Hello dear friends in Tamera,
We greet you from a foggy morning over Ganges river. We finally send you a note from our journey through India. I’ve gathered some notes from my diaries from the last three weeks. Sorry for the length, it’s a lot of text. If it’s too much for you to read, just don’t. But perhaps some might find inspiration in it.
So, I arrived in India on Tuesday, December 2nd. At 10am I came out of Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi after a long journey with an unexpected nine-hours stop in Heathrow. I had lost my connection flight amid problems in the security check and massive delays in Heathrow and used the time in between the worlds to reflect some of the things experienced before and to read newspaper. In the latest SPIEGEL edition I read stories about Syrian refugees trying to enter Europe and about slave workers in Germany that have accompanied me ever since. What an insane world divided into an endless mass of the exploited, victimised and suppressed and besides that, a tiny layer of privileged on top. And I happen to be among the privileged. I have the freedom to travel to India, whiles countless millions struggle to find enough food to survive another day or are hopelessly stuck in war. Living in such a world, what is a sensible way of handling this privilege? Sometimes this question doesn’t allow me to calm down anymore.
I also read the paper drafted by the leaders of Ubiquity University – who we are starting to collaborate with – for the creation of a global accreditation council. A manifesto for a revolution in education, for putting the rights of life higher than the written laws of states. Just three days before setting off to India Benjamin and I had an amazing Skype call with the leading staff of Ubiquity, opening up a whole new horizon of possibility for the Terra Nova School and Tamera University. Sitting in the corner of the airport I suddenly enter into the energy of a global and historic view where the role of the Terra Nova School and my task comes up with almost unbearable urgency. It is my generation which will have to face the consequences of a misguided human evolution and will need to turn it. This is the generation with the historic mission to carry out the most fundamental historic shift we can imagine. Whether we will accomplish this task or not will determine the future of our planet. I sounds absolutely dramatic but in this moment I can just see it very soberly–this is our task, my task! It is incredible, on one side this absolute need for change, on the other side the lack of compassion and the almost fully impermeable layer of suppression in society; on one side the revolutionary movements driving for change and on the other hand the experience and knowledge of building the new life they aspire. Now much depends on conveying this experience and knowledge into the world in a way that millions of people can find authentic, satisfying answers and a reliable perspective they can concretely work for. New systems of education are key to this. If we succeed in creating them, we might soon see the breakthrough of a new matrix of life on Earth. These thoughts are moving in me now as I am moving through India and feels like something in me is preparing for a great next step of manifestation in 2015.
D. picks me up at Delhi airport, she looks and smells like an Indian… she’s so beautiful. It’s a celebration to meet again – and in India! We really did it and make the crazy idea of this journey come true. We both need time for this realisation to actually sink in. We take a taxi – an old little car and make our way through the traffic jam. She reserved a hotel room in Majnu-ka-tilla, the small Tibetan colony inside the city. A few hours for arrival, Eros, eating, walks – until we already continue traveling in a night bus to Dharamsala, a crazy experience. I thought knowing Latin American bus drivers gave me the ultimate edge of crazy driving – but no, this guy was even crazier, dashing with enormous speed through all these little windy mountain roads, just on the edge of the abyss. Just insane. We arrive in Mc Leod Ganj, the Tibetan town above Dharamsala at 5am. It has been the third night in a row without proper sleep, I’m in a mess, having crossed worlds, filled with impressions. So full that even sleep is exhausting. Whenever I close my eyes, all the impressions keep reappearing like an internal movie. With the first day light coming in Dara finds us a beautiful room in a Tibetan guest house – we sleep till early afternoon.
