I follow in the wake of some unseen craft in a river of red ochre. I am the only non-Asian, probably the only non-Tibetan. In the past sixteen years, I've lost track of how many of his teachings I've attended. This is one is different in that this taking place in India. While not exactly his home base, it's close enough.
I'm in the minority here and it feels good. On the other hand, what must it feel like for these other travellers, for the exiles? For those too young to have seen or to remember their homeland? For those old enough for whom the loss by invasion may still feel altogether too recent, too new, too fresh? I see one elderly monk on crutches making his way.
I've often heard people tally up how many times they've seen him. Some recount the expense. Some say how lucky people here in India are to be able to see him (- take your pick: the sentence continues “- regularly” or “-- for free”), not factoring into that accounting the loss they paid for the privilege.
I've stopped in at Moonpeak for a pre-teaching ritual cappuccino (consumed as Padmasambhava, offered as nectar..) I see familiar faces, yet feel no urgency to join the stream. A reluctant Stream-Enterer!
Though this is the principal reason for my being here, I want to proceed slowly and take in what I can. My tai ch'i this morning set the pace. Moreover, I'm happier to watch the Tibetans in such a mass welcome back Kundun, Gyal-wa Rinpoche. If there are any who wonder why Tibet should be free; please come to Dharamsla. You'll see the reason in the face of everyone; infant, the very young, the very old.
The place becomes electric, not because of the “institution” or the “office” of the Dalai Lama, but because this is Chenrezig, the bodhisattva of compassion, the hearer of all cries, including the cries of the oppressed, the exile. Chenrezig is the soul of the Tibetan people, if one may speak of a soul in Buddhism.
Historians may point out that Tibet has had her share of internal conflicts and civil war and strife over the centuries, but I would counter that these were the result of benighted individuals in high office driven by grabs for power and position. But for the rank and file Tibetan, the shop-keeper, the farmer, the nomad? The “oppressed feudal serf” of Mao's “peaceful liberation of the Han minorities”? Something tells me they continued to hope and pray to Chenrezig for peace and compassion and I think the historical record in the main bears that they got those.
I sip the cappa slowly as a monkey climbs a fir tree across the street behind one of the vendors' tables being set for business. It's getting close to time for me to join this stream which I am both proud and deeply humbled to join.
Another monkey sits by some prayer flags regarding the passer-by. I'm reminded that the Tibetans' origin myth states that they were born from a union of a monkey and an ogress (Chenrezig and the equally beloved mother Tara/Drolma). One wonders if there's some protopaleological framework here?
The cup's content goes lower. Time to bring up, to generate the correct motivation for attending these teachings (and what should be the motivation for all our actions, plain and simple):
May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes.
May all sentient beings be free from suffering and its causes.
May all sentient beings never be parted from the bliss which is free from sorrow.
May all sentient beings rest in equanimity, free from attachment and aversion.
Yes, this even applies to politicians...something I should remind myself more often.
If yesterday was my birthday, today was another re-birthday.