March 7-We have heard that the airport will open this evening, but no sound of planes yet. I think we are all ready to go now. This is a beautiful place despite the fog/smog. Tomorrow though is day 25 of an exhausting journey, and most of us have some symptoms of a virus. I've written 52 pages in this journal, using one pen, which is now running out of ink, and likely words. We are packing as if we are going for sure, though we are not.
Mar. 8- Made it out of Kathmandu, but not without the check-in/baggage thing that requires greasing somebody's palm. There are those among us who would do anything for money-in Nepal, just like India and just like the US, though I am still anxious to get home. I have a head cold, and terrible pressure in my ears as we descended into Delhi.
On the plane a French guy in order to appease his wife who was near tears as they did not have seats together, traded seats with me. I then sat next to one more Tibetan monk who coughed and sneezed all over me for most of the flight. He was, however, a nice kid who had been in Kathmandu to study. He said he lived in Southern India, and was on his way home.
The long drive through the new, and beautiful part of Delhi, which is the second largest city in India with about 11 million people, landed us right back in the old part with the dirt, garbage and honking horns in a really good hotel with hot water. Sue is really sick with intestinal stuff.
I was asked if I'd ever come back to India. I said no. When we left Kathmandu, we left Rinpoche behind. He is doing a documentary on his mother, and plans to stay several weeks. He apologized to me for any "lack of skills." I told him I thought he was one of the most skilled people I know. So much to think about.
I am also reading a commentary on the "Heart Sutra." I get it intellectually, and truly had a sense of emptiness in Dampos, but I'm not a good Buddhist, actually not sure I am one yet. I lose my compassion too easily. I continue to ponder the difference between East and West, and while it may not be fair to designate East as master of the psyche (mind)-there have also been many Western mystics; and West masters of technology, and to some degree how to make a society work-India has had a long and at times, productive civilization; it is simply at this point that the real alive mind, for example, Tsoknyi Rinpoche comes from the East, and clearly Western society works better, minus the control freaks. That was an awkward sentence.
Tomorrow we pound our way through two flights for a few more hours of sleep, before the 14 hour flight back to Seattle, and while I was happy to take off from Nepal, I am painfully aware of how far we are from home. To quote the Dead: "What a long, strange trip it's been,"-the Bodhi tree and stupa, the two straight nights on a bus or was it three, Pokhara, the unbelievable road to Dampos, the wonder of Kathmandu. I am not sure that anyone who has not done this journey to the east can understand how hard it can be. Perhaps we are spoiled and soft as Rinpoche has suggested, but I feel as though I have been easily beaten by a far superior foe. Still I will never forget Gishela or Tsoknyi two of the most incredible minds I have encountered.
Mar.9- Made it to Bangalore. It is a four hour wait, and we managed to convince security that we could just await our flight rather than leave the airport until an hour before our flight. Gestapo tactics again. I am avoiding commenting on the attitudes of Indian men.
So I sit reading the commentary on the Heart Sutra by H. E. Sangyi Nyenpu Rinpoche which probably explains it better than I could. In effect commenting on the statement in the sutra that Form is emptiness, Emptiness is form because any form, any phenomena exists dependent on other things, nothing is independent, nothing is permanent, if it were it could not move, be here or there, which is life. Our true nature was never born, never dies, and as such is perfect. The only problem is that we do not know this, and if we do cannot hang onto that knowledge long enough to be happy.
It is odd, but during the two hours I have been sitting in the Bangalore airport, we have been listening to Indian violin music that sounds to me like john McGlaughlin, very rapid arpeggios, possibly it is because it is L. Shankar who played with him. I saw him at Park West in Chicago, early 70's. His playing was so hot that his bow smoked in the stage lights, somethng I will never forget. We are sitting in what amounts to a long hall, with speakers lining the walls, mostly steel and glass, and with construction going on in another part of the building. And through these speakers this extraordinary violin music continues to play. I wonder what this music would sound like without the noise.
Made it to Dubai. We get a couple of hours of sleep before the flight to Seattle.
Mar. 11- First day back, and I'm awake at 430 am. Very clear thinking, I think, about emptiness, the relative and absolute levels of existence, metaphors about trains, planes and buses. Dubai and Seattle have subway trains that take you to different gates. The train pulls in, you have 30 seconds to get on. Then it takes you somewhere, where the doors open and you've got 30 seconds to get off. Basically trains go in a circle-like a job or a relationship on a very relative level. You get on, you get off as many times as you wish. Some trains just stop running.
I'm also thinking I'm missing walking Kora around the Bodha stupa with hundreds of other beings. The truth is everybody from highest to lowest on this planet is just walking kora. If walked correctly it shows compassion for all sentient beings.
Mar. 14- While I am glad to be home, it is clear that the trapped feeling has persisted, samsara, and I did not exepect anything else. Going to India does not in any way remove you from samsara, simply makes you more aware. This is the condition into which we are born, subsist and die, struggling against this reality, the law of Cause and Effect or Karma. No one gets
out alive. And it really doesn't matter whether you are Buddhist, Christian or any other religion. Cause and Effect is in place for us all. I am reminded of what Gishela said referring to the mind and our existence. He said that a life cycle of a cell is somewhere around 20 years. So you are already dead since every cell you were born with has already died to be replaced by a less effective cell, that dies after twenty more years, to be replaced by an even less effective cell. Cause and Effect. If you plant an apple seed you don't get a Mango tree.
I am sick with a lung infection. When well, I need to pursue this practice, at least the meditation as if my life depended on it.