We are at the foot of the Himalayas. Mc Leod Ganj, this little Tibetan colony in the clear mountain air, is palpably filled by a special atmosphere, a kind of peace energy. This is my first impression being here – that despite of all the destruction and trauma suffered the Tibetan have in fact been able to preserve peace knowledge. The kindness and open heartedness of the Tibetans is touching. Vendors on the streets do all they can to assure you that they won’t cheat you. Thousands of Westerners came here seeking spiritual guidance by the wisdom and compassion Buddhism offers, and so Mc Leod resembles an interesting mix of Tibetan tradition, monastic life, tourism, savvy cafés with free WiFi and all sorts of cultural offers. In the first days I’m inspired and enthusiastic to be there — and grateful to have such a scenery for the translation of the book. We enter right away into work and start that same afternoon translating the first chapter. It’s a gift to be able to do this beautiful work without stress in a very different surrounding. Working through these thoughts here – in such a different end of the world, so far away from the usual surrounding in Tamera – offers another inspiration and entrance into the meaning of the words and their global relevance. We quickly enter into a common “flow” in the translation work and get a lot done within a few days only. In some parts – like the chapter “1.5. Birth of a New Era” – we almost come on a geistig trip during translation. It’s incredible in how many parts of the book the vision of Terra Nova becomes so concretely tangible through the coherence of thoughts and mantric wording. It’s like a download through language itself. Realising this also gives me a sense of modesty and respect regarding our task. I’m excited about the feedback we will receive. Time and again I’m filled with inspiration what else we can do with this book. I’m thinking about having an audio book with the some very powerful chapters, an in-depth documentary film based on the book, and a comprehensive one or probably two-year curriculum for the Terra Nova School working through this book with all kinds of background materials and creative study assignments…
We have come to Mc Leod at a time when the Dalai Lama is offering several days of teachings for pilgrims from Korea and Mongolia. We were hoping to get a private audience with “His Holiness,” but didn’t receive a clear confirmation from Lama Wangchen in the end. So I just had the idea to go to his office and ask whether we could speak with his private secretary. It was easier than expected and got an appointment the day after. That morning we joined for the teaching in the Dalai Lama temple, a vast building at the end of the town. Thousands of people had gathered – many lamas in red robe, tibetan lay people, Korean and Mongolian pilgrims, spiritual tourists from the West – four hours of speeches, in between the deep chantings of the mantras. Seeing this scenery immediately triggers visions and thoughts for building the “Universal Hall” in Tamera, for a big central building dedicated to nothing else but hosting and unifying people from all over the world in the vision for a new culture, the spirit of oneness. I’m quite moved by what I see here, and feel like being reminded of something quite familiar and known. I’m more and more curious to know if there really is a karmic connection to Tibet and if so what it is.
The meeting with Tenzin Taklha, the Dalai Lama’s private secretary was good, but we quickly find out that we won’t be able to meet “His Holiness” now. He tells us right away that one usually has to send the request months ahead of time. I’m a bit confused as Lama Wangchen told me how easy it would be… but anyway think it is fully good – and guided. Tenzin himself is very interesting, a well-educated, attractive and genial man in his mid-forties. He gets sparks interest in Tamera and idea of Healing Biotops, and encourages us to write a letter to the Dalai Lama, inviting him to visit Tamera and to support the project. We told him our idea that the Dalai Lama could write a foreword for the English edition of Terra Nova and he connects us to the special secretary dealing with such requests. It would be great if Tenzin would visit Tamera too.
During lunch we meet Lama Jampal with another Tenzin who is translating for him. He visited Tamera in 2008 with the entire delegation. We were lucky still having met him, as he would leave to Nepal two days afterwards. It was a beautiful reencounter, what a gentle soul! He is still animated by his visit to Tamera six years ago and doesn’t stop confessing his appreciation for what we do. We give him the Global Campus calendar, he looks at all pictures with excitement. We have a long talk about Tibet, his situation, the (potential) connection between Tamera and the Tibetans. He says that he has given up all responsibilities in the monastery to fully focus on international work. He has set up on organisation in the US in favor of the Tibetan struggle and wishes to collaborate with Tamera in this context as well, and pledges to come back to Tamera soon.
On Monday, December 8th, we change into another guest house. It is an exceptionally shining morning. As we start working I open by emails and get the news from my parents that my grandfather had unexpectedly died the week before due to sudden heart failure in his garage next to the car. We decide to go to the Dalai Lama temple to pray for the passage of his soul. It’s a quiet day there and we can go to the innermost altar to pray. I enter into prayer and ask that he may have a clear orientation into the light and also tried to connect to him directly. I gave thanks for everything I could learn from him, tried to forgive and apologise and send him my love. In this moment I have the feeling of really being in touch with his soul, of him being present. What a strong energy! The prayer completely shifts my inner state and makes my heart free and light, almost cheerful. For a moment I’m out of the normal identification with this earthly, and can see how things start shining in the light of eternal existence. Incredible how many things we worry about, are angry at, get stuck with… in this moment it all seems so banal. I have to think of the scene in Hesse’s “Siddhartha,” when the ferryman Vasudeva delivers the teaching about the river, saying there is neither past nor future, there only is. No matter whether it is at the stage of the spring, the creek, the big river and while joining the great endless ocean – it always is only the river. This is the red thread of life, it is no matter in which form we currently are. This is you – tat tvam asi.
