Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Funny conversations...

I've been meaning to post some of the funny conversations I've had. Early this morning:

ROOMATE: Ani Damchoe Wangmo! Did you drop 200 rupees (about U.S. five dollars) in the toilet?

ME: Uh...

RM: Someone dropped 200 rupees in the toilet!

ME: (cringing at the thought of Gandhi-ji's visage getting dirty in our toilet) Did you take it out?

RM: (points to two wet 100 rupee notes drying on the window sill) So it isn't yours?

ME. I don't think so.

RM: I think it is mine. I took a shower last night. (yes, we shower in our toilet stall, for privacy)

ME: Well... if you are not sure you could offer it (for a puja). But... maybe you shouldn't offer those exact bills because...

BOTH OF US: They fell in the toilet! (laughter)

Monday, June 08, 2009

How I spent my 29th birthday

I started my day with some coffee and practice. Talked to my mother and brother on the phone. Read my first few birthday wishes on facebook. Read a book Konchog gave me about the Mongolian folk hero lama Danzan Rabjaa. Studied Devangari, the alphabet common to Hindi and Sanskrit. Called Khenpo Pema Sherab's attendant to ask about a reading transmission for a certain text, told to come tomorrow morning. Had lunch. Got an hour of electricity around noon. Read more birthday wishes on facebook. Had a shower. Spent half an hour using Teach2000 to study the definitions of the five paths. Worked on memorizing the titles of the 17 Prajnaparamitra sutras and 21 Indian commentaries on them. At 3 pm went to First Camp for cappucinno with some Western friends and one Nepalese ani (most Tibetans don't follow birthdays). Inhaled a lot of fumes from the generator next to the cafe. Went back to the nunnery. Bought some momos from the vendor at the gate. Went back to my room. Ate chips for dinner and had another coffee, because hey its my birthday. Went to my friend's room to charge my computer. Messed around on the internet. Felt sorry about Aung San Suu Kii's situation. Taught my friend who speaks about five words of English how to say 'Shame on you.' Took fully charged laptop back to my room. Wrote this blog.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

What I'm up to in shedra land

We've been having classes in the evening instead of the usually 8:30 am because our days have been filled with puja for our lama's passing. Despite the very sad reason for it, I found I like class in the evening much more than in the morning. I've felt sharper.

In a month we've only gotten to page 22 of Paltrul Rinpoche's General Commentary (spyi don) on Abhisamalankara. It is typical to go this slowly at the beginning of a text. The first quatrains of many shastras are not only homages to the Buddhas and so on, but contain pith summaries of the main points of the texts.

Our teacher asked us if we would like him to teach us Haribhadra's Abhisamayalankara commentary Short Commentary Clear in Meaning ('grel chung don gsal) at the same time, or wait until after we finished the General Commentary. We voted on it and the result is we are covering each section in the General Commentary then following it with the same section in the Short Commentary.

The Short Commentary is interesting to read because it is a Tibetan translation of an Indian Commentary. This means its Tibetan is unusual; it has been bent and stretched to be an exact translation of the original Sanskrit. These days some Dharma students complain that the English translations of Tibetan texts and sadhanas are hard understand, filled with 'translator speak'. Well, if that's true, at least there is a precedent for it in history.

On the side, to try to shore up my understanding of the above texts, I am reading Khenpo Tsewang Sonam's commentary The New Radiance ('od snang gsar pa), as well as Botrul Tenpa'i Nyima's Words of Maitreya (ma pham zhal lung), and occasionaly looking at Tsongkapa's Golden Rosary (legs bshad gser phreng).