Sunday, September 30, 2018

World through the eyes of a child

With Micky Mouse comic although she do not know how to read.

I've a beautiful, smart and talkative niece. Her name Chimi Eden was given by my guru, Kyabje Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche. She's only four years old. She never makes me feel bore. Whenever she sees me, she greets me, “Kuzung Zangpo la Aku,” and then she would come close to shake hand. Then she would put me so many questions. I've to be clever enough to defend otherwise she will keep on asking one after another. She is never tired of inquiring anything. Once I read in an article where psychologist have highlighted parents to give enough time to child during their early years. It is a crucial stage of learning for them. Bad environment or bad influence may help them become aggressive and otherwise. I've been keeping myself at par with the aforementioned  findings whenever I meet children. As I was saying about Chimi, let me share one of the incident with her that made me to rethink time and again.

Chimi and I were washing kitchen utensils. We were only three of us at home including her eldest brother. As usual she was asking me many thing and in between I was also actively involving her do the washing. Since I've a backache, I often stretch and ease my stiff muscles. That time too I erected my back, twisted my neck and ultimately muttered, “a-la-la-la Shi-lay-la Jung.” She paused her busy hand and looked quzzically at me. She then said, “Aku, we will die even having a backache?” It prompted me to ask about death instead of answering her. 

“What is dying?” Said I.

Aku, you don't know?” Said she, “It is like sleeping.”

Like sleeping, I thought. Of course we go for a longer sleep. Wow feeling aroused in me. “Are you afraid of dying?”

“Obviously I'm afraid,” She replied, “are you not?”

“Why?” Said I.

She was trying to find something in her head and then reassured herself by asking me. “Aku, if there is lots of blood coming out, you will die. “ she said and continued, “are you not going to get scared if blood oozes from your body?”

“Oh, we will die only if blood comes out?” I rephrased the line.

“Yes.” She confidently said.

“Chimi, who taught you all this things?” I said.

Aku my ama told me.” She adorably said this line.

To check her, I couldn't hold myself from creating lots of question in my head but she was not willing to respond to every question. We know how scared children's are just when they see blood, even if it comes out of their scratched skin. For them world is defined by whoever is around them. Chimi is scared of death but she don't know why? Seeing a red blood Chimi gets afraid so much so that she finds death in it.  Maybe we carry the experience of death from our past lives though it is difficult to recollect. I'm sure Chimi will come to ķnow life more deeper as and when she enters the different stages of life. I hope that she'll also know about birth and death better than her mother’s words. The ultimate goal of us is to improve in life eventually reaching a desired goal.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Beautifully Blessed Bumthang

I presume, Bumthang receives the highest number of Tshechu compared to other districts in a year. It is blessed by a great Indian saint Guru Padmasambhava in 747 A.D.  Following the footsteps of Guru Rinpoche many Buddhist scholars have tried to preserve and promote for the benefit of sentient beings. I have known Bumthang for two things since my early teenage. I knew from books and orally heard that Bumthang is a place where you'll find lots of sacred Buddhist temples in every direction. Another story is, I heard, there used to be lots of evil spirits (demon and witches). I was eager to visit temples/monasteries and hear more about evil beings but reluctant as well.

Chamkhar Valley in the evening
Just stepping in this beautiful Bumthang valley gave me a feeling where many would not be able to express. The energy was so refreshing that I always wanted to spent the rest of my life in this valley. Maybe my prayer was heard by almighty above or I already had a connection from my past karma. I consider myself a fortunate human for getting rarest opportunity to live with soothing energy in so called Bumpa: holy water vessel, thang: plain valley. Beside religiously adorned beauty, Bumthang is also known for the production of best leaders in the history. Since I'm not a good historian, I'm sorry, I've to wind up apolitical histories.

More importantly I'm here to share about local festivals which are in pipeline especially at the end of summer's season. Paedtsheling Goenpa hosts the first and this year it fell in early June. After three months Tamzhing Phala Choedpa coincides with Thimphu Tshechu which is followed by Thangbi, I don't know much of the significance but I have been always able to present at least a day in all the Tshechu's. Jakar Tshechu and Jambay Lhakhang Tshechu is yet to come.

