A Temple Blessing in Bhutan
One of the most special encounters I’ve experienced in Bhutan was the afternoon I spent with a Head Lama.
My journey to meet him took me on an ascending drive from Bhutan’s Capital, Thimpu to the Dochula Pass, which sits at 3,140 metres. The views from the Pass across the entire Himalayan mountain range are so astounding that on first sight, they take one's breath away. As I walked amongst the forest of fluttering prayer flags, I could see the snow clad mountain peaks of the Himalayas laid out before me with the highest peak in Bhutan, Mt. Masanggang (at 7,158 metres) in all its glory.
At the Pass there is a maze of 108 memorial chortens (stupas) known as "Druk Wangyal Chortens", built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the eldest Queen Mother, and the Druk Wangyel Temple where I was to meet the Head Lama.
Upon entering the temple, I was guided into a small room, where a bright-eyed and smiling monk, stood to greet me and we sat on his blanketed floor. The room was covered floor to ceiling with colourful tapestries, books, presents from guests, holy offerings, prayer beads, and photographs of his pilgrimages. It was his place for prayer and also for rest and I felt very at home but also very privileged to be there.
Over milk tea and Kabzey and Zow (Bhutanese snacks of biscuits and roasted rice sweetened with butter and sugar), the Lama told me about his life - his years of living in solitude meditating in the forests of Bhutan and how he longed to go back to meditate in the woods but the Queen Mother insists he stays on to run the Temple.
Vajrayana Buddhism, which originated in Tibet, is the state religion of Bhutan and it is incredibly complex. However, in this initiate setting, I felt very comfortable asking the many questions I had from which books to read on Buddhism, the Law of Karma, and how reincarnation works, to name but a few, and he was gracious with his responses.
Hearing philosophies at the heart of Buddhism from such a Holy figure was very moving, even as simple beliefs such as that our actions in the present, both good and bad, affect the situations and experiences of our future lives. As Padma Sambhava, an Indian teacher who brought Buddhism to Tibet in the eighth century, wrote, “If you want to know your past life, look into your present condition; If you want to know your future life, look at your present actions.”
I wish I could have talked with the Lama for many more hours, but he had another meeting that day with an important guest from Sweden... We exchanged gifts and said our goodbyes. I was delighted to have the opportunity to have this inspirational experience and look forward to organising this for many more of clients on their adventures in Bhutan.
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