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Published: February 4th 2012
Prior to leaving on this trip from Alaska, we had made a decision to attend the 32nd annual Kalachakra initiation presented by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. While we had no real idea what we were getting our selves into, we knew it would be a great opportunity/adventure. The Kalachakra initiation was to be presented in a town that could house maybe several thousand tourists at a time, and yet would be attended by appx two hundred thousand. Due to the lack of accommodations, many tent camps were being set up for the attendees. We opted to stay in a tent on the university grounds hosted by the Kalachakra organizing committee and blindly booked our tent many months in advance.
So eventually the day arrived when we needed to catch a train from Varanasi to Gaya. It didn't surprise us that our train was once again delayed. Another entire day spent in a train station in India. The station was much smaller and cleaner compared to others which was quite a relief. We arrived in Gaya very late the evening of the 25th of December. This made finding the university grounds where our tent was located a challenge. Fortunately for
us, the Tibetan youth Corp were manning the front of the Gaya train station and were able to help us find a tuk tuk at a great price for the 45 minute ride into Bodh Gaya. We eventually found the grounds where all the tents were, but since we arrived so late at night there was nobody there to check us in. We had a number on our confirmation page when we initially paid for the tent, and we found the tent with that number on it but our names were not on the paper attached to the tent. We ended up sleeping in a random unoccupied tent after walking up and down multiple rows of tents looking for the one that had our name on it. The tents came with cots and a pillow but no blankets. The temperature was approximately 30-35 degrees Fahrenheit. We ended up sleeping with nearly every single article of clothing on that we had in our packs. At one point we both had to squish up onto the same cot to keep from shivering ourselves awake. Not that we had slept much anyway. The next day we woke up and checked in and were
finally able to claim our appointed tent as our own. We walked to town to find ourselves some blankets. We had 3 blankets each for the second night which was just as cold. We ended up going back to town to get one more blanket each, so although you could see our breath in the tent at night, we found ourselves quite cozy layered between four blankets and a new pillow on our cots which would work out perfectly for us.
Here is a website with some information on the Kalachakra initiation we attended:
We lived in our tent for 16 days and had the amazing opportunity to attend some very informative teachings by the Dalai Lama. Occasionally His Holiness would teach in English, but most often he taught in Tibetan. His message would be immediately broadcast via different FM radio stations in nearly every common language spoken on earth so any non Tibetan would be wearing earphones and listening to a live translation. Quite a feat! We also found our selves sharing our tent grounds with tens of thousands of Tibetans. The Tibetan story is both one of beauty and anguish. There are so many
living in permanent exile and so many more still fighting what would appear to be a nearly hopeless battle to regain their homeland. This may be one of the most tragic current events taking place on this planet. The Dalai Lama himself adheres to a strict non violent approach to a resolution for the dilemma of Tibet as a sovereign nation, but you could sense that there are those Tibetans whom with pacifism may be reaching a limit. One of the things that probably struck us most was how willing the Tibetans are to smile and laugh regardless of their personal hardships. Transposed against nearly every country we have thus visited, Tibetan Buddhists really seem to be attempting to live by a philosophy of doing good for yourself is attained through doing good to all others.
We both feel very privileged and lucky to have had the opportunity to attend a teaching by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. Words do not do the experience justice. His Holiness has one of the most infectious laughs you will ever hear, a quick wit, and a brilliant yet ultra compassionate mind.
We met so many great people during
our stay and had a wonderful time!
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