This post will cover the two most spiritual things I have ever experienced. I was deeply moved by both of them. Bhutan is a deeply Buddhist country. I have mentioned before that if I ever decided to convert, as if I were disciplined enough to try, it would be in Bhutan. I found that the Tantrayana sect of Buddhism appeals to me for some reason I cannot fathom. Maybe it is just that it seems unspoiled by outside influences, much like Bhutan itself.
On the longest touring day in our itinerary we drove through beautiful mountains.
Prayer flags for our loved ones.
Our drive took us to a place called Punakha Dzong located at 3050 meters.
When I came back down the hill Mary Ann let me know that there was a Monk there who sold strings of prayer flags. That is exactly what I had just wished for. I do not care if I am in a Christian church, a mosque or a temple, I always say a prayer for the sole of my departed son. I really wanted to hang a string of prayer flags for him.
Hearing the Voice of Buddha.
From here we drove further until we reached what is called the most beautiful valley in the Himalayas.
As spiritual as beauty can be sometimes, in Bhutan you just never know what comes next
What we saw inside was a very large court yard surrounded by “dorm” rooms for a considerable amount of Monks. In the middle of the court yard was a temple. It was completely full of both Monks and civilians. They were all intently listening to an elderly Monk speaking a lesson. We peaked in, but did not feel like making a scene and trying to enter the crowded floor space. The man’s voice sounded wonderful, It sounded soothing. People were paying rapt attention.
When we left, our guide said how lucky we were to have heard the voice of Buddha. He could see by the look on my face that he owed me an explanation.
He went on to explain. In the Tantrayana sect of Buddhism, at any time there are three men walking the earth who are Lamas. One carries the spirit of Buddha, one the mind of Buddha, and one the voice of Buddha. That is who we had just been listening to. This was his monastery, these were his Monks. He is in his eighth reincarnation. His first life was in 800 A.D. Apparently he has clear memories from each of his lives. This is basically how they know he is a venerated Lama.
I was feeling very privileged. After seeing something like a million statues of Buddha in the last few years, to magically be transported to a place where I could hear his voice, made me start thinking…”am I destined for Buddhism?” Probably not, there is no way I could tolerate a mosquito biting me without killing it.
That is it for spirituality for the day. Time to go beat my wife’s cat for scratching the couch. Share with a friend, subscribe, comment, anything. Just let me know you are out there!
Bhutan Protects the Timeless Knowledge
There were three floors of the “old” library, each with a shrine to the Buddha.
Bhutan Enters the Digital Age!
Just outside of the capital city of Thimpu, there is a brand new IT Park
Space inside this building has already been leased to Microsoft and other international high tech companies. It will also serve as a start-up bed for Bhutanese entrepreneurs.
The Project Manager for the construction phase is an Australian that goes by the name of Shax. he keeps an interesting blog about the project and life in Bhutan. I suggest you read it, here.
Next post, A sacred ceremony Mary Ann and I performed which was the highlight of my five weeks in Asia.
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Our travel style,in case you are a new reader, is to hire a private guide with a comfortable car who is ours for they duration. We do not just show up and say “whatcha got.” We do our own research with every book we can find, and do not forget my wife is a university librarian. We also peruse all the social media sites, the usual suspects and a few that are truly suspect.
Then we start contacting guides using again every source we can find. If we send someone an email and get no response within 48 hours, that person goes on the dung heap never to be recycled.
That is pretty brutal, but pity the ones who get right back to us. We let them make a proposal in the form of an itinerary. Then we hack at it. They come back with changes. What we are really looking for is a bit of creativity and daring on their part. This consumes a lot of their time. Mary Ann leaves it up to me because I have nothing but time. This puts us in a distinct advantage. We may be playing on their field, but I’m Sandy Koufax and I don’t care where I am pitching.
The person who I ended up choosing was a guy named Johan at Noramix Travels available through www.Srilanka.com. I threw him a few curve balls, and he had a great turn at bat.
All that brings me around to this trip to Sri Lanka.
Sun rise over Sri lanka from our Air Arabia flight, taken with my new IPAD
Now that we were settled into a wonderful room our driver, Farzan, or as he put it “not Tarzan”, started taking us around Colombo. It is pretty port town dating back to the days of spice and tea trade. The Portuguese and English in turn ran the trading businesses through this town. Sri Lnka has been independent since shortly after WWII.
The country suffered through a civil war that just ended a few years ago. The tourism industry is recovering nicely in the south west quarter of the country and a bit slower elsewhere. Colombo shows no signs of the war.
Another thing we saw in Colombo, and everywhere else in Sri Lanka, is a comfortable co-existence of Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian religions. You see it in the temples, mosques and churches and the cultural dress. I wish that were worldwide, alas.
We drove around and saw the city. Nice, but not much to blog about. However we did find one thing I have always wanted to see, a snake charmer.
Then we went to a place that was a combination museum and temple. This museum is more like a warehouse, but it’s full of valuable and beautiful treasures. Some of the shrines and buddhas were actually made of gold or completely covered in diamonds. I was busy taking photos of this cute little Buddhist monk…
…when my wife called out, “You gotta see this”. On my bucket list is the worlds largest Buddha statue, which I quess I will need to go to China to see. I had never considered the worlds smallest Buddha but here he was right in front of me .
We had been travelling across the coconut all night and day, so we went back to the hotel, had our first of many wonderful Sri Lankan meals. We had to get up early in the morning for the trin to Kandeeland!
Next post, Kandee! A wonderful city in the hill country, gateway to the tea plantations of old Ceylon!
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