during the summer, the interns decided to take a video us doing the limbo, during a break from work. since i fell to the floor on my back during my try, i decided to do what i do better, urdvha danurasana, shown here at the end.
my next set of pictures is on an important cultural center but it takes me a long time to organize the pictures. here is one from the set, a sculpture depicting the Amitahaba Buddha when he laid down to die. Shakyamuni is usually referred to as Amitahaba here. when it was time for him to depart this world, his disciples were in angst. this young man though he could comfort the Buddha by giving him a drink of his coconut water.
today we started a bit late our meditation get together. someone whom i had not met previously joined us. he had an admirably nice character. for a while, the room became a romper room, as a family with two young kids showed up and spent 30 minutes visiting the group. someone brought copious amounts of fruits, which we enjoyed prior to sitting on our meditation stools. some lessons today where, as usual, very ethereal in translation. one was that an ancient sutra document from the Tang dynasty was recently discovered. it had the effect that someone reading it could experience lofty thoughts, and different person reading it could experience lowly thoughts, but the truth was in the middle. I'm not sure what that means, but Buddhism is supposed to be the "middle path". another thought shared was that a particular influential teacher held a ruby in his hand when teaching. hmm, what would that mean? i don't know, but i'm the recipient of such jewels. i benefitted from sitting on the stool and meditating. tomorrow i might venture to check out the new shala, to do primary, and to know where it is, for when Amapola visits next week.
the next set of pictures require a lot of preparation because i need to explain what is depicted. so it will take a few days to get them ready. i feel a bit like the turtle in the pond shown here, making an effort.
this morning i practiced Intermediate, with Bakasana and friends. legs behind the head poses were stiff, but since i plan to be in third series territory in the next few days, the legs should become pliable.
i blabbed about this already, but here is a blow by blow follow up on this breaking story. my colleague ordered this folding yoga mat for me, essential for travel. it can easily fit on a rolling bag. it could be used while waiting at airports if a flight is delayed (something that happens often). in two weeks i have the opportunity to go to Cambodia with it and can try it out. i would like to fly on the mat to reach that country, but it might be more prudent to let the airline take me their in their equipment. it's less windy that way.
so, going back to my stories from Xi'an, this one is about additional massage capers. on the night we went to take night pictures of the city walls, i found a bonafide foot massage place across the street from the hotel. i read a confusing menu that included digestive stomach massage and therapeutic renal massage. i was discomfluxomed as i ordered a two hour combination foot massage and chinese massage. they asked me if i wanted a female or male therapist, in the words, "girl or boy?". i responded male. they ignored me and sent a female therapist. the massage was good but painful. i yelped at least once.
the following is a sensitive retelling of a story about problems that arise when there are cross-cultural and language translation differences. after a daylong hike in the mountains, i returned to the massage place with the intent of getting a regular oil massage, which is not painful. i chose what in the translation looked like an oil body massage. i was asked again for my choice of therapist. i requested a male therapist. the person asking me passed my request to the front desk attendant and called me a name. i let him know in Chinese that i understood what he called me. the front desk attendant took me to the therapy room and asked me, for a second time my choice of therapist. i repeated my answer. she asked me, "why?" and looked at the ceiling. i asked if there was a problem. she tossed the clothes i was to change into on the therapy furniture and ordered, "change!" after a few minutes, a therapist came with a pail of water for a foot massage. with the help of my pocket translator, i mentioned that i had requested an oil body massage. he said that no, i ordered a foot massage. he returned with the general manager, who was pleasant and spoke English. we read the service menu and i pointed to what i had selected. he explained that the translation in the menu was not correct. i had selected a foot massage that included an oil massage of the back. since i just wanted a body massage, he gave instructions to the therapist. they took away the water pail. my nerves where frattled. i figured later that foot massages are typically done by women, not men. i did not know that i ordered a foot massage because the translation said oil body massage. the reception staff should not have criticized me for my choice of therapist. in retrospect, the only thing to learn here is not to get upset when things like these arise because of translation problems.
Xi'an is an important epicenter of Chinese history. many dynasties established their capital here, including the Tang dynasty, during which the country excelled in cultural development. the city was the beginning of the silk road to Asia Minor. as is characteristic of ancient cities, there were massive walls built around it, with towers at every corner and major entrance gates at the compass points. my hotel was near the south gates. we climbed up the stairs to the ramparts and looked at the towers and the city below.
practice was good this morning, aided by candles and good nutrition practices lately. the candles light the little altars and the practice space. my practice is odd. vestiges of primary one day, parts of intermediate the next, sandwiched in between warm up poses, standing poses and closing poses. today i was in Kapotasana territory. next week i plan to be in third series poses, and the next in vinyasa krama territory. Amapola will be visiting from San Francisco the following week and i might practice with her in the new shala space one weekday morning, as we used to daily last year in Seven Petal Lotus' room.
since being in China my email correspondence has gotten so big i now have to put reminders on my calendar that i need to write someone in particular.
now, for some wu-hu stuff. for ancient Asian people, the day had 22 hours, not 24. you can infer from that that the missing 2 hours went into meditation. so if in modern life we spend two hours doing yoga or other practices, does that make our daily hours in contemporary life 22 as well? the first part was of the story was told to me by the teacher; the inference is mine.
after witnessing the fountain spectacle, we went to eat at a Japanese restaurant nearby. we ordered vegetarian dishes, although i think the cooks considered that to include fish. i am finding out what where the worm like things that did a little dance on top of the spinach, alive and looking for attention. i asked Bindi; she thought it could be bonito flakes. the restaurant was in one of the buildings you see here, which my colleague said where recently built in the style and dimensions of Tang Dynasty buildings. my thought is that the columns must be of steel because of their two story height. timbers of such height are not harvested presently. the first picture is of my friends T. and Z. Y., whom i accompanied later on in the week to Guang Xi province.
at the top of the fountains is the Temple of Great Maternal Grace, built in 648 during the Tang Dynasty. it has been recently renovated. many buildings are being built in the same style around the complex. the complex houses beautiful sculptures that have been carefully restored.
this is the location of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, a brick structure which is regarded as the symbol of the city. it was built in 652 AD. it has a 5m high base and reaches 64.5m in height. it was built to house Buddhist scriptures collected by the Chinese monk Xuan Zang, who spent 17 years traveling between India and China to bring them and who translated them.
this was the first time i saw a 1000 hand Guanyin statue, which was very impressive. inside the pagoda, one can climb stairs to the top. there are windows that offer expansive views of the city below. i include here a panoramic one towards the north. the plaza with the fountain can be seen in it. in order, the orientation of the pictures are south, north, east and west. the final picture is of Xuan Zang, with the sky as it appeared that day.