With atsara at Paedtsheling Goenpa on 3rd June 2018
Paedtsheling is more than half an hours drive from chamkhar bazaar but road condition is worst during summer. Taxi fare was Nu. 300/- per head. There is another option for those interested one's, walking can take at least two hours.

Tamzhing last day on 21st Sept 2018
Tamzhing is 3 km away from chamkhar bazaar. Local people says, it is the only monastery lasted for more than five hundred years free from natural disasters. During the last day there will be a blessing for the public. First will be a blessing known as pakpa wang, in which a sacks stitched of leather which is of course filled with sacred treasure, zung as in buddhist term, is hit at the back and it is believed to clear one's path also washing away negativity. Next is to receive a blessing from a statue of Tshepamey which is of course sculpted by Tertoen Pema Lingpa himself.

Thangbi Mae-wang on 24th Sept 2018
Mae-wang is a fire blessing ceremony and is also the main highlight at Thangbi Tshechu. It is risky if not careful. There is a chances of suffering from stampede when people rushes to cross the blazing fire. It is advisable not to rush although many energised will be eager to try. Many Monastry have mae-wang but unlike Thangbi they do it in the night, which I observed is more riskier.
Thangbi is almost 30 minutes drive from Chamkhar. From Kurjey Lhakhang the road is unpaved.

Jakar Tshechu is interesting to watch in a small courtyard. I don't know much about Jakar Tshechu but courtyard is congested which can accommodate less number of people. I had to stand and watch the dance. Nevertheless Jakar dzon is beautifully built. To know more one will have to go through history. The gigantic dzong is located overlooking Chamkhar.

19th Oct 2018

Jambay Lhakhang is the oldest monastery in Bhutan and it is believed to have been built by Songtsen Gompo of Tibet before Guru's arrival. But recent researchers believe that the construction of Jambay Lhakhang began even before Songtsen Gompo by the locality. I can't guarantee the reliability in information. Maybe proper research is required. Nevertheless there's one unique chham (dance) performed during late night. It's known as Ter-Chham or naked dance.
Jambay Lhakhang is 10 minutes drive from Chamkhar.

(Photo will be updated)

P.s. Tshechu I mentioned is only under Chhokhor Gewog. There are several monasteries which are under other three gewogs. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Monk; exactly after a year

Human mind is incredible. It is really a mysterious thing that can't be exposed and shown to each other. Saying that I'm not limiting or underestimating other persons capability. One of us might be capable enough to drill and pave a path, maybe beyond anyone of us have ever dreamt. Neil Armstrong surprised us by landing in a moon, which might have been a mere dream or fantasy place for a duffer of my kind. He proved incredibility of our mind. I'm sure nothing is impossible with this mind of ours when it meets an exact discipline. When I'm sharing this on a larger platform please do not misunderstand me to a someone who has realised or to a someone who is acquiring a divinely power. I'm simply penning my personal thought about life. It can be comparable to a person fighting for his personal right just because he is a human.

We have heard great stories, also witnessed marvellous work of our ancestors and still legacies are kept for the future generations. If I may ask you all, are we solving a problem or adding to It? The response will differ. Individual of us can opine as per our own resonating capability. My observation is little bit crazy but more inclined and borrowed from Buddha's philosophy. Many medicines have solved and cured disastrous diseases. Our workload is being outsourced to machines and super computers are replacing human brains. Isn't that wonderful achievement? It is. Why do we do all this? Very simple. Happiness! Are we happy having such?  I am not sure but read in an article describing how world is suffering despite lots of ground-breaking findings in various fields. Medicines have cured diseases and super computers are easing our work but thousands are dying from depression. We are globally connected but socially unreachable. Children's are virtually educated while parents are busy in their own work. Families are forgotten. Alas! I miss my bedtime stories too. Living in a confused world, sometimes, I feel like a machine put into use & then immediately replaced once it becomes an obsolete. There's no room for wore and torn machines. Simply chasing after happiness never made us happy instead it has brought more suffering. 

