Once I woke up to a nice beautiful weather in Macleodganj, I went to check with Ankush, one of the staff members about where all I can head out to.
Then I came to know something.. The Dalai Lama was back here! He holds an annual 3 day teaching convention open to all followed by an initiation of the monks. After the convention would be the Tibetan Democracy day celebrated on Sep 2nd.
I was so excited that I was going to attend his teaching again! Off I went to the Dalai Lama Temple. I could see people from all over the world converging there. Bright colors, Buddhist robes, Koreans, Tibetans, Thai, Vietnamese,you name any of them and they were there.
As I waited to get photographed and given an ID for the three days of teaching by the security, I noticed that there were strict security all over the place. No cameras, no phones were allowed during his teachings unlike the open space in Leh, Ladakh.
The Tibetan security manager asked me smilingly, Are you from Hyderabad seeing the form in which I wrote the city I came from. I said Yes, Why? He beamed even more saying I did my graduation and post graduation in Hyderabad in HCU (Hyderabad Central University),i love that place! He even managed to talk in smattering Deccani telugu 🙂 He said right after his graduation, he got a job as one of the security staff for the Temple.
He lead me to the temple and kindly gave me a place to sit that was closer to seeing Dalai Lama. He was sitting 10 rows ahead of me now. Much closer than before. Just his sheer presence is overwhelming. What I saw was kindness, utter kindness towards anyone that he might encounter. It was a feeling that came inside me.
As I sat and listened to him, in his simple calming voice, I couldn’t hold back the heaviness that was in my heart for ages. Always, I mean always kindness kills you, it tears you up inside as your heart feels like it’s going to burst.
He said, At 19 I lost my freedom, at 25 I lost my country and No, I have no animosity against anyone, nor about China nor it’s governance. I have compassion for them too just like how I feel for us all. I only know this way and I believe it will work this way only. Nothing can be achieved by violence. I hope like I always hope there will be a peaceful solution to giving back what is rightfully ours, as people of Tibet.
That was enough for me. There was so much pain inside me. I drifted away from people because my feelings got hurt, to some I stopped talking to and some I ignored and I thought never again would I look back on any one of them. But then and there my ego fell flat. His words reminded me of true compassion,to let go.
And I cried, this time among thousands of people, cried and cried and didn’t even hide my face. And at that moment,an Asian guy walked towards me and he came up to me and opened his arms and we hugged and I cried and he cried. No words, just this, only this mattered. We stayed like that for some time. Humanity, that’s all it takes.
During the break, he held my hand and said he was from South Korea and his heart aches when he thinks of people in North Korea and what he felt.about violence, about hatred, about life. It was an exchange of emotions as we sat and spoke breaking barriers of race, language, religion and more.
After the teaching, I walked towards St.John’s Church and Cemetery. It was a beautiful and I mean really beautiful walk towards it and then and there I decided that during my stay, no matter what I would walk, no buses, no cars nothing.
As I approached the Church, right in the wilderness, there was absolute silence. Total stillness. I felt lots of energy there and not all of them peaceful. This church was built in 1852 and as I walked in, it was eerie and I mean really eerie to the core.
It was as if time had stopped here and I was still in that same old century. Honestly I felt the whole place was quite haunting. Its as if I was stepping into one of my own nightmares. It was in the afternoon and no one was around as I walked towards the church and it’s vast surroundings.
At the same time, it pulled me in too, there was a magnetic energy to get drawn into it. Imagine my relief when I saw a man standing right near the corridor of the church. He was the caretaker.
Haunting, really haunting and attractive and I saw the names of all the soldiers on a plague who were killed during World War I. Their cemeteries were right behind the church. The Governor General & Viceroy of British India, Lord Elgin was also buried here according to his last wishes and his love for this place. I felt a lot of sorrow in the surroundings.
I walked back to the town to meet my friend who had just arrived in Dharamshala. He was the one who would be meeting Dalai Lama the next day with his group. We sat in the cafe of my hostel and chatted for hours. It is always wonderful to meet someone you know and most importantly to connect with someone on a spiritual level when you are in that space.
Before he left, he told me that he will let me know about the meet up for tomorrow and if it’s given a go ahead, he will let me know further.
It was late afternoon and the weather was between raining and drizzling and I decided to walk up the steep walk towards Dharamkot. It was only 2 kms away from the Main Chowk(junction) of the town but the steepness of it kills you!
For all my fitness, trekking and all that jazz, this was still something else! I only wished I ate more before 🙂 And I did what I thought was stupid then, I came up almost to the point of reaching Dharamkot and then I turned and walked back. Why? I didn’t know.
Just as I walked back, I saw a lovely community cafe called Common Ground Cafe and the moment I walked in, it rained HARD and I mean really HARD! It was cats and dogs and more, so much more that Cows and dogs took shelter in the portico of the cafe. I actually thanked my stupidity, of turning back and finding this cozy cafe.
It was almost evening, turning dark and I was just walking around the markets, going to the temple again, this time it was silent and no one was around.
As I packed a small dinner and sat down in my room, came the call from my friend. Yes I was IN! Yes I will also meet Dalai Lama tomorrow with them! And to whatsapp my ID proof documents to him so he could email it to his group head who would send it to Dalai Lama’s office!! I had to carry my originals as proof tomorrow morning. And yup to assemble outside the temple at 6.30 am.
And… my friend tells me if you want you can give some offering, anything small, as an offering to a teacher. And if you need blessings from him on any item or book or anything, get that too!
This was too surreal and I was like, Pinch me I am dreaming! My journey from Ladakh to here! Who would have thought??!! I was frozen, plain frozen for sometime!
I rushed out to get something for Dalai Lama. But what do you get for someone like that? It’s not about big or small. But to someone so esteemed in every way, you get very nervous and very lost.
I went to several shops and found nothing satisfactory until I walked into another shop and asked the guy who was the owner, ‘Bhaiyya, muje apne guruji, Rinpoche ko kuch offering dena hai, to kya accha rahega? (I want to gift my esteemed teacher something nice, can you suggest something?)
Immediately he showed me something. A beautiful robe – golden yellow in colour that had all the sacred symbols. He said this is considered really auspicious. I asked him Will the teacher be fine if he sees this? His response came right out like this, ‘ Arre, yeh robe aap agar hamare Dalai Lama jo hamara sabse bada guru hai, unko bhi denge na, toh woh kitna khush honge, pata hai??’ ( If you give this even to Dalai Lama, our biggest Guru, he will be so happy on seeing it!)
I paid and walked back to the hostel happily. It was too exciting for me to sleep that night. Under no circumstances did I think that I will get to meet Dalai Lama. Just like that. Ladakh was meant to be, Dharamsala was meant to be and this was meant to be…