Monday, April 16, 2012

"You are not the person you believe yourself to be."

I'm still in Bir, India, still happy, and taking lots of photos. The price of admission for viewing the photos? You have to read these quotes. It won't hurt. Much....

"Though we ordinarily think that a leaf is born in the springtime, Gautama [the Buddha] could see that it had been there for a long, long time in the sunlight, the clouds, the tree, and in himself. Seeing that the leaf had never been born, he could see that he too had never been born. Both the leaf and he himself had simply manifested - they had never been born and were incapable of ever dying. With this insight, ideas of birth and death, appearance and disappearance dissolved, and the true face of the leaf and his own true face revealed themselves. He could see that the presence of any one phenomenon made possible the existence of all other phenomena. One included all, and all were contained in one."
 ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha

"All that happens is the cause of all that happens. Understand first that you are not the person you believe yourself to be. What you think yourself to be is mere suggestion or imagination. You were not born, nor will you die." 
 ~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Too much love!

Donkeys are so stubborn! It took me forever to get him to pose like this. Or it would have, if he wasn't already posed like this - cuz as everyone knows - donkeys are so stubborn! (That's kind of a private joke about the way we maintain our prejudices by only seeing evidence that supports them...)
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This is the lane heading up to the Deer Park Institute, a center for Tibetan Buddhism teaching. Those are Tibetan prayer flags hanging about. They have printed Tibetan prayers on them, and the prayers are carried on the wind.
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The night before it had rained quite a lot, so this morning the air was clear and crisp, and fresh snow was coating the high mountains. Tea plantations are in the foreground.
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Striking a pose. Not sure where they learn this stuff - just like kids at home!
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Rush hour can be a real bugger. 
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Nothing funny here. This poster commemorates a young Tibetan, Jamphel Yeshi, who lit himself on fire to protest the Chinese occupation of Tibet. He later died. Something like 29 Tibetans have done the same in the last year. The Chinese government blames the Dalai Lama, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.
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These guys look like they just got out of the hair salon. Many potential pretty-goat jokes will go unspoken. 
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A young Tibetan monk.
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This sprawling covered courtyard is at Sherab Ling monastery. The monastery is a huge place.
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These monks were inside a prayer hall, directly across from the last photo.
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The people in this area are unreasonably friendly, and I'm not sure anyone has said no to having their photo taken. They don't all pose as beautifully as this, though.
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We took an "alternative route" (OK, fine, we got lost) coming back from Sherab Ling and came across beautiful houses and people where only paths, not roads, connected villages.
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A hint of big snowy mountains in the distance.
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There's a famous pottery school nearby, and three of the four of us took the introductory class. (Someone had to take photos.) This is the instructor getting all Patrick Swayze with Jen. We were singing "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers on the taxi road home.
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Walking away from the pottery school, on an afternoon where half the sky was blue and the other half was storming with thunder.
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On the taxi ride we came across some festival, not too far from home, so we jumped out and said goodbye to our taxi driver.
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The women here, besides being really beautiful, were dressed in their finest.
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The main attraction? Near-naked brutes wrestling in the dirt, wearing only what appeared to be underwear.
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Actually, it was great fun! These guys are SO tough. They wrestled until one man got the other's shoulders to touch the ground at the same time, either with a quick flip or after a 15-minute grinding match.
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It was an elimination competition, and the victor of one match would face the next guy. I couldn't believe how long and hard they fought.
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This young guy won the "crown," which he's wearing, along with prize money totaling 300-400 rupees, or $6 - $8. He was super modest and humble when we congratulated him.
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Fancy dress!
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Jen can get a group of women and children surrounding her in no seconds flat. That's her Super Power!
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A sign in our favorite breakfast restaurant, er, restraurent. How many correctly spelled words can YOU find?
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On a relaxed don't-know-where-we're-going walk today, we came across a group of women sitting on a porch. I love this one!
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It's great when Jen is with me, because she's happy to do the heavy social-lifting while I float around the edges taking photos.
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After we said "hello" in Hindi and "how are you" in English, the verbal conversation sort of petered out. They didn't speak a word of English. They laughed, and we laughed, and they made us tea. We loved it.
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This Grandma was a kick.
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When someone new joined the group, they did this one-arm to one-arm greeting that I've never seen before. She repeated it with everyone in the group.
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Onwards, finally, past more colorful houses and beautiful kids.
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Stunning! This 26 year-old beauty offered us tea, too, as did others, but we declined.
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People in this state of Himachal Pradesh generally look quite different than the average person in "flatland" India - say Varanasi. Eyes tend to be more round, among other things.
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I like this woman's expression.
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A go-kart with a one-sister power motor.
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This looked like Mom and two sons. The youngest kid was such a ham. He posed with a heavy bag of gravel and insisted on me taking his photo.
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Another beautiful family.
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This is the grandfather of the little girl above.
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The same little beauty.
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At the end of our walk, by accident, we ended up right at Chokling Monastery, which is where our guest house is. These deeply carved rocks are called "mani stones," and have Tibetan prayers carved on them. What a great day...
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(The End)