Another absolutely amazing and arduous journey to Zanskar to attend and photograph the Dalai Lama’s teachings. His last teaching here was in 2009.
His Holiness is an astonishing energy and presence. It felt as if the whole of Zanskar valley lit up when his helicopter arrived and remained that way until he left. A very special tingle in the air. At the teachings, which lasted 3-4 hours, his attention never wavered. He was fully engaged on various levels at once, his face in continuous animation, and his mind alert and focused, even during translation time. And his famous giggly laughter is a thrill to witness.
People from the farthest reaches of Zanskar made the pilgrimage, as well as all the Zanskarpa monastics, many people from Ladakh, and a handful of random foreigners and Indian tourists. I got a media pass and was very close to him while photographing (same like 2009), but this year I felt His Holiness and I had a direct connection with one another. People say he has an uncanny ability to make one feel like this. I was certainly ready to “meet” him in whatever way, and felt that we did. We were both beaming (and I’m definitely much clearer, happier and “awake” now than I was in 2009).
The Dalai Lama’s words certainly resonate with my experiences and learning in Asia over the past five years, especially the concepts of no-self and emptiness. Fittingly for me, he talked about the importance of teaching and passing the torch to the younger generation. (I found the Buddha’s Eightfold Path extremely helpful while teaching in Burma.) And while I haven’t been consciously looking for a religion for myself in Asia, I was looking for a path to positive change, transformation and a richer level of engagement with life and other people, which is exactly what Buddhism is. At is core, Buddhism is simply a brilliant code for living a sane, full and heartfelt life based on one’s own direct experiences and capacities, and it makes so much sense and is so interesting that I see no reason not to continue down this path. So, Buddhism it is!
I made many photos at the event. These should give you an idea…