Thursday, March 31, 2011

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

I told you I would post this when I got it... Here it is! Many of you have probably already seen it, but the blog would not be complete without this picture. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Temples, Deer Park, Guriasantha, and a goat...wearing a shirt

Yesterday was our last full day here and we spent it together doing some of the things that were on our "must do before leaving" list. We are heading out this afternoon on an overnight train to New Delhi. We have a couple days to explore that area before we fly to Munich, Germany to catch our flight to Boston (weather permitting, of course).

We visited a temple right down the street that was absolutely gorgeous and incredibly peaceful. I would've loved to have spent more time there, but our day was booked solid, so the visit was brief. Next we visited Deer Park, the sight of the Buddha's very first sermon. It was only 20 minutes walking distance away from CUTS and I had no idea it was so close or I would have been there sooner! After lunch we headed over to Guria and visited with the children at the school before going to a local mall and catching a Bollywood movie (2 and a half hours in Hindi with no subtitles, interesting to say the least). It was a very full day, and we had a great time together. I am definitely feeling a little homesick though and am excited to return back to the US. I posted a video of the school in the RL district before this entry, so check it out if you have time. Here are some pictures from yesterday... enjoy.

 It seems the goats wear more clothing than some of the children here. interesting. 

 Outside the temple, a beautiful 3D mural
 The temple down the road

 Inside the temple
 One of the walls to the side of the alter

 To get a sense of how massive the alter is, look at Carli and Karen kneeling on the floor to the left

 Manure briquettes, a booming business out here. They are dried in the sun and then sold and used as burning material
 The sign at Deer Park, under a Bodhi tree

 The monument at Deer Park

 A roadside Barbershop

 Lots of love at Guria

that's all I have for you today, I'm headed over to the hostel to pack up... See you soon!

All my love,



Yesterday we went to Guria in Varanasi, the NGO I told you about a few weeks ago. The organization fights for the rights of underage girls who have been trafficked in India. As a result of their efforts, the red light district in Varanasi is the only one in all of India that does not have underage prostitution. This video was taken at the school they run within the district for the children of the sex workers. We were able to spend the afternoon there again and had a great time playing with the children.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hello Everyone...

I posted several videos this morning and also wrote about HHDL's teachings, so be sure to scroll all the way down to see the post and not just the videos.

Hope you are well, see you soon.

Road trip

The streets of Varanasi at night...from a rickshaw

The Ganges during Arti

A little behind...

So I was sick for a few days and got behind in my blogging, so I am going to cover quite a bit today. I will also post a lot of videos too! They updated the computers in the lab and the process is MUCH faster now, so you will have plenty to watch.

The teachings are now over and its nice to have campus be somewhat quiet again. It was a madhouse for the past week, and we all appreciate the break. The weather has also warmed up (thank GOD) and I have retired the Tibetan thermals I bought from a street vendor.

Of all the topics that were covered by HHDL I enjoyed hearing about patience the most. He covered it very extensively and mentioned several times that adversity offers us the greatest opportunity to develop patience. He also spoke about having the right attitude toward those who make us angry:

"In order to practice patience, we need someone to present us with a situation that provokes anger. This person allows us an opportunity to practice patience and tolerance, therefore teaching us great lessons and should be viewed as teachers of virtue. Consider your enemies to be very kind for offering a chance to grow and be grateful for them. Do your best to be compassionate and separate the person from the action they are taking."

He also talked about giving yourself to others and being of service:

"Whatever joy there is in this world, all comes from desiring others to be happy,
And whatever suffering there is in this world all comes from desiring ourselves to be happy."

Another highlight was his thoughts on destructive emotions that corrupt the mind. The text he was teaching from put it very simply:

"Although enemies such as hatred and craving
Have neither arms nor legs,
And are neither courageous or wise,
How have I, like a slave, been used by them?"

As you can see, there was a lot of amazing insight passed on from His Holiness to the crowd of over 25,000 people. An absolutely incredible experience.

Yesterday we were fortunate enough to actually meet the Dalai Lama briefly and I shook his hand and said hello before posing for a picture with him (as soon as I get it, I will post it). We were all wearing traditional Tibetan clothing, called a Chupa, which is a really long sleeveless wrap dress with a blouse. Our new buddy, Ugyen, dressed us all and made sure we had the appropriate attire to meet HH in. We will be taking her out to dinner to thank her before we leave.

On Sunday afternoon we went to back to Varanasi and visited the Manakarnika Ghat, which is the Hindu cremation site on the Ganges river. The Hindu's believe that if you are cremated here and the ashes are scattered into the river, the deceased then skips the cycle of reincarnation (and thus suffering) and goes directly into the afterlife. The fires at the site have been burning continuously for over 3,500 years. We all noticed that although there were many people there, none of them were visibly upset. They seemed to be at peace and the atmosphere was very different than that of a funeral home in the US. Visiting the site was a powerful and memorable experience and I am glad we were able to get there before leaving.

 A Tibetan Monk serving Butter tea during the teachings. Bread and tea was passed out to the entire crowd twice a day. 

 Outside the teaching tent (notice the attire... the weather is much warmer now)

 Arti, from the Ghat before dinner at the Dolphin rooftop restaurant to celebrate Stanzin's recent acceptance to Smith

 Carli, before it warmed up.

