Published: September 19th 2004September 19th 2004
Here is the monastery where sky burials are still practiced.
We spent the night at Xin Du Qiao noted only for its prison and the fact that, when looking for the internet, the same dingy stairway, if taken to the left arrived at a darkish room with four giggling girls with adjoining cots or to the right where, in the semidarkness, adolescent youths were appearing to sublimate any desire by shooting everything in sight on their screens. I believe I can claim to be familiar with the internet scene and for some reason, even if there is a lighted sign in front, the standard of accomodation is dirty and furtive...
In the morning we had another extraordinary monastery experience at Ju Li Shi monastery en route to Jin Long town.
Ju Li Shi is on a side road, across a river through which Tang , our driver, drove the car while we threaded our way by foot over a rickity bridge. Up against a hillside, serving about 100 monks, this has the same homey scale as our favorite earlier Bon monastery. This monastery , six hundred years old, is in the Geluk tradition of yellow hats. The buildings felt that old; weathered adobe and stone white washed to stand out against the hillside. We were the only visitors and the monks were at study and play in front of the meditation hall. 'Tashi delek, tashi delek, tashi delek' and that, now familiar delight, in being there together..right away they were beckoning us over..exchanging handshakes, looking at our mela's, necklaces, wristbands...within moments, I was handing the nearest monk my swiss army kife in preparation for..need I say..the R.T. which was well appreciated..the head monk then took us on an extensive tour. Some of the paintings of the Buddha were supposed to be as old as the monastery. Upstairs we saw sacred texts, of which only two copies were supposed to exist..it felt weighty to feel the stiff parchment-like texture of the text. The monk had entered this monastery at age 18 and it is growing. In a school room young boys, aspiring to join the monastery chanted their prayers under the guidance of a monk..I was able to record their chanting. We went to an adjoining building and we were asked if we wanted to see a video of a sky burial...yes...
THE DESCRIPTION OF THE SKY BURIAL IS GRAPHIC AND IF YOU WANT TO SKIP IT, I AM POSTING IT AS THE NEXT ENTRY