Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tibetan sprituality

On our drive along Qinghai Lake, we spotted a Tibetan guy on a pilgrimage. I think that the guy was doing flying leaps, with running start, in order to clear our stretch of the highway ASAP. our coach jammed brakes and stop to observe the Tibetan guy on his pilgrimage. normal procedure was to kneel down, stretch out full length and then stand up (repeat ad nauseum). they do this for 200km from Xining to Qinghai Lake. even with all his paddings, I can feel his pain!
visiting Ta'er Lama monastery and observing pilgrims, made me realised that the Tibetans are a deeply spiritual people. must have something to do with the harsh environment (and maybe lack of oxygen). many Tibetans were praying at the Lama temple while the majority of tourists (both Chinese and foreigners) were gawking and taking photos. Tibetans make monetary and yak butter offerings (the Lama s were busy counting the fistful of dollars!).
One hall was full of solid gold statues (about 30cm tall) of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Yellow sect of Tibetan Buddhism. we were told that there were about 1000 statues inside. the place must be like Fort Knox!
There were many photos, paintings and statues of the revered 10th Panchen as well. the main prayer hall where the lamas/monks study scripture was festooned with beautiful embroidery and thangka paintings (most of which were hundreds of years old). the pillars were wrapped in Tibetan carpets made from thick wool. sorry but no photos inside...

you can light a yak butter lamp (just like lighting candles in Catholic church) for blessings. Robina and I lit one each for our parents.
everywhere we go around Qinghai Lake, there were shrines, stupas and prayer flags. It seemed like every mountain and lake was considered holy.
Tibetans visiting the edge of holy lake will make piles of stone when they offer their prayers or make requests of blessing from Buddha. I've seen similar rock piles at Buddhist temples in Korea.
this is a pile of slate rocks neatly piled up. the flat slates had scriptures carved on them.


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