Sunday, March 08, 2009


Above: The greatest repository of medical knowledge the world has ever known, as it appeared circa 1900.

Above: The site as it appeared 100 years later.

They (whoever "they" are) say that places have good and bad characteristics: even a sort of karma, if you like to think that way.

As most of you know, Chagpori was Tibet's great medical monastery, constructed on the order of the Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682), by his gifted minister Desi Sangye Gyatso (1653-1705), and actually opened in 1696, during the reign of the Sixth Dalai Lama.

In 1959, fifty years ago this month, in fact, Chagpori was shelled out of existence by the Peoples' Liberation Army.

I do not like to think about what was lost. Ever since I was a child, thinking of ruined libraries , lost knowledge, and so forth has made me physically ill.

Nevertheless, we have to believe that the place wasn't just tossed up willy-nilly, any which way. For example: they (they again) say that religious structures should be sited where they are open to the north and east, i.e. "raised" at the center, and "depressed" at the north and east. Hence the oft-quoted passage from the rgyud kyi rgyal po chen po dpal rdo rje mkha' 'gro zhes bya ba :

"The land which is depressed in the east and north directions endows siddhis to the tantrika. If it is elevated in the center, it leads to the obtaining of both the kingdom and the abode of Vidyadhara. If elevated in the north, it either causes death, brings loss of property, or disease. If elevated in the east, it causes a rapid extinction of races. The land which is depressed in the center is detrimental to the life of the practitioner."

Likewise, in the Tanjur:

"The land which closely resembles a tortoise back causes either death or impoverishment. Being elevated in the north, it brings a fear of an extinction of races, and being elevated in the east and depressed in the center brings in a fear of the extinction of the practitioner. Thus, one should completely abandon these sites."

This is fascinating. Below, is what it looks like when you gaze southwest, toward Chagpori, from the Potala's roof. Hence, when you are standing on Iron Hill (i.e. Chagpori), you are looking up at the Potala to the northeast. (You can also see the so-called dragon vein that once connected the Potala with Chagpori is cut by the road).

While we are on the subject, below is what it looks like from the Potala facing north by northwest:
And this is what it looks like to the southeast:

There are other texts that discuss the appropriateness of sites with respect to their relationship with other sites, but I think we have the essential point.

That's a television and radio tower by the way.

All directions are relative and ultimately devoid of meaning.

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