Temple sounds, chanting, bells
Crackling fire, voices
Norbu, Elizabeth Arnold
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
10 Oct 2005
- 29.59501 101.87913
- 46:51 - 49:00
- SONY TCD-D8
- Sennheiser MKH 40
- Sennheiser MKH 30
Decoded MS stereo. Sonosax pre-amps used.
Reporter: Elizabeth Arnold
Engineer: Leo delAguila
Interviews: Jan Salick, Norbu, Fang Jun Dong
Ambi: Buddhist temples
Logged By: ESN
EA, LdA: This is dat 4, outskirts of jongdien. At a Buddhist temple. Morning. Same rig. Same set up. Middel mkh40 side MKH30 into a sonosax pereamp into a DAT d8. on the outskirts of shangrila. Beautiful village.
many voices, shouts, engine in BG.
faint low voices
female and male voices, speak in Chinese
walking up stairs?
JS, EA voices in BG
walking up stairs?
Voices in BG
EA: This is like the climb up the peak
Voices, speaking Chinese
N: cultural revolution¿like three floors high.
footsteps on stairs.
EA, JS, informal talking.
N: so he is master of first dalai lama. The first incarnation of the lama, and the first-
two very prestigious living Buddha so the first one was dalai lama, and the second one was benchi[?] lama. So benchi liama now is the eleventh, dalai lama is fourteenth.
so this is the master of the first reincarnation.
JS: the master of the first reincarnation lived here.
EA: and they're working on it.
voices speaking inside a room?
chanting -a handful of voices. All speaking at different times.
chanting -one voice near mic, particularly fast/fevered.
one voice chanting alone -young?
older male voice joins in -two chanting simultaneously
footsteps on stone?
several voices, speaking Chinese
EA to LdA: there are a number of temples, these are the smaller ones¿haven't gotten to the big one¿
LdA: ok in a different part of the temple here
many voices, all speaking¿
faint voices speaking Chinese
electric saw? In BG, on and off.
Many voices, speaking Chinese.
Coins? Or Beans? falling into a metal plate?
bell ringing, metal clanging, footsteps
bell ringing stops
LdA, JS, N, EA, converse
two male voices chanting
men chanting together
really low, gutteral.
Three men chanting together.
low gutteral, then men chanting together with bell.
men's voices fade, bell continues
LdA, EA talking.
LdA and Norbu: making candles to use for offerings.
footsteps going upstairs
faint bell ringing
bell ringing, footsteps
bell ringing subsides.
people talking, footsteps.
people talking, footsteps, faint bell ringing.
LdA, N, informal talking.
birds chirping, faint voices -some children.
LdA picture taking, informal talking.
JS: explaining sacred scarves.
EA: so there are all these different buddhas, but there is one for medicine.
JS: The medicine Buddha is one that holds a bowl of medicine and has a plant in the other hand and he is the foundation of Tibetan medicine. And he is also the one that people come to pray to if they're ill if they are trying to get healed for something, so he's a very important kind of pragmatic part of Tibetan Buddhism. And that's the foundation of Tibetan medicine itself is very religious. So it's not just plants that are ground up that you take as medicine, but it's a whole belief system that goes with Tibetan medicine.
EA: so it's not just about healing
JS: There's a lot of preventative medicine in Tibetan Buddhism. And then there's a lot of the spiritual as well in Tibetan Buddhism. it's it's a very some of the medicine is extremely parallel to western medicine or extremely parallel to Chinese medicine
but other parts of it are very foreign to our system of medicine. I've had western doctors say that Tibetan Buddhism can handle many ailments that we can't, you know psychological problems that western medicine is terrible at, well I shouldn't say that terrible, but is has a long way to go. But Tibetan Buddhism handles them very easily and part of the whole system.
EA: perhaps because they join the mental and the physical together.
JS: exactly, and the spiritual.
EA: so the Buddha with the flower and the bowl is probably a pretty popular guy.
JS: He is. A lot people come to give offerings to him and to pray to because he does have healing power. Of course they go to the Tibetan doctors as well, but they'll also include the spiritual end in their healing process.
EA: this is a pretty important place, this place.
JS: well in this part of -- It's the largest monestary in northwest yunnan including a large section of eastern Tibet, it's 800 monks, active monks which is more than you find because in central Tibet so many of the monks have fled to India this is actually one of the more active centers of Tibetan Buddhism. And and just in the five, six years that I've been here, this place has transformed completely, you know it was in nearly ruins when I first got here, the buildings were falling down, you could go in and there were still some old statues and so on, it hadn't been completely demolished, but now it's it's thriving and active and guilded with gold and everything is repainted and all the carvings are put in place, and it's a wonderful thing to see and the active interest that people in this region have in coming here and in praying here.
JS: You saw the old women and the old men stretching out in front of the Buddha to show their respect it's a very active, vibrant religion at this time, I've seen it happen in five years, so it's a pretty amazing process.
