Part 2 of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Jangchub Lamrim teachings will be held December 25, 2013 to January 3, 2014 at Sera Monastery in Bylakuppe, India. You should have submitted your PAP application, or, if you haven’t, you should do so as soon as possible. Judging by the negative experiences of people who showed up at the 2012 teachings without PAPs, you absolutely have to have one ready to show to the security police. Plan on arriving a day earlier, maybe even two days in case of travel delays. You may need to visit the local police station to have your papers stamped.
The official Jangchub Lamrim website has an excellent list of things to bring: http://www.jangchuplamrim.org/travel-guide/items-to-bring/. I’d like to add a few ideas based on my visit in 2012. I stayed at Gaden monastery in the monks’ quarters.
- an inflatable camping mat comes in handy for sitting on the floor, for a little added comfort sleeping in the dorm (the monks’ mattresses are very thin), on the plane as a back support, and is a great way to make friends because you can share with someone who doesn’t have a cushion.
- a small travel thermos for hot beverages
- a knife, fork, and spoon — prevents getting communal colds – a lot of people got sick and germs spread because it looked as though the dishes at the monastery were washed in cold water
- a bowl and plate
- a quick drying camping towel
- bug spray (the good kind that works) just to be on the safe side; malaria is found in many parts of India
- a mosquito tent – okay, i might seem paranoid, but this was suggested by an Indian friend who uses one when he goes home. There are more creepy crawlers than just mosquitos – roaches that rival the big guys in New York City, bees, etc., and the net keeps all of them out
- a head lamp for going to the restroom at night and if you’ll be sharing a room
- ear plugs for a snoring room mate and street noise
- headset instead of ear buds — after 6+ hours of teachings a day, wearing ear plugs was painful. Also, the speakers were incredibly loud and so I had to turn the volume on my radio up extra high in order to hear the English translator. Ear buds are known to be hazardous because they sit deep in the ear canal. A headset would be a safer choice. Now I’ve experienced a loss of hearing as a result (yes, I realize that hearing loss resulting from receiving a transmission of the Lam Rim from His Holiness isn’t so bad, but still….)
- consider bringing a device for purifying water – the bottled water is safe, but anything else is suspect.
- hand sanitizer / hand wipes – a MUST!
- toilet paper – may or may not be available depending on where you stay and where you travel
- First Aid kit – bandaids etc. as well as diarrhea medicine, cold and allergy medicine, pain/headache relief
- an extra bag – in 2012, beautiful 5 or 6 volume sets of the Jangchub Lamrim teachings (hardcover) were given out for free. I didn’t have room in my bag to bring back a complete set.
- flip flops for taking showers
- soap for washing your clothes, your dishes
- a few extra passport sized photos (there are photo shops in India where you can get photos made for next to nothing compared to in the U.S.)
- small gifts for the young monks
You can buy a basic cell phone in India if you need to make international calls home or to keep in touch with friends staying elsewhere. I think I paid about $20 U.S. and then you pay for minutes by buying top-up cards.
That’s all I can think of for now.
Oh, one more thing, during the 2012 teachings, His Holiness gave some commentary on the lamrim texts, but due to the length of the texts, most of the time was an oral transmission. Some of the attendees were surprised if not disappointed, so I just thought I’d mention it.
Have a good trip!