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Bodh Gaya, 2007

by Jaya Ashmore

The Tibetan girl in red and black plays the Chenrezig game—walks with eyes closed from one corner of the temple
across white marble
towards the statue of the bodhisattva of compassion.
Her palms face to face held up in front of her face.
If her hands meet his feet,
she gets her wish.
She veers to the left, then straightens out her path, grabs his ankles.
She peeked.

On the last morning of the retreat,
during breakfast,
before the closing talk,
I went to the Bodhi temple to visit the tree.
My one and only trip into town during the retreat.
To do one round around the garden, to take a few pictures. Tibetan monks were chanting in the lower garden—their robes the rich colors of the chrysanthemums.
As I came around the last bend of the path, Indian police sealed the exit.
I heard the words “Dalai Lama” and “15 minutes.” While we waited, Tibetan women lent me a piece of cardboard as a seat to take the chill out of the marble floor, a Tibetan girl showed me her red bedbug bites, and a Tibetan man in a black leather jacket rubbed his prayer beads.
45 minutes later, we had a perfect view as he walked in and down the steps in his curved yellow muppet hat.
I asked for and felt blessing, a snake-y Tara blessing, a forgiving Chenrezig blessing, for all of us--for us on the retreat and for us all.

P.S. I got back to the retreat hall just in time to give my part of the closing talk.

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