EA: we're going to a market where they sell traditional medicine, would I find something there that I could cleanse myself spiritually, or is it all pretty much medical?
JS: Both, you can find, well the bracelet that I was given that I'm wearing on my hand the woman that gave it to me said this is for your mental health, this is to have a calm mind and a peaceful¿and I thought, 'this is something I could use!' in our western world, you know this is so they have all sorts of medicine for different things, it's not only physical.
EA: and it's very much intertwined.
JS: Very much, very much.
Ambi from interview -faint birds chirping, faint voices, some sort of far-off saw.
EA, LdA chatting about recording.
EA: is there a name for the Buddha of medicine?
N: that's called sumgi peh la [??]. peh means medicine, la means Buddha. So the Buddha of medicine.
EA: is he a pretty important guy?
N: yeah he's very important guy yeah. He's the founder of Tibetan medicine, yeah medical science.
EA: and do people bring offerings to him?
N: yes yeah when people get sick, people normally go to find his statue in the monestary, and go there to pray to be healed.
EA: what are some of the other buddhas?
N: the other ones, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, and Tibetan buddhism there are like three sects, and the yellow sects, red sects and the white sects, so each sects has it own founder. We can see all those like founders, the statue of the founders displayed in the monastery so people from you know the regions from each sect go to find the certain statue to worship to pray.
EA: do you use medicine made from plants?
N: yes, yeah, the you know normally in the monastery there is like a kind of shrine and the living Buddha there is a you now some living buddhas living there making Tibetan medicine and then distribute to the people and the people, and people you know that's
very difficult to get not every day you can get it. There's a ritual once every month or once a year or once half a year when people will come here to get those medicines and those medicines have a lot of power [loud cell phone ring] because the living Buddha transferred his spiritual power to the medicine so that medicine is very special from the medicine which you can buy in the market made of the same plant but has different
different special power.
EA: because he's made it¿
EA: can you give me an example of something that you might take? Medicine that you might use?
N: uh mostly people use a medicine called the [??] for hypertension that's very powerful and very special medicine. And a lot of Chinese people also love to have it and that's very good for stroke to cure stroke. So that's the most special and powerful medicine.
And very popular medicine.
EA: Hm. Hypertension.
N: Yeah, hypertension. Yesterday we saw you know one two, and the shrine, two tablets.
EA: but you don't take medicine for hypertension, do you?
N: [laugh], no
EA: you're not a hypertense kind of guy.
N: That medicine is particularly good for hypertension but also good for some others you know diseases like arthritis, rheumatism, headache.
EA: so like aspirin maybe
N: yeah like aspirin.
Ambi from interview with Norbu.
N: and also when Tibetan living Buddha or Tibetan doctor when they make Tibetan medicine they must find collect, because medicine is made of many plants, not only one single plant, so they must find one from the sacred land like the mountain called Kowagebo which we are going tomorrow you know so you must collect one plant from that sacred land because that has more power to cure people. So you know so the living Buddha or the Tibetan doctor when so when they make medicine, mix one plant from the sacred land.
EA: it might have a lot of others, but in the mixture is one from the sacred land
N: so that's very important.
Man speaking loudly in BG, some hammering.
Starts recording again.
EA: Same day. We're here on our way to dequin and we're stopping at fang's botanical garden.
truck drives by
Footsteps, faint voices.
EA, and FJD? Talk off mic -whole lake is a reserve.
Faint -talk about cranes
LdA: by the highway overlooking this great like. Some cranes¿hopefully we'll hear¿
LdA: talking about lack of cranes.
LdA: talking about stones
FJD: talk faintly off-mic abt¿
EA: so fang, can you tell me about this place? Why did you create it? Why did you make it?
FJD: I think I science is botanists need some places for to study plants, how to propagate them. And I study a relationship plants, animals, and human and plants. Basically this is from the needs of scientists. Also this is a planted diversity area. So there are lots of scientists botanists come to this region every year.
FJD: to see and to collect and to study plants. So we just. This from them we are willing to provide some places for scientists to study. Also I think our botanic garden is also good for local area because it is kind of attraction. And ??? botanic garden which attracts lots of tourists every year [laugh], in that prefecture.
EA: but that's good because then they realize the importance of plants.
FJD this area is actually at the beginning we select another place in the south to shangrila tang, but this place there is remains? of monastery in this region, and there are village people collecting seeds. You can see which destroy this area so the government stop the collection and they ask me do you have some good suggestion for this place. So I say
We can start part of garden in this region so we make a proposal and get some permission and we start a beautiful? garden in this region.
EA: have you planted this area extensively? Put new plants in?
FJD: I think we also planted some plants yeah, introduced some plants into this region also we have ? many years. But this region have already have some original plants in this region. It's basically some dried plants like this lepa? ?? the ?? species, just in this small area. So first ?? ?? protect this species in this region.
