Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tibet Tee-Shirt Tells Its Version of the Trip

This is a special edition tee-shirt made in Kathmandu, Nepal after returning from the arduous journey for which the documentary, "Journey Inside Tibet" was produced in 1998. I made this tee-shirt as a batch of 10 for those of us that perserved and were the primary leaders of this journey. The stars of the film are the renowned flautist Paul Horn and the (now deceased) Lama Tenzin, the former Tibetan Buiddhist Lama of the Dharma Center of Maui, Hawaii. Twenty-eight people made the pilgrimage to Tibet from their respective homes in Hawaii, Arizona, California and Canada to the forbidding, rugged land of Tibet where the air is thin and two miles above sea level. It was an epic journey, and one which resulted in the documentary being very successful with many awards and also playing on PBS for several years.

Here is some of the back story about the pilgrimage to Tibet:

Three sides of Tibet are formed with the highest mountains in the world. Tibet has long been known as the Roof of the World, and it's capital city, Lhasa, sits at 12,000 feet. Since most of our group were coming from homes at sea-level, these oxygen-deprived heights were challenging to many of our group, and some got extremely ill with altitude sickness. How did we get to Tibet? By none other than the most challenging route: overland by bus. At one point we called one of the buses in our two-bus convoy, the Hospital Bus, because nearly one half of our group were suffering with altitude sickness.

When we made it to the 18, 500 feet elevation, there were only a few there to celebrate the highest point we achieved on the trip. The prayer flags blew wildly because the winds were gusty, and thirteen of us hardy souls de-boarded the bus to dance around like drunken sailors. We celebrated because of the challenge to get this far was a miracle!

Paul Horn was chosen as the musician because he was well-known for pioneering the playing of sacred music in temples: the Taj Mahal in India, the Great Pyramid in Egypt to name a few. Thus the Potala Palace was a perfect capstone for his career and a dream come true for him, an opportunity he had longed for years to accomplish.

Lama Tenzin hadn't seen his family in nearly forty years, and he knew he had to see them. As it turned out, his intuition was right because after returning home to Maui, he later became ill with cancer and died. However, while in Tibet, he was overjoyed at reuniting with his family, and his homecoming was lovingly documented in the film directed by Tom Vendetti. Lama Tenzin had left his homeland travelling by foot over hazardous mountain passes when still a boy after the Chinese had invaded Tibet. This was the first time he had been back since that fateful time.

The Tibetans believe their race to have descended from a monkey-saint and a she-demon, whose children became human from eating a diet of grain. Early kings descended from the sky on rope and returned the same way. Until the 10th century, the Tibetans were a warlike people, and the shamanistic Bon religion was the only game in town. Then in the 7th century, Buddhism was introduced into the country, and the character of the people began to undergo a drastic change. Tibet became a nation of spiritual seekers instead of warriors. Monasteries were built, and with 6,000 flourishing monasteries, the land was teeming with spiritual warriors...until the Chinese invasion that is. The larger of these monasteries were like villages, housing thousands of monks. This is being recreated in Nepal today, and I have witnessed these new monasteries built to hold this legacy.

I had brought along with me sacred waters which people from all over the world had sent me for a sacred waters ceremony. Outside Shigatze, I found the right place, and three of us performed the ceremony for the regeneration of Tibet's precious rivers and water supplies. It was a memorable day, and one that will be remembered when the river pollution is finally reversed and once again the River of Living Light flows through this land, this primal country.

Technorati Tags:, Tibet,,

Posted by kuanyin333 at 9:27 PM


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