Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Lot

OK, a lot has happened since I last posted. We went to Delhi and three other students and I took part in a day long hunger strike for the Tibetan cause. It was great, I learned how to play a folk song on the Tibetan Guitar. After that we hopped on a train for Haridwar and stayed for a night at an Ashram. There were a bunch of little kids living there so it was really fun. The next day we hopped on yet another night train for Allahabad (18 hours). From the train station we drove straight to the Ganga river and got on a small boat (I'll have pictures up soon). We took a three day boat ride down to Veranasi. It was amazing. The trip was so relaxing and it was great to be on the water. The second night we stopped in a small-ish town that had no foriegners. We were quick to draw a crowd. The only hotel was full, but luckily our boatman had some friends there. The cleared out the first floor of a house currently under construction and brought in some mats for us to sleap on. Now I am writing this from Veranasi. We just went to a puja down by the water full of fire and insense. Also, with only a few hours in town I already witnessed two funeral pires and the river banks. Seems like it's going to be an exciting two weeks! Love you all and happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 18, 2006


This is my homestay brother and sister from Dharamsala. Sonam, on the right, works for the government in conflict resolution and is also an actor. He stars in the Tibetan refugee movie Phun Anu Thanu. It's pretty funny. My sister, Dolma, stays at home and did most all the cooking. I got a sweet chili sauce recipee from her.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


So the Chinese prime minister Hu Jintao is visiting India, this is the first time in ten years that the Indian prime minister and the Chinese prime minister will have talked in ten years. He is coming to talk about boarder disputes and trade relations. It is also, though, a great opportunity for Tibetans to protest the Chinese rule of their country. Right now we are trying to see if we can change our plans a little and make it to Delhi to take part in some peaceful activism.
It has been really eye opening staying here in Dharamsala and living with a family of politcal refugees. Back in the US the Tibet issue seems so far away, but here it is staring at you right in the face. They Chinese have been, and still are, carrying out genocide in Tibet. They are systematically destroying all of the Tibetan culture that they can. And the world is just standing aside and watching. As time goes on the US is becoming more and more dependent on China and it looks unlikely that the government will do anything. The Tibetans, though, are some of the strongest people I have ever met. The Chinese overwhelm them in shere numbers and economic power. The only reason that the issue is still around is the strength of these people.


Yesterday we went to see a concert by my guru, Ashoka, and his sitar playing friend from Punjab. The concert was at Ashoka's house. It was amazing to see someone play like this up close, it was only a small room with about eleven of us. My skills are slowly improving, but now I am even more excited to continure studying in Varanasi. It's amazing how old this culture is. The sitar basically hasn't changed in 350 years and the tabla for even longer. People have been playing sitar for over a thousand years. The culture is just so much older than that of Western Europe...

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Today Galen (in the picture), Jordan and I went on a hike outside of Dharamsala. We went to a waterfall and then climbed up and up and up. We didn't end up where we thought we would, but we got a great view. We also discovered a sweet Shiva shrine and a temporarily abandoned village. All the houses were made completely out of slate, even the roofs. We had a great time finding our way down since it was to steap to go back down the way we came up. It was awesome to excersize again seeing as we weren't allowed to leave the premises of the retreat center.

Meditation Retreat

So we just finished our ten day meditation retreat yesterday. It was at a place called Tushita which is up in the woods above Dharamsala. A really peaceful and quiet place. Basically everyday went as follows:
  • Morning Mindfulness Meditation
  • Breakfast
  • Teaching
  • Yoga
  • Lunch
  • Discussion Group
  • Tea
  • Teaching
  • Analytical Meditation
  • Dinner
  • Analytical Meditation
It was like that until the last two full days in which we meditated seven times of 45 minutes each. I got really good at sitting. It was a Tibetan Buddhist retreat which was cool because up until now I had really only studied Theravadin. It's very different and has a large emphasis of "saving all sentient beings." It's much more of a religion than a philosophy and is full of gods and Buddhas. The evening meditations included elaborate visualizations and cleansing rituals. Our teaher was an Australian monk named Namgyal and was awesome. He cracked jokes the whole time and kept the atmosphere light. It was nice, but now it's back to the noise of the city.