After the prayer we go down to the big court in front of the temple to meditate in the sun. A couple I recite of rounds the mantra, “om mani pame hum.” Almost instantly I enter a deeper, almost tripish state of consciousness. As I begin, I hear the cry of the falcons and see dogs walking toward us. Many traditions regard these animals as the spirits accompanying the souls of the dead on their transition. I’m usually not practicing this kind of meditation, but it feels very familiar and known. I suddenly connect to an experience I made years ago, where I got connected to the Himalayas – and the sensation that the Tibetan culture carries at its center the knowledge about steering and dealing with frequencies. This is what their mantras and rituals served for, that they would become coherent with the resonance frequency of the Earth and the universe in order to receive power from this source and direct the whole of the planetary organism. I saw the Himalaya as one of the planet’s energetic centres (other perhaps are Egypt or the Titicaca Lake) for receiving and distributing cosmic powers on Earth, and that there is also a traumatic wound of history here, where these powers got abused by patriarchal claims for domination. All of this comes in like a flash. I’m curious to know more about it, but am very grateful for what I could experience during this morning time.
Next day we visit Gyuto Tantric University, the monastery of the Karmapa, where also Lama Jampal lives. Tenzin Dimey, the translator of Lama Jampal, gave us a tour. Lama Jampal left money so he could pick us up by taxi and drive us to the place… down, down, down into the Indian city of Dharamsala. He is an interesting man as well, his main occupation is to translate Tibetan philosophy books into Chinese and English, but he is also working with schools in Ladakh. We ask him a lot of questions about monastic life, Buddhist philosophy, the current situation in Tibet and his own story. He says that under the new Chinese leadership (Xi Jintao) the situation of Tibetans has begun improving, that Tibetans are for example now for the first time since the Chinese occupation begun allowed to buy land… People hope more steps will follow. He also told about the great interest of many Chinese people in Tibetan Buddhism, “many Chinese people come secretly to Dharamsala to learn from the Dalai Lama…” We visit the library and the main temple at Gyuto monastery, afterwards Norbulinka Institute, a Tibetan cultural center with a wonderful garden, museum and art works. On the way up he speaks about how Tibetan life used to be not such a long time ago, he said that when he grew up in his village in Tibet, the whole village used to spend every evening together sharing experiences, singing, playing… It was a real community spirit, they hardly ever even needed to use money. “The kind of project you are doing is so important, because it leads us back to the natural way of life we are coming from…”
With all the “roots” the Tibetans preserved, their underlying pain and cultural loss is not less apparent. It’s insane how capitalist idols have permeated this entire society in India, including the Tibetans — now you can even see relatively poor Tibetan people with their fancy iPhones out in the streets. These people sacrifice months of their salaries to get the last and coolest smart phone! This is just one example for the glorification of the Western lifestyle, and how much attraction it has to be people who are still closer to an original lifestyle than we westerners who doing a great deal of things to find “back to the roots.”
Meanwhile, it is getting terribly cold up here in Dharamsala. As frequent sex and occasional Gin are no longer enough to keep us warm, we decide to ‘immigrate’ south and spend some days with Dara’s mom Deborah in Pune (Poona).
December 10 is International Human Rights Day! All of Mc Leod Ganj celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Dalai Lama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. The streets are full with posters dedicated to this memory and in honour of the almost 200 Tibetan self-immolators who have sacrificed themselves in the last years in this helpless attempt of resistance against the atrocious Chinese occupation of their country. Even though the Dalai Lama initially said that there were no martyrs in Buddhism, you can clearly witness the adoration of this kind of martyrdom among the Tibetans nowadays. It’s sad to observe how the human spirit always wants to escape to the “beyond” when the liberation here on Earth no longer seems possible.
We take a walk to Bhagsu-Nag, a beautiful water fall in a valley leading up the mountains close by. Radiant dry mountain landscape filled with mana-power. Sacred water, sacred life, sacred love. Nature is a cathedral. Thank you and amen!
The next day we leave Dharamsala with the night bus back to Delhi. A twelve hour ride on a bus with terribly poor suspension and a row of teenage boys behind us singing the latest Bollywood tunes all night. We are grateful to arrive in Majnu ka Tilla, Delhi at four in the morning and find a cheap bed to lay in for a few hours. Dara had splurged on two flights to Pune for that same day and we made our way to the airport. As we drive to the airport, I get into my dizziness state and am in a very vulnerable state, feeling something like a frightened animal, almost as if I were to faint or collapse, as are were squeezed between many men on the metro to New Delhi station; once there pushing through the masses, suitcases, from one smell to the next. I tightly hold onto to Dara, who helps me not to pass out. I’m grateful for her loving care. It’s wonderful to know oneself to be fully held in such a situation. As we arrive the airport, I stabilise again and everything is fine.
