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China: By Journalists Eye XVI.: Ta'er Monastery 1

Published: 1.9.2012
Again our bus is going on the new highway, which I'd read that it was probably built for only one reason - to make available the Tibetan Buddhist monastery Ta'er. And really, this time not waiting for us any boneshaker dirt road and conveniently parked outside the gates of a large complex at the foot of greenish mountains.

Suddenly we are among white stone buildings with russet roofs, among them are palaces, temples with golden arches, many built as terraces over them. We pass the pilgrims, who are a colourful assortment of all walks of life and nationalities. Virtually everyone holding a prayer wheel mani khorlo, with which mainly older people incessantly spinning. I ask our guide, what does this mean, and I find out that each turn of the little mill sends a prayer to heaven and the owner confirms the journey to the next life, which he wants to reincarnate in a better being.

In few moments I feel like I'm in one of the past century. Llamas in burgundy robes and clink brass bells standing around or through all around us, before entering temples sit beggars in tattered rags, dozens of women with braids kneeling on the ground, hands weeded forward and provided a kind of wooden pads on the palms, puts the whole body on the ground and inch of the ground to a standing position. Mechanically it repeated many times in a row. It is said to also the preparing for reincarnation.

Here no one look at us strange way, we are not a rarity in the monastery are obviously used to tourists, including those from the west. Although we do not meet any such, but Chinese youngsters in baseball caps and girls in dress with umbrellas over their heads are proof of a vibrant tourism industry. For a fee, of course, which caters to our guide, we enter into the very heart of one of the temples. We are in the twilight of low buildings in a sort of lobby, which is decorated with hundreds of Buddha statues, there's a smell of incense smoke and the smell of yak butter specific - this is fill for lamps that are constantly lit before each of Buddhist statues.

The walls are decorated with thangkas, some relics you can see just behind the glass case. We walk into the next room, which is just as dark, no windows and at first glance it is clear that this is a bedroom of monks. In long rows side by side is a wooden bed on them multicoloured pillows or blankets, all tinged with the smell never ventilated space. It makes me a little dizzy, and I am glad to find myself outdoors - in the courtyard of the temple, which is surrounded on all sides by stone archways lead from there and narrow winding streets toward the other buildings of the complex. Atrium is used for meditation as well as prayer, under the arcades are spaced pads on them and dozens of monks who either sit motionless, or lie down on his knees and rise again - nourishing exercises, many of them have pretty dewy forehead.

With interest and respect for the complete silence watching (we got command) life in the monastery, emotionally moving on to far into the past, when there are a lot of fast-discuss - you will hear the sound of a typical mobile phone, and I stare at the monk kneeling near the corner, as interrupts his contemplation, peace and mobile lifts hushed voice discussion with someone. His head got a little tangled - with whom you can talk about a Tibetan monk? This I won´t know, unfortunately,...

Another walk thru Palace but shows, however, that this was not an isolated phenomenon.  We meet monks everywhere and I see more and more with the phone to your ear. When we come out of the temple, shiny Mercedes passed us, obviously full of shaven heads in burgundy robes. We could see an interesting combination of millennial religious traditions and innovations of the 21st century.

I would like a photo of a monk, but only to one of them and sneak hint of what I want, waving a dismissive hand. Will move a bit further on the vast square, and suddenly I see two monks with the guy in the straw hat alongside grinning into the camera lens. Came my moment and head there - luckily I notice material circumstances – hiker gave each of them note as farewell. Resolve to try the same method and my success - I and the residents of the mythical Buddhist monastery Ta'er are immortalized.

Text/photo: Andrea Fantová


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