Sunday, September 9, 2012

Once Upon a Time In The Thunder Dragon Kingdom

Once upon a time is such a nice beginning. 
It fills in receptive ears and welcoming hearts that are warm and willing to receive. 

It evokes timelessness and stories that have endured the ravages and consequences of time, as well as its melancholic memoirs and nostalgic novembers. But time itself is nothing but a marker to remind man of the passage of all things, and in time, all things must pass. Having said that, it is that very reason that makes life what it is; bittersweet, glorious, tragic, touching, endearing and an epitaph that makes us pause, ponder awhile and the strength to move on and go on.

The passage of that time in space where we are is like the shooting star; a celestial brief that makes us smile and wonder. 
A rainbow that makes us forget the vagaries of life and stills and calms the flash-flooding in us; even if it be brief and fleeting. 
That is probably the reason why they say one can live a lifetime in a moment. 
Without that sense of bewilderment, happiness is just another word we can spell about and never really come to know.

"Decay is inherent in all component things! Work out your salvation with diligence!" So said a boy named Siddhartha when He became The Buddha at the tender age of thirty five as he lay in serenity breathing in his last gasp of impermanence (The Great Passing Away) - his final lesson and teaching at the ripe old age of eighty. Like all the Buddhas of the past, like all the Buddhas of the future, He was born, reached enlightenment and passed away on the Full Moon of the Fourth Lunar Month, which this year is celebrated today; June 4, 2012.
I do not know if there are still stories being told- around a warm hearth, out in the breezy dusk lights on hot summer days, around a kitchen fire in cold winter nights, or to the sound of monsoon rains drumming the roof and the ground; on renewed spring blossoms or out on a stroll hand in hand during gold-leafed autumn days.
In the end we are all stories, and the passage of every being is both natural and sad, but happiness and joy abounds when stories are told of times gone by. The beautiful part is that when we tell stories, there are no such things as bad folks, societies or countries. All of that vanishes and what remains are memories of beings that lived and strived to be happy in their own way, no matter in what way, shape or form the choices were made the pursuit was always on as it still is. 

The bird may be caged to the skies, but it still flies above fences, walls, boundaries and borders. 

It transcends the delusional divisions and the remnants are purified. 
The residue is thus a fond memoir.
On occasions such as these, we all become a little more aware of the precious boons we have been granted and been endowed with. It makes our hearts that much more receptive, appreciative and a sense of gratitude arises as spontaneously.
Today is indeed such an occasion; a beautiful occasion indeed! To go and pay one's tributes to The Tathagatha and the path he paved for us all, and to celebrate the Birthday of Her Majesty, Our Kind and Loving Dragon Queen and so much more. 
"The Tathagatha,
And The Eight-Fold Noble Path-
What else Do You Need?"
A rhetorical question of an attempted Haiku I'd put out to bedazzle myself! There are no definitives to anything but having said that, to some things, there are certain definitives; such as a queen.

A queen was what we needed.
I've not been able to sleep, on account of being rather too acquainted with the nocturnal life. But this night, which slowly dawns outside the windows, keeps me awake for reasons other than my usual wanderings. The attic I live in has a square transparent tin-sheet on the roof: a see-through; a view to the sky. There are pigeons and now they coo. Now they stir from their nests. I hear the chirps of other winged feathers and the odd wee-hour sounds of vehicles revving up their engines for another day's hustle and bustle.
And I have been lost for words the last couple of weeks and days leading up to this very designate-day and what it really means. 

There was a jam in my head. Now I see how I was trying too hard. Anything that comes from the heart and is fed with a sense of gratitude cannot be mulled over too much. It takes away from the sacredness of the occasion we will be absorbing and celebrating and its spontaneity. I'd not realized that I'd already celebrated the proceedings even as I was logged and jammed in a myriad maze of thoughts and its infinite conclusions minus solutions. 

You see; I smile every time I see Our Queen. And I smile even at the thought- of Her Majesty The Queen because there is something about Her. I'd had a big stupid grin of happiness smacked on my face when His Majesty The King announced and shared with us, His subjects whom He holds so near and dear, His impending decision to marry what He said was a beautiful human being in the form and shape of Jetsun Pema. On that noted day, that natural warm smile on His Majesty's compassionate visage was ever more radiant, telling us and sharing with us a woman whom he described as a young and compassionate being who would make us all proud and fulfill her sacred duties to the utmost as Our Queen.
I grinned and smiled a great big smile as I gazed upon and heard His Majesty's address on the telly. It brought us even more closer to Him and if ever a bond was forged without a bondage, it was and is the relationship of His Majesty The King and His people.
When we caught our first glimpse of the Dragon Queen to-be, it was love at first sight! 

