Washington D.C., USA– July 16, 2011
From Michael Jolliffe:
For His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s long life puja, I wore a tie. It’s a nice tie. In fact, because it is so nice, I think that my closest French friend must have given it to me because I would never have bought something that people actually compliment by myself. (I’m not being down on myself, I’m just stating a fact.) Anyway, I don’t really understand ties. They are, after all, just a collection of threads that you fasten around your neck and will eventually cause discomfort. And last I checked, that was pretty close to the description of a noose.
Today, His Holiness bestowed a White Tara initiation and transmitted several important mantras. And in return and appreciation, we offered His Holiness a long life puja. Long life pujas are elaborate ceremonies where the disciples make offerings and requests for the lama to remain as long as possible on Earth and continuously teach for the benefit of all beings. I didn’t understand a word of the puja because the entire thing was chanted in Tibetan, but it doesn’t matter. I think it is safe to say that the wish for His Holiness to remain and teach for a very long time begins and ends in the mind; so anyone can participate in this whenever they want, for however long they want.
His Holiness had to leave for a special meeting with President Barack Obama, and so he encouraged that certain formalities be sped up, including an award ceremony recognizing the accomplishments of Katri Professor Samdhong Rinpoche by the North American Tibetan Association.
After a few hours break, His Holiness and the monks from Namgyal Monastery returned to officially dismantle the Kalachakra sand mandala that had been painstakingly constructed over several days in time for the initiation. After some prayers, His Holiness and the monks used their hands to obliterate certain parts of the mandala. After His Holiness used a long stick to cut through the mandala four ways, permission was given to start collecting the sand in glass vessels to be taken to the Potomac River. Interesting fact: The beautifully colored sand that makes up the Kalachakra mandala becomes a big pile of ash-gray sand when it’s combined together.
One fundamental teaching of Buddhism can be summarized as follows: All things that arise and live must eventually disintegrate and die, that’s an eternal and natural law. So, the amazing 11-day Kalachakra event must end; His Holiness must move on to other countries to spread his heartfelt message of peace, compassion and universal responsibility; and enthusiastic, devoted disciples must return home and decide how they will carry His Holiness’ advice and wishes forward.
Also, this tie must come off.
Oh, and this blog will stop. It is better this way; it was going to my head. I actually had the sincere thought that I should do something weird just so I could write about it later. Sigh.
Anyway, I guess you’ll want to know what I’ll do next now that I’m retiring from blogging and still have one free day in Washington, D.C. Hint: Guess which city has the longest single-span uninterrupted escalator in the Western hemisphere.