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The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Two tiny stories – On poverty and On a Messiah

February 10, 2016

How poor we are?

One day a father and his rich family took his son to a trip to the country with the firm purpose to show him how poor people can be. They spent a day and a night in the farm of a very poor family. When they got back from their trip the father asked his son, “How was the trip?”

“Very good Dad!”

“Did you see how poor people can be?” the father asked.


“And what did you learn?”

The son answered, “I saw that we have a dog at home, and they have four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of the garden, they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lamps in the garden, they have the stars. Our patio reaches to the front yard, they have a whole horizon.” When the little boy was finishing, his father was speechless.

His son added, “Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are!”

Author Unknown


A Messiah

Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great river. The current of the river swept silently over them all – young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way. Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks at the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth.

But one creature said at last, ‘I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom.’ The other creatures laughed and said, ‘Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you shall die quicker than boredom!’

But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks. Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.

And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried, ‘See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the Messiah, come to save us all!’. And the one carried in the current said, ‘I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.’

But they cried the more, ‘Saviour!’ all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they looked again he was gone, and they were left alone making legends of a Saviour.

Richard Bach, from “Illusions”

Goodbye, Mrs Boa

February 9, 2016


The poem, ‘Goodbye, Mrs Boa’  was written by Nazrul Haque, a poet from Guwahati.

Boa Sr, an 85-year-old woman was the last member of the Bo tribe, one of the ten tribes that comprise the Great Andamanese People . She was the last speaker of Bo language for at least 30 years. The old woman was very lonely in the last few years of her life as she was the only surviving member of one of the oldest human cultures on earth which lived in the Andaman Islands for as long as sixty-five thousand years. She had no one to converse with as she was the lone speaker of Bo. Her death may go unnoticed but it is a bleak reminder to all of us. She died on 26th January 2010.

Goodbye, Mrs. Boa!
We shall miss you.
The last of a tribe,
a lost language,
and those memories
You carried,
for the last 65,000 years.

Aren’t you happy, Mrs. Boa?
In death you are reborn.
Just after crossing the bridge,
You shall meet them all.
Won’t you laugh again?
Will you joke about us-
In ‘Bo’?

Goodbye, Mrs. Boa!
We shall depart too,
Just like you,
Lost and lonely.
Civilization is a great burden.
So is being human!

Happiness is like a Butterfly

February 2, 2016

On Happiness by none other than Henry David Thoreau🙂

(taken from Zen pencils)

Beggar who sold cocoons

December 4, 2015

Along a dusty road in India there sat a beggar who sold cocoons. A young boy watched him day after day, and the beggar finally beckoned to him. “Do you know what beauty lies within this chrysalis? I will give you one so you might see for yourself. But you must be careful not to handle the cocoon until the butterfly comes out.”

The boy was enchanted with the gift and hurried home to await the butterfly. He laid the cocoon on the floor and became aware of a curious thing. The butterfly was beating its fragile wings against the hard wall of the chrysalis until it appeared it would surely perish, before it could break the unyielding prison.

Wanting only to help, the boy swiftly pried the cocoon open. Out flopped a wet, brown, ugly thing which quickly died. When the beggar discovered what had happened, he explained to the boy “In order for the butterfly’s wings to grow strong enough to support him, it is necessary that he beat them against the walls of his cocoon. Only by this struggle can his wings become beautiful and durable. When you denied him that struggle, you took away from him his only chance of survival.”

The Last Letter

November 13, 2015

He suffered for 10 years before deciding to give up his life in November 2014. A year before that he wrote this letter.

Tomas Young with his wife Claudia Cuellar

Tomas Young with his wife Claudia Cuellar

Tomas Young, a wounded Iraq War veteran and outspoken critic of war, passed away at the age of 34 on November 10th, 2014, just before Veterans Day, which is also known internationally as Armistice Day. This is the letter he penned to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in 2013, a year before he died.

