Langmusi is the name of a Buddhist monastery founded in 1748 at the eastern end of the Tibetan plateau. Set like a gem on the border line between Gansu Province and Sichuan, at an altitude of 3000 m, it is surrounded by mountains and alpine forests. Currently it houses about 1,000 monks, while the small village built near the monastery has 3,000 inhabitants.
Here we go. Finally. Since my arrival in China, about ten days ago, we have travelled more than 2,500 km. We have moved by plane, train, bus and ship; we have always gone west, inland. We visited metropolises like Shanghai and small countries like Tongli, a Chinese Venice frozen in time; we hunted Pandas in the Chengdu reserve, desperate for lost cuddles; we met thousands of people, from grumpy taxi drivers to welcoming and generous youngsters. My heart opened little by little, accepting the differences, the inconveniences and the contradictions I was bringing within myself.
The sultry heat which has tormented us so far has given way to the cool of the mountains. I am excited to visit the Buddhist monasteries of Langmusi and Labrang: my senses are sharpened and I try to grasp every detail, every nuance. All of a sudden I feel like I’ve always wanted to get here. But maybe it’s just another short circuit from this strange journey.
Langmusi is the name of a Buddhist monastery founded in 1748 at the east end of the Tibetan plateau. Set like a gem on the border line between Gansu Province and Sichuan, at an altitude of 3000 m, it is surrounded by mountains and alpine forests. Currently it houses about 1,000 monks, while the small village built near the monastery has 3,000 inhabitants.
I have already noticed the intensity of Buddhist devotion at Milarepa palace, but here you can immerse yourself in it until you wince.
Langmusi is a pilgrimage destination and the faithful come on foot from all over the region, walking for weeks. They prostrate themselves on the ground every 3 steps and then get up, to prostrate themselves again at the next third step. What mystical fervor impels them to embrace such effort? How courageous and tenacious is it to endure hour by hour, day by day?
We arrive at the village in the late afternoon, we quickly place our luggage and we start wandering. It is golden time: the sun is about to set and casts long dramatic shadows on the ground. We follow the main road that goes up to the door of the monastery. We pay the ticket and enter. Hundreds of small brick houses with tin roofs are scattered at the foot of the main temple.
Groups of monks come out and take the climb. Some bring crockery, others wood or yak candles. They look at us, surprised by our presence. I smile at everyone and say “hello” with my hand. I feel a deep sense of admiration for them and when a couple of guys stop to talk to us, I’m excited as a child.
“Where you from?” they ask.
“Ah, Italy! You strangers are so cool!”
“Thank you”, I answer. “You are so cool, too. Chinese people are awesome!”.
The boy becomes serious, as if I said something horrible. “I am not Chinese”, he hurries to say. “I am Tibetan”.
Bury me now, quickly.
I wanted to return a compliment and instead I offended Tibet, the Dalai Lama and I believe the Buddha is also rolling over his grave.
“Well, you Tibetan people are even better!” I add with a laugh. The boy lights up and laughs with me, satisfied. I breathe a sigh of relief.
Everyone tells me it is better not to talk about Tibet in China. Perhaps it is better not to talk about China in Tibet.
We continue towards the temple. The younger monks, still children, run back and forth, chasing and monkeying around. Their cheerful faces and the sound of their laughter is heartwarming. The temperature, on the contrary, becomes increasingly rigid: the light is running away and darkness is coming relentlessly. Beating our teeth, we go back to the hotel. The village, illuminated by the signs of the shops, offers us suggestive views -to say the least.
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