Thursday, 1 January 2009
The morning was clear and cold as was everyday. I could not believe my luck with this I had not seen a cloud in the sky for at least two months and kind of got complacent about it expecting the same blue canopy overhead. It was so beautifully clear, a crystal clear morning as I walked into the police station I beamed and cheerfully waved at them all and beamed even more when my travel permit was handed to me.
This time within this bus station I felt confident and walked smugly up to the counter, 'tashdilleh'.....greetings may all the Gods bless you with many children and grant you blessing from Buddha to end the eternal suffering of birth death and re birth so that you go directly to a higher level of existence, oh and by the way...... chee chu Lhasa, gong gong chee cher Lhasa.......can I have a ticket to Lhasa.........Pleeeeeeeeeease
I let her do the usual blank look thing and waited to just before she was about to run away and hide in the corner, then, I produced my magic scroll with the sacred inscription, plenty of Chinese characters here to impress her, straight from the press, I waved it around a little and offered it up to the counter for her to examine, she gingerly took it from me and began to examine it suspiciously, then went off to converse with her colleagues, looked at it under a better light, flicked through some pages of a book, returned to her ticket machine looked around to see if anyone was watching her. Her hand was hovering over the issuing ticket button and stayed there for an uncomfortable amount of time.....â€arrrrrgh press the bloody button will youâ€ I blurted out in my mind, conditioned and brainwashed from birth never to issue tickets to foreigners, she fought inside herself battling with the blue print of her existence and purpose in life, suddenly a moment of free thinking detached itself and broke free, her finger came down on the button and issued the ticket. Phew, I took it from her quickly in case she changed her mind and without any delay went to locate my bus.
My bus was already here and being loaded up. I followed with my eyes a curious trail of red that led to the rear of the bus and then into the open luggage compartment, there were three or four large sacks from which the red was dripping from, there I could see a large red stain around its nose, aaaaah pigs, I threw my rucksack on top and boarded my ride. I love Asia.
I was thinking about something, or was about to, or I was...... I donâ€™t know, then as always something broke my train of thought and I glanced down at the time on my watch it read 1:21 and 21 seconds, 1st January, what are these moments in time, these patterns, coincidences? . There were strange vibrations in the air stirring in the depths of my soul as I tried to summarize the past events in my life leading me to this present moment. Somehow I was trying to conclude, summarize, give form to something that wanted to remain formless, this journey, my inner questions, the decisions and outcomes of all these events. I could almost see it, but something eluded me. I felt cheated, disappointed, an anti climax I suppose. Here I was after days of travelling through crazy, freezing terrain, all those strange faces and places, finally I had reached my goal, here in Lhasa.
Now resting in another hotel room on New Years Eve, my thoughts come back to the present, â€œits not hereâ€ I thought, no prize, no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, no revelation, no enlightenment, just an unimpressive full stop!
I looked around the room and again the luxury of it all disappointed me, it was all too easy, too comfortable, soulless, sterile and here I was in the belly button of the Hymalayas.
I drifted back to a few memories ago and it became Christmas again. I was in Chorma's house after walking all that way to bring fresh vegetables, the simplicity, the communion between people, that was what I was missing, the richness of the simplicity, the subtle detail of the little bits in life gives it all substance, meaning, truly less is more.
I longed to be out of here amongst the small villages and the bamboo houses, banana tree blankets under a moon lit night and to be able to see through the cracks in the wall, hear the subtleness of the night lullaby me to sleep. Suddenly I hear a Tibetan song on the TV my eyes fill up a little as I realize it's the song I heard in Chorma's house, strange coincidences again. I learnt that the title of the song was called 'Chorma' and that was where her name came from. It was just beautiful.
Here at the roof of the world and center of Buddhist less is more faith, I am surrounded by luxurious hotels and TV adverts of more is more, there was nothing simple or humble here, it all felt wrong, out of place. I guess thatâ€™s what the disappointment was.
I watched a speech on the TV representing the Chinese people, their ideals, their status, global issues, humanity I was not concerned whether it represented them truthfully politically or socially, but it was a good speech and many values of honor, respect, care, and community, things which seem a million miles away these days of fantastic plastic western priorities of pride and ego.
I drift back to some very early memories of myself growing up I suddenly remember the innocence of it all. I remember a feeling of innocence. I had nothing negative in my heart at all and slowly I trace it forward in time through the years until I found signs of its erosion.
I was always creative from very early on, enjoyed life and everything to do with it, enjoyed my health, sport, fitness, working with my hands and continued to enjoy all the arts through to my present time, to be creative and to express the world around you felt important to me. I could not ignore, it was too huge, too interesting, too beautiful. I found, I discovered that I could do many things, it was like an infinite supply of ideas and enthusiasm what ever I put my hand to whatever material I felt in my hands I could understand its structure enjoy it and know how to work with it, I could create things, cooking, drawing, painting, photography, even mechanics there was a symmetry and beauty to it all, of everything working in harmony together, I became a good mechanic, artist, builder, plasterer, cook, photographer. Life had a rich and varied palette of colors, textures, tastes, shapes and lines to be arranged, manipulated and explored.
