currently we are in Delhi, three days away from the sad time that we board that flight back to the US. Since I can neither face, nor believe this fact, I will instead wrie out a journal entry that I wrote in Ladakh when we visited Thiksey monastery and witmessed their early morning prayers. I am excited to be going home; to see my family and friends that I have missed so much. Yet, part of me cannot help asking, "why am I leaving this place and this group." Life is change, neh?
So, without further ado:
There is the smoke of incense in the air. Torquoise drums with dragons crawling up the sides. Young monks with the old. Little red robed Buddhas. Wow.
Silence, the chanting has stopped. So too has the interplay of trumpets and young monks gleefully beating the drums. (Well, I do not know how gleeful. I would have been gleeful to hit the drum. Maybe they treat it with the seriousness that only a child can have, when faced with a responsibility; a task. I did see some smiles though...)
Chanting. One lead voice and then the others. Rows upon rows of the young and old, praying in a hall of brightly painted pillars and tibetan script dimly lit by the light coming through the single door. The light coming through the door illuminates the monk's faces.
Now, the young monks scurry, fetching butter tea and tsampa for the others. Some can barely hold the buckets.
The lights just came on. I can see the golden Buddha statues in the back. One man is standing in a yellow cloak, chanting. Pausing, the monks eat breakfast, and Tiffany, the one among us who has most taken to the salty buttter tea, drinks with them.
We are the spectacle here. I feel too self-conscious to take pictures, even though Namgial said that we could. It is early, and my brain is still too sleepy to think about such things. Part of me thinks that if I take pictures, I will be exploiting the Ladakhi's religion and culture; turning it from sacred to entertainment. Like if when I take a picture without asking the subject, I am turning that person into an object to be viewed for curiousity and entertainment.
At the same time, here I am taking pictures with my eyes and my pen.
How little do I know of this religion and culture. Everyday monks wake up for morning prayers at 6:30 Am. How amazing. I wonder if they are warm with shaved heads and robes? The oldest here looks to be in his 70s, the youngest, 5 years old.
Now, although cannot see what the shift was, the seriousness of the ceremony has passed and the younger monks are playing with each other. They whisper to each other. Across from me, one blows his trumpet out of turn and smiles sheepishly at his neighbor. Yet the chanting continues, as it will for another hour.
This morning I woke up selfish, worrying about my own convienience, my own comfort, my own sleep. It takes seeing a ceremony so different than my own experience, yet so obviously important to remind me that the world that I live in is not just about me. The world is so much more and so much more for it. Even now, after I have left the monastery, there are monks there eating, sleeping, praying, even playing. They too are living their lives and that thought makes life wonderful.