On the up: 3 days in GadenOn the down: Coming back to earth *plop*
This post is really overdue but then again, it's always a perfect time to read and write about Gaden. I'm also feeling grumpy, so this is very timely for keeping the nerves in check. Who needs prozac when you have Gaden.
Tsongkhapa is a dude - he really knew what he was talking about when he named the monastery Gaden (as in, the Heaven) because it really feels like a whole different other world. All you need are cloud cars, and you could mistake it for carebear land. It's full of magic!
We were there for 3 1/2 days to make offerings to the Sangha (KH raised heaps of cash for their hospital), obtain forewords from the high lamas for KMP's new books and to conduct interviews with the sangha for Rinpoche's biography.
It was justamazingamazingamazingamazing
and I never wanted to leave.
When I came back, I spent the next week moping about being depressed about being thrown back to earth... then realised that hey, neither the care bears nor the Bodhisattvas get depressed about being in samsara.
SNAP OUT OF IT ALREADY!
I think it's the only place I have ever been to where I never thought once about wanting to go home. YekYee was totally amazed that I never complained once.
Seriously, all the old lamas there look like Yoda. Yoda is a Buddha, and don't you forget it. If you ever get to meet Kensur Konchok Tsering Rinpoche (the abbot emeritus), you will agree with me that yoda exists for real.
Pictures speak 1000 words and blah blah so here's some of my best
At a Kalarupa puja, complete with ritual instruments, like drums, cymbals and thighbone trumpets. It's absolutely spectacular and the whole prayer hall reverberates with energy when pujas are in progress.
Geshe Lobsang Wangchuk, one of Rinpoche's oldest friends from Gaden (check out the NEAT book he's reading! hehe)
At an (early!) morning debate session. Because the Gelugpra tradition places a stron emphasis on study, debate sessions are held twice daily for the monks to discuss and strengthen what is learnt in teachings and through scriptures. One person takes the position as a Buddhist, and another as an opponent to Buddhism, and they debate it all out until they get a thorough understanding of all topics.
We got to mooch around the monastery for four days and see how the monks live, eat, work, pray. I love all these in-the-moment photos of the monks just hanging out, being, well, monks! For them, it's like they're just being "normal;" for us, it's like a whole paradise of 3000 people straight on their way to enlightenment. See!