Monday, March 17, 2008

Ah, Grass-hopper.... Yes, Chant Master...

finally got to meet the Chant Master at Gyuto early this morning!
Nechung Kuten Rinpoche told me by phone to go there for 830 this morning and find him
so off i went by taxi having nearly slept it out
honestly the whole mini-drama unfolded like an ancient Zen story - you know the kind where the student has to go through some hardships to meet the teacher and then the teacher messes with their head just to test them...
Ashok, the taximan, flew down the mountain almost toppling the van at every hair-raising bend [if i only had some hair!] i was almost sorry i told him i was late
the views were spectacular all the way down through lower Dharamsala town and onto the valley floor below
then we went across the river to the other side and nestled at the foot of the most beautiful snow-peaks is Gyuto Monastery and Tantric University [see photos on previous post]

of course, nobody speaks any English so i'm busy trying to mime and immitate proper chanting without offending or attracting the wrath of the temple dogs - saying half-baked things like 'singing-teacher?', 'umze-lama?', 'hello, my name is bruno - i'm from ireland [... i bake a lovely quiche]?'

if only i had known the man's name, wouldnt that have been much easier?!

eventually 'umze-lama' struck a chord [get it?] with someone and i was pointed in the general direction of a 3rd floor window, so up i went
when i finally found him i was panting and excited and his english was perfect, thank god because i think i had exhausted both my tibetan words in both possible orders!

he wasnt expecting me at all and didnt quite know why i was there
anyone who's ever been to india or been around Tibetan Buddhism for a while knows this feeling of 'What?!'...'Oh, OK... i'll just go with flow and see what happens next'

then we are passing through corridors where child-monks are rocking memorising texts and many cells with curtains for doors from which you can hear chatting and chanting

finally we get to the upstairs room where a small terrier is poo-ing at the doorway but the large windows have the most gorgeous views of meadows and fruit trees and snow mountains

when we have THE chat [and this is the part i've been trying to get to all this time...] he says 'what do you mean learn to chant?'
nobody can learn to chant'
'you must find the chant deep inside YOU'

the room is spinning.
i want to puke.
i want to scream.
i want to demand ... 'you mean... i've come ALL THIS WAY for THAT!'.
i want.
i want.
i want...!

i feel so many things, but mainly i feel like i'm in some cheap kung-fu movie and the Master is being deliberately evasive and obscure and it's all going horribly wrong!

next i hear [in my head of course] diana ross singing 'aint no mountain high enough, aint no valley low enough, aint no river wide enough... to keep me from you'

he continues to say things like 'yes, you must find your voice deep inside you - everybody has one'
now he's chanting out loud from deep down inside his stomach somewhere, saying 'See? like this... like that.... OOOOOOOM... AAAAAAAAAAAAH... HHUUUUUUUUUUUUNG........!'

Diana and Lama are merging into one and i have a go
despite all my nervousness and embarrassment, i join in

after a while of growling and coughing and wrecking my vocal chords, he interrupts, 'you see? it's not there yet. I can't make it happen for you. You must find it for yourself. That's what I've been telling you. Now you must practice'
'I mean... ALL the time!'
'It takes MANY years, you know'

he told me to come along to the temple again from wednesday for 4 days of Puja
Gyuto is doing the Self-Initiation of Chakrasamvara and i must join in the chanting from the back row...
'to find my voice?' i butted in
'Yes', he said

i asked him his name rather sheepishly
'Lama Thupten Jigme', he replied

'My name is Bruno. I am from Ireland' i offered
'Yes yes' he jumped in, 'we were expecting you'

'See how you get on during the Puja. Then we'll talk again'

Lama Thupten Jigme showed me all around the Temple interior, naming all the statues and lineages contained within it but most interesting of all perhaps was to see the monks halfway through creating the sand mandala for the Chakrasamvara Puja

On the way back to my taxi, walking down the path with Lama-la [he's going to share it with me back up to McLeod] i'm thinking to myself 'Who's Chakrasamvara?'... 'Puja means ritual practice, right?'

1 comment:

  1. Lama sitting in a hall.
    dog crapping on the wall.
    bruno in free fall.
    Om Ah Hung.
    Om Ah Hung.
    Om Ah Hung......