Well, there has been a change of program.
Landed in Paro today. My first hit of Bhutan was of total peace. Peace so peaceful it is palpable: heavy and thick. Heavy peace that settles into the earth like the monsoon rains; thick peace like the air in a deep deep cave, no echos of discursiveness reverberating, only silence. Delicious glorious golden silence. Oh no, I thought, how am I going to write about this? The beauty leaves me speechless. How am I going to practice here, being mindful of my breath? It leaves me breathless.
I’m entirely at ease here as I wander around the land thick with lush and vibrant greenery, feeling gnomes and fairies frolicking by the babbling brook. Distant high cliffs chute water down in sheets. Blue pines, big cones and a blanket of brown spongy needles cover the forest floor. I feel like the only one noticing this, as at the moment, I am. People are few are far between. The ones who wander into my vision allow me space, don’t talk or stare. Only smile. It makes me relax.
Nonetheless, 4 foreigners assigned here found reason to complain. Arriving at the lodge where I will spend the next 3 months, I lunched with the staff. Too much chili and cheese which, apparently, accompanies every Bhutanese dish. I happen to love cheese. No night-life (fine with me). Smoking not allowed (yay!). Don’t like all those apples (the apple cider here is fantastic!). Amazing how the human mind can find fault in almost anything. How we bring our pre-conceived notions everywhere we go. And I do say, we.
Earlier, driving from the airport through cows and magic groves, a casual glance up gave me a gift: Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest Cave). Hanging on a cliff high up above the Paro valley, this is the cave where Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche – who brought Buddhism to Tibet) spent many days. Also the cave where my first teacher, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, composed the Sadhana of Mahamudra, a practice to help combat the demons of this dark age. I am in the Guru’s back yard. Feeling devotion.
After a few days of settling in, I’ll begin teaching daily classes, and offering private lessons. Meanwhile just shifting slowly to a new pace, a new phase, and what is turning out to be an auspicious and completely new set of circumstances.
At the lodge, I noticed the ‘boardroom’ – serious chairs, important table, technology. I slipped back into a childhood memory and thought of my father, in his heyday, furiously making deals, moving and shaking, negotiating. Fast. Making futures. How big it all was. Big Boardrooms. Big dreams. Big hopes. Big illusions. I’m starting to see my own Bigs fade, no longer looking for futures, big ambition a thing of the past, hoping rather to slide right here with body and breath into the present moment, Right Here Now. But I suppose this is a bit Big in itself. How easy it is to wander off, even in a peaceful magical land.
I’m reading a story on the life of that great yogi, Gautama Buddha, called Old Path White Clouds (by another great yogi Thich Nhat Hanh). The chapter I open to is entitled, “Dwelling in the Present Moment.” Funny, I was just thinking about doing that earlier. Maybe this enchanted place will let me do that now.
Signing off, and more to come from Thimpu…