G.Mend-Ooyo
Дэлхий ээж тандаа би хайртай
World Poetry Days in Mongolia
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LETTERS FROM THE MONGOL STEPPE

Opinions

LETTERS FROM THE MONGOL STEPPE

Letter No 1
 
Nomads on the wild steppe set up their encampments close by or on excellent pastureland with fresh water and sappy grass for their livestock, yet far away from one another to allow each other the space for pastures. In the eyes of those who are accustomed to the busy city life, the life of a nomad is extremely dull. But nomadic life is far from boring. The nomadic life goes back thousands of years. Nomads have been composing their own stories and epics, have been communicating with their hills and waters, have been drawing up their astrological charts, have been writing their books, have been singing their longsongs, have been playing Morin Huur - the horsehead fiddle. And through the melodies of Morin Huur they express their love for, and understanding of, the natural world and their livestock, they raise their children, they race their horses, they hold festivals and celebrations, they serve out airag…. They have little or no free time.
In big cities a mass of colored lights cast rainbows, cars and trucks rush back and forth, electronic music rumbles, young people sing and dance, and glasses clink, while the nomads move quietly across the steppe, riding their horses and making their female camels weep with Morin Huur melody.
Wars break out, the earth shakes, high buildings collapse, the oceans pulse with storms turning into typhoons, tall pylons collapse, traffic comes to a halt, and TV screens compete with one another to show all of this, and meanwhile the nomads are still moving around, transporting their gers on their camels. For thousands and thousands of years, small nomadic gers have moved through windstorms and floods and freezing cold and fierce heat. Nomads arrive in a new place, erect round walls without wounding the earth, and make stoves out of the local soil. They treat trees and bushes with care, and thus collect animal dung to make fire. Although they nail things like stakes into the earth to fasten the tethering ropes for their cattle and to put up the tethering posts for their horses, when they move away, they sow plants in these holes and thus heal these wounds. The clay stoves which remain are dismantled and leveled out on the earth. After the group has moved away, the place where they had been is soon covered again with the rippling grasses. In this way, the wild steppe has remained untamed for millennia.
It was in this modest nomadic way of life that the nomadic longsong, or urtiin duu, was born, and the elders’ desires are sung and recited in the abridged versions of the Mahayana epics for a whole month. 
 
Right now it’s midnight. In a small ger of a herder, the dungfires are blazing, and we are connecting with the world by computer, powered by an electric generator charged by the sun. 
We must not victimize our mother earth for our own easy and well-off life. Our Mother the Earth must live forever.
 
We love you Mother Earth 

Letter No 2

Everytime the mountains, the water and the earth are cherished, the mother earth is pleased and, gratefully, sends forth gentle rainfalls, beautiful rainbows and colorful flowers. Everytime the land is dug up, the rocks ripped away, the forests laid waste, the wild animals slaughtered, the mother earth is furious and expresses her displeasure through earthquakes, seastorms, floods and desertification.

he Mongol Gobi nomadic poet, saw the characteristics of the wild steppe and his homeland of the Gobi desert with his inner wisdom in the universe beyond, and discovered the umbilicus of the earth which holds in its depths the powerful qualities of its immense riches. He built there a center for pure Buddhist education called Khamar Monastery and Demchig Monastery, which today is a site where the world energy is circulating.

Nomads erect ovoos, or stone cairns, on high ground. They make prayers at these cairns, they whisper to them, offer the very best of their white milk products, and let spiritual souls inhabit the ovoos as nomads regard them as humans. The hills and the rocks, which over millennia have been imbued by the power of human wisdom, hold in their living souls the response of human behavior. When the nomads make their offerings, the living souls call the clouds and the rain, and make the springs filled with fresh water, and bring forth plants and flowers. Establishing this agreement with nature and with the world for thousands of years the nomads of the steppe have received what the nature had to offer; they have herded their livestock, they have written their history, they have composed their songs and they have moved across their nomadic homeland.

Mankind lives in beautiful and elegant palaces, travels in fancy vehiclesOn the wild steppe and in the harsh desert of Mongolia, a few nomads have distanced themselves from the rapidity of the world. They honor the earth, they cherish their homeland, and they carry on their nomadic lifestyle while keeping and protecting their own human roots.

People of the world! Let us renounce atomic power! Let us use inexhaustible solar and wind power that cause no harm to the natural world!

We love you Mother Earth

Letter No 3

Mongol nomads understand that all springs and lakes and rivers are occupied by spiritual beings invisible to the eye, which they call lus and whose existence they honor. They try not to put milk or blood or dirt into rivers and springs, for they believe that, when water becomes dirtied they will become sick with a disease called “lus poison.” Rivers are rare in our homeland’s wild steppe, so the local people dig up a well for drinking water for both men and livestock after placating the earth and letting the local spirits know that they turn to them because there is no alternative. For this reason, we like to say, “water is a precious jewel.”

