Reflections

Reflections

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I wander as I look at a generation past...


On my way to work today, in the midst of all the chaotic energy of the early morning rush, near the Ministry of Labour & Human Resources, I saw an elderly woman walking slowly along the footpath.
Wizened with age, she appeared to be little bigger than a young 10 year girl. Her back was hunched so low that her vision would be parallel to the road on the ground and her head had to be tilted upwards for her to see the path ahead. Her short hair was ash silver and her face full of creases and wrinkles -ravines of an age long past.
Looking at her I could not help but wonder:
·         How many summers and how many winters have come and gone – she could, for sure, not count them on her fingers.

·         How many bags of grains would she have carried on the once straight and strong back of hers? Now how who helps her stand and move around?

·         How many sleep filled teary eyes she may have comforted over the years. And how many hungry mouths she may have fed. Now, who wipes her glazed eyes and puts food into her toothless mouth?

·         How hard her hands must have once worked as it tilled the soil and worked the field; as it cooked the food and washed the clothes. Now who is there to hold her hand - rough with years of work and wrinkled with age?

·         How many friends and family have passed on before her – leaving behind little other than memories of days long gone?

·         She is of a generation past. How many of her tales and stories have she passed on to the younger generation?

Her Realities are now Our Past; Our Present was once Her Vision.
As she walks along the crowded street, I wonder what it is she sees. Does she see the chaotic rush of cars bustling by or the rice fields of yesterday?
When she climbs into her bed at night, what does she think about and of whom?

And when she puts her head on the pillow does she wonder if tomorrow she will even wake to hear the birds chirp and see the sun shine over the mountain tops?

I wonder.



Saturday, March 7, 2015

Boiling Frog Syndrome

We often do things because that is the way it has always been done. We stay with the same people because they are the people we have been around for years. We look at things in a particular way because that is how we have always thought about it.

We rarely take stock of our lives, our relationships, our habits.
And we rarely even think about the need to make changes.

Oftentimes we have taken up occupations that we may not enjoy much. The working environment is not conducive or we may be doing things that we are not interested in. A good number of hours every day are not put to optimal use and the output is not be as good. Not only are we dissatisfied with life but the organization also suffers as we may not put in the right effort.
In our personal lives as well, we may often be in a relationship that drains us. It could be with one’s partners, within the family or among friends. It could be people that belittle us, take advantage of or abuse us (intentionally or un-intentionally). We may not even think twice about it but such relationships often undermine our own sense of confidence and self-worth.
It is important to do one’s best in the workplace or try hard to make relationships work – but it is critical that one occasionally takes stock of things.

Sometimes it is necessary, for one’s own happiness and wellbeing, to face the situation and make informed and rational decisions to accept change.
And it may be necessary to make the change when one still has the energy to do so.
Am sharing below a story about the Boiling Frog Syndrome. I found it interesting and I hope that you will not only find it interesting but it will also help you embrace change, when needed.


The Boiling Frog Syndrome
Put a frog in a vessel of water and start heating the water.
As the temperature of the water rises, the frog is able to adjust its body temperature accordingly.
The frog keeps on adjusting with increase in temperature… Just when the water is about to reach the boiling point, the frog is not able to adjust anymore…
At that point the frog decides to jump out…
The frog tries to jump but is unable to do so, because it has lost all its strength in adjusting with the rising water temperature. Very soon the frog dies.
What killed the frog?
Many of us would say the boiling water…
But the truth is that what killed the frog was its own inability to decide when it had to jump out.
We all need to adjust with people and situations, but we need to be sure when we need to adjust and when we need to confront/face.
There are times when we need to face the situation and take appropriate action.
If we allow people to exploit us physically, mentally, emotionally or financially, they will continue to do so.
We have to decide when to jump.
Let us jump while we still have the strength!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Visibility


Visibility is like sugar in the tea
too little – the tea is bland
too much – it is too sweet
and just right – it is perfect.
 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Giver of Life


 


Flowing smoothly from glaciers
through the veins of dragons
continuously in motion
effortlessly - endlessly
white and shimmering
light and weightless
sparkling pure
free, yet most precious
giver of life
the crystal clear waters of the Himalayas

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine Rememberances


Valentines Day is here. And who is more special and dear to one’s heart but our children.
Days pass by slowly and it appears that life is moving gradually. And then on a moment of reflection I realize just how fast the years have gone by. From babies to toddlers, first day of school to wanting to be on facebook…… all flashing by before my eyes. 

These golden days are going by -  way too fast....
Of shrieks of laughter
running and playing,
of smudges on the cheeks
and tear-filled sleepy eyes.
And the smiles and kisses.

Of stories before bedtime
make belief worlds,
of stamping of feet
and tuneless melodies.
And notes below the doors.
 
