To India with Sofie: Day 8

Saturday September 8, 2012: A Rainy Day

Family is the reason we are here. Rain makes it more complete, since we don’t go out this morning and have even more time for each other. I take my time to make movies from grandma for the home front, about what she does, how she keeps herself busy throughout the day, how she never rests. Always doing something, and when sometimes sitting down, repeating her mantra ‘Om Mani Peme Hum’ (she’s Tibetan, and does not care about the ‘Padme’.

This reminds me of Lama Anagarika Govinda. Both the books I  have of him, I found in a 3rd hand shop, where they nearly fell on my head for nearly nothing. He wrote: “If the efficacy of mantras depended on their correct pronounciation, then all mantras in Tibet would have lost their meaning and power, because they are not pronounced there according to the rules of Sanskrit, but according to the phonetic laws of the Tibetan language. [..] This means that the power and the effect of a mantra depend on the spiritual attitude, the knowledge and responsiveness of the individual. The sabda or sound of the mantra is not a physical sound (though it may be accompanied by one) but a spiritual one. It cannot be heard by the ears, but only by the heart, and it cannot be uttered by the mouth but only by the mind. The mantra has power and meaning only for the initiated, i.e. for one who has gone through a particular kind of experience connected with the mantra.

Grandma reminds me often of my own maternal grandmother. Not educated, but always doing the right thing, and those things that need to be done. My grandmother had her rosary as a mantra, and she had a devotion for Mary, the mother of Jesus. Sofie’s Grandma never forgets any ritual, and does her prostrations before Padmasambhava every day, then burns incense and lights a real butter lamp. Not one of those small things resembling a tea light that is used in European Buddhist temples. Sofie gets taught by Grandma how to do prostrations, and although I’m not favouring this submissive behaviour, I join. My ego does not exist for 2 minutes.

After the rain, neighbour children come and play with Sofie: Preety, who is 8 and Meera, her 3 y.o. sister. All three deform the English language to an intermix I have never heard before, but they sure communicate. And they have a lot of fun too.

Tenzin takes me for a walk to a famous 16th century Hadimba temple. It is a beautiful building surrounded by gigantic deodar trees. At the moment I wonder whether they are family of fir, larch or spruce, but later I find out they are cedars.

If you click on this picture, you can read some more about the goddess Hadimba, and her temple in Manali.

Inside the temple, there is not a lot to see. It looks like a cave. Devoted Hindus bring offers while an angry looking guard makes sure that tourists do not enter in a blasphemous outfit.

Around the temple we find merchants trying to sell anything slightly related to this temple, and offering to make a photograph of you holding a gigantic white rabbit with curly hare. (I misspelled that on purpose)

We round our walk by a visit to old Manali. Going there we pass an Amithaba Buddha painted on a rock. Some intolerant people throw stones at the statue, and we wonder whether this intolerance will not increase over time and then target people of a different religion.

We talk about metaphysics when going home. And whether metaphysics really exists or not. Tenzin says: “Whether there exists a metaphysics boils down to the question whether consciousness exists separate from the physical brain, or not. If we are just a biological computer, with consciousness as a side effect, there is evidently no such thing as reincarnation, heaven or hell.”


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