Jule from Ladakh,
We arrived yesterday and spent much of the day breathing, sipping water, and walking very slowly as the flight to 3300 metres is a big jump for acclimatization. We are both doing okay with only wee headaches and tonight we had to remind each other to slow down as we walked back to our guesthouse. We had a full day exploring the Indus River valley southeast of Leh visiting four Buddhist monasteries.
Dharma is a Sanskrit word for the Buddha’s teachings. To become a Buddhist, one takes refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. The Sangha is the community of the Buddha’s followers. In the temples in most monasteries, you will see Dharma on shelves along the sides or on the monks’ or nuns’ tables. The Dharma, often in the form of mantras or sutras is printed on thin pieces of paper. These are then flipped over as they are read or chanted. There are stiffer top and bottom covers made of wood or thick paper that contain the stack and the entire stack is wrapped in cloth for storage.
Buddhism often uses oral transmission of the Dharma from teacher to student. There are four lineages to mark how the Buddha’s first teachings were passed along from generation to generation and from region to region.
Here in Ladakh there seems to be strong connections with Tibetan lineages as well as the Dalai Lama. In all of the temple rooms we visited today, there were photographs of the Dalai Lama as well as other venerated Lamas and teachers.
I thought often of my teacher, Moh, and of my Sangha and wished they could be sharing in the wonder of seeing artifacts and relics from the 10th century on. There is also a very powerful and peaceful feeling that you experience when you enter a space where meditation and prayer have been practiced for eons. It’s hard to describe but there is a relaxed spaciousness that invokes compassion and possibility in me whenever I visit such spaces.
Tomorrow we begin the three day drive to the start of our trek. I don’t know if we will have access to an internet so please don’t worry if you don’t hear from us. We’ll be back in Leh in 12 days or so. My hand seems to have turned a corner and I’ve been off the antibiotics for three days now without any flare so I’m hoping to be over the hump.
Hope all is well with you. Jule!
Jule is used in Ladakh as hello, good bye, thank you and more.