Toilets and Politics

What did I read on the news today? well, if Salam Rushdie would like to kick my ass … but hygienically conditions in India are not really on the same level as I’m used to in Europe or Japan. Usually I don’t have to bring my own toilet paper with me and some toilets are hard to enter without wearing a gas-mask πŸ˜‰ imho India still has a long way to walk. A lot of Indian people I speak with, are not really happy with their politicians – ok, politicians are anyway a bread of its own, therefore I won’t extend that subject now πŸ˜‰

Healing or not?
Dharamkot is really amazing, you can heal yourself here either with ayurvedic medicine or spiritually with Yoga and meditation or you can poison yourself with whatever the market has to offer. Today I was sitting in a pizza place and scanning my notes from the Yogalife TT and observing two young Israelian girls rolling, or better to say folding their joints. The first mixture finished on the floor, but after that they became more nifty and one joint followed the next one sometimes interrupted by a pizzabite once in a while. I just smiled into myself remembering myself in the past and going back to my notes, trying to remember different adult learning types.

From next week on we have to teach in groups of 3 a full season of 90 minutes, I’m really looking forward. The week after everyone has to teach one session alone.
The training is really as good as it can be in 4 weeks. The program is tough, it starts every morning at 6 and we usually finish in the evening after 7. Though it is not only tough, but big fun as well thanks to the great people who found their way up to Dharamkot. Teachers are great as well and we meanwhile became friends. However, they are still our teachers and they do their job really well πŸ™‚Savira, Sanjeev and Poonah from Yogalife


Quite some time passed since my last notes on our journey to India. We settled a bit down now here in Lower Dharamkot and those rainy days kept us calm and not to busy. We also started each a ajurvedic treatment at Dr. Sibys clinic, which will still take some time What I find really annoying in India is that people just trash their rubbish right away on the street. Everywhere is dirt, pet-bottles, paper, shit from cows and dogs and who knows from whom else. Given up cars, trucks sometimes ripped down to a sceleton, half finished conrete ruins. Although it looks like richer states in India are much more clean than those with less money. Wealthy people are obviously more clean … at least on the outside. Tibetans are really teaching a lot, there’s all the time something gonig on here. Tibetan and philosophy courses at the library and different teachings in some monastaries. So we started attending a lecture sesseion about the 4 noble truth by …. Rinpoche. It is very interesting to hear after such a long time again some teachings about this fundamental topic. These are actually not news anymore. The Yogalife TT started nearly 2 weeks ago and we are now pretty much in the middle. People and training are great. I hope I will have some time tomorrow to write some more ….

11. September 2010

The last days were just crazy, finally we arrived in Dharamkot, a village a bit up from McLeondGanj, also known as Upper Dharamsala. Yes that’s the place were the Dalai Lama resides.
Let’s start from the beginning … last time I we were sitting in the Ragdhani Express from Mumbai to New Dehli and I started breading out what I call an aircon-cold. The nasty thing in hot countries is, that you come from a sauna like atmosphere to a 15 degree ice cold fridge to have dinner inside. The train itself is very recommendable, if you are not coming “cold” to New Dehli. We thought ourself to be on the save side, as we had tickets for that afternoon train to Haridwar. So we were a bit hanging around, leaving our backpacks in a tourist office and visiting some shops. Around noon we came back to the station and were told the train to Haridwar is delayed for at least 9 hours … so we had to reconsider and the guy from the station sent us to the Government Tourist Office. There we booked a hotel for overnight and took next day a taxi, which is still much cheaper than an airticket to Dharamsala.

The hotel Karat87 is not really recommendable. Stuff is not really friendly and our room was directly above the hotel bar and they played amplified tabla there… urrrrsai….

In any case, NewDehli is a big city and people living there told us all the time, the city just makes you sick.

McLeondGanj is called little Lhasa by the Tibetans and we buzzing through the city a bit today. People here are quite different, they don’t run after you and push you to sell you something, on the other side negotiating a better price is more difficult. I will post some photos the next days. I still didn’t recover fully from that aircon-cold.