Analysing and experiencing bitter truth I opted a path that shall clear my mundane existence. The path is very simple and yet comprehensive subject per se. I don't think I've achieved anything by becoming a monk but I've reduced some stress level. Although not 100%, I've lost interest in worldly pleasure. I have taken a step to view world quite different from past. There was a day when I used to judge world solely based upon prove and now I'm realising where my narrow perception would lead. I can't say that I wasn't superstitious in the past but now I'm more superstitious. I also believe in things I was reluctant once. Even stones and trees have occupied a room in my heart. My discipline is not concerned about temporary happiness and for this reason I'm systematically obliged to be present in every function. I am not taking it for granted.  Of course I may fail to abide every rules & regulations but then it's a platform to experience after failure. Having faith and trust in my heart I bow Kencho sum to guide me until I attain and become one like my guru. 

In closing Sufi poet Rumi exactly describes my intention when he said, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I'm wise, so I'm changing myself.“ 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

What I do 24/7

“Hey! wake-up!“ I hear my friend's voice. “And please snooze or turn off the alarm clock.” How funny it is when you fail to notice determinedly set alarm, almost every morning. It may be funny up to some limit but not if it becomes my habit. Instantly I slip my hand to stop alarm (feeling quite irritated). Another interesting thing I am going through is when I extend my sleep for a minute or five and end up snoring another one hour. Honestly if you're still going through my kind of a situation, be careful. Any ways, I will walk you to another journey of my life which is also part of my daily routine.

Exactly I've thirty minutes for the breakfast after the study; which begins from four past half to six o'clock in the early morning. It takes four minutes to reach mess when I walk fast otherwise entire one thousand eight hundred second will not be sufficient for the slow walker.

Gaen-dru-cho-ni Lhakhang on my way to mess.

On the way to mess I get to circumambulate Gaen-dru-cho-ni Lhakhang which serves six class rooms and a office too.

Dinning hall. 

Hardly it takes fifteen minutes to stand in queue, eating, washing of plates and in other miscellaneous activities. With my filled tummy I am already in front of dukhang when the conch is blown.

 Monks blowing conch shell. 

I sit for one hour and fifteen minutes in the morning prayer. After prayer, I am obliged to reach my morning class i.e., first period. Every session is melodiously introduced by briefing on how rare is to get human birth and why we should rejoice for getting it.

 Hostel, and classroom at the right end. Debate is also
 conducted in this courtyard.

We are repeatedly taught to serve others in order to serve ourselves. It is the only place I am being taught to study my-self. After a tea break for half an hour, second class will begin at nine past half. For another one hour I become an enthusiastic listener, enjoying the sacredness of every word not knowing how class finishes like a dream. Before going for the lunch I've another one hour to remain in the room and do self study; revising can be effective. 

After taking a hefty lunch (11:30/12:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) I can think of nothing other than a siesta. Another one and half hour from one past half will be invested into learning other than academic session. It can be learning of cymbal, dhung chen, conch-shell, Tibetan trumpet and other ritual related things. There's another half an hour break for afternoon tea. When a second hand tick three past half, it is a time for the self study until the next gong.

 Towards Khar-Sum-Pa after 17th summer
 retreat lead by Venerable Chophel Jamthso.

A sonorous sound will be heard indicating us to assemble for the debate which will be for one and half hour. Initially, I had a tough time in understanding basic rules of a debate & yet I've a thousands of miles to travel just to learn debate let alone  other sacred teachings. Debate is also a pillar to upgrade knowledge by sharing with friends. Doubts can be cleared too. Although there are several reasons I'm unable to mention everything, pardon me.

Dinner will be served at six and evening prayer after thirty minutes. Evening prayer is to please deities. We pray for the protection of every beings. 

Evening study beings from eight past half. Then I find a time to completely rest and recharge my body to reignite next morning for the same schedule.

Morning & evening prayer hall. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

An interview with a monk who left worldly life at 40’s

Life is uncertain. We know it. Life teaches us lesson to escape this samsara but only few are wise enough to understand. Rest of us are hooked in attachment. Recently I met a friend by the name of Kinzang Dorji. Kinzang is currently a monk at Kharchu Monastry, PP-grade, and he is 43 years old. He was born in Trashigang and later settled at Umling in Sarpang after his father retired from army. Kinzang is a divorcee and has three children who are all studying in school. Earlier he also served in Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) for about 7 years and voluntarily resigned in 2006. After that he worked as security guard under Army Welfare Project (AWP) for few years. Knowing impermanence of life he decided to start spiritual journey. 
Like everyone of us Kinzang too has a story to share. I am not writing to expose or defame anyone, including himself. Indeed it is a consensual one. Ever since he disclosed me, I've always wanted to share his interesting life story in brief. 

