A two hour drive through humongous mountains, or rather great walls of rock and earth swirling overhead like tidal waves about to crash, takes us to the country’s capitol. The first thing one notices is how un-capitol-like it looks. More like a Swiss mountain village, with medieval stone and wooden palaces painted brightly in primary colors. Even new construction is in the traditional fashion, which appears to have been derived from the school of Gingerbread House. It is so refreshing to miss that horrific glass and concrete jumble that passes for architecture in so many other parts of Asia these days. Its like the land that time forgot. Or rather that commercialism forgot. Signs are all hand painted and discreet, in both English and Dzongkha.
Friday is market day, so I am taken to wander among the stalls of apples, turnips, chili, cheese, and spices. Did I mention the cheese? Apparently a Swiss farmer visited here in the early part of the century and brought with him some fine cows. He taught a group of local farmers the Way of Cheese and a new religion was born.
People are mildly curious as we wander, but not one person solicits or begs. There is no attempt to alter the natural course of events. They are simply not interested in getting anything out of us. Everyone seems content with their lot. I guess Gross National Happiness ratings are up this year.
It is not a particularly spectacular market, except for the fact that it takes place in the heart of town beside a raging pure blue river, the banks of which explode with the most penetrating color of green grass I have ever seen. And there is not a speck of trash. You can practically feel the prana soaking in to your skin and lungs and eyes. Everything is alive.
It occurs to me that this is what we are looking for in practice: looking for our original state of purity. And yet how easy it is to confuse this goal – why does it seem like we are trying to create something different? Like practice will take us to another, different, better place. It seems we already have exactly what we need; we just don’t realize it because we’ve covered it up with all this extra stuff. If we just leave it alone, our being is awake, alive, wise and present. Intelligent. We have natural intelligence that we mostly ignore in favor of the beliefs we are told. This is what dims Radiance. And drives us to our mats or cushions to uncover this forgotten source of life. After all what we seek is enlightenment: a lightening of our load. If we can get out of our own way, see through the imprints of ego, nature will take care of everything and glow.
On the way back to the Thimpu lodge, the rains have left a perfect rainbow exactly over the town. Long needled pine trees by the roadside with boughs that look like something Zsa Zsa Gabor might have in her closet: they lilt and waft precociously in the breeze. I am informed that rainbows here are a daily occurrence. I suppose this is only natural in a town uncorrupted by blaring commercialism and modernization: when you don’t mess with mother-nature, she shines in all her dazzling beauty.