Once upon a time isn't just a beginning, its a process in itself- rooted and embedded through many Karmic ties without being blinded but rather envisioned, freed and strengthened.
I was happy for My King, and I was happy for Our Queen to-be, and I was happy for Our People and Our Buddha Blessed Kingdom.
Since that joyful day, many moons have come and gone; waxed and waned, and together with that natural phenomena, so has the love between Our King and Queen and now hand in hand, their love towards us and our love and reverence for a match I believe was Made in Heaven. It is both endearing and loving, kind and courageous and a picture of hope and optimism. The People's King had someone by his side whom He loves and to the fortunate Karma of the Kingdom and its citizens, wed not just a beautiful woman but also a beautiful human being in the person of Jetsun Pema; the Flawless Lotus and as if on cue, we had been aptly gifted yet another gem from the Dragon Throne; The People's King now had the perfect bride; The People's Queen.
That Her Majesty celebrates her twenty second birthday today on the same day The Tathagatha entered unto Parinirvana is indeed more cause to pay tribute to and be what we can all be- good human beings as His Majesty keeps demonstrating.
That we have such a young and generous Queen who, though young in time, now provides love, companionship and more to His Majesty and to us; their humble and proud subjects, is in itself such an uplifting thought. 
To see Their Majesties touring the country together; 
a benevolent smile here, an encouraging word there, and to know we have a King who will guide Her Majesty, and to know that we have a Queen who will soften the many unseen and unsaid hardships and sacrifices His Majesty so naturally undertakes for and on our behalf is in itself such a comforting thought.
That they have each other to turn to is such a grateful relief.
If marriages are made in heaven, then this union was brought down to earth to illustrate the meaning of such a union: togetherness, sacrifice, altruism, a love that is on a higher plane, companionship, solace, empathy and what it means to really Care and Be Caring.
May Your Majesty always remain as pure and as flawless as the lotus that sprouts without a speck of dust yet stays wisely rooted in the complexities of life; and wisely just and justly wise as symbolized in Your auspicious name. 

And in doing that, epitomizing the meaning of simplicity as Siddhartha did.
The sun now beams its rays through the windows in the attic I live in, providing me with light and a chance to live another day as best as I possibly can... May Your Majesty be like the light that shines in, through the cracks of life; providing vision where there is darkness, wisdom where there is ignorance, optimism where there is hopelessness, courage where there is failure, and love where there is none. 
May Your Majesty become the very beacon that tells lost souls that "This Is Home and You Have Arrived..."
And May Your Majesty always arrive there safely, even as we are guided by that light... with His Majesty by Your side, and the Protector Deities of Our Beloved Kingdom and its folks, who will celebrate this beautiful day of Your Birth and The Tathagatha's Painirvana, and give thanks that we have in our midst a Caring and Compassionate Queen we will always love and who will reciprocate that back a hundred fold.
This is a story I'm telling my son, and a story someday he'll pass on to his son... a story that will be told manifold; around a warm hearth, out in cool meadows on hot summer evenings and around campfires in cold wintry months and to the music of the monsoon raindrops, the renewing spring and in gold-laden autumn days.
"Once upon a time;
Is such a beautiful Line-
May it never end!"
a Heart Felt Happy Birthday Your Majesty and Tashi Delek Phuensum Tshok! 

With Reverence and with Love  and Prayers (^)
Your most humble albeit a proud subject,
Jurmi Chhowing    


*For The Spirited Traveler

The Quest for Happiness is Official

Last Tuesday was a day to savor. A visibly emotional Prime Minister went on National Television and said he felt emotional that a small, LDC nation had been put on the world center stage. But with recognition comes responsibility and the
Prime Minister was as quick to point out the challenges now facing Bhutan in light of the resounding and unanimous support given to GNH by the global community. The Prime Minister said Bhutan will continue to provide leadership in the development of the concept, implementation, and promotion and translate happiness in terms of public policy among the members of the UN family. The date, July 20, 2011, should be etched in every Bhutanese citizen’s memory, for this was the day of a journey that began more than three decades ago when a young monarch ascended the Dragon Throne under tragic circumstances, and revolutionized the way his kingdom and his subjects would live.

