For the Birthday girl happy 36th!
Pushing the Rock Through the Doughnut Hole
“Behind me is a tiger and a killer with a knife one wants me for supper and the other wants my life” Banyan Tree
The Christian calendar which is the official calendar in every country on earth turned the page to August making Jesus Christ the most influential person to ever live. Congrats Jesus! There are some undercover Christians in the Land of the Thunder Dragon including many Southern Bhutanese of Nepali descent. It’s a fascinating mixture in these parts with Hindu, Buddhist, Christians and Muslims in the region (India included). But I guess that’s the new earth isn’t it. With all this cross pollination humanity may be primed for a peaceful revolution or more turmoil. Flip the cosmic coin or spin the wheel to decide (red or black) but it’s pure Buddhist around here and that faith permeates every fiber of the national psyche (even coloring those covert Christians) In fact this is the bastion of Himalayan Buddhism unfiltered by secular ideologies or colonization. Within these steep furrowed mountains tantric Buddhism has morphed with bon to form a quirky pure ritualistic brand of Buddhism. But even those Zen Japanese pump support into the kingdom. Bhutan is the envy and treasure of the Buddhist world and pilgrims/tourist flock from the four directions to worship here. Tigers nest is no doubt the epicenter where Guru Rinpoche’s essence is undiluted. Ah pure Guru Rinpoche energy and light so yummy! We’re a long way from Jerusalem (mot in miles) Bhutan exists in another era and perhaps dimension and remains as haunted with mystery as the first time I heard the word. B.H.U.T.A.N! Where did the dragon come from? Well might of come from Tibet through Lhuntse or maybe via Paro. The kingdom is agriculturally supported and beyond the terraced fields and fertile valleys are wild beasts and giant butterflies. The national animal is the Tankin a goat moose and the kingdom boasts tigers, wild elephants, unicorn rhinos, yeti’s, red pandas, leopards, snow leopards, boars, and king cobras but that’s the tip of the moraine so to speak. But it’s the real deal here planet earths last hope so what if the Bhutanese throw their trash everywhere willy-nilly. The forests are virtually undisturbed for the time being although glaciers are melting, litter is mounting yet the tigers thrive at higher elevations so there must be plenty of deer to devour. Ain’t the animal kingdom intense imagine being a deer minding your own business and being ambushed by a tiger. The frightening thing is human nature isn’t much different except the tiger is cancer or homicide. Speaking of trash, improvement is negligible if not barely perceptible. I feel like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the hill from Doksom. Poor Sisyphus must’ve had OCD constantly pushing that damn stone up and up and up reciting the Greek alphabet backwards as he went. Or perhaps he’s the poster boy (poster nut bag) for Samsara the empty illusion that once in awhile can be a shot in the arm but that spike inevitably leads to a crash. Thanks a lot Buddha for bursting our bubble. Jesus lives for the afterlife, Buddha lives for the next life (or enlightenment so he can play Minnie golf in Nirvana with Jesus) and the hedonist lives for pork and beans. Cast your vote, can you guess to which your author will cast his LOT. I have to confess that living in Bhutan Buddhism seeps in but mostly the simplistic accountability that Bhutanese share is infectious. (A lot of things are infectious in Bhutan mostly germs, icky native germs) There still is homicide egotism and plight but it is all felt by the collective as Bhutanese are united and probably half related. It’s a peculiar thing immersed in these circumstances and on occasion I pine for home with pangs in my heart that ring like the opening chords of Sugar Magnolia. But sitting on my rock baking in temporary or rather impermanent rays of our dying sun I can’t fathom being anywhere else. My erratic pendulum swings like a Poe classic and my mind scatters in ten thousand and one directions with no center. Reality resembles the hole of a doughnut (the doughnut void glazed or old fashioned?) So I ride the inner tube down the cosmic rapids trying to get over my petty ways, a visiting student pointed out a photograph of my X Korean GF and said I should marry her so I can have a precious life, ironically Soyoung is celebrating her own nuptials any moment now. So I practice tonglin the Buddhist mantra of praying for all beings, so I try it with the newlyweds and Logan, Morgan’s Paramour but I feel sad and give up. But I don’t feel victimized about anything anymore and don’t feel slighted or cuckold and know I must march forward independently remembering that the universe doesn’t owe me anything and my inheritance is nothingness, the entire void free of cost! One of my challenges is opening up to the universe and not attaching to things and people but sometimes I feel discouraged at the pace of my personal evolution and often feel like Jack Kerouac tossing his marbles into the maelstrom surf of Big Sur.
It’s currently 12:20 BST and I have to rise and whine in five and a half hours (I’m TOD, Tim on duty) but who knows I might just rise and shine and bash that old complaint box like a gang of suburban hooligans on a midnight ramble. The omnipotent curtain of rain cascades over my tin roof as Bruce sings Sugaree on the I- pad a device that’s changed my life, I’ve read thirty novels IN LARGE PRINT since coming here. I never want to read a book again squinting for edification not that I don’t appreciate a cold hard book in my paws but LARGE PRINT is a boon for this hombre. Right now I’m perusing Tom Sawyer and feel a bit like Aunt Polly in the classroom halfheartedly trying to squelch the tomfoolery of the students. So in the words of the immortal bard Dennis Richmond Goodnight-“t” and we’ll see you all back here again on the same bat channel and all that shit…(I can say that since SHIT is not a cuss word here, HMPH!)
Compassion in Action
So it’s a foggy groggy day at Tsenkharla after a torrential night of rain, a pure monsoon scene in Monyul and my body is tired and my spirit logged although I’d prefer to be light. Spirit is heavy soul is feathery and the features of Guru Rinpoche are queerly serene but for all we know his remains might have mouldered to dust long ago but that isn’t relevant since his imprint is the moment that never ending chance to empower one’s self so I dust myself off and keep trying thankful at the awareness I have gleaned in Bhutan. The Guru (precious teacher) meditated so hard he left his imprint in rocks but for the BCF teacher we leave our imprints in the psyche of our students both by imparting valuable knowledge and hopefully adding a pinch of wisdom since a teachers influence ideally should outreach the material he tutors and help form solid human beings. Living twenty yards from the boy’s hostel having a physical presence in their lives has as much merit as the classroom experience and I try to be as welcoming as possible keeping my door open helping with homework or just hanging out. The students gleaming faces keep me going some of them are so eager to impress and others so eager to learn and for the first time in my fledgling career I realize the POWER of this role I am playing and how important my impact is. Thus I muster up more focus and try to hone my skill set for the benefit of the remarkable youngsters I have been charged with. I also realize I will be doing this for a long time and therefore must practice my chops relentlessly remembering my motto SEVA, compassion in action. That means starting at the place that is hard for many of us, loving ourselves wholly and learning to be as kind to myself as I am too the kids.
One piece of good news is that the water situation has improved lately flowing for part of every day. I am grateful to the cooks who have made that possible and hope it continues. In the monsoon water comes out black and it’s generally an unhealthy time in the kingdom but I’m feeling fine and only drink filtered or bottled water and through the RISE AND FALL of existence feel entirely blessed to be on this stage working it out, MAKING IT UP AS I GO ALONG!