To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

Tanika and the Muavo tree

October 26, 2015

by Grace Llewellyn, How to quit school and get a real life and education

picking applesON A SOFT green planet, a smiling baby was born in an orchard resplendent with every kind of fruit in the universe. The baby’s parents called her Tanika, and Tanika spent her days roaming the warm wet ground on hands and knees. Spotting a clump of gulberries off in the distance, she’d crawl after it and crush the sweet fruit in her mouth, red juice staining her brown chin and neck. A muavo would fall fatly from the high crown of the muavo tree, and she’d savor its golden tang. Each day revealed new wonders—bushapples, creamy labanas, the nutty crunch of the brown shrombart. The orchard’s fruit sparkled in the dew and sun like thousands of living moist jewels against the green fragrance of cushioning leaves.

As her eyes grew stronger Tanika lifted her gaze. The opulent branches above her hung heavy with fruits she’d never dreamed of, globular and glistening. Tanika’s mother and father wandered the orchard too, sometimes, and she watched them reach out easily and take a shining cluster here, a single green satinplum there. She’d watch them eat and imagine being tall enough to roam and reach so freely as they. Sometimes one of them would bend down and give Tanika one of those fruits from up there in the moving leaves. Fresh from the branches, it intoxicated her, and her desire to know and taste all the fruits of the orchard so consumed her that she began to long for the day she could reach that far.

Her longing strengthened her appetite, and the fruit strengthened her legs, and one day Tanika crawled to the base of a mysterious bush at the edge of the stream that watered the orchard. She leaned carefully forward and braced her arms as she positioned her feet. Unsteadily she rose and groped for the shrub’s pale fruit. Tugging knocked her off balance and she sat down hard in an overripe muavo, but she barely noticed the fruit squishing under her thighs: in her hands she grasped a fruit thin-skinned and silver, fresh and new. She pressed it to her nose and face before she let her teeth puncture it.

No sooner had she tossed the smooth pit into the stream, than she heard a rustling behind her. A jolly bespectacled face grinned down at her.

“Well, well, well! You’re a mighty lucky little girl! I’ve come to teach you to get the fruit down from the tall trees!”

Tanika’s happiness unfurled like a sail. She could hardly believe her good luck. Not only had she just picked and eaten her first bush fruit, but here was a man she didn’t even know offering to show her how to reach the prism of treats high above her head. Tanika was so overcome with joy that she immediately rose to her feet again, and plucked another of the small moonish fruits.

The jolly stranger slapped the fruit from Tanika’s wrist. Stunned, she fell again and watched her prize roll into the stream. “Oh dear,” said the man, “You’ve already picked up some bad habits. That may make things difficult.” The slapping hand now took Tanika’s and pulled her up. Holding on this way, Tanika stumbled along behind the stranger.

She wanted to ask questions, like, “Why didn’t you just show me how to pick those berries hanging above the bush where I was?” But she kept her mouth shut. If she was going off to pick the high fruit, she guessed it didn’t matter where, or that she’d sacrificed her one beautiful moonfruit. Maybe they were going to a special tree melting with juicing fruits, branches bent almost to the ground, low enough for her outstretched fingers. Yes! That must be it. Excitement renewed, she moved her legs faster. The stranger grinned and squeezed her hand.

Soon Tanika saw the biggest, greyest thing she’d ever laid eyes on. In quiet fascination she tripped along as they stepped off the spongy humus of the orchard floor onto a smooth sidewalk. “Here we are!” beamed the guide. They entered the building, full of odd smells and noises. They passed through a pair of heavy black doors, and the man pushed Tanika into a loud, complicated room full of talking children and several adults. She looked at the children, some sitting on the floor, some crawling about or walking. All of them had trays or plates in front of them heaping with odd mushy lumps of various colors. Also, some of the children were busy coloring simple pictures of fruits, and some wore pins and tags on their shirts displaying little plastic pears and mistbulbs. Baffled, Tanika tried to figure out what the children were doing in such a dark, fruitless place, what the lumpy stuff was, and above all, why her guide had stopped here on their way to the bountiful tree.

But before she had time to think, two things happened. First, one of the kids took something metal and used it to scoop a lump of dull pinkish stuff into his mouth. Tanika opened her mouth in panic to warn the kid. Maybe there was something wrong with him; he was much bigger than she was, old enough to know better. But just as she began to yell, a new hand, slick, pulled her up again. “OK, Tanika,” said the cheery woman that went with the hand, “This is the cafeteria. We’re looking forward to helping you grow, and we’re certain we can help you learn to pick tree fruit, as long as you do your part.”

