Day 9 In Shigatse

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April 19th 2015
Published: April 19th 2015
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Another cloudless blue sky & a little walmer than yesterday. Just need it to hold out for a few more days.

I thought I was all templed out but today we visited the famous Tashilhunpo Buddhist Monastery in Shigatse & l was really impressed. Founded in 1447 by the 1st Dalai Lama the monastery expanded & by the time of the fifth Dalai the abbot of Tashilhunpo became known as the Panchen Lama (literally the ‘Great Scholar’). Since then the monastery became the principal site of the Panchen sect. During the Cultural Revolution much of the Tashilhunpo and the nearby fort were destroyed, but have since been rebuilt.

Inside 3 of the many temples & stupas were amazing. The Maitreya (future) Temple is a recent addition & holds a enormous 30 mtr gold-gilded bronze statue of the future Buddha Maitreya surrounded by exotic tapestries, fresco's, and the usual hordes of devotees. There is also a past & present Buddha in their religion.

An older 17th century temple is the tomb of the 10th Panchen Lama where his ornate statue is made from 400 kgs of gold along with the same decorations as above.

Some of the beliefs are difficult to understand but one that is often represented in paintings & tapestries is of a bird resting on the shoulders of a rabbit, where the rabbit in turn is resting on a monkey who in turn is resting on the shoulders of a white elephant which is walking amongst fruit trees in the forest. The moral of the image is communication. Each animal believes the fruit is theirs where the elephant can use his trunk to reach for fruit, while the monkey can climb the tree to reach higher fruit & so on. Later they realize they need to communicate as they realize the fruit belongs to god & therefore needs to be shared to survive.

Another nice belief is that everyone can become a Buddha & therefore the Tibetans treat everyone equally. To be a Buddha one initially has to achieve enlightenment through 8 steps (or manners). These manners include the right thoughs, the right sentiment, the right views among others. Next you need to achieve 12 more steps to reach nirvana or eternal enlightenment (not sure what they all are)

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20th April 2015

Hi just had pleasure reading your blog enjoyed so much easier from computer keep enjoying and safe travels.

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