Kalachakra: Dalai Lama’s 10-Day Teaching in Bodhgaya

By Dr. Kazuko Hillyer.

New York, N.Y. After unbelievable trips to five countries this fall – Argentina, Japan, Peru, Mexico, and Israel – I was ready looking forward to taking 36 international friends to Bodhgaya, India for the Dalai Lama’s teaching and initiation of Kalachakra.   The rumor was going around that this might be the last Kalachakra of this 14th Dalai Lama.

His Holiness presiding over the Kalachakra ritual in Bodh Gaya, India.
Photo courtesy of Norbu Wangyal of www.phayul.com.

On the way back from Bodhgaya, at the Delhi Airport, I have fallen ill, and I have been very sick ever since with high fever and aches all over the body and, of course, coughing and sneezing like everybody else.   I have gone to the E.R. of Roosevelt Hospital, but luckily I did not have TB, but rather bacterial pneumonia.   I stayed in bed for six days and couldn’t even get to the computer.   I have worried how everyone else is doing.

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Photo: Jim Luce.

What an experience!   No one expected it to have been like this!   Even the Kalachakra organizers did not imagine such a huge crowd, estimated up to 500,000, would descend on Bodh Gaya.   And it seems like everyone got sick.

I thank everyone who came to His Holiness’ Kalachakra with me.   It was, in spite of all the troubles, a great and wonderful learning experience.   Such good teaching does not come easily.   I consider Dalai Lama’s messages as a huge challenge we all must face for the coming year; WORLD PEACE.   It has to start within OURSELVES, how to deal with each person and every incident in our daily lives.   Compassion is the KEY.

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The bodhi tree where Prince Siddhartha sat to find enlightened, becoming the Buddha.
Photo: Jim Luce.

At the beginning of this year, 2012, we must consider sending the energy of our compassion all over the world.   Compassion means to understand the problems of others and to ACT UPON solving these problems as if they were our own.

On the third day of the Kalachakra, His Holiness us to memorize the “Eight Verses on Mind Training” (pp. 97-98 of the green book), and to act on them every day.   This came as a shock to me because on exactly that day I was struggling with this!

When I encounter beings of unpleasant character and those oppressed by intense negativity and suffering, as though finding a treasure of precious jewels, may I cherish them, for they are so rarely found.

When others, out of jealousy, treat me wrongly with abuse and slander, may I take upon myself the defeat and offer to others the victory.

Even if someone I have helped or in whom I have placed great hope gravely mistreats me in hurtful ways, may I view him as my sublime teacher.

I felt like being hit by the lightening!   How does he know?   I thought, This was very hard to hear, as I was so angered at one individual on December 29 who changed all the plans we had built by hard work over the past six months.

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His Holiness presiding over the Kalachakra ritual in Bodh Gaya, India.
Photo: Jim Luce.

I faced this problem only upon our arrival at Gaya airport.   I was utterly shocked!   This person, not knowing anything, wrote to Lama Thupten – the representative of the Dalia Lama taking care of our group – the most horrible e-mail stating that, in essence, we could not stay in the guest house we had reserved (I don’t know why!   It was fine, clean, and far better than any Kalachakra accommodation in India I had ever attended).

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The Japanese sculptor Junkyo Muto’s “Circle Wind” is on permanent display at the
temple in Bodh Gaya. Photo: Jim Luce.

Lama Thupten could not reach me as I was already on the plane and, in spite of his most busy schedule as one of the main organizers of this event, he worked whole day on December 30th desperately to find us other hotels.

Lama Thupten and I chose our original guest house in June, negotiating an unbelievable inexpensive price.   The reasons for choosing it were:

We had meeting room all to ourselves to do any internal programs at any time.

We brought two cooks and some members of the wonderful orphanage children to take care of us.   We were safe with our property and delicious clean food.   Rooms were clean.

The guest house had promised us hot water, but in India sometime things don’t happen as planned.   I heard other hotels also had hot water problems.   The hot water came on after three days.

The price was about 1/3 of the other hotels.   During Kalachakra, hotel prices are usually ten times the normal rate in Bodhgaya!   And the guest house was near to the Kalachakra ground

We reserved and paid for 25 rooms way back in June and I was very happy.   But, upon arrival, the whole plan went out the window.   I was suddenly faced with $16,900 of extra charges for two additional hotels.   I paid in everything in advance because I had heard that they don’t take credit cards in Bodhgaya and that once can only withdraw Rs 10,000 (US$200) per day from ATMs.

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The Dalia Lama presented his teachings at the Kalachakra in Bodh Gaya, India.
Photo: Jim Luce.

I had no extra cash.   The two hotels demanded cash in advance.   They told us that they would lock up our rooms otherwise.   When we went to pay the deposit on these hotels, the rate was changed to Rs 8,000!   We went back to our original hotels, but by this time, they had booked 14 rooms to others for double the money we already paid in full!

We were left only 11 rooms for our use!   As you can imagine, my stay upon arriving in Bodh Gaya became a daily nightmare!   These local people had no morals.   I was totally lost.   Bodhgaya is in Bihar, the poorest state in India.   It is the place of the Shakamuni Buddha’s Enlightenment, but Buddhist population is less than 1%.

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Our group outside the Tibetan Monetary where we had an audience with the Dalai Lama.
Photo: Mr. Yoshimitsu Nagasaka.

By end of our stay, when I had no solution, the wonderful people of our group came to rescue me with Huge Compassion.   All in all, they raised almost US $10,000 donation in cash and pledged of few thousand dollars more to supplement our donation to the Dalai Lama’s Manjushree Orphanage.   Earlier, I sent funds to this orphanage for children’s winter boots and warm underwear for use during the cold Himalayan winter.   For those who pledged to help, please you may make your tax-deductible check payable to Tibet House U.S. and send it to my office.

But why did such difficulty have to have happened so suddenly?   I can only think that this was a training and challenge from the universe on how to be able to understand and practice the Dalai Lama’s teaching (Number 6).

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Our group had an Audience in Bodh Gaya with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
Photo courtesy of Mr. Yoshimitsu Nagasaka.

Because of our wonderful, compassionate friends, I was not only able to solve this but also able to think of the “awful” friend who caused all this trouble as “my supreme teacher.”   I am now able to send him energy of gratitude for this incredible life learning.

The only one thing I feel sorry about is that I had failed to have everyone fully understand that this was a learning trip, not a sightseeing trip.   Whatever happened, one must have considered it as a material for spiritual teaching.   I am hoping everyone who went, in different degrees, has received some important spiritual teaching from this unbelievably difficult but unforgettable learning experience of Kalachakra in Bodhgaya India, 2012.     The Dalai Lama’s teachings were absolutely incredible throughout 10 days.

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Dr. Kazuko Hillyer at Vulcan’s Peak, Rajgir, India site of The Buddha’s second sermon.
Photo: Jim Luce.

I would like to thank each and every member of our group so much.   As a team, we worked incredibly hard, and we learned so much in spite of the so many difficulties that we faced.   My warmest and deepest gratitude and compassion to you all.

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The Editors
The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness is the communications platform of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation (www.lucefoundation.org). There are now more than 100 contributors around the world to this publication.

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