Bye Bye Mumbai

Transending the academic spirit
I’m a day late or so πŸ˜‰ Anyway I’m not sure how I will keep up-to-date the next weeks.
Yesterday we visited another cave, Bhaje Lena, even older then Karle Lena and most impressing a Stupa gallery. We could also see how monks were living and meditating, in small little caves, carved out from the rock. We were then all sitting down in front of the main stupa in the meditation hall and chanting, which untied the whole group and gave a complete different odour to it than the atmosphere of an academic conference, it was like we were transcending the academic spirit of duality to some kind of unity.
Another miracle happened, my phone services all the sudden started working again, which gives me now the time to write here in the hotel room.
The return to the bus was then as wet as the day before, with the difference, that we all were better equipped with umbrellas and raincoats πŸ™‚
On the way back we still had tea in some highway stop and a nice talk with Tenzin Palmo, who is very strong promoting a good education for young Tibetan nuns.

Good Bye Mumbai
now while I’m writing this, we are already sitting in the train to New Delhi. It’s hot and rainy today, that’s why Namai Sensei didn’t went out, so we still had lunch with him at the hotel before we departed by taxi to Mumbai Central Station.

Traffic in India looks on the first look like total chaos, everyone is horning and everyone is going, but nothing happens. But actually it just looks like this, there are some rules, traffic here is more like a game, like horn, horn: hello, here I am and where are you, let’s swim in the crowd, horn, horn and that’s the way how it goes on all the time.
Coming and going

all the time people pass by. Hope that will calm down during the night in the train.

Now let’s see, if I an connect again and post this for you … in the moment it looks like being pretty slow πŸ™‚

Karle Lena – a wet Trip

So now the conferene is over, we entered the social program, which brought as the day before to Lonavala and the Purohit Hotel. The poverty in India is really scary. Approximately 60% of the people are living in slums and I’ve seen slums before only on the TV or in the movies. To see this makes me sad, but people smile directly in my eyes, holding the hands of the kids makes them happy. Seeing the monks in robes with us, makes them worshipping them. This attitude of mind is so different than in Japan or Europe, where I’m at home and it leaves a feeling of embarrassment in myself and some hidden tears in my eyes. It also makes me feel so greatful, that I’m able to do all these things right now.
8 o’clock breakfast and after a meditation session led by one of the monks, who has a lot of experience, which one an feel through his vibrancy. Explanation about mindful breathing, practice and a Q&A session took all the morning and after lunch we started our trip to the Karle Lena cave.
All these days in Mumbai it was not raining, which made us forget, that we are on the end of the rainy season in India, therefore we were not really equipped for that what was coming now. It was raining, not only raining like we know it from Europe, it was heavily raining and we got wet down to our bones in a couple of minutes, well and our cloth are still wet, while I’m writing here in the hotel room. But anyway. it was worth the effort. This cave, carved out from the rock by Buddhist monks in the 2nd century BC were really impressive.

A first Resumee

After more than 2h bus ride we arrived in a hotel and it’s noisy outside since.
It seams that Vodafone cut my services, that’s why the stick won’t work and my phone is not working as well. I don’t really understand why, so I have to wait until Wednesday so that I can check it out.

That was the most interesting conference I ever attended. Papers were not only dry academic, but reflected experience and practice in different countries. Most interesting was the panel discussion yesterday, which showed a gap between Theravada or maybe better to say Buddhism as it was established by Buddhagosha especially in the South of India and Mahayana. I also learnt that this split shows not only in general teaching, but even in the language used. In Theravada Pali is the lingua sancta and old Mahayana scriptures are all written in Sanskrit. Of course this reflects in practice, as well. The Theravada-people mostly practice Samatha and Vipassana and the practice focuses on the partitioner, whereas in Mahayana practice is done for the benefit of all sentient beings and the variety of meditation practice is wide, lasting from mindful breathing to visualisation in connection with mudras and mantras as it’s done in Vajarayana. I always looked on Theravada as a part of Mahayana, as well as Vajrayana extends Mahayana in my eyes, so the wish for building bridges between the two surprised me to some degree.
Interestingly in Vietnam a “national Sangha” is established, which tries to unity all 3 vehicles common there. I still don’t understand how.
The monks coming from Burma, explaining their own way and their courages and compassionate reply to the regime in their country really impressed me deeply.