Tanika felt confused. She didn’t see what this place could have to do with picking gulberries, and at the moment she was particularly hungry for more of that shining moonfruit. But she had no time to think. The slick-hand woman put Tanika on a cold chair at a table. “Here,” she said, and nudged a box of crayons and a black outline of a plum at her. “Today you will color this, and it will help you get ready for eating tomorrow.” Tanika started to feel foolish. She’d never guessed that learning to pick fruit would be so complicated. She colored the plum with all the colors in the box, trying in vain to make it round and enticing like the fruits of the orchard.

The rest of the day passed in a daze. Tanika was made to color more of the pictures, and to her disgust most of the children ate the formless mush on the plates in front of them. Some of the fat and greasy children asked for more and stuffed themselves. Whenever this happened, the adults ran in and put gold stars all over the kid’s arms and face. Many things happened—children fought, napped, sat quietly fidgeting with the stuff. Finally, the jolly man took Tanika’s hand and led her out of the dark building. As her bare feet met the orchard grass, she caught the scent of ripe labana. She asked the stranger if he would get one for her, but he merely laughed.

Tanika was far too confused to put any of her questions into words. By the time they arrived at the tree where Tanika slept with her parents, the evening light had turned the leaves to bronze, and she was exhausted. Too tired to look for fruit, she fell asleep and dreamed fitfully.

In the morning her mind was clear. She still wanted to reach the high fruit, but she did not want to go back to the noisy smelly dark cafeteria. She could already reach the bushfruit; maybe in time she’d grasp the high fruit too.

But when the spectacled person arrived, he told her that she’d never reach the trees without many years in the cafeteria. He explained it—”You can’t reach them now, can you?” and “Your parents can reach them. That’s because they went to the cafeteria. I can reach them, because I went to the cafeteria.” Tanika had no time to think this through, because he’d pulled her to her feet again and they were off. She hadn’t had time to find breakfast, and her stomach rumbled painfully.

Tanika went in the room and sat down politely. “Please,” she asked one of the adults, “Can you help me pick tree fruits today? That’s why I’m here, and also today I didn’t have time for breakfast.”

The tall lady laughed. “Well, well, well! Aren’t we cute! Tree fruit! Before you’re ready for tree fruit, you have to prepare!” She disappeared behind a curtain and returned carrying a tray with a scoop of greenish stuff. Tanika jerked back. She looked around wildly for an escape route. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a boy watching with soft dark quiet eyes. The lady grabbed her hand.

“Don’t be afraid, Tanika,” she laughed. “How will you ever work up to eating tree fruit if you can’t handle plate fruit?” She put the tray on the table, and took the metal thing, spooning up a piece of the stuff and holding it in front of the small girl. Tanika pushed the spoon away violently. Then she put her head down on the table and cried.

The lady’s voice changed. “So you’re going to be a tough one, Tanika? Just remember, you’re only hurting yourself when you refuse to eat. If you want to succeed, you’d better do as we ask.” She walked away.

When Tanika stopped crying, her stomach was desperately empty. She sat up and looked at the tray. She was afraid of the stuff. She bent down to smell it and caught a faint, stale whiff of limbergreen berry. The smell, even distorted, was a familiar friend. She picked up the spoon and ate her first bite of cafeteria food. Tanika was relieved. Although the goop was slimy, far too sweet, and mostly tasteless, it wasn’t as bad as it looked. And it did seem to be made from limbergreen berries. She ate it all, and felt a little better. The lady came back. “Very good,” she smiled. She stuck a green star on the back of Tanika’s hand. “We’ll do some more exercises and then later on you can try something new to eat.”

Hours later, Tanika had been the apple in “Velcro the Stem on the Apple,” and had drawn a muavo tree and listened to an older student explain what fruits contained vitamins P, Q, and Z. Apparently she had done all these things right, because the lady came back and put more green and gold stars on her hands and cheeks. Some of the children looked at her angrily, though, so perhaps she’d done something wrong.

