Serenity

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When I visited Lijiang, China. This was a Tibetan Buddhist temple I hiked to in the mountains nearby. 

I think I’m going to go live in a Buddhist monastery in Nepal.

No, but for real. Not forever, or even very long. Maybe even just a week. I think that’s about when I’ll start missing showers. But I don’t think they’re particular about who stays, so long as they contribute, and I’m prepared to do some work. I’ve got something akin to an obsession with Tibet. I’m not sure why. It’s been with me for a number of years. There’s something magical, ethereal, alluring about those snowy white peaks and barren valleys. It’s otherworldly, and it feels ancient.

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Looking at the medieval temples perched high on mountain ridges, overlooking rivers and fields… crumbling stupas and kumbums and gompas and chorten… I don’t know what it is. The dimly lit monasteries, hanging thangkas (tapestries), clouds of incense swirling in the gloom, stabbed by brilliant shafts of sunlight from overhead… the chanting monks and the long horns that sound like “a long, deep, whirring, haunting wail that takes you out somewhere beyond the highest Himalaya peaks and at the same time back into your mother’s womb…”

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It’s mystical. It’s from another time, and makes you feel like you’re transported to another plane of existence. Not in a “woo-woo”, hippie, crystal ball kind of way. But just in a very real sense that you’re in a terribly old culture that’s quickly vanishing, thanks to China, and that they’ve lived in those mountains, and performed these very same ceremonies for a very, very long time.

That’s what it is–it’s bigger than you are. So much bigger that it makes you feel like you can be a part of something timeless. And that’s what’s missing from my life right now. A sense that there’s something bigger. True, I’m working on my own projects. But those are for me, and I can sense the fullness of them, and see their limits. Being in Tibet would be limitless. There’s no limit to those antediluvian mountains.

Next summer I’d like to go. I’ve got a few things on my plate before then, but I’d really like to make it happen. I don’t know if I’ll be allowed into Tibet–again, thanks to China. But I could settle for Ladakh, or the kingdom of Mustang (Moose-tong). Look it up–it’s a real place, and it’s astonishingly beautiful.

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Key Monastery, in Ladakh, northern India. Part of historic Tibet.

I’d like to try to spend some time at Key Monastery. That embodies the timelessness that I’m so compelled by. I’ll try to set it up, and see how long I can stretch my savings to stay there. Actually being in Nepal or India won’t cost much at all. But paying my bills back here will be, for lack of a better word, a bitch.

Going to another country–especially one where they don’t speak English–is like throwing the dice and having no idea what’s going to come out. You’re out of control. Random things happen, you go with the flow, and you discover amazing things you never could have predicted. I went to Istanbul and a carpet salesman snagged me outside my hotel and ended up showing me around the city. Who would have guessed?

No, I didn’t buy a carpet. But bless his heart, he tried.

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Monastery near Mount Kailash, the most sacred place in all of Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism.

Point is, things are feeling stale here. San Diego is amazing. I love the city, but at the same time, I really, really  don’t. It’s not “my” city, and it never has been. It’s just a place I’m holed up in for the time being, until something better comes along. I love the ocean, but my heart is filled with forests, and it’s hard to listen to all the cars all day, and see the crowds of people rushing here and there and not feel like I’m a bit out of place, lost, like I’m digging for water under the outhouse and not liking what I’m finding.

I love the place I’ve created for myself here. My condo is a haven among the trees, but step outside, and the world feels alien. But what to do?

“Go West, young man, go West. There is health in the country, and room away from our crowds of idlers and imbeciles… until you hit Tibet.” I’m sure that’s how he really would have finished that.

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Serenity

  1. It’s quite easy to understand how you feel; as if everything is hanging on a precipice, and too much chaos confuses the senses to the extent that there’s not enough predictability. A Tibetan monastery would be soothing to the senses. I’ll be there one day, before or after. But in the interim, thanks for the good reporting.

    Liked by 1 person

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