The Buddha said:
This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds
To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance.
A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky,
Rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain.

THE ONLY THING WE REALLY HAVE IS NOWNESS, IS NOW.

What the caterpillar perceives as the end, to the butterfly is just the beginning.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

India, Day 20 - Monks' Kitchen, last day in Mundgod, journey to Bangalore

Thursday, 17th January

Last day at the Tibetan settlement. Geshe-la invited Alan and I for a walk around camp 2. First, he led us to the monastery's kitchen, and I was pleased to have a second chance to see the kitchen.

A team of monks was busy making bread

and Tibetan tea was brewing in a massive pan.

Twenty monks sat - some stood - around a long rectangular table 

stretching out the dough in a circular manner

whilst a group of seven monks stood around the rectangular baking stone baking the flatbreads.

I then had another opportunity to have another look at the kitchen utensils 

and all the huge pans, cleaned and lined on the floor ready to be used.

Afterwards, Geshe-la took us to the courtyard where he used to practice his debate skills.

A monk was quietly and peacefully brooming the grounds.

 It reminded me of a story about the way cleaning our environment can be transformed into a powerful meditation. Thubten Chodron shared it it as follows,

They always tell this story about one disciple at the time of the Buddha. He was very, very dumb. He had one teacher, a non-Buddhist teacher who was trying to teach him two syllables, ‘Om Bum.’ When he remembered ‘Om,’ he forgot ‘Bum,’ and when he remembered ‘Bum,’ he forgot ‘Om.’ Eventually the teacher got fed up and kicked the student out. This guy was just completely overwhelmed. “I can’t learn anything. I am so dumb, my teacher kicked me out!” He was crying and crying and crying. 
Somebody brought him to the Buddha. The Buddha, because he had so many skilful means, gave this guy a meditation practice suitable for him. He gave him a broom and had him sweep the courtyard in front of the temple where the monks and nuns were doing their prayers. He had to sweep one side of the courtyard and then he would do the other side. When he swept the other side, the side that was first swept became dirty so he had to go back and sweep that again, so he spent all his time going back and forth cleaning both sides of the courtyard. The Buddha told him as he was cleaning, to say, “Clean the dust, clean the stain.” This man went all day long with his broom saying, “Clean the dust, clean the stain,” as he was sweeping. 
At some point, through the force of offering service with faith and devotion to the Buddha and to the Sangha, and through the force of continually thinking about what does “clean the dust, clean the stain” mean, he realized that it means to clean the two levels of obscurations. The first one being the afflicted obscurations – the ignorance, attachment, and anger – and the karma that cause rebirth? These are considered the dirt, so you clean that. “Clean the stain” refers to the dualistic appearance of phenomena. He began to understand exactly what the obstacles of the path were and he began to understand the value of the wisdom realizing emptiness…. 

Back at Gyakham Khangtsen, we had lunch and got ready to go. As we were about to leave, road closure news arrived. Local communities were protesting, blocking the roads. Anxious that we wouldn't be able to get to the train, we decided to get a taxi to Hubli Airport and fly to Bangalore. 

The drive through unpaved country lanes, some of which also blocked by large groups of Indians, was a nerve recking adventure. I sat quietly on the back trying to focus on the breath and my mantra meditation, noticing the mind becoming agitated about the possibility of missing the flight and not arriving on the agreed date, knowing I had no means to get in touch with my son's dad.  When we eventually got to Hubli Airport I was releaved to find out that there were seats still available in the next flight and fortunately Geshe-la had enough ruppees to help me buy a ticket.

When we arrived at Bangalore Airport it was still day light. Tired of last minute changes, and feeling exhausted and pre-menstrual, I just wanted to stay put at the airport until check in time. However, my companions had other plans. They wanted to get a taxi into town and find a nice restaurant. I was concerned we'd get stuck in traffic and miss the airplain, and wanted to stay by myself at the airport. This proved quite difficult, as they simply refused to leave me alone at the airport. I tried to reassure them that I would be fine, that they had no reason to worry, but they weren't having it. If I didn't join them, then nobody would go. 

Under pressure, I finally gave in. We called a taxi, and ended up having a meal at a restaurant somewhere in town. I didn't feel as safe in Bangalore as I had felt at the Tibetan settlement. Never mind, at least I had a delicious meal, which I'm glad I did, because when we got back to the airport our flight seemed to have disappeared and information was not forthcoming. We were up all night, waiting, in vain... It was already morning when we were told that the flight had been cancelled, and we were all sent to a hotel nearby. 

Continues here.

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