His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, amongst many other jewels, gave this nation a path to development that has enriched the lives of his subjects and made the world take notice of what is a totally wholesome path to development, progress, modernization and the need to balance that with that primordial human need and want: to be happy.

In His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, we have a monarch who has furthered his father’s vision by giving a concrete shape and structure, together with his own hands at the helm of things, steering this country towards what is a noble goal with altruistic sketches and keeping in mind the fundamental bigger picture – the pursuit of happiness and the means to that end.

In Lyonchhen Jigmi y Thinley, the Bhutanese people have a Prime Minister who has tirelessly worked global forums and various media-mediums to push forward a developmental philosophy that is perhaps the ultimate need of the times, in light of what is unfolding around the world. As we speak, there is an Arab Spring awakening in the Middle east and in North Africa. Common people are standing up for what is essentially their right to life, liberty, dignity, freedom and the pursuit of happiness.

In the meantime, the Fourth South Asian association for Regional Cooperation Interior Ministers’ Conference began last Saturday to discuss, among other pertinent issues in the region, security and terrorism. The UN Resolution to adopt “Happiness” as the Millennium Development Goals and the SAARC meet couldn’t be more different, yet the issue being discussed is in direct proportion to the absence of happiness, or more practically, peace.

Bhutan’s Permanent Representative to the united Nations Lhatu Wangchuk told the BBC the next step was to help UN members better understand the concept. He admitted that there was skepticism when Bhutan started lobbying for the resolution ten months ago. But ultimately it won 66 cosponsors.
A BBC report says many at the UN were skeptical at first, but the resolution ended up winning 66 cosponsors.

Lhatu Wangchuk said Bhutan wanted to bring happiness to the UN consciousness, because GDP is an inadequate measure of the quality of life. Now member states have been invited to draw up their own measures of happiness and add them to the UN’s development agenda. When the Bhutanese Permanent Representative to the UN was asked if he thought UN diplomats were happy people, in a typical display of perhaps what the idea was all about, Lhatu Wangchuk said many were overworked, and needed to sleep more and spend more time with their families.

Meanwhile, the Gross National Happiness Commission, a brainchild of His Majesty the King, goes about brainstorming and implementing what otherwise could easily be construed as a philosophical and a metaphorical state with no actual bearing to the grassroots. The Center for Bhutan Studies has been scientifically going about the concept to transform them into quantifiable realities in terms of policies that can be implemented and worked out. In other words, the eyes of the world are firmly focused on Bhutan, and the country must perform with full awareness and mindfulness, for this could be the next catalyst for a better world.

The Prime Minister summed it up when he said, “Our endeavor will have to be to prove and convince that it is, in fact, relevant to every human and for every country.”

*For The Spirited Traveler

Visionaries, Visions And Visuals

*For The Spirited Traveler

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Phallus Is Yours

Lama Drukpa Kinley, affectionately known as the 'Divine Madman' is one of the most beloved saints in Bhutan. He was a raconteur, breaking down conventional realities by literally pushing the norms and mores of the times. The weapon he chose was the 'Divine Thunderbolt of Wisdom'-  the penis which is depicted today in most Bhutanese homes in all manners of manifestations.

The phallus is as Bhutanese as its chieftain, Lama Drukpa Kinley. He came to Bhutan from Tibet in the 15th century as the Yogi Kunga Legpai Palzangpo to teach local folks about Buddhism in more ways than folks were accustomed to and shocked and provoked the common citizenry by using gung ho methods, with entertaining poetry, songs, dance, and humor, more often than not combined with drinks and sex. It was almost akin to the sixties spirit of sex, intoxicants and rock and roll the divine way- the way of the crazy-wisdom master.

He occasionally applied all of his teaching methods with his hosts' wives, too. 

Today, Lama Drukpa Kinley lives on in very visible and distinctive incarnations, all of which depict the penis. The phallus is today a ubiquitous artwork that both amuses and entertains the visitor strange to such sights but to the Bhutanese, its more than just a painted phallus- it’s the essence of the Divine Madman himself and his enlightened mind. Its said of the painted phalluses that ‘what you see is what you get from the very projection you have made’. In other words, the phallus is just a metaphor for the way ‘You See Your Own Mind And Its Projections’. Thus a disgusted on looker showcases his own intolerance and shame, just as an admirer mirrors his own thoughts.

