Monday, June 4, 2007

Dharamsala and Questions for Monks

Posted by: Sara Bartlemay
And now I am loving India. What a change a little altitude will do for the attitude! It was a 14 hour drive in the back of an uncomfortable jeep to get here but all that seems so unimportant because now that I am here, I am more in the moment than ever. Dharamsala, and McCleod Ganj are two tiny mountain towns nestled up near the snowy peaks of the Himalaya. This is the home of the Dali Lama and we are going to hear him speak tomorrow. There are only tens of thousands of people here, and I'd say 25 percent of them are monks. In the busy three streets of the city, a market is ongoing with chenille scarves, sweaters, silk skirts, turqouise jewlery and intricate tapestries. People are rushing around and yet when I pass by the monks they seem still and calm - like little eyes in the storm of activity. People are friendly, they don't stare as much and their features are different, more Asian. Dharamsala has a high population of Tibetan people.
This morning we walked 2 kilometers through the forest under prayer flags strung through the fir trees to the Tibetan Library to hear a monk speak about Buddhism. Most of it was lost in translation, and half of that was above my head but the tidbits I did catch were intriguing. To help the train and jeep rides pass, I am currently reading three books on Buddhism, and taking notes. So of course, when the talk was over and the monk asked (through his translator) if there were any questions....I had a few. I chose just one, because everyone else in the room was silent without questions. The answer he had for me was perhaps more perplexing than the question itself. But for a brief moment, the monk made eye contact with me. This was unusual because he hadn't looked up the entire class. I am inspired to look deeper and wrap my mind around this religion attempting to understand it better.
I think I had better go back tomorrow so I can ask the three questions that sprung from the answer to my original befuzzlement. :)
There are drumming classes, massage courses, healing arts and reiki classes, Tibetan Medicine talks, the list goes on and on but it gives you an idea of the mindset of the community. I will be taking advantage of this environment and have signed up for three classes for this week. The more information and experience the better.
One student from our group was saying today, "I think I could loose myself here."
Nonsense. I think I could find myself here.

2 comments:

J17 said...

Sara, you are truly amazing. Your posts are sooo insightful and complete. I love how you are truly appreciating this entire experience and I am living vicariously thru your descriptive entries. Thank you so much for sharing and for continuing to post. You are an amazing writer and young woman. I hope you do find your bliss in India.
Gayle Mansuy, Mike's mom

workhard said...

i really like ur graphical description.. im glad u like india...

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