At this point a man rang a little bell. Immediately all the children sat down at the tables and folded their hands neatly. A girl grabbed Tanika’s hand and shoved her onto a chair. Then six children walked into the room carrying stacks of trays. They put one in front of each child, and Tanika saw that each tray contained five purple and blue wafers. “Yum!” said the girl next to Tanika, “Violetberry cakes!” Tanika jumped. She’d seen her parents eat violetberries, and also seen the accompanying ecstasy on their faces. She easily pictured the graceful coniferous trees on which they grew.

She picked up a wafer. It was warm, but not with the gentle warmth of the sun. She put it in her mouth. Dry, sandy… she chewed obediently but sadly. This was it? Disappointment sank her stomach and she put the cake down, mentally crossing violetberries off her wishlist forever.

In the end Tanika was made to eat the violetberry cake—all five hunks of it— before the spectacled man would lead her out the door. Her stomach throbbed all the way home. That night she crawled into her mother’s arms and sobbed. Her mother rocked her, then whispered something to Tanika’s father. He disappeared, and returned a minute later with an armload of tiny, glowing violetberries.

“It’s time,” said her mother sweetly, “For your first fresh violetberries.”

Her father dangled them teasingly above her lips, but Tanika only cried harder. The berries’ fragrance, though delicate and sweet, clashed with her distended heavy stomach. She was far too full, and it was violetberries’ fault. Both parents teased and offered, but they finally gave up. Her mother laid Tanika down to rest alone, and the two adults stood whispering while the moon rose, worry in their voices.

At the cafeteria the next day the adults met Tanika with an unpleasant stare. “You’re making things difficult for yourself,” scolded the woman with slick hands, “Your parents have reported that your attitude at home is not meeting standards for girls your age. You need to eat much more thoroughly.” A girl brought a plate crowded with dried out, wrinkly little fruits. Tanika ate them, tough and tasteless. Her stomach hurt again. After they dissected a preserved bushapple, she ate another tray full of canned gulberry. Then she went back home and slept.

Days passed, and months. Tanika ate obediently and earned lots of stars. There was a picture of a bright green tree painted on one of the walls, and when the whole roomful of children ate their food quickly, the adults had them play a game. They taped three or four cut-out paper fruits to the tree, and then the kids were made to take turns jumping or reaching to try to take them. Whoever reached a fruit got to keep it, and also was called a winner and plastered with dozens of gold stars.

One day when the spectacled man walked her home he told her the cafeteria would be closed for two days for cleaning. He handed her a little white carton and said, “Be sure to eat all of this while I’m gone, and I’ll pick you up in two days.”

As he waddled away, a strange inspiration seized Tanika’s brain. She touched her swollen belly and flung the carton away. Out of it tumbled cakes, red mush, hard little biscuits smelling flatly of labanas.

When she woke the next morning her stomach rumbled and she got up to look for breakfast. Leaving the clearing, she accidentally kicked a biscuit. Out of habit, she picked it up and almost put it in her mouth, then caught herself and aimed instead for a bush full of gulberries. Furtively she snatched a handful and crushed them to her lips. Sweet and wild, they made her want to sing.

Tanika’s father saw her then, and called excitedly to her mother. Both of them ran to their child and squeezed her. “Look what you’ve learned at the cafeteria!” cried her mother. “My baby is growing up!”

“Be sure to eat all your homefood,” said her father, “So you won’t be behind when you go back.” Then his tone of voice changed. “What’s that?” he said. He sprinted off and grabbed up the white carton. Tanika watched in horror as he searched the orchard floor. A few minutes later he returned with everything— biscuits, cake, mush.

Tanika ate it all.

The cafeteria opened again and Tanika went back. Every day she ate faster, and gradually stopped resisting, even in her own mind. One day she reached the highest paper fruit on the painted tree. All the adults patted her head and she could barely see her brown skin under all the gold stars. She started walking to the cafeteria every day by herself. The adults started giving her food for the evenings, and usually she’d eat it like they said. One day, walking home, she flung her hands to the sky and they touched, accidentally, a muavo hanging down from its branch. Tanika jumped back. “I can pick it,” she said slowly, “It worked.” She thought for a minute. The cooks had said it would happen, someday, if she ate what they gave her and jumped as high as she could during the tree game.

Tanika gracefully severed the muavo from its stem, examined it, and tossed it neatly into a shadow.

She wasn’t hungry.

