Tibet is full of magic and wonder. I see the people smiling with their hearts. There is so much history in Tibetan Buddhism that I admire, partially because of what the people have had to endure under Chinese rule. The Tibetan people have lost much; their sacred Dalai Lama in 1959, their religious freedom, their freedom of speech, their freedom to assemble, many temples and monks… but not their freedom to live peaceful lives. Despite all of the adversity facing the Tibetan people, you can still feel their warmth with every smile and every greeting of “tashi delek” (blessings and good fortune).
This is a country of beauty and grace with its majestic mountains surrounding the Lhasa valley. The sky above us has been shining against a crystal blue backdrop, while white billowing clouds bless the mountain tops. The air is clean and clear and the people’s faces are beautiful, highlighted with rose pink cheeks that bring joy and serenity to your heart.
Everywhere we go, the Tibetans we meet seem to love our children. They literally stop in their tracks and turn their heads to follow Brooke and Brayden’s path, asking for pictures with the kids, feeling their hands, touching their arms and sharing smiles. When we visited the Chupsong Nunnery, the nuns loved Brooke – asking her to join them in the main hall while they chanted and prayed. The nuns passed her between them, taking turns smiling with her and admiring her; where she might normally feel uncomfortable with the attention, she looked at ease with a gentle smile the whole time. It is a lovely sight to see the Tibetans express their kindness and grace.
Brad has been here many times, once with his sister, Angie, and has raved of the beauty of the people, the land and of the Buddhist history. He wrote “The Dharma King” having been moved by the story of the Panchen Lama and his disappearance. He still maintains his awe of Tibet. I understand Angie’s passion for Buddhism and her sense of calm and peace that comes from her study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism and I, now, share that appreciation for Tibet.
We are grateful to be here and be witness to something so special.
A picturesque backdrop on our arrival:
The Potala Palace is the former home of the Dalai Lama:
We joined the Tibetan circumabmulation (“kora” or essentially a lap around an auspicious place) around the Potala, and paused at an awe-inspiring view:
The Jokhang Temple, the most revered Tibetan Buddhist temple:
Barkhor market, and following the kora walk around the Jokhang:
A visit to the Pabongka Monastery up in the hills overlooking Lhasa, followed by a breathtaking (literally, we are up 12,000 feet) hike over the mountains (sadly, similar to almost all of the monasteries, it was rebuilt after the Cultural Revolution when all monasteries were destroyed and burned to the ground):
Chupsang Nunnery, which is home to many red-robed nuns (and is one of the largest Tibetan nunneriers). It was a very special day for Brookie. She was admired and pulled into the sea of chanting and praying nuns; and she was in as much awe of them as they were of her:
A visit to Sera Monastery to watch the monks debating, after a little debating between Mom and Dad:
Then, on to see the temples and halls at Sera:
Our final visit of the day was to Rampoche Temple, which houses the much-revered Jowa Mikyo Dorje statue of the Buddha when he was 8 years old:
A morning at the Barkhor Market. Most Tibetans are out in the mornings doing their prostrations (prayers) and walking around the Jokhang Temple on their kora (prayer-filled pilgrimage around the temple) path:
Pappa negotiating the sale of his prayer beads:
An afternoon stroll through Norbulingka, which was the Summer Palace of the Dalai Lamas. It was surreal and sad to walk through the rooms of the Summer Palace, where the current Dalai Lama fled from Tibet on the night of March, 17, 1959 never to return. The Palace is said to be just as he left it that sorrowful night:
Here are some random video clips of things we saw, experienced or shared while in Tibet:
Off to Bhutan!