Archive for November, 2008

28
Nov
08

thanks-giving.

For the past two days Sam and I have been glued to the TV, watching the news of the hostage drama unfolding in south Bombay.  We have been so moved by the incredible suffering being experienced there- the hostages and their families, families mourning the loss of loved ones, and families that will learn of their losses in the coming hours.  But I must also remind myself of the suffering experienced by the hostage-takers and their families.  To dehumanize them is to perpetuate the isolation and ignorance that spawned their actions.  To advocate further violence against them does not fundamentally change what has occurred nor prevent similar activity in the future.  Violent retribution may provide a temporary release for our collective fear, vulnerability, powerlessness, insecurity, or sense of injustice.  But is does not relieve the true suffering.

So, what do we do?   

I say we because I do believe the solution lies in our collective efforts.  The world needs activists as well as scholars.  We need teachers and doctors, selfless service and financial commitment.  We need spiritual leaders who stand up and denounce terrorism and violence in its many forms.   

More than ever, we need compassion.

Yesterday Sam and I celebrated a non-traditional Thanksgiving with a quiet sushi dinner for two at a  local restaurant.  We needed a break from the constant news coverage, but sitting at  the dinner table we found we could think of nothing else.  We remembered everyone directly affected by the tragedy.  We speculated about a resolution to the stand-off.  We were grateful beyond words for the blessings in our own lives that are too numerous to count.  Our reflection certainly was a true Thanks-Giving.  

We also wondered aloud about our social responsibility.  What can we do to promote tolerance?  How can we work for social justice?  How can society be transformed?  Right now I have only questions, not answers.  I welcome your comments and suggestions.  How do you work for social justice?  What do you think needs to be changed?

 What is your vision for a better world?

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14
Nov
08

holiday: buddhist monasteries.

 

monastery.

 

prayer wheels.

Om Mane Padme Huum.  Spinning these prayer wheels accumulates the same merit as chanting the mantra.  

 

buddhist mural.

Buddhist mural paintings adorn the exterior walls of monasteries in the northern region.

 

on holy ground.

On Holy Ground.  Monks and visitors to the monastery remove their shoes as a sign of respect.

 

altar.

Candles and other offerings are laid in front of images of the Buddha.

 

young monks.

Young monks enjoy a simple breakfast of sweet potatoes, rice, and milk.

 

 

buddha image.

A statue of the Buddha is central inside the monastery meditation hall.

 

diya.

Diyas burn brightly in front of sacred images.

 

avelokiteshwara.

 

 

 

dharma wheels.

 

 

 

buddhist tablet.

Buddhist tablet outside Pemayangtse Monastery in Pelling, Sikkim.

03
Nov
08

cardamom & tea.

These are a few of my favorite photos- and favorite experiences- from our trip to Sikkim and Darjeeling.  Our driver from Pelling, Sikkim, was a local boy who stopped along the side of the road to show us fresh cardamom growing in a field.  The leaves of the plants extend above the earth, while the cardamom seeds are close to the ground.  The driver, Lobsang, dug in the dirt and pulled out this cluster in which cardamom pods are nestled.  He then rinsed the cluster in a nearby mountain stream, revealing the individual pods.  Lobsang opened a pod to show us the seeds inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We arrived in Darjeeling at dusk, creeping along narrow roads winding through a tea plantation.  The road was so narrow that we had to back up into a turnout whenever we encountered another vehicle.  Darjeeling district is famous for its tea, and tea gardens are visible along every mountainside.  Sam and I toured one nearby garden, where we plucked some tea leaves, flowers and berries.

 

 

 

 


02
Nov
08

holiday: sunrise photos

We woke at 3:30 one morning to watch the sunrise at Tiger Hill near Darjeeling.  The sun came up around 4:30am, dramatically illuminating  the mountain peaks.