Being in Dat at the monestary

Being in Dat at the monestary

Skarma has brought 3 days ago the promised mat and a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Oh sooo good. All the food lays on the ground at the storage room, 3/4 of the room is full of food for the monk Rangdol, some of it is obviously old, gone….. ?? Monks and monasteries live from donations. One part is food donation by villagers or any visitor…..

Next day is the 12th of September, the 3rd of the tibetian calender.  At the 3rd and 13th of every month the responsible monks of every area honour and feed the protectors of the area or village. Coming to Dat I saw already the place, where he has to go today.  It’s about 5km north of the village Dat. Rangdol is only 20, became a monk when he was 9, and now has the responsibility of the whole ‚outback‘ monastery here in Dat. That includes taking care of all the buildings, the property,  having a puja every morning and evening, making the ritual at the village protectors place twice a month, being spiritual guide of the villagers, which are in this case nomads and only 4 month a year permanently around. But there is no other monastery around for at least 50-70 km or so…..
Rangdol ask me, if I like to come….. yes!!
He wants to go by motorcycle, what he owns together with his brother. It had cost 80.000 Rupies,  20.000 Rupies he added for bying (10.000 Rupies are around 135  €) I report about the swamp like situation where we have to go, but he wants to try it. Over bumpy stones I don’t feel so very on the back of his motorcycle and after 1 1/2 in we have to leave it… there is no real way in this direction and it looks, as if the cycle stands in the middle of nature as an art work (how did it get there? would the art lover think)…
Rangdol had prepared a lot of things, incl. some alcohol, what is used as offering to the protector (But also in a usual ritual at every puja is used alcohol – as I understand as a relict from times before Buddha  (But I am not 100% sure about that)).
The area where we go is so beautiful and I came along there already yesterday, as I mentioned earlier. It’s a big place with walls of ‚om mani padmi hum‘-stones (manta of love and compassion). It is decorated with lots of tibetian coloured flags and has a special area, where food is offered to the protector of the village. Also at that place are lots of white silk shawls are rapped around the monument. ‚There is a statue inside, but not visible because of all the shawls around‘, he explained.
So we are busy for around 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Preparing butter lamps or candles for example he has to boil the butter first to have ghee, what is used as food for the candle. For the candle there are bowls already present in an extra box, where the get enflamed. But before we have also to roll the wick from some sheep wool.
There are done some offerings like rice, sweets, juice, barley in different forms, herbs, nuts, alcohol…..
Alcohol is presented in some yak or ibex (wild goats) horns with some butter on the top.
Barley flour is formed to some kind of statue also decorated with some butter decoration…. this is also to find in nearly every temple here….
Also barley is used for a mix from barley, butter and herbs, which is burned on a fire as a spiritual food  offering for the protector.
When everything is prepared, the monk, Rangdol recides a puja,  which took also half an hour. After we decorate the location with some new tibetian flags, which he had brought with him.
We sit a bit after the ritual and he offers me some alcohol, which I should drink – barley wine…. after the ritual it’s holy now and not harmful (But I just don’t drink alcohol, I know only some drops are already harmful for me, that’s my experience….) so he has some alcohol for himself. Sugar (makes me addictive and restless) and flour (allergy) I also can’t have. But we brought a 100% orange juice, and so good, it’s also blessed and I can have it!!!!

I enjoy it very much and mention, what a wonderful job he has….  where he replied, ’sometimes in winter it’s very hard, when it’s cold and windy‘.
We walk back, he to his motorcycle, me directly to the monastery.
Shortly before I arrive to the monastery he picks me up to see the 30 springs, which arise just before the village, the water somehow flows underground through the valley and comes up here on around 30 places, to form this calm and soft river which I came along. Thanks. What a nice day Rangdol.

We talked also about the rain from the last week and he said ‚The villagers don’t like to have rain in the month of September and October‘ Why he don’t know.

At one evening some hikers camped at the village area, and he was getting prepared to collect some money for the monastery. Strange to me for what service he is charging them, he said its a donation for the monastery. But a donation is a free giving and not a ticket, a fee you have to give…. and the service I can’t see, too. There is no service given, not a toilet, not a prepared camp ground…. not a presence of anyone who caretakes…. and it’s only charged from foreign hikers…..

We spoke also about the tickets for Hemis monastery in Hemis. This temple is a kind of branch from Hemis. I refuse to pay for any ticket seeing a place of worship, if it is a church, a temple or a mosk or any other place for public praying. But at Hemis monestary last year, they did not let me into the temple without paying. I am willing to give a donation, but not as a regular ‚entrance ticket‘. If i like. Its maybe more or less than the entrance fee.
In Ladakh in lots of monasteries they want a entrance fee from foreigners….. it’s not right!
At the Shanti Stupa in Leh the both monks refuse to take a entrance fee. I am so grateful for that. They have trouble with that renovation costs and the city is not helping enough even though the Shanti Stupa is in my eyes a or even the main attraction in the city. But taking money for a public praying or meditation place is just not right….

I joint and enjoyed Rangdols pujas in the temple very much. The sound done by reciting from the holy books, bells and drum are really nice. He is really good with his only 20 years.

At the end of our visit he mentioned, that he was a rebell, before he came to the monastery with 9 years, he bullied and fighteed with everyone. After one year meditation and postration he had changed into the one he is now…. ‚would you imagine‘,  he said.

I had cleaned the kitchen in his living room and the evening before I left, I said ‚if I would have more time, my next project would be to clean up the food storage room‘. To that time it was not 100% clear, that I come back, but the moment I left I was nearly sure to see him after 10 or so days…. ‚Yes I am there all September’… he replied….

And Rangdol showed me a room on top of the temple in honour of ‚Guru Rinpoche‘. What a nice room. So good for meditation.

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