Lama Drukpa Kinley traveled a lot; wondering from valley to valley, and always on the prowl apparently seeking sex, wine and rock and roll. But when one peels aside the obviously entertaining aspects of his exploits, it basically boils down to teaching people the core principles of Buddhism and those that are un-Buddhist in nature, such as intolerance, ignorance, attachment, clinging to the ego and man’s inherent guilt, shame and superficial pride.

He traveled extensively in western and parts of central Bhutan, and left behind a quaint and picturesque monastery in the form of Chimi Lhakhang en route to Punakha and Wangduephodrang.

The monastery was erected by the beloved lama’s relative in 1499. Today it’s a popular tourist destination and a visit is a must if you are into the Divine Madman’s living and attitude towards life and more seriously for couples who are unable to conceive.
One visits the temple, and is promptly welcomed into the confines of the sacred lhakhang (temple), with a blessing from a wooden or stone made phallus. Thud goes the sound and bong goes the heart; with the exciting and hopeful expectations of being able to conceive a child. Couples are encouraged to spend a night in the lhakhang to make certain conception takes place indeed.

Stories abound of barren women suddenly going fertile and coming back with gratitude and thanks and presents and a little baby in tow.

Besides conception, phalluses are believed to ward off bad and unwonted spirits or the bad-eye or the wagging-tongue form being a bother.

Stories abound of the magic and miracle of the Divine Madman. One story is that of a tourist guide chaperoning a foreign-father and his 16 year-old daughter. When our guest wanted to know what was that ‘hanging thing’ the guide, a bit embarrassed on account of the girl, coyly said ‘Sir, it’s your thing". Other accounts recount a white couple from the US who managed to conceive a child. The baby, very curiously, looked oddly Asian, somewhat Bhutanese. In another tale yet again involving another white couple, the joy of having a child ayt last was more than a tad marred on account of the child looking curiously black.
He lived between 1455 and 1529.

But Seriously!!!
Drukpa Kunley, a mahasiddha and an accomplished poet from Dreuley Monastery. Known as The Divine Madman of the Dragon Lineage, Drubwang Drukpa Kunley was renowned for his crazy methods of enlightening other beings.
With mostly female disciples, he thus also earned the name The Saint of 5000 Women. He was known, for example for walking into prayer halls and emitting a beautiful smell as he walked by younger monks; then, as he walked towards the older monks, he would fart and emit a very bad smell of faeces. When the monks confronted him about this, he would tell them that the smell is a reflection of how well or badly the monks were holding their vows and morality.
He was also very famous for his teachings in desire, often using very unconventional ways to point out people’s attachments and desires to them. For example, he would lay down on a public street with his private parts exposed and his penis erect. Nuns would walk past him, showing at first how shocked they were. Then, they would walk closer to him to look at his private parts, point and talk.
When they asked him why he was doing this and causing so much trouble, he would merely tell them that he was not doing anything – it was them who were making it a big spectacle out of it. He would then give them profound teachings about desire.
Both of Drukpa Kunley’s succeeding reincarnations did not live particularly long lives. Whilst Drukpa Kunley entered clear light at the age of 74, his succeeding incarnation Drukpa Dragpa Gyeltsen was just 25 years old when he passed into clear light. The third incarnation of the Dreuley lineage lived for just 58 years.



Respected Management,

I, the penis, hereby request a raise in salary for the following reasons:
I do physical labor.
I work at great depths.
I plunge head first into everything I do.
I do not get weekends off or public holidays.
I work in damp environments.
I don't get paid overtime.
I work in dark workplaces with poor ventilation.
I work in high temperatures.
My work exposes me to contagious diseases.


Dear Penis,

After assessing your request, and considering the arguments you have raised, the administration rejects your request for the following reasons:

You do not work eight hours straight.
You fall asleep on the job after working only briefly.
You do not always follow the orders of the management.
You do not stay in your allocated position, and often visit other areas that are off-limits.
You do not take any initiative- you have to be pressured and stimulated in order for you to do your job.
You always leave the workplace messy at the end of your shift.
You don't always observe necessary safety regulations, such as wearing safety and protective clothing.
And you'll retire well before you turn sixty-five.
You cannot perform double shifts.
You sometimes leave your designated position before you have even completed the day's work.
And furthermore, you have been spotted constantly entering and leaving the workplace carrying two suspicious-looking sacks.

Considering the above, the management is sorry to inform you that your said request cannot be entertained or considered for reasons cited above.
And let this be a reminder of where you stand erect and where you sit limp and hopeless.

The Management

*For The Spirited Traveler