So, in a country where life is slow and simple - I have still remained busy, while seeking stillness in just being. The days are getting warmer, even though afternoon winds bring a gust and chill. So much so that roofs fly away. In keeping with Bhutanese standards of building and architecture, nails are not used in home construction. Most homes are stone, with open roofs. Roofs are held down by river rocks and chili peppers drying in the sun. Chili's comprise every dish, alongside rice and dhal. And, a local favorite dish is emadasi - chili and yak cheese. However, I will say that I had a lovely birthday dinner - which was Western standard/Bhutanese style. I enjoyed yak carpaccio and yak bolognase - I figured, why not make it a yakkity yak birthday. I regret to say that one of the biggest challenges that I have endured is finding deep sleep. The towns are full of wild dogs, and they seem to bark all night long. The locals believe that the barking dogs keep evil spirits away. Possibly, but the fact that all dogs sleep during the day - I reckon they are just bored and having fun all hours of the night. We have several cows that wander outside our doorstep - but they are very mellow, just like the Bhutanese.
I was lucky enough to experience the annual Tsechu - which is a sacred 5 day festival of dance, prayer and chanting. Most dances are to prepare you for death. Once your spirit leaves your body, it remains in Bardo. Used loosely, the term "bardo" refers to the state of existence intermediate between two lives on earth. According to tradition, after death and before one's next birth, when one's consciousness is not connected with a physical body, one experiences a variety of phenomena. These usually follow a particular sequence of degeneration from, just after death, the clearest experiences of reality of which one is spiritually capable to, and up to terrifying hallucinations arising from the impulses of one's previous unskillful actions. For the prepared and appropriately trained individuals the bardo offers a state of great opportunity for liberation, since transcendental insight may arise with the direct experience of reality, while for others it can become a place of danger as the karmically created hallucinations can impel one into a less than desirable rebirth. So, by witnessing the dancers in somewhat frightful masks - we are able to get a glimpse of what we might come across, therefore teaching one not to have fear.
Tomorrow, I take off on an 11 day tour of sacred sites of Bhutan. Feeling fortunate to see more of this magical land.
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