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Thursday, 12 April 2007

Enlightenment through Osmosis, The Dalai Lama's Teachings in India - Page 2

Written by Lisa McCallum
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“My Tibetan’s a bit rusty. I’m having a hard time following what he’s talking about,” I whisper to Aisha, one of the people I came here with. She smiles and nods, but doesn’t really laugh. It’s meant to be funny. I, however, am an anomaly in this audience: I am an American backpacker who ended up traveling to McLeod-Ganj, the home of the Dalai Lama, to escape the harassment of the rest of North India.

The office had a few foreigners hanging out around the doorway. A Swedish woman told us that he was giving teachings today at his residence. Tomorrow he was also giving the opening address for a new monastery that was starting up a few miles away. We could get passes to see him at any time throughout the week. I was expecting tickets to be pricey, or at least hard to get, but we only had to stand around the tiny, dusty office for a few minutes before a Tibetan man asked for our passports. The man wrote down our information on white cards that slipped into plastic covers.

“No lose this card,” the man said. “You cannot go without card.”

“How much?” I asked anxiously.

“Five rupees.”

“Really?” I asked incredulously. This was the Dalai Lama we were talking about.

“Yes, five. You no lose card.” He was pleasant but blunt. If I lose the card, I can’t get in. There are only so many people you can cram into a monastery to see one of the world’s most famous spiritual leaders.

I turned to Mily and RanHee and grinned. “It’s only five rupees!” When you’re a backpacker, every little bit counts. We passed on the good news to the next couple in line—Aisha and Compani. I’m not sure where Compani took his name. It’s pronounced “Com-pa-ni.” He seemed like an average white guy who got into yoga and Buddhism, changed his name from something like David or Michael, and then met Aisha, a stunning African American girl. Or maybe he met her first, and the yoga and Compani came later. They lived in Rochester, New York, and were traveling around India for three months studying yoga at a few different ashrams. They too, felt it was fate to have come to McLeod-Ganj during the time when the Dalai Lama was actually in town, but for them it was a far more spiritual link than it was for me.

“What time is the ceremony tomorrow?” I asked the Tibetan man before I turned to go.

“Don’t know. Maybe 11. Maybe 12. Go early.”

(Page 2 of 7)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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