Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Amma's Language

Somewhere, there is a radio playing Ladakhi music on a small radio a lama here has and the gong is calling the evening prayers and the sound of conversation from the staff room is filled with Tibetan, English and German. Sounds. So diverse. So many languages and so many ways to connect. Here we make attempts to bridge the language divide with gestures and simple words and many expressions that cause us to laugh. During a recent English class that I had, an ani was apparently trying to tell me what the date was, but her heavy Indian accent made the sound of dead and I am then trying to find out who died! We had such a laugh.

Laughing is a language I use in India; it’s my favorite I think. That, and the hands in Namaskar and greeting into someone else’s eyes. A woman and her husband live in a small shack that is attached to our monastery, just to the left of the front gate and this Amma, as I call her, had recently lost her son and is still in a a terrible grief. I went up to her as her husband, squatting on the ground repeated “Hari Om” as he does, and I just looked into her eyes and said how sorry I was and she cried. She’s speaking in Hindi and I in English, but we understood through the language that we all share.

Even in this grieving, there is Joy, for somewhere we all remember and we all know that we are all one and when I am with someone who doesn’t speak my language nor I, theirs, I am astounded at how little it really matters. A nun standing behind me as I held Amma said, “She doesn’t understand,” and pointing to Amma’s heart, I said, “This is what we understand.”

Sitting with the lamas in our little staff eating room, I often become mesmerized by their voices and far from feeling left out of a conversation I cannot understand when they do speak Tibetan, I feel a quiet peace.

There are still fireworks in some parts of the valley around Kulhan, the district where I live even the festival of Lights, Diwali, is over by a week.

So many sounds. So much India. The gong is still playing its refrain; come and pray. Maybe all language is just that invitation!

Let’s all join in our own language and in our own way and send them off to the place they all meet in that Silent One Peace.

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