One place I wanted to see for sure before leaving India was Dharamshala. It is the current home of the 14th Dalai Lama, his official name is Tenzin Gyatso, since his exile in 1959 from Tibet because of pressure from the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Little did I know that getting out of Agra (where the Taj Mahal is) to Dharamshala was going to be a pain in the ass! I ended up going to New Delhi (again) since I couldn’t find anything direct from Agra. I stayed a night or two there until I finally found a bus that I could book. All this made me happy until I got to Dharamshala and realized I had missed the Dalai Lama by one day! He had left for a three week press trip to Australia, then was going to Washington DC for a speech on world peace. Mad to say the least but fully knew that the Great Dalia Lama himself wouldn’t approve of such anger. I just wanted to ask him if he had ever seen the movie Caddieshack, especially the scene where Bill Murray talks about being a caddie for him.
So since no Lama was in town, I did the next best thing… I photographed some monks! I also happened to meet another photographer, Rich Nacin, while on the bus to Dharamshala that was into street photography as well. We ended up hanging out a lot and even came up with a plan together to photograph the monks (which I will write later in a separate post) and the above photograph he assisted me on.
In all I stayed a full week in Dharamshala. I really liked the cool weather, friendly people and being able to go visit the Dalai Lama’s monastery everyday for free. Not only is it free but also they will feed you as well with bread, butter tea and a few other items. I’m not a spiritual person in any way but sitting in his monastery listing to the monks chat and pray was one of the best thing I did in India.
Hands down Dharamshala is 10x better to me then Darjeeling was and I can’t wait to come back and visit it again. Hopefully this time he won’t be on a press trip in Oz hanging out on the beach. Guess even the Dalai Lama needs some beach loving too sometimes!
So since I didn’t get a photograph of the Dalia Lama, here is a postcard of a young monk with a quote by him in the background.
“The fundamental philosophical principle of Buddhism is that all our suffering comes about as a result of an undisciplined mind, and this untamed mind itself comes about because of ignorance and negative emotions. For the Buddhist practitioner then, regardless of whether he or she follows the approach of the Fundamental Vehicle, Mahayana or Vajrayana, negative emotions are always the true enemy, a factor that has to be overcome and eliminated. And it is only by applying methods for training the mind that these negative emotions can be dispelled and eliminated. This is why in Buddhist writings and teachings we find such an extensive explanation of the mind and its different processes and functions. Since these negative emotions are states of mind, the method or technique for overcoming them must be developed from within. There is no alternative. They cannot be removed by some external technique, like a surgical operation” ~ 14th Dalai Lama