Thursday, April 9, 2009

One of Those Days--April 9, 2009

We had a few days of storms with a good drenching of rain, which left the skies unusually clear as far as we can see. I took a walk after my 7:15 class, to a village called Rajpur, behind us and across the river bed that runs from the hills. It's a good hike, up and down and over rocky ground and I was following an Indian man who like many here is simply wearing his flip flops and traversing the ground without the benefit of such things like Nikes and special pants and outfits, as we Westerners are so fond of! I watched him on this one steep part of the path down to the river and was amazed! We have special shoes for hiking and running and walking and here, like with the nuns and monks, flip flops do for everything. I was so humbled!

The Nepalese women who work on the wallls being built are wearing the colorful shalwar kameez as I think I told you and I am blown away, over and over, by this simplicity!

I have been to Nepal and stayed in Boudnath, in Kathmandu, the site of the very famous and iconic stupa that I am sure many of you have seen. My visa requires that I leave India every six months and this is the easiest and quickest trek across the border. With the Himalayas alongside the left side of the jet on approach, I was able to see the highest mountains in the world, snow covered, majestic and so powerful. We had cloud cover all the way until just alongside this great view!

The very next morning, and I mean 3 a.m., there was a special puja (prayers) at the monastery where I was staying. Shechen Guest House is a part of the Shechen Monastery founded by the great Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, who was both student and teacher to the Dalai Lama. He died some years ago, and three years later, his incarnation was found (now about 18 years old) - known as Dilgo Khyentse Yangtse - and he was leading these very powerful prayers in the temple. I walked across the courtyard at about 3:30 am and the lama at the temple door immediately began to question me! He asked, very forcefully, "Where did you come from?" !!! I said, probably equally as forcefully, Shechen monastery! He then asked, "Do you know what's going on? Why are you here?" And I answered that I was there for the empowerment with Dilgo Khyentse! Well, I passed and was allowed in with few other westerners to this great opportunity in this very powerful environment. All day we had puja and I took wonderful photos - and by the way - the lama at the door, Lama Padma - well, we became friends a day later when he led us on a tour to the home of Chatral RInpoche. This is the lama that the Catholic monk, Thomas Merton, met in 1968 and lives in the valley of Parphing (spelling might be off here!) We went just to bring offerings - he doesn't see many these days, and what a great trip - how auspicious! Our bus was stopped on the road due to an accident- and we had to walk across the valley floor! I was carrying a sack of tsampa and incense and tea in my backpack and it was a ball. And, it was a beautiful valley. After our visit and stopping for tea, (of course, this is India, afterall!) we visited great meditation caves and had a great local lunch. Lama Padma was a blast and I loved visiting him and telling the others of our first "meeting" at the door to the temple.

I am back in my simple routine! Up before breakfast at six and my first class which is at 7:15. Then, I walked the path to Rajpur I mentioned above for a "spot of tea" at the best tea shop! I had a cup of coffee, which is made Indian style with mile and sugar and is just great - not very strong - it's Nescafe instant!

I send to you all, all my love and look so forward to seeing you in June! and July! and August! Then, back to India for another season with these nuns, who I love. Some I call my daughters and they are opening affectionate with hugs and we laugh a lot - yes, my big laugh is something for them to behold!

Blessings - Nellie