Thursday, 23 August 2018

When Mountains Move


I spent many months on end in the mountains just south of Mount Everest in the late 1980s and remember well, that there were several earthquakes during the time when i stayed just below the towering summit of Kumbila, the peak which is revered as the 'protector' of the region by the local Buddhist folk who reside there. Each quake was accompanied by landslides on the neighboring mountain slopes. Each quake was a sobering reminder of just how fragile life is.

At that time, i stayed in a tiny wooden hut that clung to the side of the mountain. From this perch, at 12,000 feet, whenever i looked out of my window, i felt as though i were looking out the window of an airplane.

In the 1990s under the guidance of the Tibetan Dzogchen Master, Chadral Rinpoche, i spent numerous summers camped out in a tent in the mountainous regions north of Kathmandu in an area now completely decimated by the impact a series of devastating earthquakes which hit Nepal in 2015. This area is known as Sindupalchowk. Rinpoche had several retreat centers dotted around the precipitous slopes of this mountainous region.

By the time i started to make the pilgrimage up there each year, he was already well into his eighties and no longer able to make the long and arduous climb up into the mountains by foot. However, he would come via helicopter, stay a few days or weeks, instruct those undergoing their long retreats and the few of us stragglers who had come to spend the summer months in the high alpine pastures far from the crowded, noisy and polluted marketplaces and valleys of Kathmandu.

It has been a dramatic and unnerving time watching the effects of the recent massive quakes, in two areas that i had come to know and love well.

Through the ages, since time immemorial, massive cataclysmic events have taken place on our planet yet when measured next to the span of our human lives, they seem far and widely spread apart. We measure our lives by the days, weeks, months and years that we witness passing by. Our tunnel vision gives us a feeling of continuity and safety even as we live and move within the tremendous and ever-shifting forces of the natural world which surrounds us.

The concept of the Earth as our 'Mother' is not by any means a new one. Since time immemorial people have felt that this earth upon which we 'live, move and have our being,' is in some profound and absolutely fundamental way connected to, not only our physical existence but also our emotional and mental well being.

Yet despite this ancient and known interconnection, we are now, perhaps more than ever, sadly disconnected from our 'Mother' Bhumi, routinely treating her with disregard and disrespect.

When the earth wakes up, stretches. When the earth sighs and heaves; all life upon it must take heed.

When mountains move, the very foundation and stability of all that we may have associated with steadiness and continuity comes into question. We are thrown back into ourselves, to find there, the truth of Who and What we REALLY are...

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