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Yesterday was my first English lesson with Tsering and Norbu, two Tibetan lamas at the Kagyu Thubten Choling Monastery.

I had to perform the teaching magic in front of half a dozen concerned English-speaking monks whom it was nearly impossible for me to tell apart because I have bad facial recognition, and they all had shaven heads.

I pranced. I postured. I did prat falls. I ran around the room. I pointed at every mundane object. “What is this? This is a clock! What is this? This is a table! What is this? This is a hat!” And I plopped the hat on Tsering’s head.

A collective gasp of apprehension rose up from the English-speaking monks: Tsering is a grave man, very grave. But he broke out into a bashful grin.

I had hoped to bring along a stack of flash cards with colorful pictures of animals, plants, landscapes etc.

Obviously, it doesn’t matter whether the lamas are able to talk about lions and tigers and bears with parishioners,” I told the monks—oops! parishioners! wrong word! “But it helps me assess their phonetics, what sounds they may need extra help with.”

But I hadn’t been able to find colorful flash cards anywhere despite driving around the day before for four hours in the rain.

Anyway, I passed muster and will be teaching the lamas for a couple of hours every Wednesday morning.


Here is the Kagyu Thubten Choling Monastery’s Tara Throne:

Here is their stupa:

I hadn’t realized we were so close to the Hudson, so I was shocked to look out the window and catch this view:

The strangest thing I saw yesterday, though, was this:

It’s an archeological relic called The Standing Stone of Poughkeepsie, and bizarrely enough, it’s in the front yard of a very nondescript looking ranch-style house on the corner of Oakwood Drive and Delavergne Avenue in Wappingers.

Its roots are submerged 20 feet into the ground, and it obviously once had a tip that has been lopped off. At one time, it was also alleged to have had inscriptions in a language identified as Iberic Ogham that have since been eroded, although I find that difficult to believe: Ogham was an Irish dialect used between the first and sixth centuries AD.

What is clear is that it’s an artifact, and that it's very old. It's tilted at an angle of 202°. If you follow a straight line from the Stone for two miles, you come to the mouth of Wappinger’s creek with its view of Danskammer Point and Turtle Rock, 4.5 miles across the river, which is a Native American site that includes cairns, stone walls, turtle effigies, rock shelters, inscriptions, glyphs and solstice viewing points.

The land around Wappinger’s creek functioned as a political and spiritual center for the Wappinger Confederacy. The Wappinger People lived on the eastern banks of the Hudson between what is now Manhattan and what is now Poughkeepsie. They were the Native Americans who “welcomed”—ha, ha, ha!—Henry Hudson. There are none left now.

The Hudson Valley definitely has that portal sense. Maybe the Standing Stone is part of the reason why. Maybe it functions as a kind of axis mundi, connecting heaven and earth. There really are a disproportionately large number of monasteries of all sorts of religious denominations scattered in the low slopes along the river hereabouts. Something is going on here. And, of course, Teilhard du Chardin—Mister Omega Principle himself!— is actually buried at the Culinary institute of America, which—talk about your syncretism—was once a Jesuit monastery.


Lois Lane—who went with me on my first trip to the Tibetans—was the person who showed me the Standing Stone. She used to live just around the corner; the Standing Stone has a huge significance in her personal cosmology.

She really is an interesting person.


There was this huge band of wild turkeys trotting about the temple complex:

Kinda cool because this bird was painted on one of the temple's exterior beams. It's a vulture, not a turkey: Tibetans are into the sky death. But it looks just like a turkey, no?

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Sep. 27th, 2018 09:37 pm (UTC)
Having grown up across the river with my Dad working at Danskammer Point I don't know anything about Turtle Point. I only know the history of Danskammer.

Edit: I just found an article on "Ancient Astronomy Along the Hudson' which mentions Turtle Rock. Interesting.

Edited at 2018-09-27 09:46 pm (UTC)
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )