Mongolia

Mongolia Monday- In Honor of Tsagaan Sar (the Mongolian New Year): At The Door Of The Skytent by Ts. Bavuudorj

At the door of the skytent,
holding a golden lantern,
by the light of my golden lantern, I can see
that the old ones are coming,
mounted high upon white clouds.
A gentle creature, smelling still of milk
is coming, wading through the milky ocean.
Through tantric practise and endless recitation,
a monk has shrunk his body, small as an elbow, and
he’s coming, flying cross-legged.
The door of the skytent
swings quietly open…
Twenty-one young girls, their eyes all-seeing and clear,
are coming into the Buddha’s presence.
The pure heart, free of sorrow,
free now from the world,
have thrown the door wide and stand amazed.
A child comes to her mother, and
a mother comes to her child, and
they go seeking the profundity they lack.
The door of the skytent
swings quietly open…
And every time that door swings quietly open,
It steals a count of breaths
from life’s red bulb.
Gold and silver fishes,
impermanent, seem permanent
inside.
They are content in their own way.
at the door of the skytent
holding a golden lantern….

Translated from the Mongolian by Simon Wickham-Smith, with whose kind permission this poem is presented to my readers

The image at the top is from Onglyn Monastery, one of the many that was destroyed in the late 1930s by the communist government. The ruins are extensive since there were two large monasteries that faced each other and could house over 1000 monks, but there is a re-building effort under way, including the small temple building where I took this photo. It seemed appropriate to use an image from a “re-birth” for a poem posted to celebrate Tsagaan Sar, the White Moon, and the beginning of a new year.

Final note: I’m waiting for some new animal stamps to arrive from eBay for Part 3 of my posts on Mongolian stamps.

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