Sunday, July 16, 2006

From the Vault: Memories of Tibetan People

On my last journey to the 'Roof of the World', I got to see the 'real' Tibet that very few visitors ever get to witness or experience. Because we were traveling with (the now departed) Lama Tenzin who was the main Lama and the head of the Maui Dharma Center, we were invited into private homes in Nepal. Many of these Tibetans were relatives of his or relatives of other Tibetans we knew back home on Maui. They were extremely hospitable, generous and kind to us. I would like to share some of the sweet memories of our meetings with these remarkable, resilient beings.

After arriving in Kathmandu, Nepal, a small group of our traveling party were invited to dinner one evening at the home of a relative of Lama Tenzin. This was the home where filmakers had filmed the award-winning art movie, "The Windhorse." So after dinner, the relatives showed the film to our group. All of the roles in the film were enacted by their friends and family members, even the roles of the villains, the Chinese. Quite a gathering of Tibetans had arrived that evening to celebrate our arrival and watch the film one more time, and though most of them couldn't speak English, their joy and laughter were contagious. As I sat there that evening laughing because everyone else was laughing and surrounded by happy Tibetans with full tummies watching this film about the atrocities that were still going on in Tibet, I had an huge 'download' about acceptance, family, survival and embracing the moment as mastered by these people.

Memory from another experience: I was invited into a hotel room in Lhasa where Tibetan relatives had bicycled-in the most amazing feast of momos and other Tibetan dishes, many of them made from yak. They kept insisting we eat more, more! Their desire to feed us touched me deeply! Then they gifted my partner with many beautiful items because they wanted to thank him for having given their brother a job when he desperately needed one on Maui.

Foreigners are still a huge curiosity in many of the back road places we stopped. The children shyly stared at us everywhere we went. At one school where we stopped to hand out pencils and observe the children in their school-world, we were surprised to witness how well-behaved they were, and even though we must have looked like we dropped down from another planet, they continued reciting out-loud their school work in sing-song fashion while us westerners gazed upon them with wonderment.

On another occasion we watched an old abbot move our extra-bright flashlight along the crumbling old walls of Samye Monastery which allowed us to see the ancient walls where historical and religious stories had been painted as murals. Lama Tenzin was studying some aspect of esoteric wisdom, and we were lucky enough to view these rarely seen murals which for the most part are hidden away in the gloom of the dimly lit, smoke-filled monastery. We gifted the abbot with this special light, and his smile lit up our hearts.

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