Thursday, October 30, 2008
CHASING THE DALAI LAMA
When we picked McLeod Ganj as a site to visit, we did so with the hope of being here when the Dalai Lama was not on his worldwide travels. To have an audience with His Holiness would be a once in a lifetime experience. We heard from people in town that he had just arrived "home", recuperating from his recent illness (not yet ready to travel) and that he would be giving an address, and a blessing, at the 48th anniversary of the Tibetan Children's Village, in McLeod Ganj.
We walked up a road, then a footpath to the school and scrounged for available seats, awaiting the arrival of His Holiness. At once the band started playing and an entourage of several cars drive into the stadium. With some, not a lot, of fanfare he walked with other Tibetan Buddhist dignitaries to a seat opposite us in the stadium. After about an hour of other people giving speeches in Tibetan, he starts his talk. Since his speech was also in his language and not in English we got nothing out of it other than the fact that his voice was strong and a blessing was given. A blessing given in any language "works". He spoke for about 45 minutes while I performed my version of a short Tibetan Meditation (sleeping). No disrespect intended. Even though we lacked any understanding of his speech it was still very cool to be in his presence.
In my opinion, he was upstaged by the dancing and singing performances of the students at the school. One group had over seven hundred kids performing calisthenics with colorful outfits so it looked like waves of color floating to the music. We stayed to the end and listened to the English narrator describe the great things the school has done. It takes children who have escaped Chinese oppression in Tibet, traveled across the Himalayas and arrived in McLeod Ganj and teaches them the basic subjects PLUS Tibetan culture. It was a heart felt experience.