Yet another incredible today
Finally, I got some sleep. I woke up at around 5.45 and took some much needed time to center. And the rain rolled in at 7AM. 7AM on 7/7. I liked to think that the monsoon had started -- the first real rain we've had, but it did quiet down after a half hour.
In preparation for our audience with HH the Karmapa, Alex delivered a great introduction, digging deep into the history of Buddhism in India and the development of Mahayana (complete with Lotus' now much expected interjections and challenges to his statements). As usual, time got away and without having much chance to check in, we boarded 4 jeeps (well, 3 and a really nice Toyota minivan that smelled like new car) and headed down the hill toward Gyuto Monastery, the current center of the Karmapa's mandala.
After some last minute purchases of trengwas/malas/prayer beads to have blessed, we folded katas and gathered in the main building among other visitors. I'd elaborate more, but this internet place looks like it's going to close (and I'm exhausted) and tomorrow we leave at 7.30 am, go off to Amritsar in our 4 trusty vehicles, visit the Golden Temple and then board a 5.30 pm train to Delhi, sleep a few hours at Likir house and then board a 6 AM or so flight to Leh. Finally there, we will take some breathless breaths and hopefully check in in a leisurely way with all those who are wanting to hear from us.
I now summarize: a wonderful audience with the Karmapa in which we had varying experiences, but were probably each of us struck and impressed by his presence and by the way in which he really pondered our questions as if he'd never heard them before and gave such considered responses. Many of us were struck by his gaze, at once soft and penetrating.
We left and with a modicum of processing, rode off to Norbulingka, a center for thangka painting and crafts, and just a really lovely space. As we finished a delicious lunch of lentils, rice, momo and veg, while dodging snails, mosquitoes, an adorable dog, etc, we considered canceling the visit to Drolmaling, our would-be first nunnery, so we could move a little more slowly. Just as the decision was made by some of our executive committee, our fearless and infinitely capable leader Kelsang burst into song about the beautiful women of Dharamsala who could all be found in the nunneries, followed by his announcement that we were on our way to Drolmaling. There was no turning back.
And it was a wonderful visit. The results of the Tibetan Nuns Project is another beautiful space, providing lodging and training to approximately 200 nuns. The main temple had such a calming, powerful feeling that I spotted several of us sitting on cushions in meditation. Wood floors, a beautiful silk appliqué main thangka (some images to follow soon-ish I hope), a throne for HH the Dalai Lama and a modest un-excessive interior design added to its feeling as a refuge. Lotus, Ellen and others spoke with a couple of the young nuns, translated by a very self-possessed 14-year old nun from Kashmir.
Back to the Jeeps and an engaging lecture by Dr Dorje at the Medical and Astrological Institute. Hopefully someone will fill in a description. Laura P. received a diagnosis while others roamed the museum and purchased medical books and other things.
We made it back by 5.40 for our 6 PM talk by activist/poet/essayist/bookstore owner/etc, Lhasang Tsering. While I thought no one could possibly have energy for another talk, Lhasang Tsering was absolutely riveting. After a couple of days of inspiring talks about some of the many contributions Tibet has to offer the world (the celebrations of HH the Dalai Lama's birthday, the inspiring and insightful talk by Lama Tenzin Yignyen, and the experiences of today), Mr. Lhasang's message was grave and powerful, a possible vision of the annihilation of Tibet, taking with it the environment and the world as we know it. Such conviction.
Another exceedingly full day awaits us.