Losar Tashi Delek! Happy New Year!


Green Tara, Drango Monastery, by David Germano, http://www.thlib.org

In his Tibetan new year greeting, the fourteenth Dalai Lama explains: “If you create the causes of happiness, if you lead your life in benefiting others and not harming them, that’s a meaningful life, a life that has ‘tashi’. On that basis saying ‘Tashi Delek’ means ‘May you be happy in the here and now and, as we Buddhists say, may you finally achieve definite goodness.’”

The Tibetan calendar is almost a millennium old and combines lunar and solar elements. This year their new year is a day after the Chinese one, and it’s a fire monkey year for both. The last fire monkey year was 1956, the year of the Hungarian uprising, and previous ones include 1776, the year of the American revolution and independence from England. So this year might be one to remember too.

Here’s a new and fiery poem in that spirit, translated from the Tibetan on the blog High Peaks Pure Earth:

“Flame, Or a Deep Wound”, by Gangkye Somdung

When all the leaves
With their splendid colours
Paint their deep wounds
When each particle of frost
With their cool features
Dye the season into the likeness of a raging fire
I know
So many lives
Have yet to be well lived
Yet they already face death

Bury me in the mud
Bury me in the cluttered September hills
No need for 99 yellow chrysanthemums
No need for 99 sad elegies
No need for 99 nightingales
Behind the black curtain, pretending to be
Pitifully sad

I will wait
For the days of compressing layers of white snow
I will wait
For the harsh wind to blow from all sides
Then, in the world of glimmering crystal
Take those flames
And flame-like
Sparkling eyes
Before the dawn arrives
Awaken softly, or
Be deeply buried

This poem was written in September 2013. If you prefer something a little older, here’s a tara stotra (panegyric to Tara, “the deliveress”, bodhisattva of compassion and action), with commentaries by the first Dalai Lama, in Devanagari, Tibetan and English. It’s from an amazing resource called the Tibetan and Himalayan Library, which includes dictionaries, transcription and transliteration tools, scholarship and images, like this one of a Tara in the Drango Monastery, Eastern Tibet, by David Germano.

Happy new year. Whatever flames lie ahead, may you face them with compassion and action.

Translator, editor, writer, reader

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Posted in faith, poetry, translation

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