EA: how important would you say plants are to the people here?
FJD: It's hard to tell¿
EA: In my country, we plant flowers, they're pretty to look at, that's about it. It's different here, isn't it?
FJD: I think how to say, I think because actually species from this region make a great contribution to other places. Other local, our people, local people actually don't make lots of use of them. So we try to ? how to propogate them, which can contribute to our reforestation for the garden, and for the general life.
EA: what about you? How did you even get interested in plants? What got you started?
FJD: I studied botany in the university.
EA: but why?
FJD: by accident
EA accident! Really?
FJD: when I come into university, we were ?? examination. And we will ?? our willing. ?? mathematics at the beginning. But some some governer I think they needed some people study biology for this region at the beginning of the year. So they changed my waiting and I go to botany I go to biology department. I study biology.
EA: are you glad you study biology now that you are a botanist?
FJD: yes, also I grew up in this region. My hometown is by the Mekong river. A village. Environment every way plants so. At we have some feeling you know actually we have a family when we are children.
EA: so your work is really helping this region.
FJD: I hope so¿
EA: and it's been a long time, you've been working on this a long time.
FJD: yeah I have to devote almost all my time to ?? this garden.
[EA: About how big is it?]
FJD seven years.
EA: seven years.
EA: about how big is this area.
FJD: this is 367 hectare.
EA: and you have visitors come, and they look at the plants¿
FJD: we start having some visitors come to look
EA: and then you have children come to learn inside¿
FJD: yeah this year we organize villager children to show them how to collect collect collection of masutak, [EA: oh the mushroom] sustainably. That's organized by some other scientists Whether we provide some facilities for them to do this.
EA: You also take beautiful pictures of plants. Of flowers and plants.
FJD: before we had been doing university ?? flora in this region, northwestern yunnan, western sichuan, southwestern Tibet. So we have many opportunity to capture these plants.
EA: but even though it was by accident that you became a botanist, you like these plants, don't you?
FJD: yeah. For ?? I like the plants. I think plants just ?? them as friend. Some are older friends, some are new friends. Every time we come across plants we will see if they are older friends and some are new friends. [cell phone] This is the way we learn plants. [cell phone]
EA: do you ever come across plants that you have no idea what they are?
FJD: yes sometimes yeah yeah occasionally.
EA: Jan, anything I missed?
FJD answering cellphone.
EA: the time that you've spent studying plants, have you seen changes? Have you seen a change at all? Where they are? Disappearing?
FJD: yeah, I think there should be some changes, but it is hard to see this change because it will take some time. Yeah.
EA: and that's the work that you're doing now
FJD: also they need our patience and our¿courage?
EA: so maybe the work you're doing now eventually you'll be able to see what's going on
FJD: Yeah because plant for example for a plant community that will change the structure component of species so basically you need a basic ?? Then you will go sometime you will go back to see how this change happen and what happen like a cover
And the frequency. This new type.
EA: I'm also learning about how many of these plants have medicinal uses. Do you use any medicine that comes from plants?
FJD: yeah, we also introduced some Tibetan medicine into our nursery just started to propagate them. some from seeds some from ???. and for some important species because village people they only collect them for the food they don't know how to propagate them if we can propagate them successfully then we can teach them how to raise them which good for conservation, yeah.
FJD: Otherwise some species will be endangered.
EA: thank you so much for your time¿appreciate it.
Ambi from FJD interview.
JS: big new building going up in back, herbarium will go there.
EA: wants to see medicinal plant growing in ground
FJD this one is a also a kind of medicinal plant
EA: this is here. and what is it?
FJD: this one is I forgot the name I'm sorry. [engine noise] We have a saying in this region. When you sit down you will find three kinds of medicinal plants.
EA: cause they're everywhere
FJD: it's a commons saying.
EA: [laugh] we could sit right here.
EA: do you have any idea what this one is used for or is it used in combination with other.
FJD: combination with other¿
FJD: this one is a kind of plant when you feel the stomach¿ache.
EA: I need these next time we go out to dinner¿
FJD: this one is a common one.
EA: can you tell me the name?
FJD: anemoni oupestris???
FJD: for stopping bleeding.
EA: for stopping bleeding!
FJD: And crush them and put them into your nose when you¿
EA: for nose bleed.
EA: here's the saying I can sit right here, one two three.
FJD: if you go to some places you'll probably can find more than three
FJD: and this one..
EA: ah, I'm stepping on another medicinal plant here.
FJD: very good for cooling down your blood
EA: cooling down your bladder
FJD: sometimes we feel hot sometimes we feel cold. So this one you can¿
EA: I need these next time we go out to dinner¿
EA: thank you so much, that's great.
Ambi from FJD interview.
Inside monastery. Echo-y.
Faint voices. Footsteps.
END OF TAPE