Kinzang Dorji during study hour

Me: Why did you decided to become a monk?

Kinzang: Um, first let me thank you for taking time and writing about me. That is interesting and difficult question. It is a long story, I can tell you in a nuts shell. (Long breathing.)

Me: Please continue.

Kinzang: Frankly Speaking, I was an alcoholic husband. Everything started from alcohol and my addiction for it. (he paused in hesitation.) There was no single day without alcohol and yet I didn't realise I was with a disease of alcoholism. By the time I realised my own addiction, I found myself in the hospital. Experiencing the worst effect of alcohol I wanted to completely quit but I couldn't. Even knowing my worst situation I continued drinking. I got kicked out of my own home. Fade up, my wife issued a divorce paper. I chose alcohol over family and wandered from one place to another.

Me: Ok.

Kinzang: I reached Thimphu and worked in constructions since I know basic masonry and carpentry. In Thimphu, I did detoxification twice and that's when doctor, knowing my background history, wanted to sent me for a rehabilitation centre. I was introduced to Chithuen Phendhey Association (CPA). I owe them, especially Tshewang Tenzin, Executive Director. From there I was sent to Paro rehab for 3 months where my expenses were beard by CPA. Apparently It was rehab that groomed me become who I'm today. Without support from a people thereof I might have lived beggar’s life or else died in accident somewhere. After staying three months in rehab, everyone is expected to change both physically and mentally. I too decided to start my new life. To start a new life, nothing came into my mind but to live a simple life. I saw it in a monastic life. Sobriety is peace.

Me: Was it hard leaving behind your family, friends and worldly affairs?

Kinzang: No-no. Actually I am fade up with worldly affairs. Sorry to be too dramatic, it is a fact that everything is suffering. When I was denied to meet my children, I lost value of having a family. Not even a single friends consoled me during my pathetic condition, I lost trust in friendship. Recently I found everything; family and friendship in a monastic life, providing me a new world.

In front of Monastry 
Me: What's the hardest thing about being a monk?

Kinzang: Ah. I think it's okay to be in discipline and improve instead of wandering in the streets like a gypsies. When I compare my lay life and monastic life, I have achieved enormous energy of being human in the latter. But if I've to pinpoint, memorising is the hardest thing for me. Whatever I studied in the morning, I forget in the evening. Otherwise there's nothing to complain. (Smiles.)

Me: What's the most enjoyable part of  being a monk?

Kinzang: Another interesting question. Being a monk making others happy is an enjoyment. Every morning when I wakeup I see myself alive for one more day and that's enjoyable for me, I can continue with my Dharma.

Me: Do you ever feel an urge to return to lay life?

Kinzang: Not at all. I never dream about it (laughs.)

Me: Would you like to share anything that we didn't cover?

Kinzang: I don't have any special message. I want to say, please do not waste precious human life simply into enjoyment. If you're unproductive nobody will love you. Be a productive person, even unknown will held you high. Life doesn't end until and unless you accept the challenge as failure.
To err is human;  to forgive, divine. We are down to improve through mistakes. One might be going through hard time in overcoming an addiction. That's okay. You make yourself tough enough to prove who you're. You will surely win. Accept criticism in life for it is the driver of your life. There will be a time when nothing will work as per the way you want. You just console yourself before any kind of odd situation overtakes like mine. There is only one great thing of all and it's ‘you’. Value you, love you, care you and rest will go smoothly.
Last but not the least, I want to share Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo's:

དལ་འབྱོར་རྙེད་དཀའ་ཐོབ་པ་ད་རེས་ཙམ། །
daljor nyé ka tobpa daré tsam

Now I have this unique opportunity, a free and well-favoured human form, so difficult to find.

མི་རྟག་འཆི་བ་ནམ་འོང་ཆ་མ་མཆིས། །
mitak chiwa nam ong cha machi

But it will not last forever; death can come at any moment,

འཁོར་བ་གང་དུ་སྐྱེས་ཀྱང་སྡུག་བསྔལ་རྒྱུ། །
khorwa gangdu kyé kyang dukngal gyu

And wherever I am born in saṃsāra, it is a cause for suffering;

དགེ་སྡིག་ལས་ཀྱི་རྒྱུ་འབྲས་བསླུ་བ་མེད། །
gedik lé kyi gyundré luwamé

Whether my actions are virtuous or harmful, karma’s cause and effect cannot be escaped.

ཐར་ལམ་ཐོབ་པ་བླ་མའི་ཐུགས་རྗེས་ཟུངས། །
tarlam tobpa lamé tukjé zung

O lama, hold me with your compassion, so that I find the path to liberation!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Confession #1

I have a privilege of meeting my old friends every weekends via social network. Thank you technology for easing life of fellow human beings and simplifying workload which benefits a lazy person like me. Our conversation would start sharing about gone moments and would laugh heartily but let me be frank, the intensity of laugh is not as powerful as it used to be. Why? I am not sure but it happens and happened. I noticed. Any ways I believe, it is nothing but a part of change and change is necessary, if one of you've never enjoyed it. However I'm some what guilty to get praise from a friends for I've done nothing worth to receive praises. "You must be lucky to have such a life," they expressed while some even told me that I must be a kind hearted person too. Sorry I cannot define how lucky I am but surely I'll tell you how 'kind' I was & I'm. 

At a tender age of six I started hunting pheasants and this happened more than a score of years ago in a remote village of Phu, it means a mountain in our dialect. My two friends were expert hunter and knew every kind of tricks to catch pheasants. In the jungle we kept a trap in several directions expecting at least one trapped, next day. We would collect a cup of rice, vegetable oil, if possible, chilli and go for a picnic after every score. I was cruel but I was also innocent  during those stage of life. Innocent? Of course, innocently committed sin.

Few years later our family migrated to Gelephu upon receiving new land, as a second resettlement group, in 1998. By then, I was only eight years old. It was a different story being a poor and in a new place with people from different ethnic. Perhaps I was mentally shaped in such environment to become even more cruel than before? I don't remember when did I began but I must have killed thousands of fishes. If you ask me which method I haven't used, it would be uninvented one otherwise my cruelty had no boundary. I used umbrella ribs, mosquito nets, hook, battery and used other method that is not favourable to mention here. Right after school hour, I would be already in the stream with required fishing stuff. My last fishing was in my early twenties. I was matured then.
Not only this, I even became a bird hunting expert. Back then we used to get catapult even from Gelephu bazaar since neighbouring assamese were allowed freely unlike today. I killed several birds for the sake of enjoyment. I think I contributed in the extinction of birds and fish. Even ecologist would like to punish me let alone my negative karma that awaits for the chance every moment of life. This story of my cruelty doesn't end here. Indeed I've so many but for God's sake let me forget and believe that I was not cruel innately.
Dear friends, by now, you know how 'kind' I was.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Story of a chicken and......

"One beautiful/horrible/terrible/fine night.....," that's how stories are usually begun and the trend will go on in a time to come. I would like to begin my short narration in a way that has been pass to us.

One night, maybe I was in a 5th grade, our group friend planned to make a simple celebration among ourselves since winter has approached.  After discussion on requirement of edible items (and of course some drinks), one of the friend, I don't remember him, urged to have chicken. Chicken! I thought. "Where shall we get?" Said I. Those days it was not difficult to get chicken but we were broke. Though all of my friends were son of a civil servant their pocket money would lavishly waste in buying useless things. "Not very difficult," one friend broke the silence and looked at me, "we'll eat the one we've been waiting for since a year ago." Another friend slapped his own hands together and reaffirmed, "I think we'll have to catch and keep ready tonight itself," he continued, "Tashi your mom should not know about this. If she question us we'll lie." I nodded. Couldn't spoke a word initially but I hid unhappiness and told them that my mother doesn't have any right to poke into our business. Soon we directed towards my house to catch the rooster.

A year ago same group of us were returning from Kalikhola after swimming in a winter day. We were drenched except upper half shirts. Our eyes were red and face somewhat dried due to exposure into water and sun for a longer hours. All of us were hungry, every time we would be in this condition and crazily we always find a reason to go for swimming and that too without parents notice. Chungku took out Nu. 85, if I've not forgotten, and gave it to Ngawang telling him to buy junk foods. Out of nowhere one friend suggested him to buy a chicken. Ngawang and Chungku went to a nearby house to buy chicken while rest of us were eagerly waiting for them to return. I noticed Chungku smiling and not Ngawang as he was behind. "Chick!" Said I. I couldn't imagine what we were doing and what we'll be doing hence. Chungku said, "our money is not enough to buy a fully grown chicken," he smoothly placed chick into his palm and patted then continued, "uncle was kind and gave us this little so that we can have it when it is fully grown." Hell I thought to myself. "Tashi can we raise this at your home?" Said Ngawang, at this rest of them were showing their pleasing expression, "We'll tell your mother that this is a Tshed-thar." I couldn't deny but I didn't show approving sign. Any way I listened to whatever they suggested and convinced my mother too.

I peeped through hole to check mother. She wasn't in the house. None were bothered to inform her even if she would have been at that instant moment. Common mission was to find rooster. Probably I knew where rooster sleeps but I was pretending behind them mimicking every action & only hoping to see my friends getting hopeless. Sad thing was, I did not notice any of my them losing interest or getting hope less. They were doing everything to find. Finally one of the friend saw on the branch of a small mango tree that has grew in front of our thatched house. My heart was beating but in pain. I could not spoke any word that would lead to save a rooster's life.  Bearing a pain inside, I could only wear a mask they've worn. But it wasn't as simple as you may have thought to catch a rooster, eh! Even hours of chasing was not an easy task to catch. My friends were sweating while some even quarrelled when they missed a catch. In between I had to take advantage of their tiredness and told them to try next day. Somehow rooster got inside the piled up firewood that has been kept in our down floor. There wasn't any chance of getting then. I sighed with relief thinking, it was all over.
This doesn't end here. You know what we had in plan B? It was to manage one chicken by any means and that must happen in the same night. So we thought of sneaking into neighbours house. I was trembling when a lion-hearted friends sneaked in without any second thought. The only thought that striked was how to escape if somebody sees us. Funny thing was my friends couldn't manage what we wanted but they brought a homemade/handmade pickle. "Run!" One of them whispered, "towards the school." I never thought of turning aback not even once. I don't remember how I reached school campus, when I turned back there was none behind me. Finding a place to rest my bum I felt like laughing. Few minutes later I could hear my team's nearing me. "What were you guys doing?" I enquired them in a whispering tone. "Bring here. Let me taste." They were giggling. "We must try morrow. Let's keep our eyes during day time. Ours is a Tshed-thar we cannot kill." Ngawang said. Four of us didn't say anything & just focused into eating pickle but that didn't mean we disagreed! I felt like, I was hearing a magical word. Embracing four of them I departed as it was already late night.

I was not present during the second night's hunt. Heard they could only steal whole pickle from that same house. And rest what they did is a mystery to you (readers) all, and may be  me too? Chance is never zero.

Shall I consider this as a fate or a karmic connection? Although we have intentionally raised rooster to be eaten like a glutton, irony is, it has earned a Tshed-thar's title. We were not able to eat rooster because we created a white lie? I believed in 'intention matters' philosophy but it didn't served the purpose at least in our childhood story. What we've intended and what we've seen is opposite; meant to be killed and at last raised as Tshed-thar. My families were helped by rooster every morning substituting alarm clock of the modern world. Nearly after five years of stay with our family, mothers acquaintance wanted a male chicken for the chicks purpose. She had given when I was away. Story doesn't end here but my narration.

Tshed-thar---> Freed animal from near death situation or animals that are raised against butchering. 


World through the eyes of a child

With Micky Mouse comic although she do not know how to read. I've a beautiful, smart and talkative niece. Her name Chimi Eden wa...