July 2009

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The Karma of cash

First, a quote from monk Gyelse Togme’s book The 37-fold Practice of a Bodhissatva, which I stumbled across a mountain-top Buddhist monastery – evidently untouched by tourism – in Qinghai last January:

When encountering objects which please us, / To view them like rainbows in summertime, / Not ultimately real, however beautiful they  appear, / And to give up grasping and attachment is the practice of a Bodhissatva.

Now, a photo I took in Yunnan’s all-too touched by tourism Shangri La monastery over my summer holidays, of a business minded monk reading a novel on his break in his shiny new trainers:

… And a money minded kid by Tagong monastery, Sichuan (beginning to feel the tourist touch, but not half as bad as Shangri La), who asks me for money in payment for me taking his photo:

This at the request of his mum who then crooned at me to take her picture too. These people are not Bodhissatvas but they are without doubt practicing Buddhists. Object away to my pick-and-choose photos. My point is only that as much spiritual dignity is lost in the touristisation of Tibet and material benefit is gained.

I would say Gyelse Togme is spinning in his grave, but he’s been reincarnated, right? Errr … anyway, Gyelse Togme – animal, human, ghost or god that he now is – is probably spinning.

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