27.06.2011 - 29.06.2011
His voice is peaceful, soothing and strong –and full of kindness. He speaks in his native language, while we follow the English (or Korean, Spanish or Japanese) translation on handheld radios. He lectured about the “Origin of Dependence”, a topic bursting with scientific Buddhist doctrine and statements which go straight over my head, but I try to follow with all my mental strength. The monks have first choice of seats around him, and then it’s the rest of us. We arrive a bit late and luckily find a spot about 30m from him. His physical presence is awe-inspiring and his moon- face is constantly at ease with shiny sparkly eyes. He would make such a great grandfather- imagine bedtime story- time?! :-)
The morning and afternoon lectures were 2 hours long, and I was surprised that I was able to sit still on the floor and concentrate for all this time (the yoga must have helped after all!). The +- 600 people there were from all religions and colours. It was fantastic for all of us to be there, together- united in our admiration and utter respect we all have for him. He’s actually quite a small man, and when he left in his car, the entire crowd literally held their breadth in silence- with huge smiles on every single person. It was just so incredible!
I also liked that there weren’t any hysterical, weeping or fanatical “fans” there, as there sometimes are with other religious/spiritual leaders.
Then when the crowds started to leave, there was no pushing, no rushing- everyone moved in a calm manner. For the rest of the day, the whole town seemed to be riding on some high of the Dalai Lama-everyone seemed happier, calmer… or maybe it was just my imagination…
We also visited the Tibet Museum. It was extremely sad to read about their history, the unimaginable pain and suffering they have, and are, going through. It brought tears to my eyes to read about the refugee’s experiences in the labour and concentration camps (which still exist!).
Between 1947 and 1949 the Chinese started to invade Tibet- completely destroying their thousands of old temples, scriptures and holy places. They systemically destroyed (and still are) their culture and tore their religion to threads!! “Religion is poison” is the way the Chinese government thinks. The Tibetans are forced to give up their heritage and have to “become” Chinese…
We went to a party one night and I met some Tibetans born in Tibet but came to India (on foot, across the Himalayas) at a very young age. One guy’s parents are still in Tibet…I can’t imagine what his life must be like! He has no family (with him) and no country to call his own. Never before have I had so much appreciation for my easy childhood, my eternal freedom and the simple fact that I can go home whenever I want. I also wonder how they feel about the lifestyle they are living in India- drinking, Western music, different style of clothes, girls (I have heard that many young Tibetan men try to find a Western girl to “get with”, in order to get some money or sponsorship from them). I wonder if they feel like they are stuck in some contradicting life: trapped between trying to hold onto their Tibetan heritage, but at the same time wanting to let it go out of sadness and utter hopelessness.
I was also lucky enough to meet a cool Korean dude from Seoul- Moon Chul. He is definitely not your typical Korean- he is the eldest and left home and currently lives in Dharamsala. (His younger brother is not impressed that he has to stay at home look after his parents). He owns a second hand shop where travelers can give their unwanted clothes and if they want- buy more at half the price. Moon Chul’s plan is to collect a bunch of clothes and open a similar shop in Seoul (Hongdae). He has a pretty slow and relaxed life (very Un-Korean of him) and spends his time either at his shop or smoking hash with friends and travelers.
No matter who they are- I will always have a place in my heart for Koreans and whenever I meet one- it’s as if this one person represents my whole Korean experience and I can’t help but want to talk to them about anything Korean. (Ok, I apologize for this oh-so-sentimental statement- but I can’t put it any other way ;-) ).
We also had some doenjang jiggae, ramyeon and kimchi at a local Korean restaurant- expensive, worth it of course ;-)
Right now we are in Kasol, or more commonly known as “Little Israel” (due to the huge influx of Israeli travelers). This little town is snuggled in a beautiful valley with huge mountains covered in pine trees flanking either side. In the distance are very high snow-capped mountains. There is an extremely powerful river gushing through the ravine with enough power to whip a house off its feet!
Getting here was not so easy- it included a 7 hour bumpy-night bus ride and then getting dropped off in literally nowhere at 3am! Another couple was with us, so we felt safe. We shared a taxi (luckily one drove past) to Kasol. We walked around earlier and I couldn’t help but feel a weird, ominous vibe in the air. It’s like something bad just happened and no one wants to talk about it. The squawking black crows do not help my feelings. There is also the fact that this is the place where many travelers have gone missing in mysterious situations… Angie and I both think that the reason we feel like this is that previously we stayed in such a spiritual and serene place- with monks meditating all day; people doing yoga- thinking positive and optimistic thoughts and this helped to contribute to the pleasant feelings we felt in Dharamsala. It may sound like hogwash to some of you, but I believe this to be true :-)
Alrighty then…Peace Out