In 2007, a count of bodies of water in Mongolia revealed 18,610 rivers, lakes, streams and springs, of which 5,479 – a third of all the waters in the country – had dried up by 2011. Since then, this latter figure has been increasing. The companies that are mining for gold in the basin of the Orhon river - a tributary of the Arctic ocean that has been flowing for thousands of years - pour off the water with which the gold is washed in the Orhon and pollute the river immensely. Nowadays, the once crystal-clear Orhon is seething and red. Those who caused this irreversible disaster belong to the same business network as the influential politicians, and thus they go unpunished and are still seizing the opportunities in Mongolia.

Nomadic herders observe the flight of birds, the running of antelopes, the character of livestock, and the placement of the stars and the moon, and so they foretell the weather and natural cycles for the coming days, months and year. The pitch black color of the clouds, the mass like a fiery ball when the sun is rising or setting, the wind howling like a wolf, smell of sulphur emerging from the earth, the turbidity of waters, and the barking of dogs are all considered as phenomena prior to earthquake or other natural disasters. Thus the nomads move and change places after having observed the behavior and actions of the antelopes and other animals, cows and the rest van the livestock.

By mirroring on their surface, waves and the droplets, the rivers keep an eye on what is going on along their banks and edges, and subsequently they weigh up what is good and what is bad, and one day they will give their reply.

We love you Mother Earth

Letter No 4

These words pierce through the heart like a nail, when one comes to the homeland and sees the land from above like the birds circling and searching for their lakes and waters. Certainly, the waters where the migrating birds come to land have been decreasing in number. Some of the few left are polluted. In recent years, these creatures used to fresh air and water have begun to suffer from a disease called “bird flu”. They have been dying all around in great numbers. People, too, have been infected with the desease; their fear and horror manifested in the shunning of close contact between birds and humans instead of developing a close contact between the two.

In recent years, the nouveau riche in Mongolia have begun to dress in the fur and skins of wolves and otter and sable and snow leopards. As soon as spring comes, they go out with their rifles “to drink gazelle blood”. They shoot the gazelles and - like wild carnivores - they rip open the animals’ bellies, eat their raw livers and serve out the still warm blood in cups, swallowing it down as though it were water. This is supposed to be good for phyical strength. It seems not to matter to them if nature is wrecked, as long as they themselves benefit from it.


I should like to go back to an earlier time, when animals were domesticated as our companions. At the time of the Emperor Ashoka in India, they established a clinic for the treatment of wild animals. And many countries have over the long course of history forbidden the hunting of rare animals. We should wake up and consider the examples of earlier times, when they did not err from a harmonious balance with the natural world. In one story, Buddha was travelling to the mountain called Jimseglen with his students. They met an old man with a long white beard, supporting himself on a stick carved with dragons. He was being followed by all kinds of wild animals and birds, and the Buddha - recognizing this man’s deep and percipient wisdom - instructed his pupils how they should pay honor to him. In Mongolia’s temples and monasteries today there is an image called “Old Whitebeard”, as a constant reminder that humans and animals must enjoy and take pleasure from the benefits of Mother Earth and exist in harmony side by side.

My people! Let us end the tears of birds in flight falling upon the land. The birds are weeping as they look down upon the pain and sadness of the natural world.
My people! Let us treat the animals, the children of Mother Earth, with mercy! 

On behalf of the nomadic people of the Mongol steppe, this letter is presented by the
 
Letter No 5

It is said that the human body contains traces of gold. And, as much as there is gold in the human body, we hear also about there being traces of diamond and copper and silver too. These precious components, then, are delicately connected with the precious and valuable riches which reside in the womb of the earth. As the stellar bodies and the earth connect and interchange their energy with each other, this energy also passes through the precious bodies of human beings. As for why this is so, it is because the human and the stellar bodies are in tune with each other’s energy waves.
 
Mongol nomads understand that there exists a strong connection between the mineral wealth collected beneath the earth of their motherland and their own sharp clarity of vision, their quick-witted focus, their adaptability and their patient endurance. For this reason, then, the Mongols place within statues of the Buddha earth, plants and items which have been blessed by spiritual teachers, together with sacred texts, and they consecrate it by placing gold as an offering upon the eyes of the Buddha. Through the waves of energy of the gold and the precious stones, there exists a mutuality between the Buddhas and humanity. We should abstain from an overindulgence in gold and precious stones, yet enjoy the precious qualities of our own bodies.