Story of Tashi Passang

October 17, 2015

Today is not so different from yesterday. Today too we suffer from the baggage of our beliefs. So tied down some of us are to our beliefs and identities that we fear anyone who is outside our circle. Hatred creeps in slowly and so does anger towards anyone who does not abide by our belief system, anyone who hurts us. Only a few of us are able to resist this hatred and anger. Only a few are able to love a friend and foe alike.

Here is the story of Tashi Passang, an old Tibetan monk. The story has been taken from the book, Nine Lives, by William Dalrymple.

“The words reached Lhasa (capital of Tibet) that my mother had died. She was not old – no more than fifty. But she never recovered from the beatings the Chinese gave her, and she died as a result of the internal injuries she received for what I had done. Of course, I wept when the news came. For days I was too paralysed with sadness to think of anything else. But I was worried too, because I now felt a real hatred for the Chinese. Violence may be justified by our scriptures in certain circumstances, but anger and hatred [towards anyone] are always forbidden.” – Tashi Passang.

Tashi Passang, was born in Tibet in 1936. Like many in eastern Tibet, his family lived a semi-nomadic life. At the age of 13, he decided to become a monk. “The main struggle, especially when you are young, is to avoid four things: desire, greed, pride and attachment. Of course no one can do this completely. But we try.”

In 1951 Chinese Army, called People’s Liberation Army, invaded Tibet under the pretext of reforming and modernizing the country. Many a monasteries were destroyed and ancient religious texts burnt. When Passang’s monastery came under pressure from Chinese, he decided to give up his monastic vows and take up arms to defend his people and his faith. He took up his old rifle that he used to use to protect his herd of yaks and dri when he was a shepherd and ran off from the monastery. Chinese went to his home and tortured his mother for days so that she would reveal where her son had gone, or so that he would come and give himself up. But Tashi Passang, then 16 years old was hiding in the mountains and it was months later he came to know of what had happened to his family. He went to Lhasa joined the Tibetan resistance movement. He became part of the group that was responsible of taking Dalai Lama safely to the border into India. This is when he received the news that his mother had died. He wanted to fight the Chinese but of course he and his fellow monks with their old rifles could not stand against the tanks and fighter planes of the Chinese. They too along with Dalai Lama crossed the border and came into India. Living in exile, in a small wooden hut in the Indian Himalayas Tashi Passang now around 80 years old, prints prayer flags in an attempt to atone for the violence he committed after he joined the Tibetan resistance. He has become a monk once again and spends his time praying.

“My conscience was very troubled by what I had seen and what I had done… the war never seems to be about right and wrong. It is because some politicians that people have to suffer and to kill. Compared to Tibet there are relatively few prayer flags in Dharamsala, and many of them are badly printed, often not even written correctly. I knew all the mantras from my training as a monk and decided I would try to make well printed flags. I thought I could now live a calm and peaceful life. Every day now, I recite the mantras of repentance. We are told if you really regret your actions, and repent… it is possible for bad karma to be removed.”

“I am especially fortunate that of late I feel I have conquered the hate I used to feel for the Chinese. Dalai Lama is always preaching that it is not the Chinese but the hate itself that is our biggest enemy. Ever since the Chinese tortured my mother, I felt a deep hatred for them, and was always striving for violent retaliation. Whenever I saw a Chinese restaurant in India, I would want to throw stones at it. Even the colour red would make me boil with anger at what Chinese had done. But after I heard Dalai Lama say we must defeat hatred, I determined that I would try to eat a Chinese meal in a Chinese restaurant to cure myself of this rage.”

“So one day when on pilgrimage in Bodhgaya, I saw a small Chinese restaurant by the roadside. It was run by two Chinese women – an old woman of seventy and her daughter who must have been around forty. I went in there one evening and ordered some noodles. I must say they were delicious. After I had eaten, I thanked the mother and asked her to sit down with me so we could talk. I asked, “Where are you from?” and she replied, “From China. It turned out her father was killed by the Mao’s soldiers at the Cultural Revolution, and her relations had fled to Hong Kong and then to Calcutta. By this stage she was weeping as she told me how her family had suffered. I told her my story. After that we both burst into tears and hugged each other. Since then I have free from my hatred of all things and people Chinese.”

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