 FINALLY, our IRB letter stating our project was approved (we were able to scan it and send it to Smith yesterday via email after several weeks of being too busy to get it from the IRB here at CUTS)

 Our spot under the tent

 Looking out over the crowd from our spot

 A monk feeding the masses

 Carli showing off her new ability to place her hands in the lotus position after being taught by the Mongolians that sat next to us

 HHDL wearing his funny hat during the closing ceremony on Sunday

 Cows. In the road.

 Inside a silk shop in Varanasi with the girls

Hot Chai in the window of the shop

 I am not condoning training monkeys to do stupid stunts to make money off of tourists, but this was a great photo op. Enough said.

 Getting "Chupa'd" for our meeting with HHDL

 Finished product...Thanks Ugyen!
Our Buddy, Ugyen and I on a ghat overlooking the Ganges River

Enough for now. I will upload several videos for your viewing pleasure as well... I hope you enjoy them.

I love you all,

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Under the tent!

Monks in the morning

I was misinformed...

I am able to take photos and even video at the teachings, provided I do it discreetly and without a flash. I think the students at the university have been afforded special privileges. So, MOM... do not freak out. okay?

The teachings have been amazing. The two topics HHDL is teaching are intermediate meditation and the Bodhisattva's way of life. A Bodhisattva is an enlightened being that practices Buddhist principles.He started by giving a brief overview of Buddhist theory and quickly discussing meditation. He is teaching from a text that has been translated from Sanskrit into English and I was able to buy it just before the lectures began. I have been following his words and commentary in the book and taking notes on the connections I see in his teachings to my own life and the principles I live by. Its really amazing stuff. To be honest, I can't accurately describe it.

Early this morning he began by speaking about his realization that we must not be attached to anything, including one's own religion. His argument was that when attached to a specific religion, we become biased and are therefore less able to see the good in many of the other forms of religion that are out there. He spoke of the basic human need to avoid suffering and find true happiness. All religions have this aspect, and all are useful and benefit humankind. I am not doing his teachings any justice, as I am going on memory alone (i forgot my notes in the room...) but I just thought his stance on this topic was incredibly insightful.

I will update you all more on his teachings when I have my notes accessable, but for now, here are some photos... I will upload some videos too.

Center stage, where HHDL teaches. This was taken last night after everyone left.

 This morning just before we started.

This is where our section is located. Stage right, not too far back.

Keep checking for videos and more photos soon!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A tour of our room and the constant sillyness that occupies it... this one is rated PG-13. Maybe even R.

"Success is a result of action, not just blessings or prayers..." HHDL

Today marked the end of a convention that was being held here at CUTS on translation. The original manuscript of the Tibetan Canon (Religious documents and traditions) is stored here on campus and the purpose of the conference was to begin to organize translation of the ancient text into English, Hindi, and Chinese. His Holiness The Dalai Lama was introduced by Professor Robert Thurman from Columbia University and several books were released. It was a nice gathering, good experience, but I am really looking forward to his teachings that begin tomorrow. I snapped a few photos today to share with you...

Waiting for HH to arrive...

still waiting...

Professor Thurman greeting HHDL

His Holiness, The Dalai Lama.

After the talk this afternoon, the other women in my program and I were able to sit down with one of HHDL's doctors and talk to him about his transition from being a western doctor to a Tibetan Monk. It was both an honor and a priviledge to be able to talk with him and the girls and I enjoyed listening to his story and asking him questions about medicine, meditation, life, and various other topics of interest. All in all, today was pretty amazing.

Love you all,

HHDL Arrives!

After much anticipation and a few hours of waiting, His Holiness arrived yesterday. He is in the fourth vehicle, right hand side. He waved to us (I missed it...too busy recording). More again soon...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Preparing for HH the Dalai Lama's visit... CUTS transformed

Over the past few weeks, there has been almost round-the-clock construction, cleaning, and decorating on campus in preparation for HHDL's visit. We have watched the already beautiful campus be transformed right before our eyes. It has been spectacular to witness and each day the excitement level has grown. Uma Thurman's father, Robert, is here with his wife and I had a brief conversation with them earlier today after they posed for a picture. The streets outside the university have become lined with vendors selling everything you could possibly ever need or want, and monks and nuns have been arriving by the busload. We were issued security passes that must be worn at all times and there are armed guards at all the gates, as well as metal detectors and officers doing pat-downs. The Dalai Lama's teachings begin on Wednesday and continue through Sunday...I will keep you all updated on the content, but will not be taking any photos (not allowed, boooooo).

Notice all the flower pots lining the street and surrounding the building

This design is about 6' x 9' on one of the main roads on campus... there are many more, all different.

Flags were put up everywhere

remember the bamboo structure that I shared with you last week? this is now the inside of a massive tent built entirely with Bamboo and white plastic material. The ground has been lined for seating and a huge stage has been constructed.

Like I said... MASSIVE

Straight ahead is the stage

The entire tent has been wired for lighting and sound.

One of the registration sites

They have even decorated the streets outside the university!

Yes, that is a guard wearing a Versace coat and carrying a BIG gun. He caught me taking this pic and then laughed at me when I told him i liked his jacket. I don't think he understood.

Traditional Tibetan Dancers, on campus to welcome HHDL

Robert Thurman and his wife

Me and the girls, waiting for His Holiness to arrive

The receiving line for the Dalai Lama earlier today

After waiting 2 hours for him to get to CUTS, he finally arrived and we all ran to catch a glimpse of him. I wasn't able to get a picture, but I hope to snap a few when our group gets a private audience with him sometime later this week. Stay tuned...