinking and nobody can tell how long it will cling to the rocks.  The World Monument Fund have listed Dhankar as one of the worlds 100 most endangered sites.  Have a look here for a website that is helping http://www.wmf.org/field.  I just feel blessed to have spent some time there and got to know such wonderful characters.

I left one morning for the sharp path, descending hundreds of feet, fully loaded with back packs and a heavy heart.  It took me a while to scramble down to the main road below, where I’d hitch back to Kaza and modernity.  I remember thinking that in all this travelling; all these places, there is little true beauty to be found. And even when you find it, one day you awaken and leave.  You move on, seeking the magic hidden around each new bend.

Dhankar from a hilltop overlooking Spiti Valley

Comments (1) »

An Audience with H.H. Dalai Lama, Manali and Mcleod Ganj, 28/8/10

There is a radiant man, His Holiness (H.H.) the Dalai Lama, sitting beneath a giant golden Sakyamuni Buddha and I’m surrounded by nuns.  Offering me biscuits and warm smiles.  My mind should be at rest, open to the teachings, but my eyes are drawn to the ornate golden Buddha, the exquisite wall hangings, the elaborately decorated ceiling.  I’m thinking, is this it?  Is this all necessary?  Why a large golden Buddha?

I have been fortunate to see the Dalai Lama on three seperate occasions recently.  Once in Manali, where he was addressing the local Tibetan community and the other time in Mcleod Ganj, teaching the Diamond Sutras to a group of Korean Monks and Nuns.   In Manali I sat right in front of him amongst white shirted school children, in Dharamasala I joined the huge international crowd  at the Tuglakan Temple (you’ll have to forgive these spellings).  A temple attached to the Dalai Lamas official residence and the Tibetan Government in Exile building.  One intimate encounter, one that resembled a rock concert.  Both highly enjoyable and enriching.

On both occasions I lacked a radio, or a working radio, to listen to the translations.  The language was mainly Tibetan and Korean and after a while I found both rather therapeutic.  I mainly gazed at H.H., regularly closing my eyes and drifting off.  He’s such a lovely chap.  Watching the reaction of the Tibetans gathered warmed the soul.

Most Buddhist Ceremonies I have attended are conducted with free flowing sweet chai then a salted butter chai, accompanied by Tibetan bread and Tsampa balls.  These were no exception, young monks working tiredlessly to dish out hundreds of teas and nibbles.  The scramble for Tsampa balls in Manali, turned into a scrum, with much shouting and pushing.  The poor monks taking some serious stick.  All this for a small ball of barley.  One poor monk was wrestled to the ground by a group of women in bright traditional dress.  H.H. looked across and cracked a joke, immediately lightening the mood.  I nibbled my ball discreetly due to fear of reprisals.

So, the Golden Buddhas and all religions seemingly endless interest in money and shiny idols.  I was hoping that Tibetan Buddhism would be different, it turns out in mostly ways it is, but the giant Golden Buddhas!?  What waste and at what cost?  Build schools, hospitals etc etc.  I am yet to find a  suitable reason for such lavish idol worship.  I have a feeling Buddha would welcome the large golden Buddhas as much as Jesus would welcome his followers wearing the cross (as a reminder of what?).  We seem to be missing the point here.  Worship me, but not for free.  I would like to formally distance the Dalai Lama and Jesus from any wrong doing at this stage.  Generally people are the problem, creating the problems, but are also the solution.  This is good news.

I am seeking a religious doctrine that is not based on shiny palaces of idol worship.  I’m yet to find a religion that is totally disinterested in wealth.  Where there is wealth, there can be no purity, no truth.  It all seems tainted.  The truly enlightened, spiritual few pass away and then its handed over to more normal people to distort, generally unintentionally.  Where is the purity?  When I meet this individual, they will have nothing.  Of this I am certain.

The Dalai Lama shines in a packed room of grey robed Korean monks.  Glowing brighter than the Golden Buddha and surrounding pageantry.  Glowing with joy and positive energy.  He makes me smile and laugh regularly.  Carrying his karma with dignity and love.  He chuckles regularly like a naughty schoolboy, 75 years young.  At one stage he hits his head on the microphone and I almost fall off my prayer mat with laughter.  Sitting before me is the talisman for non-violence, an energy that has changed the world forever and always will.  Tibetans regard H.H. as a living god, he’s very special.  The incarnation of the Buddha of Infinite Compassion.

He passes close to me on occasion, surrounded by square headed security.  He blesses the crowd, shakes hands, changing us all in these moments.  I heard later that he talked of many things, deep philosophy, but judging by his body language he could have been reading a comic strip from the Times of India.  H.H. a man fighting for the existence of his culture, his people and his home.  Doing all of this and much more with a chuckle, full of love.

Over one million Tibetans killed, many more imprisoned or presumed dead.  Over 90% of Tibetan Buddhist sites destroyed, Chinese being taught in schools, cultural genocide in full effect.  The image of the Dalai Lama illegal.  Tibet is being used as a dumping ground for Chinese toxic waste, the list goes on.  FREE TIBET.   

Find out how below:

http://www.freetibet.org/

Good video about the future of Tibet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gC46L5kBsIs

Comments (3) »

%d bloggers like this: