Before heading to the Stupa, my breakfast sitting in the front window of the hotel brings about the same heart-swelling buzz today as it does every day. Most repetitious things get boring quickly, but I can't imagine this feeling ever losing its flavor. The joy and goodness radiating from the people walking by on the street continues to astound me. This is too powerful to just be my marijuana and cigarette withdrawals—and it is a lot more fun. I have had both minor and major league withdrawal symptoms from various substances before. None were joyful, and even the most severe ones were rarely as powerful.
Clouds of devotional smoke offerings melt into the overcast sky as monks distribute blessings at the Stupa. This is day three of Losar. The thousands of prayer flags strung to the Stupa are being replaced. The past year’s flags are usually burned in ceremonial fashion when the new ones go up. These flags are of different sizes ranging from a few inches square to gigantic. Most have a picture of a deity on them. Each has a prayer printed on it that is associated with the picture, often in the form of a mantra or little story. “Prayer” isn’t really the right word to use here. “Aspiration” would be more accurate. Again, Buddhism doesn't look for any god living in the sky to accomplish feats for humans. No god of compassion is going to drop a thunderbolt from the sky into some evil jackass and turn him into a saint. The idea with the flags is the same idea mentioned previously in regard to the mantras themselves. By focusing on the symbolic deity and the literal mantra or story on each flag, a person absorbs that quality and actually becomes, to some extent, its positive message. It is sort of a commercial for goodness, which is a product everyone here is looking to buy. The flags are also thought to send these aspirations out across the world as they wave in the breeze.
In addition to the usual reverence practiced on the grounds, people are singing and dancing in circular groups on and around the Stupa itself today. Sherpas climb precarious steps to the upper levels where the public is forbidden to go. They carry massive piles of multicolored prayer flags on their backs. These are strung from the top of the structure to points around the lower levels as the singing, dancing, and blessing below goes on all day. Garlands of orange flowers are strung around the entire girth of the structure at different levels, and the few spots left unpainted on Day One are now covered with white wash. Monks chant, drum, and trumpet from the main temple facing the Stupa, as well as from the second tier of the Stupa structure itself.
What The F**k Just Happened?
As all this goes on, I am involved in some things that are very, very strange. Actually, I'm not sure just how much I am involved. Yes, I’m physically present, and am no doubt seen by passersby as being involved in the incidents. But although my body is here, it feels a lot more like something passing through me is directing my participation in these incidents. Things similar to this must have happened to you at some point in your life. Have you ever done something, and when it was over felt more like you were carried through the process as opposed to walking through it all by yourself? Have you ever worked on something, then sort of found it completed instead of feeling as if you had personally completed it? I have written full chapters at night and awakened in the morning without a solid memory of writing them. I read them, like them, but only bits, pieces, and a few phrases look familiar. It feels as if someone else has written them and just used my fingers and computer to accomplish the process. Several other folks have described similar instances to me, so maybe the following incidents are not so unusual!
I take two herbal muscle relaxer capsules (Passion Flower) and a 600 mg. ibuprofen for back and hip problems before going to the Stupa on this Losar Day Three.
A very unusually crazed guy is ranting by the benches of the pigeon section as I approach it. Several people are scared off the benches by him. A half dozen dogs are barking wildly and approaching him. For some bizarre reason that still escapes me, I go sit down on the bench right in front of him. I wave off the dogs and tell them out loud, but in a quiet voice, to calm down and that everything is alright. It seems the herbal muscle relaxers are doing their job well! Much to my surprise the dogs back off for a minute or two. It is long enough for me to commence an “I love you”meditation and project it at the guy that is screaming in my face in the Nepali language. He keeps screaming and the dogs go back to barking and approaching. I keep smiling with a glazed stare while silently throwing love at the man, and gently waving the dogs back a few more times while all this is going on.
After five minutes of this, the man calms down, smiles at me while pointing to the Stupa and says in broken English, “Guess should walk around.” He wanders off and the dogs relax. I snap out of my meditation. All I can think is “What the f**k just happened!?!” A few locals are staring at me as if they are thinking the same thing. The nearest I can come up with is that the energy of the monks, nuns, and Stupa used me for a few minutes to do what needed to be done. As this thought crosses my mind, one of the dogs winks at me. The wink sends a blissful but spooky shiver up my spine. Folks in the old neighborhood in Brooklyn used to have a very colorful saying when faced with a situation so baffling that there is nothing sensible to say about it. “I didn’t know whether to shit or turn purple.”
Before I have a chance to get up and walk off, two boys, each about ten years old and both on one bicycle, start riding around the benches. They both look like they haven't taken a bath or washed their clothes in a month. They are boisterous enough to shake up the dogs. The Stupa is not a place where loud beggar kids riding bicycles usually hang out. Kids acting like these are usually on the street where I live, and the other “spokes of the wheel” streets that branch off from the central hub that is the Stupa itself. The hub itself is a serene area that rarely sees the kind of action that I have seen there during the past few days. But the kids are cool and fun to be around. They remind me of the wiseass I used to be as a teenaged beggar on the streets of New York City. We start playing and talking. One at a time, they pop wheelies for me and I applaud them. I again seem to calm the dogs a few times, but they keep coming back to bark at the kids every minute or two. They are not at all used to this kind of disturbance on their Stupa grounds! After about fifteen minutes of play, I give the kids two hundred Rupees (@ $1.75 US), a grandfatherly smack on the ass, and tell them to bug off and go get some food—reminding them that they should not be disturbing dogs in the Stupa area, or anywhere else. Much to my surprise, they listen and leave the grounds. Again I am left with the thought, “What the f**k just happened?” Again, locals are staring.
I head out of the Stupa grounds, but the fun isn’t over yet! Thinking maybe some food will level me off, I stop into a noodle shop. It is about halfway between the Stupa and my hotel, on the same side of the street as the hotel and across the street from the Thar Lam monastery.
I walk into the noodle shop and find only one available table. It is backed against the front wall a little too tightly for a big guy like me to fit into either of the chairs jammed under it. At this point I'm so disoriented that I have a little trouble pulling the very light-weight table away from the wall. A stocky woman yells at me in a rude voice, “It is simple!” Dolma is the woman's name. She is the owner, fierce, and obviously tired and overworked. She goes to sit down at the far end employees table for twenty seconds, yawns, rubs her eyes, then gets up to work again. Without any thought of doing it arising in my brain, again on some kind of automatic pilot, I do a love meditation and direct it at her. It is a very similar situation to the one involving the ranting guy at the Stupa benches. Within a few minutes, she seems to calm and perk up a bit. A monk that has just finished eating goes over to Dolma to pay for his noodles. Catching her eye from the other end of the restaurant, I wave, make a wagging no-no sign with my index finger, and then point at myself to indicate that I will pay for him. She says “Good!” loud enough for me to hear it and then explains to the monk. He thanks me on his way out.
By the time I’m on my way out, the lunch rush is over and the place has calmed down a bit. As I go to pay and leave, Dolma invites me to sit at the employee table with her and the others. She gives me some free and very tasty tea. We talk for a while about life, America, and a few other things before I leave.
Heading down the street toward my hotel, I notice that my Love mantra has become a “What-the-f**k-just-happened?” mantra.
***If you missed the Introduction to the book that will be titled Temple Dog Soldier and contains the above chapter, or would like to see several other chapters that are available for free online, go to the Puppy website blog section at www.fearlesspuppy.info, or check out fearlesspuppy at Wordpress.com, or send email requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a book in progress. You are reading it as it is being created! Just like you, I don’t know what the next chapter is going to be about until it is written. As the Intro will tell you, this is a totally true story and the only book ever written about an around the world voyage being made by a corpse!***The books Fearless Puppy On American Road and Reincarnation Through Common Sense by this same author are also available through the www.fearlesspuppy.info website, as are free sample chapters from those books. Very entertaining tv/radio interviews with, and newspaper articles about, the author are also available there. There is no charge for anything but the complete books! Author profits from book sales will be donated to help sponsor an increase in the number of wisdom professionals on Earth, beginning with but certainly not exclusive to Buddhist monks and nuns.