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Thursday, 12 April 2007

Enlightenment through Osmosis, The Dalai Lama's Teachings in India - Page 7

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.

I’m a little unclear about his status here. Does he just work here or does he worship here too?

“Are you a Christian?” I ask.

“Yes. This is my church. It is not much, but it is the only Christian church for many miles.” I believe him. “Are you a Christian?” he asks.

I want to be honest and tell him I don’t really go to church much at home, but that’s not really what he asked. Plus, I don’t want to complicate our exchange. “Yes, I am,” I answer. If I am going to be labeled, it is correct. I’m not a Buddhist or a Hindu; that much I know.

“Very nice to meet you. I must work. Stay and rest. Bless you.”

The man retreats out the side door to continue his shoveling, maybe digging a new grave. Strangely enough, the thought doesn’t feel creepy. In this land of poverty, death is much more matter-of-fact and realistic than at home.

Yesterday, I was surrounded by the chatter of monks and the murmur of the Dalai Lama as he spoke convincingly of creating both world and inner peace—or so I assume. Today I hear only my own breathing. The day is cloudy and cool outside, maybe turning to rain soon. Three steps away is a cemetery. The Church of St. John in the Wilderness appears, on the outset, like quite a depressing place, with few visitors and fewer funds for upkeep. It is not so for me. Knowing the streets in town will be muddy and my hotel room will be chilly, I stay awhile. It’s comfortable here.

©Lisa McCallum

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

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