Conference on Meditation, Texts, Tradition and Practice

So yesterday I didn’t manage to post any news, just all the sudden I got busy. Whole Thursday morning we spent in a Vodaphone shop to get a sim card and a usb-stick. This beast still doesn’t work smoothly with my linux distri on the eepc. I installed the betavine stuff, but still no joy …
After we thought it’s a good idea to get lunch at the hotel and drop our stuff off there …. and since then we both got busy. The first participants of the conference at the Somaiya Institute arrived and all the sudden I was also in. So instead of doing sightseeing, I’m sitting in the auditorium and listening ….

The conference is about Meditation: Texts, Tradition and Practice.
Tomorrow we will visit some caves outside of Mumbai. Curious.

From Kansai to Mumbai

Bye bye Nyutsu Hime
What for a morning. At 5 o’Clock Takeshi San came to pick us up. With a real mystery scenery Koyasan said good bye, the sun not yet up on the sky, from our house we can see the top of the Daito in mystical twilight and from here we started this morning our journey. While driving down the mountain Takeshi suggested to say good bye to Kami Sami at Amano. Takeshi frequently before checkin plays the flute at Amano jinja, so we went there and the Kamis from Koysan welcomed us with a beautiful morning atmosphere.

Amano Shrine

Yummi in the air
Kansai Airport was now only a short drive away and Takeshi dropped us off, as he had to hurry back home to bring little Mayana chan to school. Before check-in we got some hot cakey and toast with egg for breakfast. Check-in became a funny procedure as the girl had some trouble finding Germany – what was not so funny to her … on the end we got 2 seats on the emergency exit with extra free space for our big European feet πŸ™‚
Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls: the first impression from our plane … looks a bit used, but the stuff from Malaysian Airlines is as friendly as the air-condition is cold and we are freezing. They topped it with the best vegetarian food I ever got during a flight! So now people are queuing for tandas, the bathroom, in front of our nose.

No, we don’t scan cappuccino
A so called technical stop brought us to Starbucks in a brand new airport building in Kote Kinabalu. Somehow their coffee always tastes the same, you can lean on that, but the speed of serving varies. Well we thought we were late and we had to go once again through a security check, which was painless and friendly, only the cappuccino didn’t got checked.
When we were seated again, the first purser came, to make sure we will get the right vegetarian meal on our next flight to Mumbai. These people really take their job – to make you feel pleasant on board – serious. The main players in air-traffic might want to take a workshop with them…..

People think we are crazy
instead of enjoying the coldness of the airondition in the plane as everybody else does, we are sitting here as if it’s in the middle of winter, with jackets, blankets and a cap on the head in the plane heading to Mumbai.

After we savely arrived in Mumbai we went by prepaid taxi to our hotel. Traffic in India is breaking every concept of working traffic πŸ˜‰ Everyone horns and mystically it works without any accident and we finally arrived in a nice and airconditioned hotel room.

So now I’m still trying to get the picts off the iPhone to my linux eeepc, you will see, after I managed πŸ˜‰

Tomorrow the adventure will start

I was thinking a long time about blogging or not and finally decided to give it a try.

The next 2 month I will spend travelling in India and I will try to use this platform for a kind of diary.

So it’s good bye Koyasan tomorrow morning.

I‘m not yet really satisfied with the design … hmm now I will see also how can I improve that on the way with a little 10 inch and linux installed on it. Kind of reality test for that stuff πŸ˜‰