Gold is necessary for people, but it is far more important for the earth as it keeps the earth in check, purifies and energizes water deep beneath, and balances energy currents of the cosmos.

An old herder said that the plants and flowers and insects are all in proper relation to one another on the earth. One autumn, when the wormwood was vigorously spreading across the steppe, he told us “gather up the wormwod, dry it out, and store it away, you’ll need it coming spring”. Indeed, the following spring, when influenza prevailed the land, the preserved wormwood was used to suppress the desease. Another old herder, named Bööjöö, later explained that “the plants have self predicted that they will be needed” and I have never forgotten what he has said. For a green mother Earth, mankind should come together to grow and propagate the trees and plants, that they might produce seeds which are scattered and take root.

We love you Mother Earth
poet G. Mend-Ooyo.

The nineteenth century poet and a great educator, the 5th Noyon Hutagt Danzanravjaa, once said: “I myself have been the universe”. It seems that if you see the stars and the stellar bodies located in the boundless space of the universe in a minimized and compressed form, they look similar to the human body structure. On the other hand, if you place the magnified human body structure in the boundless space of the universe, it looks like the stars and the stellar bodies. The human is the embodiment of cosmos.
 
The stars and the planets which reside in the sky
I have written this book of astrology
When the nomads applied the astrology of the monk Luvsandanzanjantsan to their nomadic way of life throughout the seasons, they determined - with the thumb and fingers of one hand – the date in the twelvefold cycle of time (rat, ox, tiger, sheep, hare, dragon, snake, horse, monkey, chicken, dog and pig). Thus their nomadic way of life took nature and the weather into account.
 
In the traditional Mongol nomadic worldview, the human spirit or wisdom comes from Heaven, and joins the body that is born out of the earth like a seed fruit. Thus arises a universe known as a “person.” An ancient story tells us that at first humans gave off light from their bodies, that everyone had their own tree which never stopped producing fruit, and that no one lacked in anything. But one person got a strange idea, imagining that the fruit from someone else’s tree might taste better than from his own. He let his light out so he could steal from the others, but his light never came on again. In this way, every time a human brought forth an act of evil, the body light was snuffed out and thus humanity lost its light.
 
Man - the precious, powerful, cosmic universe - has turned into a sack filled with data. We are speedily moving towards the point we are becoming a programmed, symbolic creature just like the computers we created! The divine qualities which the natural world bestows are more and more being lost from human civilization, which is more and more being defined by programming.
 
During the socialist period, the wisdom of the early Mongols was expunged from the national consciousness. At the present time, though, the shamanic spirits - which have a deep connection with nature, the sky, the hills and the waters - are awakening, returning and reminding mankind to save the world. This is an important warning.
 
We love you Mother Earth
 
Letter No7
 
I would like to listen with you all to a single song, as well as I would like to sing it with you all. This song was composed by R. Enhbazar in 1980 and I myself wrote the lyrics.
In those days, Enhbazar and I were convinced that it was certainly not the war, the violence, and the ideological aggression that would save our world, but the love for our Mother the Earth. We created this song because we found it important to share our message with the people of the world.
 
Let’s listen to this song sung by B. Badaruugan along with its English translation. Let us sing it all together.
 
We love you Mother Earth
 
Letter No8
 
A LETTER FROM THE WILD STEPPE

If you would like to see who you are, whose son you are,
Resembling a single mother-of-pearl button on a broad swathe of blue brocade.
That will quietly cover a month’s distance in no time.

Form a ring. The centrepoint of the ring is you.
The world is a sphere. You are the very centre.
A horse neighs. Though no-one’s playing, a fiddle sings.

The wild steppe of Mongolia has a measure. The measure is the long song.
Your song won’t go astray. The man stones keep it on course.
it is the guardians of aeons of history - the man stones - who sing.

Take a break amidst the green grass.
Invite the Great Bear as the honored guest to the wide open steppe.
When you enter it, the fog of history grows clear
Every stone of Shambala holds the fire of our ancestors
A flask of water at your saddle-thongs. Pour it into your cup.
Steaming hot tea. Relieve your fatigue.

Stretch your legs over the green steppe. Extend your arms.
It is your blanket. The entire starry sky.
There is no difference here between truth and dream.

Fear not. Sin shies away under sinless eyes.
is this poor wolf.
is the one who sang the long song for the first time.

Lay the dawn’s rays beneath the saddlecloth and saddle up your horse.
Your horse whinnies long towards the faraway.
The brown eagle is soaring to guide you.

We love you Mother Earth
the poet G. Mend-Ooyo.

*Translation by Simon Wickham-Smith and Sumiya Surenjav
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