Sunday, 25 January 2009

some reflections

It is proving interesting to be amongst so many other Buddhist groups here. All thinking their way is the best but all practising at the same site and following the same goal. The practise is in feeling judged as inferior because we don't wear robes and are not monastic, and for not having a 'Guru', its also in judging them for practising rites and rituals as ends in themselves. The Mahabodhi temple is like a big mandala in which everything is held, all the energy of craving and aversion as well as Bodhichitta and its all circumambulating this spot, The Bodhi tree and has the potential for transformation.
2 days ago we did Chod at the site and at the end an angry woman said, 'If you knew anything about chod you wouldn't be doing it at this time'. She was very abusive, right in front of the tree, we certainly did call up the demons, anyway this knocked our confidence and checked out with Lama Tsultrim Allione that it was ok to do Chod anytime and she said it was and also you can do special chod and dusk and dawn when the veil in between the worlds is at the thinnest.
We have been causing ourselves grief by being dissatisfied with the room we have which is dark, smelly, has mossies and is next to a bathroom in which people have this habit her of reaching to the depths of their being and making a heel of a racket bringing phlegm up and spitting it, this is the sound we Wake up to and go to sleep to. We wont add information about the slum and its dogs and children and outside noises at risk of sounding negative. Or the babbling brook of rubbish and sewage and goodness knows how many diseases. No, instead we have seen that by complaining and focusing on looking for a better places has made things worst, Yesterday we reached acceptance. We realised we had gone through the stages of 1. Denial, its not happening and will change any minute, 2. Bargaining, plotting ways to fix it, all with new faults though, 3. Anger, It shouldn't be this way and its not fair, 4. Depression/Despair, Resignation, it will just be bad and lastly 5. Acceptance, give in to what is, stop wasting energy in trying to fix it. This released energy and actually theres a lovely view on the roof top terrace, it feels safe, its near everything and we have some anonymity. We are promised a room upstairs in 5 or 6 days with a window!

Friday, 16 January 2009

we arrived in Bodhgaya yesterday. The tain left on time and arrived early! We booked into the root intitute which is lovely. Simple. There is a massive prayer wheel in the couryard. It is very tibetan with bright colours and prayer flags and big rupas as well as trees and flowers. We are on retreat tomorrow with Dagri Rimpoche and a nun who has just come out of a 6 year solitary. Should be intersting. Feel in need of meditation and reflection.

We met Nissoka and Aranyaka at our FWBO land here and they were great company to spend the evening with. We circumambulated the Mahabodi temple. It is a strong place to be and being here for 6 weeks we plan to make it a daily practice to go there.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

a quiet day

after 12 days of non stop activity we are having a quiet day at the homestay with funny tummies both. missing chenrezig initiations and bodhisattva vows today apparently. i think we kind of have these already with our ordination - the line of acceptance 'for the benefit of all beings' and joining the order that on a mythic archetypal level is considered as the thousand armed form of avalokitesvara (chenrezig in tibetan). i don't feel i am missing out. i am enjoying a day of rest. its an interesting experience connecting with our brothers and sisters in the dharma from other traditions. surrounded by maroon robed monks and fans of tibetan buddhism it could be easy to feel an interloper. we are doing 7 fold puja daily - connecting fully with the subject of the dalai lamas teaching on the bodhicaryavatara. its not possible to hear the same dharma teachings too many times. it just goes in deeper each time. last night a southafrican woman, kerry, joined us in our room for the puja. great to be able to connect so easily with a new person in this way. We have a tip for possibly renting an appartment in bodhgaya for the duration of our stay there. We'll see. things rarely seem to be what we expect or hope for since we arrived in india. it really is the going forth we invited. letting go all the time.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Dummies guide to surviving India