When arrive on Friday 12th night in Pune and get picked up by Deborah and her amazingly charming rickshaw driver and servant, “Mr. Sheikh,” from the airport, fireworks of a wedding party welcome us as we entered the city. It is just the perfect timing. Later in the night, thunder and lightening come down from the sky to cool the unusual heat of the tropic winter time. It’s incredible to me how much of a cellular relief – and erotic awakening – it is to be in the tropics for me. As I’m writing this, we are in the apartment of Dara’s mother, a true little oasis, located directly next to the Mula-Mutha River, one of India’s most sacred currents, and a bird sanctuary right behind it. From the window you see green, yellow, blue birds, parrots and falcons flying by. “Could this Earth not really be paradise?” – is a question Dieter Duhm raises in one of the chapters (“Ananda”) we translated in the last days. When you drive the short way from the airport to this flat or just walk a few meters out of here, you see the social reality in the most blatant contrast to the potential of paradise shown by nature. Immense buildings are in work here in this “new economic center,” there is a real boom with many new five star hotels, luxury shops and fancy party locations rising up, alongside the most wealthy mansions — and right next to it leprosy beggars and the miserable huts of the shanty-towns, where 80% of the population live. As we are approaching the possibility of actually meeting Arundhati Roy–an Indian friend got me her contact details, let’s keep our fingers crossed!–I looked into some her most recent publications. In an BBC interview (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02bq6ht) a few weeks ago, she spoke about the vicious combination between the caste system and capitalism in modern India, taking the countless millions of marginalised and poor into even deeper oppression and injustice despite or exactly because of tremendous economic growth. She recently faced tough resistance when saying that even Mahatma Gandhi, “father of the nation,” propagated this age-old system of segregation. It’s inconceivable how the entire human race has accustomed to a state of “normality,” in which every single detail should provoke us to get up to the barricades and make a revolution. Being in India, seeing the alienation between the snobby rich elites and their arrogant despise of the poor, the untouchables, creates a strong sentiment of respect for people like Arundhati Roy who have such an immense courage to continuously point out this injustice and structural violence. (I also recommend reading her report “Walking with the Comrads,” she wrote after accompanying the “Naxalite” tribal rebels in the South-East Indian jungles: http://mikeely.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/arundhati_roy_walking_with_the_comrades_kasama.pdf) I hope we will manage to meet her and am envisioning the image of collaboration with her. What a powerful imagination if fierce activists like her can deeply anchor their struggle in the vision and community of Terra Nova.
We end up spending eight rather calm days in Pune – with gooood food, a real home space to relax and work in (as we leave Pune, the translation is nearly done) and a lot of time with Dara’s mum, who is super happy to have us at her house. On Sunday 14th we spend the morning in Pune University, attending a dharma talk with Jetsuma Tenzin Palmo, an originally British Buddhist nun who is one of the most respected Tibetan Buddhist teachers. The way she teaches is refreshing, I actually think the basic thoughts of the Buddhist teachings and the basic thoughts of Tamera are quite compatible, as far as I have gotten to know them so far. All in all, there’s not so much to report about Pune, but that it was a relaxing time–which is one main purpose for this journey!
From Pune our journey continues on the North-East. After an exhausting thirty-hour train ride in a tightly packed wagon across half of the country (Poona Patna Express) we arrive at 4.30 am Monday 22nd in Varanasi / Benares and crush into a the first hotel we find at this time of the day. It’s a magic city, temples and rituals everywhere. In the early morning, as we come in, we sat next to a Brahmin school and listened to dozens of young students reciting 2000 year-old sanskrit psalms from the vedas. You can feel the spirit vibrating here. At the burning ghats, close to the river, one dead body is cremated next to the other, in between holy cows and lots of people. A strange normality around dealing with death, but I also like it. No attempt to hide it, no shame, making both the impermanence and eternity of life tangible…
We will have more time to explore this place later. Tomorrow morning make an excursion to Bodhgaya, a three-hour train ride, where will have a private audience with the Karmapa schedule on Wednesday at 10am. From there, we might go to Patna, where we are invited to spend Christmas with Robert Athickal, a Jesuit priest who has set up an interesting environmental network operating all across India now.
We are curious and looking forward to the next days and send loving greetings to you all! May Christmas serve the rebirth of the Christ nature within us all.
Greetings from the east!