Conversations I would get equally passionate about to for the beauty to explore deep into many subjects, there were so much to explore in this world, to think about and to enjoy in this world. But often I started to realize I was becoming a source of amusement for my friends and colleagues, I did not realize how alone I was on this journey of discovery. I was sad that other people did not see the things the way I did, they could not see it, did not want to, or found it tiring, but they were missing out on so much, did they not have any passion for anything in life except the way they look and who they could convince to sleep with them, was that life? could not apply themselves to anything more? I never questioned it all until later when my innocence opened up to avenues of distrust, jealousy and conspiracy. Friends that I had once admired and put high upon pedestals suddenly tumbled and fell, faces became grey, suspicious and my world fell apart. Everything fragmented into an impossible puzzle where there is no point to it all, no super glue that will hold them back together. Everything changes I realized, life is change every second, nothing is ever static in nature.
I had to go out there and find the person I once was. I have to find my faith again, my passion, because people, our culture, our politics, the bits of paper with demands for this and that chip away and wear away at your spirit, eventually leaving you with gaps and holes where doubt and fear seep into.
I guess I am an artist, thatâ€™s my problem. I am romantic and believe in beautiful things. I see the infinite in all things, the imagination has no boundaries, no borders, passports or control there is no need, its a beautiful world in here, no suspicion, no jealousy no greed, so much detail, so much colour, form and substance to it all, such interesting detail why cannot others not see?
William Blake...''he who see only a grain of sand in his hand sees himself only, he who see the infinite in all things sees God''
''To live in spirit not in the flesh'' If the spirit is willing the flesh will follow
I sit with my feet in a good bowl of warm water and relish this feeling, it had been a long time and I trace it and follow the sensation with my mind as it moves slowly from the extremities of my toes, to saturate the blood inside my veins. I feel the relief deep inside, something so simple as warmth, inner warmth, of simple pleasure, just to be warm. I close my eyes and just enjoy it. Then I notice a familiar smell, of road, dust, sweat, and grime, it was the steam rising up from the water which had disslodged small particles of the history of my trousers, then into my nostrils, then my brain catoragised each element and put it in the relevant pigeon hole, painting a pretty grim picture of trouser abuse in my mind. I open my eyes to take at look at myself, yes the transformation was complete I believe I had become Tibetan, my exposed skin was dirty with bits of black that I had no idea where it came from but I saw the same sort of stains on everyone else, my clothes were dusty, greasy, stained and my hair started to form small dreadlocks, yes this was a hard country, especially now in the winter nothing grew, no green, no fire wood to burn, they had to collect the dung from cattle and dry in the sun and use sparingly, they wrapped themselves up in heavy cloth and fur to keep warm, food was basic, one Tibetan explained to me that it was upsetting for them as Buddhists because it was impossible for them to be vegetarian as they would prefer to honor their faith. They only had yak meat to survive over the long winter, so had to compromise. Yes life was hard here.
Lhasa now lay two days ago in my memory banks and it did take on a transformation in the daylight. The next day as I walked all around and watched the many pilgrims that walked, prayed, prayed, prayed and devoted themselves to their beliefs and ideals. They were as poor as hell, but had traveled miles and miles to be here. I thought about all the others that must have dream to be here one day and I was now just casually walking around for my own amusement, I felt a little guilty at this. I did appreciate being here though and promptly marched up to where the prayer flags were being sold and I joined the line of people that were walking towards a big lump of rock where all the flags, prayers, wishes were tied to blow free in the wind and be carried around the world forever. It was something beautiful whether you invest in this way of thinking or not, is not important but the symbolism is, it shows how these people can transform beyond their poverty and hardships, this physical realm is just a temporary inconvenience, they have a heart, they believe in things greater than their own egos, desires. Some people ask me many times when I spend hours preparing food that will be eaten in minutes, how can you do it? Why bother? I bother because I care about it, it is beautiful to do something, anything well and that beauty will pass on to others no matter how temporary it is. Maybe even inspire them.
My mother wrote to me once, actually we have a long history of writing to each other with a real pen and paper, another rare thing these days that many people are losing touch with, using statements like â€œ I would love to but I am too busyâ€ but its this attitude that will end up us putting our parents into retirement homes.
She told meâ€ everything that the heart gives away is never lost, it is kept in the heart of others foreverâ€
I smell the incense, I hear the Tibetan chanting below...ohm mani padme hum....Jewel in the Lotus of the Heart
Smoke, incense, prayers, consciousness sailed away on the winds of hope, faith and freedom. There are many impossible places to reach in this world but here nothing could stop something as simple as this from going wherever it needed to. I hoped into every home into every heart so they too could feel such simplicity, love and have time to listen, to care.
With this I suddenly felt complete. I had said my own silent prayer, in my own way in fitting to all religions all over the world, we all want the same thing at the end of the day, love, light and peace.