We have been in Dharamsala for almost two weeks now and I have developed a passion for this place. It is like small, hip college town in my perspective because I have the freedom to chill at cafes reading books or writing journal entries as if im fitting it in between classes at a university. However, I have the best of both worlds as I get no assigned homework, but instead choose willingly to read more about the Free Tibet movement or freely write anything i want in my journal. And my classes are subjects that interest me, that having me looking at the clock and thinking "Nooooo, only 5 more minutes." So its a precious set up with knowledge everywhere waiting to be talked to or read. Yet there is another side to it all and its not about expanding ones own mind, but extending ones compassion, love, and generosity. There are Tibetan Refugees that live at a reception center where i feel as priveledged as they do to help them practice english and learn about their past, thoughts, stories, and current situation. There are plenty of beggars of Indian decent, rather than Tibetan, that roam the street with mutilated hands, limbs, all sorts of disabilities as well as mothers who roam with their babies saying "no money, milk, please, no money, milk" and though i pretend to exhibit my desensitation to poverty, it cant be done, and so if i dont or for some unexplained reason why i wont give them a few ruppees, i at least feel the need to acknowledge their presence as human beings and perhaps give them a smile or a right hand to the chest with slight bow.
I receive such warmth at my homestay that i go to sleep each night feeling as safe, comfortable, and loved as i would in my own house.
I live with my amala and pala in a small house in which one room is ours and the second is a another teacher's from the school as my amala is an english teacher at the school that is no more than 10 meters away. So most mornings we arise to the laughing of elementry school kids playing marbles or swing on monkey bars. A cool breeze sweeps as i clench tightly inside my sleeping bag and dwell on the mornings purity and my gift of this day. My parents are soon pouring me tea and giving me chipoti (ehh?) as they switch on the television only to hear BBC say that "China's economy is booming."
I have been studying Buddhist philosophy at the library and hour a day for about a total of seven days. The buff monk of about 65 years old is accompanied by a British woman with unusually wacky eyes where one is just off center and so shell always be looking in two completely different directions which ill just say is a distraction. Anyhow, we have been studying the 37 practices concordant with enlightenment. I dont exactly know how many we have covered by i have been recording the method that outlines what to do in order to develope a clamly abiding mind. i came up with an analogy that our western minds seem to be similar to commercials in the way that they will change thoughts so rapidly and a lot of our thoughts have to do with consumption too. So the objective is to develope a mind that one has total pliancy over and to use it rather than it use us. And to paraphrase the words of eckhart tolle 'we are not our mind.'
I have had a few meetings with a monk at the monastery. His english was limited so it kept out conversation to a point of simple explanations of my questions when i was hoping for indepth analysis of various buddhist philosophies. However, i did get to play some ping pong with some monks so that was special, I lost, however, 16-13. Christopher, you could have taken down the monastery.
I have learned so much about the CHinas occupation of Tibet that it really gave me a new perspective of how ignorant people in the west really are to various global issues. I had no idea about the millions that have died as a result of the occupation or of the 1.2 square kilometers and the 4 major rivers that all make up Tibet. It is an issue that needs to be explored much more intensely back in the states. The effect that China is having on Tibets land is devestating as they are just polluting the life out it by dumping nuclear waste in the rivers and just completely exploitng the land of its worth which will one day be deadly to India and the rest of asia that depends on those rivers. THis is not to mention the people of Tibet that have no freedom of expression, no freedom of religion, and are quickly becoming socially ostracized as Chinese move up to TIbet rapidly. SO check out the situation. studentsforafreetibet.org or tibetanyouthcongress.org. Please just step outside your comfort zone or invisible boundaries and try something new....escape from ignorance!
Love you all and miss you too,