Monks’ message keeps Tibetan culture alive

August 31, 2005

At the opening ceremony Friday of the day of “celebration of Tibetan culture with the monks of Gaden Shartse,” the colorfully garbed monks chanted and played traditional instruments to share a little of their disappearing culture with a small crowd at Overlook Park. The sounds produced were somber; the long horns’ unimaginably low tones combined with percussion instruments and the monks’ low, slow chanting.

In a question-and-answer session after the ceremony, the monks said that they live in exile in a refugee camp in southern India. One of the monks at the camp spent three months walking out of Tibet, only at night, to reach the camp, and spent one 10-day stretch surviving only on grass.

They said before the Communist China occupation of Tibet, every third person in that country was either a monk or a nun. Their own monastery was destroyed, as many others have been. The last time some of them had been to Tibet was 1959.

Following the ceremony, the monks demonstrated the ancient art of sand mandala in the meeting room of the library. Due to the short time frame, the mandala was an “abbreviated” one — a formal mandala would be much larger and would take four days to complete.

The mandala represents the “palace of enlightened being.” Once the sand picture was completed, the monks held a dissolution ceremony, sweeping the intricate design made of colored sands into a pile in the center of the table and distributing it to onlookers to disburse anywhere they wanted to bring blessings to.

The community potluck was “packed,” according to Joan Yasui Emerson, through whose contacts the monks’ visit was made possible, and the evening event was also well attended.

“Rinpoche asked me to express his deepest appreciation to all the local folks who had made the day truly special,” she wrote in a thank-you to people who had helped with the event. “He said he could feel the good energy and spirit among us, and said he felt Hood River was a beautiful, peaceful ‘God place’ to which he would like to return. When I asked him if they might be touring some year in the future, he said (through his interpreter), ‘I don’t mean in the future; I would like to come for a visit in this beautiful place after we leave Eugene!’”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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