Hello Again Friends!
Or Julley! As they say up here in Ladakhi territory.
I hope this email finds everyone happy and healthy and enjoying life.
It’s all coming full circle for me. I meet up with The Compassionate Leaders, which is the program that brought me to India the first time, in 5 short days. We will be volunteering at the biggest and if not the most sacred of all Buddhist teachings. It starts on the 3rd of July and there are 150,000-200,000 people expected. It is called the Kalachakra Initiation and it will be held at His Holiness The Dalai Lama’s residence, just outside of Leh, Ladakh.
Theres nothing like starting your day with a cup of salt tea and a little game of basketball. Right now, I am staying at The Jamyang School- where we built a greenhouse two years ago. The first day I arrived here I was told I would be filling in for a teacher who had taken leave and I could teach whatever I pleased. I decided that teaching English was probably the most appropriate. I was surprised and nervous and a little scared…. But it was great. The kids and I laughed and played games and practiced speaking English. I only taught for about a week and a half but I can confidently say this has now become a high light of my trip. It is a very special school because it was founded by His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama. The school is home to about 200 children ranging from 3 years of age to 16 years of age. The students come from remote villages. Some of the children are orphans; others come from the poorest families who are unable to take care of them. Many had never seen a doctor or enjoyed three meals a day before they joined The Jamyang School. It is really a magical place and I am so grateful to be here and be a part of it.
To make a cup of tea you need milk, sugar and tea leaves. So you go to the store and buy fresh wholesome milk, organic raw sugar and tea leaves that are pure and good. But even with the best ingredients- all in the pot, it’s not going to turn into tea by itself. Not without a flame, not with without fire under it.
It is the same with these children at this school, and with me and with you. We must all have some kind of a flame under us, something motivating us, something to make all the ingredients come together.
What pops into my mind is my school and The Compassionate Leaders. I have them to thank. The Sage School and The Flourish Foundation both took a glass of not so good milk, a cup of decent sugar and a handful of average tea leaves and they put a flame under me. Without these two there is no way I would be the person I am today. I can’t tell you if I am a cup of tea yet but I can say that without a trellis to grow on, a vine will never rise above the ground.
This has been a great adventure.
I love you all and I will be seeing you soon.
P.S. I am up at 11,500 ft right now!
My Dearest Loved Ones,
I hope everyone is happy and healthy and enjoying the new life of spring!
I think one of my greatest challenges on my trip thus far, has been dragging myself into an internet cafe. I have been telling myself everyday for the last two weeks that I will go and check my emails and do other internet things. I am writing you this email on my phone, seeing that I have not actually made it into a internet cafe…
I have moved North and I am now staying in a town called Dharamsala. It is home to hundreds of Tibetan Buddhist Monks and it is where His Holiness The Dalai Lama took refugee after he was exiled from Tibet. It is a beautiful place, up here and the people are very kind. I have learned so much about Tibetan culture and the suffering of those in Tibet. The ones that have made it to India are blessed. May we all pray for the Tibetan people and for peace with China. I been here about 15 days. I took the train up here and I am just going to keep heading North as it gets hotter and hotter. I am also half way through this wonderful, challenging, inspirational trip. I completed my 3 month volunteer commitment with smiling faces and hands waving goodbye and wishing me the best of luck. I would stay I spent a third of my time working on the yoga festival, a third of my time working on the ashram data base and a third of my time working on miscellaneous activities.. Such as planting trees, working on the organic farm, or doing Ganga clean up stuff. It was an unforgettable experience and I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity. I interacted with beautiful, strong, big hearted people who taught me about Indian culture and the pure love that builds it’s foundation. I spent my time with people who are dedicated and devoted to helping others. This is the drive and motivation which determines their every thought and action. I truly worked with extraordinarily caring and giving men and women. And they really shared a lot with me.
“The only power that has any real meaning is the power to better the world.” – Gregory David Roberts (Shantaram)
A good friend once pointed out to me that her favorite part of oldies music-songs from the 70’s and 80’s is the anticipation. It is the lead in. The time before the chorus, before the lyrics even. Christopher Robin once asked Pooh:
“What do you like doing best in the world, Pooh?”
“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best…” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.
And perhaps we can call this something like awareness… So just like this, I am really enjoying the process or the journey you might call it. Because when one can let go of the need to do and the need not to waste time and the need to change things that are going on outside oneself, this is when we can begin to take time to enjoy our surroundings and appreciate being alive. As the poet Lu Yu wrote:
The clouds above us join and separate,
The breeze in the courtyard leaves and returns.
Life is like that, so why not relax?
Who can stop us from celebrating?
And so on this note, I will leave you. Be well and take in the natural, wonderful, unbelievable, beauty that is life. I will keep filling you in on the various adventures I embark on. May you all be healthy and happy.