 
 
Of first days to school
exultations in the holidays,
of watching movies together
and holding hands tightly.
And hugging and never letting go.
Days that seem that would go on forever
have gone away too soon,
Now but memories of old
Fixed in photo albums.
And set in gold within my heart.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Nalanda University, Bihar


As a follow up to my previous blog, my visit to Nalanda monastery made me interested and curious about the original Nalanda university in India. So here is something that I found out -
 

Nalanda was a large Buddhist monastery in ancient Magadha (modern day Bihar), India. Located about 95 km southeast of Patna – centre of learning from the fifth century CE to c 1200 CW and was at its high of glory during the Gupta era.
Covering an area of around 12 hectares the residential school, constructed mostly in red bricks, during its heyday it claimed to have accommodated 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers. There were eight separate compounds and ten temples, along with many other meditation hall and classrooms. Lakes and parks created a sense of peace and tranquility.
The library was an immense complex separated into three large buildings. The largest building known as the Ratnadadhi (Ocean of Gems) was nine stories high and housed most of the sacred manuscripts. Though the exact number of volumes of the library is not known, it is estimated to have been in the hundreds of thousands. The library had not only religious manuscripts but also had texts on such subjects as grammar, logic, literature, astrology, astronomy and medicine and attracted pupils and scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey.
It is believed that the library burned for three months after invaders set fire to it, ransacked and destroyed the monasteries and drove the monks from the side.
 

 
Now around 800 years after it was razed to the ground, the University reopened its doors with the first academic session starting on September 2014 with 15 students, five of whom were women, in temporary facilities in nearby Rajgir. The modern complex is expected to be finished by 2020 and will have seven schools for postgraduate and doctorate students.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Nalanda Monastery, Punakha

I had not known that there was a Nalanda monastery here in Bhutan. I thought that there was only one - the famous Buddhist monastery/University of the past which was in Bihar, India. 

So while in Punakha, I took the opportunity to visit the Nalanda monastery of Bhutan. Located just below Talo Monastery and about 15 km away from Punakha town, the monastery is situated on a sunny slope overlooking the Punakha valley and the highway leading down from Dochula.


The upper temple of Nalanda, Punakha

 So here, for the knowledge and information of any who may be interested, I take the opportunity to share with you the history and interesting information I obtained from the notice board about the Nalanda monastery in Bhutan.

History about the Nalanda monastery in Punakha
In 1757 the 9th Je Khenpo Shakya Rinchen, considered to be a reincarnation of Rechungpa (one of the two extraordinary disciples of Milarepa in Kagye Buddhist lineage), founded the Nalanda Monastery in Punkaha.
At the time when this monastery was built, the ancient Nalanda University in India was a very holy and sacred place. Bhutanese people made great efforts to visit this special holy place at least once in their lifetime. There were no roads and people had to walk to India. As a result the journey was very unsafe and people were at risk to be robbed or even worse. Once in India, people from Bhutan faced many difficulties including dealing with differences in food, culture, and language as well as being in an unfamiliar place. As a way of accommodating people’s desire to visit Nalanda, Gyalwa Shakya Rinchen Rinpoche built this monastery in Bhutan and named it after the Nalanda University in India.
Gyalwang Shakya Rinchen had completed the building of Phajoding in the monastery above Thimphu valley. Upon its completion he was wondering where the next site to build the next monastery. The monk body was moving their residence from Thimphu to Punakha, as was the traditional way to spend months in Punakha. When he was walking over Dochula mountain pass he saw eight vultures flying to a specific area that has now become the present Nalanda monastery. He through that maybe these vultures were the eight original scholars (pandits) from the Nalanda University in India. After seeing it he asked for a confirmation in a dream. Consequently the eight scholars appeared in his dream and gave a teaching to him. Based on seeing of the vulture choosing this site and the dream of the eight scholars, this site was chosen as the area in which to build Nalanda monastery.
During Gyalwang Shakya Rinchen’s lifetime, Nalanda monastery in Bhutan was a thriving Buddhist teaching institution with a renowned reputation. After Gyalwang Shakya Rinchen’s final thugham or Maha Samadhi, slowly the teachings stopped and the great institute lay dormant. Nalanda Monastery was restarted several times with different eachers but after the teachers departed the monastery would again be less inhabited with monks.
Eventually the uncle of His Majesty, the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, Lopen Yoenten Gyaltsen requested permission from the King to open an official Buddhist Shedra (institute). In 1991 His Majesty gave permission for Nalanda Monastery to become a Shedra. Then in 1992 two lopens (teachers) began the Shedra with 20 monks. Over time the number of lopens and students increased. In 2014 there are 6 lopens and 125 students that range from 8 to 28 years old.                                                

                                                                    Mural of Lord Buddha
There are eight statues made of clay inside the lower shrine room of the upper temple (lhakhang). Here is their story:

The Eight Disappearing Indians
While constructing the original temple of Nalanda in Bhutan, Gyalwang Shakya Rinchen Rinpoche saw eight Indians from India in an adjacent valley to the building site. He soon realised that these eight Indians must be the eight scholars (pandits) of the original Nalanda University in India. When he went to find them to see if it was true, they had disappeared. The disappearance of the Indians, led to the confirmation that these indeed where the eight great scholars of Nalanda University. In order to praise and honour them for their auspicious appearance, he built eight clay statues. These statues can be seen inside the lower shrine room of the upper temple (lhakhang).

Late afternoon view of Punakha valley from Nalanda monastery