Here's a photo of me at an incredible shamanic ritual site at the foot of the Bogd Khan sacred mountain outside Ulaan Baatar. This is the religion of Chinggis Khan, though he didn't let it rule him, as he executed the chief shaman who was trying to create discord amongst his sons and generals. Proper order, state and religion should always be kept separate - there's nothing worse than a power-mad cleric, see the Spanish Inquisition etc. I found a definitive book on the subject Mongolian Shamanism by Prof Purev Otgony, translated by Prof Purvee Gurbadaryn, both Mongolians with traditional backgrounds (as opposed to Western New Age pseudo-knowledge which is best avoided). Meanwhile, hoping to upload a photo of me on a camel over on my regular blog but need to sort out the technology.
Big day today. We are all heading off for ASRAL's major fund-raising event at the Blue Sky Hotel, the poshest hotel in town, i.e. in Mongolia. All sorts of people have been invited - diplomats, business types, NGOs (non-governmental organisations), artists, politicians and so forth. Now that the Irish economy has collapsed (Ireland has been Asral's chief funder) and the global downturn has affected international generosity it's time to turn to the post-communist era newly-rich classes of Mongolians to help support their fellow countrymen and women who have not prospered in the boom or bust climate.We'll be entertained by Mongolia's finest rock band "Khurd" (means 'speed' in Mongolian), the lead guitarist of whom is a student of Rinpoche's. Two people have come over from Ireland to help promote and organise the event, we've also had two of our major sponsors arrive from England with their son, and we are all dressing in our best. I'm putting on a frock as they say in Ireland and I've spit-polished my lama's shoes in proper naval order (you use water in the lid of the polish tin, a rag, and the polish, no other equipment, but one hour on each shoe, tiny circles. Meditative, actually.) Here's a pic of the Blue Sky Hotel overlooking Sukhbaatar Square. Gorgeous building. Owned by a former president. Most of the property in UB, including giant shopping malls, are owned by politicians or former politicians. Go figure.
I was born in Ireland and grew up in Toronto, Canada with my seven sisters and two brothers. Left home at seventeen to live in a commune, then headed off across Canada with my pal, Carole, and we hitch-hiked around California for months, then back up to Vancouver(Van as we called it then) and across Canada with two more pals, Linda and Peggy. A year later, headed off to Malaysia and Borneo with Jeunesse Canada Monde/Canada World Youth for a year. Baik-lah! Back home, went to Trinity College at the University of Toronto (posh blokes) while also joining the Canadian Naval Reserve as an Officer Cadet. Trained on the east and west coasts of Canada every summer. Great fun. Then what? Hmm. Started to write books, dodgy personal life (that's personal but let's just say it's been a long time between drinks) started to wander around the world, had a darling daughter, settled down in Ireland, wrote more books.