Always with love,
Dearest Friends, I have decided today is the day to write this email. It feels like it has been so long…I have so many amazing stories to share and there are so many adventures I have embarked on since my last email. First though, I want to thank all of you. If you are reading this email now, it means you have had some kind of an impact on my life. I have been so fortunate and lucky…and a lot of that has to do with that fact that I have had such awesome people to create memories with. You have all taught me about the world by just being in it. Alright..anyways…about me… The yoga festival was fricken sweet. It was crazy and busy and beautiful. There were people from all across the globe here. I really had a blast. The week following the yoga fest was great too. I went to this abandoned Ashram that is referred to as the Beatles Ashram because the Beatles spent time here in the sixties. That was amazing. I also went river rafting on Mother Ganga. Such a wild ride… But I must tell you, the greatest adventure of all……it is me. It is learning about myself and the way I perceive the world. It is watching myself and my emotions and the way I attach or reject things. Perhaps this is the greatest adventure in life. The thing is, there is really nothing to hold onto. Our lives are fundamentally groundless. This is not an obstacle but a blessing. When we are able to see this, we are able to see the beauty and bliss in every moment…no matter the circumstances or situation. I hope you are all happy and well. I so much look forward to hearing from you. May you all be in peace. With all my love, Lena Marie
Jai Gange! Hello Friends! I feel like I have been writing this email for days… in my head…I have. Good news! The monkeys and I are in peace. I respect them. They respect me. All is well. Today is beautiful! I am having a wonderful day. This morning I went to Aarti at 5 AM and yoga at 7 AM. Then breakfast at 8. One of my friends and I walked along the Ganga after breakfast. Her name is Priya and she is sevak too. We climbed over big boulders and through the water and into town. We chose to travel next to the river, even though there is a nice, cleanish, path. It was fun. The Ganga is so gorgeous and huge. The water is an amazing color and, for the most part, it is very calm. It is wonderful that I am in the mountains and along the river. Just like home! Now, I sit in the office. Which is nice and cool. The last few days I have been helping people register for the yoga festival online. I have also created a huge document of the people who are coming and when they are coming and when they are leaving. Yesterday, I washed all my laundry. Sheets and clothes. Then I hung them on the roof to dry. I felt like I used so much water. When you use a washing machine your don’t see the water that goes into cleaning your clothes so you don’t really think about how much water it really takes. I also scrubbed my floor and cleaned my whole (little) room. It is nice and clean now. I just got a room mate. She is from Australia and she is a sevak too. Her name is Sam and she is only here for about 3 weeks. We have about 500 people coming to the ashram within the next 5 days. So everyone is very busy around here. I am very excited for the yoga festival. There are amazing people coming here from all around the world. It is going to be awesome. I am doing very well here. I am healthy and happy. “Everyday is a good day”, as everyone says around here. I am so thankful, I am where I am. I am exposed to such amazing people and learning wonderful things. India is so different in every aspect. As I started telling people before I left who questioned me and my choice of going to India instead of the Caribbean or Hawaii, I told them India is the last place you would want to go on vacation. But this is not a vacation for me. Because sun tans fade. Instead, I am gaining things that I will bring home with me. A way to live. Anyways, I love you all. I hope you are all happy and healthy. I would love to hear some about you too! I look forward to talking with you after the Internationalal Yoga Festival. With light and blessings, Lena Marie
Jai Gange! Hello Again Friends! I hope you are all happy and well. I sure am! I made it safe and sound to India and to the Ashram. Just incase you have not had the opportunity to look up where I am staying…here is the link to Parmarth Niketan…my home : ) http://www.parmarth.com/ As I wake every morning at 4:30 AM to the mantras being chanted along the holy banks of the Ganga, I know the sun will be breaking dawn soon. The river and the chai make my days go round here. Rishikesh is one the most beautiful places I have ever been. The Ashram is so wonderful, light and love radiate from the inside out.The town is cut into the side of the mountains along the river. It is cute and small and only accessible by motor bike or on two feet. Stray cows, cats, and dogs walk the streets day and night. This afternoon, I was almost attached for the second time by a monkey. They are really viscous creatures and hold a lot of anger in their little bodies. My room is on the roof so I can hear them fighting at night. I am deathly afraid of them and their very sharp teeth. My room gets a lot of light in the day and my bed is about 5 or 6 inches thick (more then I was expecting). I just discovered, with the help of a friend, how to work the hot water heater so I took my first hot shower yesterday! It was awesome. For my service work, I have been doing a lot for the upcoming International Yoga Festival that will be hosted here the first week of March. I have made many new friends and I feel comfortable and safe here. I’m still struggling a little with the jetlag though. “Seva” is service work. “Seva teaches and trains us to see the Divine in everything. Seva is not about “us” serving “them.” It is not about “we” who are privileged giving to “them” who are disadvantaged. Seva is practice of seeing them as us.” “There is no way to determine where love ends and service begins. When the love is true and pure, service is the most natural expression of it.” -Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati With Light and Blessings… and of course Love, Lena Marie
Dear Divine Soul, I am in my new home! In India! I can’t even describe how beautiful it is here. I feel so grateful and blessed! There are only so many words to explain India and this great new life I am living here. And thinking about it now..There are no words that can do any justice to this place and the many experiences I am having. But keep believing in me and in yourself and pray! I love you! Know I am well and being taken very good care of!! “I want peace. I want peace,’ you say. Just remove the ‘I’ and the “Want,” and only peace will remain.” -H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji With great love, Lena Marie P.S.- Colby what is your address?
Hello Friends! As I sit looking out over the the San Francisco Bay the water is still, but I know there is movement deep below. It is beautiful. I guess this could be a good analogy for me right now. Although I sit here still, there is something churning in my soul. Things are changing for me. There is movement under the surface. I am heading to the airport in just a few hours. India bound. It will become my home for a short while. I know there is greatness there and I know there are things for me to learn there. -The best way to reach me will be via email. Thank you all for making memories and embarking on adventures with me. This one is for me alone. I will make more friends and new memories. Great things will come. Be well all. And remember I love you! Until next time, Lena Marie P.S.- For Gwennie.. Dear Hommie, What up. What up. P.S.S.- Everything’s okay- Lena is in India.