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,