After La Mayuru and what it entailed I was refreshed, calm and taking it all in.
Mornings would be sitting with my friend in our room and chatting or just looking at the mountains where we could see the beautiful Shanti Stupa from the window of our small guest house.
We would be woken up with fresh chai brought by Chachu Ramji with his big smile. He would be bantering with my friend on how soon he got the Chai and my friend laughing loud and saying, No you were late 🙂 He is the heart and soul of the guest house.
I love early mornings, it’s silences, the different shades of the sky.. Just before the world wakes up, you know you have these beautiful moments to yourself like a gift.
And the very next day after La Mayuru, that morning we got some unexpected news.
The Dalai Lama was in Leh! He was teaching in one of the grounds of a monastery. And there was a sudden urge to see him, to listen to him. He was teaching for three days followed by the initiation of monks – a ceremony that happens usually after his teachings.
That day we were going to get around Leh and the next day was a long two day trip to Pso Moriri lake. But I had this desire, this selfish desire to go and listen to his teachings and if we could postpone the trip to the next day after the teaching. My friend didn’t require much prodding and thanks to him we could go a day later!
What I thought would be a lecture of Dalai Lama would turn into a huge big moment much later on this trip. In hindsight, his presence, his teachings and energy would loom large during my entire journey and it’s continuing.
We had to join another two older couples during the day trip to Leh. One thing I realized was the distance. Because of the vast mountainous regions and roads, the average distance one can cover in Leh is approximately 20 kms in an hour.
So what we saw in Leh was maybe 2-3 places but it does take a whole day just getting around locally.
Leh Palace was beautiful and dilapidated in it’s own way. The Leh King stayed there for sometime and just like most Buddhist traditions, a monastery was built into it. Here is where my fear of heights started kicking in.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I would get dizzy the moment I am above 3-4 floors, maybe that was also the reason why I never preferred mountains, it was a sub conscious thing.
As we walked up, one level after the other as the Leh Palace has 7 levels. Each step big and quite steep, my fears started kicking in big time. I could feel my feet shaking, it’s nerves bursting and screaming and the constant visual image of myself falling to my death.
My friend would tenderly and softly offer his shoulder and walk ahead in front of me saying go slowly and I would. And with each step I felt exhilarated and panicky at the same time. But when we reached the top it was sensational…
The clouds, the view of the town of Leh engulfed and surrounded by Mountains and of course the snow capped mountains far far away.. What a sight it was! My heart leaped as I stood under the blazing sun and feeling the cold and just feeling alive..
We made our next stop to Thiksey Monastery. A beautiful massive monastery that sat atop on a hill and you could see its massiveness as you drove towards it. It bore a lot of similarities to the famed Potala palace in Lhasa, Tibet. It was also the largest Gompa in Ladakh.
Tibetan Buddhism has four major sects , Nyingmapa, Kagyu, Sakya & Gelug. More and more I would discover each monastery would belong to one of these sects.
Thiksey monastery came from the Gelug Sect. And after the full climb up to the main temple, we saw the doors were locked! All the Monks were attending Dalai Lama’s lecture.
So we decided to visit Hemis Monastery. Another beautiful monastery that venerates Padmasambhava – an Indian Buddhist Guru or Rinpoche as they are called. We would find to our amazement that Buddhism or it’s worship was not just about Buddha, it was the essential attainment of Buddhahood. The various gods and goddesses we would see like Tara Devi, Manjushree was a revelation.
Again the pictures speak for themselves…
We came back to Thiksey, climbed up again and it was so amazing. I guess you will be tired of hearing this, but NOTHING and I mean NOTHING will come closer no matter how much I am trying to express, to what I experienced.
Our last stop was Shanti Stupa and this divine place, this magnificent Stupa with all the tourists, crowds, selfie sticks with pouts in and around will NOT take away your peace.
As my friend and I drifted from the group and sat in the quiet meditation hall with the idol of Sakyamuni Buddha. I felt an emptiness.. A transparent emptiness.. Neither the loud cackle of people who came inside or hearing clicks of cameras bothered me.
Most importantly I realized I was not more evolved, nor in a higher place because I was meditating, and others were clicking pictures.
We usually do that don’t we? A sense of ego and righteousness because we feel we are more evolved than the ‘mainstream’ people. I felt a sense of oneness with all with my flaws and their flaws. It was all so unified..
As we came out, just at that moment we saw a beautiful Double Rainbow! A full one at that! I was so overwhelmed I was in tears and it came out, all out, in the open, shamelessly, not scared to show how I feel..
Amidst the chaos, whether it was in the crowd or even in the group I was with, I felt silence.
Our day ended with all of us sitting in the cafe in the monastery, me sipping for the first time Tibetan Butter Tea and listening to a beautiful recorded karaoke version of the song ‘Tujse Naraaz nahi zindagi’ from the old movie Masoom and ‘Aap ki nazron ne samja’ from the movie Anpad.
My friend and I knew this won’t be the last time we will visit the Stupa. It was pulling us to come again and just be present.
Tomorrow would be His Holiness Dalai Lama teachings and NOT just another day…