buddhist

Without Words

The mountains are hostile. They are dry and threatening. I am a speck on their trail, they are the vast, foreboding backdrop of the isolated Phuktal Monastery. The barren Himalayas, the cooling winds and the snow resting on mountain tops are constant reminders of the unrelenting winter to come.

Spilling from the mouth of a cave, the Gompa corridors wind up and down the mountain face. The darkness is warm, the shadows repeat mantras in low tones and footsteps echo through the dusty tunnels. The monks lead lives of devoted solitude, there is a calm, contentment in the aloneness, a feeling of inherent peace with the seclusion from the outside world. This stillness is only broken by the young lamas, who playfully interrupt the otherwise disciplined, stoic atmosphere.

My words quickly expire. My mind is quiet. Life becomes simple. The mountain is my clock. The rushing river is my music. The hypnotic gong vibrates through the valley and the black crows circling above call me for meals.

Together, we teach, we learn, we sip tea, we shake hands, we share food, we sway in unison before each meal. We connect, without words.

 

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#meetthelostandfound – Veer

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Location: Phuktal Monastery, Zanskar Valley, India

What is your name? Veer Bahadursingh Narula, but my nickname is Angad

How old are you? 26

Where were you born? Amritsar, India

Where do you call home? Amritsar, India

What is your religion? Sikh

What is your impression so far of this place? Hmmm… I really like the people, they are very clean.  It’s my personal view that they should be doing meditation.  They are just saying mantras and to me that’s incomplete. It’s the most beautiful and powerful monastery I have ever seen.  I see a good scope in the school considering it has only been open for two years.  I also feel that the classes have to increase and they need a good Buddhist philosophy teacher and an English teacher and a teacher who doesn’t drink.

What have you learned from this trip? Hmmm…I have learned a lot of things… I’ll start with Rishikesh, where I learned there is an alternate reality.  It’s different to the objective reality which is more at the molecular level, that you can see with your eyes closed.  This is how my trip started in Rishikesh, but then I went deeper into it in Gangotri.

Then I learned Vipassana, it was a ten day course, where you cannot speak.  I didn’t meditate before, it is very difficult but it is very logical.

Also, I learned a lot at Rainbow Gathering.  I learned a lot about the value of nature and food and how the material world is bullshit.

After coming here, to Phuktal, I am very sure there are two realities but I also know we need to keep the two balanced.  I would say that ahhh…it’s best if you’re living for yourself, even when you’re helping others you should be doing it for yourself, you do not expect anything in return – this is the shortest way to happiness.

What are you most looking forward to? One, for sure is, to go deeper into molecular reality and try to experience God.  Others would be to survive in minimal conditions, remove all the fears and be more adventurous. And to make travelling a profession and work a holiday. Finding a soulmate.

What made you leave home? I realised this last year, in December, when I was in Egypt.  I just felt it somehow that I had to leave everything and travel.  I was in Egypt again this year and had the same feeling but stronger.  I had no answer to why, I just knew I wanted to travel.

What do you miss most about home? Food

Would you describe yourself as lost or found? I would say I’m a happy lost guy

The 33rd Kalachakra

We came as individuals, as men, as women.  We came in small groups, as family, as friends.  We came as part of a population , as Indians, Tibetans, Foreigners.  We came and joined together in collective prayer and meditation – as one.

 

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A Sri Lankan wedding

It was the merging of two people, two families.  It was a celebration, but behind the opulent decorations were stoic faces and hearts reluctant to let go.  As the rhythm of the drum pulsed through the ceremony, the chanting and dancing explained the unspoken.  It was a tug of war, a pushing and pulling between the two families.  One’s loss, one’s gain, a union but also a separation.

The ceremony was long but guests enjoyed the customary irreverence, chatting, walking in and out, watching or not.  At one stage, the Father of the Bride was missing.

After the main meal there was dessert, a sneaky backyard whiskey and an expectation to dance.

 

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Time to remember

Back home a full moon appears as a surprise.  A chance gaze upward or a clear sky that allows the moon to shine bright would remind me of the beauty and mystery that lies above.  I was so absorbed in the routine of everyday life that a full moon seemed random.

In the west we are so conscious of the passing layers of time.  Seconds, minutes, hours quickly become days, weeks and years – we’re constantly looking forward to something – the end of work, the weekend, a holiday.  Clocks go round autonomously, we’re surrounded by phones, watches, computers but amidst all the counting it’s like we’ve lost track of time.

Poya in Sri Lanka is the Buddhist public holiday that celebrates the full moon.  It allows longer days to enjoy with family, moonlit dinners and a monthly connection to the natural cycle of light and darkness.  Practicing Buddhists visit the temple for worship and the consumption of meat and alcohol is forbidden.  In June the Poya day is called Poson and honours the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka.

Our power to manipulate light has allowed us to escape the limitations of darkness but we have also become disconnected from the true progression of time.  Poya was a reminder for me to acknowledge and appreciate the original time-keepers – the moon and the sun.

 

 

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