Lets start with another digression… I have wondered for the past couple weeks about the connection between Chinese and Italian pasta. Noodles are such a big part of the Chinese diet, as well as other parts of Asia, that I wondered outloud whether they had been introduced to this area by Europeans along the Silk Road…And since Google was blocked, I had no way of looking it up. But Mrs Bear, as she has done so many times, rescued me by being able to surf via her IPhone service… It turns out that pasta WAS introduced, but in the other direction. What the Italians know as pasta and pizza were brought back home by Marco Polo in the 1200s. Mrs Bear and I actually had calzones for lunch today in Old Town Shangri-La !!!
The monasteries… The first was visited on our day in the mountains. I can’t recall the name of the monastery, but it sits at about 15,000 feet elevation, down a series of switchbacks onto a narrowing point above the canyons below. I don’t have many pics because cameras are not allowed inside the temples. So I have the entrance… 450 Monks study here. The Monastery was built in the mid 1600s. The banners are made from yak hides, which are used instead of glass.
I have come to realize that the Buddhism of various countries can be very different. For example, the monks of Thailand can only have eight ( I think) possessions and come out every morning to receive alms from the people. They eat once each day and don’t cook. Chinese monks, on the other hand, are sponsored at the Monasteries by individual families, who set them up in houses with all the amenities. Some of the houses looked quite posh, albeit that multiple Monks can be living in the same residence. Chinese monks cook and can raise money through various activities…But the funds are used to help the people, not for personal gain…But it is not the the same level of austerity.
The second monastery was located just below our retreat (that is what they call it) in Shangri-La… Songzanlin Lin Monastery. It houses over 800 monks and was built in the later 1600s. I wish photos were available of the detail and splendor of the worship sites, but I guess you’ll have to come to see for yourself.