Day Five–Karmapa, Debating, and the ‘Great Mother’ Part Two

Our return to the nunnery was somewhat silent and thoughtful as we all seemed to be caught up in digesting the Karmapa’s words. Kate and I took a brief walk around and wore our Kurta’s to lunch after which we changed and had a little time to wander around the nunnery and reflect on the days events.

The afternoon was dominated by a meeting with the senior class of nuns. They each introduced themselves and spoke a little of what they hoped to achieve–several for example, hoped that one day they could ordain and become geshe. There’s a huge debate over whether or not nuns should be allowed to do this. When they began to tell a little of their stories of how they escaped Tibet it was overwhelmingly sad. I felt a very strong connection since I left England and really have no way of returning. My flight certainly was not as trecherous or as physically demanding, but I have faced my own hardships. It was inspiring to hear all that they had overcome. At the end I spoke up and told them all that I understood a little of what it was like to have no way to return to your country. It was hard and it really upset me. No one responded to what I said, and that felt like a huge affront. I think that’s what upset me the most. However, after the session ended and the nuns dispersed for debate one of them came over, grasped my hand tightly and said “don’t be sad. When Tibet is free, you can come there with us.”

Debate is extremely interesting. From what I can understand the’re basically arguing over Buddhist philosophy. One (or more) asking questions and one (or more) replying with (I assume) philosophical teachings or quotes. It gets very noisy with them all yelling, stomping and slapping their hands at one another. I love it!

It’s especially fun when the teachers (above is the principal of the nunnery, Ven. Rinzin Chodak) step in and join the debate. One thing is certain–they all have so much fun doing it… and that enjoyment is infectious!

After debating ended and we had supper I went to evening prayers. It’s really beautiful to hear the nuns chanting. I wish I could take it home with me. I think Adam managed to record some today on his small mp3 player. I wish I could live here forever sometimes. Come to prayers every day. That would be amazing. 

Later on we watched “Gyalyum Chemo” or “The Great Mother”. A documentary on Dekyi Tsering, the Dalai Lama’s mother, it is a really great movie and very emotional. 

“According to Rosemary Rawcliffe, Producer/Director of the documentary,
the film is the first of a trilogy on Women in Tibet and “recounts the
compelling life story of Dekyi Tsering, the mother of one of the world’s
leading ambassadors for peace, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. During
the course of her extraordinary life, Dekyi Tsering, known by Tibetans
as “Gyalyum Chemo” or “Great Mother,” gave birth to 16 children, only
seven survived, three of whom were recognized as incarnate lamas.

The film weaves together a rich life history of anecdotal threads and
personal reflections from Dekyi Tsering’s children, grandchildren and
friends who share the details of her long and full life. With never
before seen photographs from their family collections and rare footage
of Tibet, our film offers a rare glimpse into Tibet’s first family and
the woman who inspired them. His Holiness talks about how his mother
helped shape the man he is today and the relationship between healthy
family and healthy humanity, and how it all begins with a mothers love.
Dr. Marion Woodman (Addiction to Perfection), Alice Walker (The Color
Purple) and Angeles Arrien, (The Second Half of Life) link this unique
Tibetan story to a much broader perspective of how Mother and the Great
Mother archetype touches all our lives.”

Gyalyum Chemo