Encouragement within discomfort

In the first several days of living and working in Dharamsala I have felt rather stuck in this bubble of disorientation. A classmate pointed out the importance of moving beyond this “paralysis” into the positives that are within and can be created within my surroundings and my placement. I have realized how important this is. While I think it is incredibly important to be critical of one’s surroundings, I think this critical eye has acted as a bit of a blinder to the possibilities around and within me. With this, I have begun to feel more settled and accomplished by communicating more with the principal of the Gamru Village School and asking for help from the other teachers. As well as outside of my placement in which Saturday several of us hiked Triund Mountain, and Sunday several of us attended His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teaching at Gyuto Monastery in lower Dharamsala.

Before grabbing a cab to the teaching, many people filled the main square of Mcleod Ganj to see his Holiness drive by. People were waiting eagerly gazing up and down Temple Road. When His Holiness drove by we all only saw him for a brief moment but it was a truly heartwarming couple of seconds as he appeared so humble with his head down and his hands held in prayer. It was a wonderful beginning to the day.

Arriving at the Monastery was a spectacular sight. The Temple inside was perfectly in line with the mountains in the background and Tibetan and Buddhist flags filled the Monastery. When we arrived, Gyuto monks had prepared food for the hundreds of people attending the teaching… what an amazing task. The event was incredibly organized with provided food and water, young monks walking around with garbages and other monks selling Buddhist texts. It was rather humbling seeing such working togetherness.

The teaching was such a neat experience however it was also a bit of an uncomfortable one. It was plus 40 degree weather and many of us had issues with the radios we were using for translation. I was rather aware of our position being there. We were group of noticeably privileged Caucasians taking up space but would this space mean more to someone else? Is it appropriate for us to be taking up this space? I was also a bit unclear about etiquette. Many people, many of them Tibetan, around me seemed comfortable sitting in the same position for 4 hours, while I had trouble keeping still let alone keeping my back straight. I was a bit uncomfortable with the fact that I was in the presence of one of the most influential people on this planet speaking about dependence and selflessness and I sometimes found myself thinking about my own comfort… This reiterated to me my privilege position but it also really encouraged to learn more about Tibetan and Buddhist culture and religion. I am so happy and grateful for this experience. Once we returned to Mcleod Ganj 4 of us had dinner on a rooftop patio watching the sunset appear behind the mountains, discussing and reflecting on the day behind us.

– Nat

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