India. It is dirty everywhere, it stinks. People constantly spit beetlenut everywhere. The rickshaws and cars and bikes drive by their horns. They see foreigners as walking Rupees. It is also exciting, primal, kids running around barefoot, stray skinny dogs and puppy's all over. Cows are like Gods, they are fed well and roam freely, everywhere. Locals excrete any old where and urine smells all around. Beggars with limbs missing, orphans begging. There is an art to be here and remain sane. We are learning after cracking last night. Some new approaches include seeing the way it works is a feedback system, so they treat westerners with contempt and so the Westerners act worthy of contempt. so we are trying to respond to contempt with eye contact instead of not, a friendly attitude and in saying no thank you (or whatever) instead of no, crossly. We are finding out the appropriate price for things (from locals, tibetans or more street wise westerners) and just giving it rather than haggling on the whole so we don't get ripped of so often. We intend to buy food to give to some beggars instead of money, some disfigure themselves or their children to get more money begging. In Delhi a child asked for a chapati and I waved my hand at her and said no, annoyed at being bothered by all the beggars. In Sarnath it hit me how unkind that was as she must have been hungry, it's easy to become hard and disconnected as a coping mechanism.

We are attending a week of teachings by the Dali Lama this week which is very inspiring. He talks for 5 hrs a day. 2 things have gone in at a deeper level than previously. 1. That Samsara is the world of being motivated by craving or aversion (avoiding pain and seeking pleasure), I have been using the word Samsara for years but suddenly 'get it'. So my life is about 2. Removing the obsurations (caused by craving and aversion). Simple in a difficult way. So the Bodhichitta is the only thing with worth and meaning. The Dali lama said a 'I am not a Buddhist I am a person who aspires to remove the obscurations'.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

These things are sent to try us

We arrived at the hotel in Delhi we had booked in England to find it grotty, dark, unfriendly and overpriced. So next morning went to hotel metropolitan. Half the price, had a window and hot water. We stayed 2 nights instead of the 1 as the train we had booked the next day was canceled meaning we had to stay an extra night.
Before we left the uk we let the bank know that we would be in india and they assured us our card would not be stopped now they knew this. On our first day in India we could not draw out cash and when going to an internet account found our account to be non existant. We found a STD! (phone), and spent ten pounds explaining the situation to a bank worker in england who assured us in 15 mins our account would be active and that it had been blocked because of unusual activity (ie, india!). 48hrs later it was still non exisatant and so the procedure of phoning the uk bank was repeated.
Sudakini bought an India sim card for her phone, this was time consuming and involved her giving details about her mother and father along with visiting a shop with a special room(escorted by a boy) with curtains and umberellas to have a photo taken, which when printed we had to present to simcard shop. Absurd.
we went to catch our train to Varanasi at 8.20pm which was 2 hrs late. We had to book 1st class as no others available until a few days time. It was small, stinky and dark but had a lock on the door but we slept pretty well. Unfortunately it was 7 hrs late arriving. We had a contact number and a guy called Kylash met us and said that as the Dali lama is coming everwhere is full and no room at all in saranath. He found us a room for R1000, the next morning we moved to somwhere else he had arranged for R1200, these places are way above our budget which is more like 300 - 400R. We went to the ghats and had a nice walk and saw many bodies being burn, it had a peaceful atmosphere. A boy told us the hotel behind us overlooking the ghat was 500R, which we discovered was true. Kylash, our helper was horrified to think of us staying there, sudakini wasnt keen either. I am worried about money. We have just found out there is 67Rupees to the pound, not 80 as we had thought. Kylash has invited us for dinner tonight with his family, so we will do this and tomorrow go to Sarnath and pray we find a place to stay as it is a long way to commute, apparently there are 25, 000 monks here at the moment. We are grateful for this opportunity to take adversity as the path! xx

Monday, 5 January 2009

Meeting Bhante

On 30th December we went to see Bhante. It was a delightful meeting with lots of to reflect on. A few highlights are his thoughts on initiations etc in the Tibetan tradition, that they are to be taken poeticly otherwise they become rites and rituals (my interpretation), I plant seeds of higher vision in myself and I nurture that seed and it grows. It is not that some "other" being does it to me. I found this empowering. He said that what comes from the outside is inspiration. He was very affirming of our going forth and reflected on his own and how it is hard to do that now, in fact there are signs saying Sadhus will be prosecuted up in places. He also encouraged us to bring back our learnings into the order and said we will come back more mature order members. His thoughts on Tsultrim Allione being an emanation of Machig labdron were "we are all emanations of Machig". Also that the nature of mind context is just another context, not a higher teaching.