I was walking through Dumbo, Brooklyn this past weekend and stumbled upon a Buddhist Center affiliated with a monastery in Nepal. Since then, it has become increasingly surreal that on that particular day, at that particular time, I found this place. Mostly because life has been confusing lately. It has simultaneously presented itself as both overwhelming and under-whelming, for a series of obscure reasons. It should be crowned “complex uncertainty” and its royal symbol should be a foot and a butt. Only because sometimes it really feels like a good kick in the bottom.
Rest assured, though, rest assured. I tell this to myself and to whatever reader can relate. The beauty of life is in the way we chose to direct its tilt. Our tilt, that is. In what direction are we going to lean during a time that feels disagreeable. If our angle is positive, complexity and uncertainty will manifest in magnificently creative and unexpected ways. If our angle is negative, everything is severely overcast and I will be the first to say I’d rather sit in a dirty horse barn full of noble droppings. Think of the Earth and its seasons. When the earth is tilted on its axis towards the sun, it is the summer we dream of year round: full of blooming gardens, pool parties, sun-kissed toes, picnics in the park, cookouts, and a general ease we only have at that time of year. When it is tilted away from the sun, it is the winter – dreary with the promise of dry skin, chapped lips, frozen fingers, broken heaters, and slushy sidewalks. Uncertain and complex times will occur now and later. Yes, it’s unfortunate they won’t always taste as good as the Now and Later taffies we used to love. The point is, at least we have a choice in the way we decide to direct our axis.
Now – for my photo story!
I was walking and saw a robed man through the cracks of a thick, yellow, cement wall. I waved at him until I got his attention and took a few shots in between….
Finally I got him to look. I waved and smiled – half waving to signal hello, and half waving him over to be able to verbally say hello.He walked over, unlatched the heavy red gate, and let me in. Prayer flags were hanging over the entire courtyard, blowing in the wind. He walked me in and I heard two other lamas talking in the kitchen. I raised my voice slightly and said Namaste so they would hear me over their chatter and know a visitor was present. This Nepalese man came out to talk to me. He smiled when he didn’t understand what I was saying. They were bundled up in fleeces as the Buddhist Center does not have any heat at the moment. I asked politely where the temple was and they led me to it. I took my shoes off before entering and walked in. The first lama I found in the courtyard followed me into the sacred space. I am sure he wanted to be sure I was trustworthy. I asked him lots of questions and learned they do Puja on Tuesday and Friday evenings. He said he came to the states over 20 years ago and was interested in photography. I asked him if he wanted to take a picture with my camera and his eyes lit up. I tried to focus it for him (since now I am working with manual focus). I quite like his shot of me and the blurred Buddha. I left the temple space and walked back out into the main area. I could hear the third man cooking in the kitchen and asked if I could come in. He told me he is from Tibet and we spoke about my trip to Nepal. He was the most fluent in English and would help me communicate to the other two lamas. As of now they are the only three occupying the center. I asked if there was anything I could do to support the space and they said to come to Puja and to donate to the Little Lama Family, which is a branch the center supports in Nepal. The Little Lama Family is a place in Kathmandu, Nepal where young boys go to become lamas, or “little monks.” You can donate to support one Little Lama for a whole year – which isn’t a lot at all in US Dollars. They recently had an exhibition of the Little Lamas artwork in the 2013 Dumbo Arts Festival. Visit www.littlelamas.org.I was so excited to discover this place and, even more-so, to see they take volunteer English teachers to work with the little lamas. This is one of those dreams of mine that I am certain will come true someday.