I had the invaluable opportunity to accompany an undergraduate study/travel group from Loyola University and another from the Graduate School of Social Work Tulane University (both located in New Orleans, Louisiana) on their adventures of discovery in northern India the past five weeks. I was able to assist in a number of ways, and look forward to continuing to work with them, and the community social work organization that arranged their tours (the Louisiana Himalayan Association).
This is a shot of Rewalsar Lake (known to the Tibetans as Tso Pema, the Lotus Lake), a holy site for Hindus, Himalayan Buddhists and Sikhs. It is one of the most important holy places associated with Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava. He was burned at the stake here for seven days after being caught doing secret esoteric Buddhist rituals with the King of Mandi's daughter in a cave at this location. He was unharmed, however, and after seven days remained above a lake on a lotus. Everyone was pretty shocked, and immediately converted to Buddhism. This was in the eighth century; nowadays the locals are Hindu, mostly practicing devotion to the Mother Goddess in her various forms.
I took this picture of Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche (author of Tantric Practice in Nyingma and a seven volume work on Tibetan Buddhist History in Tibetan) at his monastery in Sudarijal in the hills northeast of Kathmandu. I first met him when he came to Houston to lecture at Rice University and to teach and give empowerments at Dawn Mountain Dharma Center in Houston. He is one of the sweetest people I've ever met, and basically spends his days praying and relaxing in the natural state, as he's getting kinda old now.
This is a view from a car on the road out to his monastery. As I flew into Kathmandu from Delhi on some clouds, I was struck by how green and clear the landscape is at the end of the monsoon. A truly beautiful sight. There have been a good amount of forest in my life this past month.
Here Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god that protects Lord Rama, is hanging out in the forest in Himachal Pradesh, in the hills above Tso Pema.
While in McLeod Ganj (upper Dharamsala), where His Holiness the Dalai Lama resides with about 10,000 exile Tibetans live, I had a good bit of free time. A friend graciously let me stay in his house in the forest behind the Dalai Lama's temple, and I used that time to do a little retreat. On the last day of the retreat, the sunset was amazing, so I took a break to enjoy that. The sunset was also beautiful last night as was leaving Dharamsala on the bus for Delhi. I take it as an auspicious sign if there is a really fantastic colored light show in the sky as I complete something.