Showing posts with label Impermanence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Impermanence. Show all posts

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

We Never Know
We Never Know...

There has been a power cut since 7 pm last night.  It is now 9 am in the morning.  The generator for the mobile tower over in the village is humming away. Barely audible, amidst the wailing calls of the birds that come here at this monsoon season from Bhutan.

The mournful sound of their calls has an oddly poignant edge and drowns out the chirps and delicate melodies of the local bird life.
It is interesting that they turn up here in this little patch of
forest near Darjeeling, year after year. Many families from Bhutan are established along this ridge and within this patch of forest with its few remaining giant Utish trees, dripping with orchids and ferns. 

A little further up the road the forest changes markedly as huge, old Norfolk pines rise up in long, straight lines. Nothing could contrast more with the semi tropical forests, that surrounds the old Temple than these towering, pine giants.  The Norfolks are remnants of British rule and were planted during the days when they came to these hills to enjoy the views and the cool temperatures during hot summer months.

When i first moved to this small Gompa, which had been offered to my teacher in the 1970's, the caretaker was one of Chadral Rinpoche's old Bhutanese students.  He had left Bhutan some years before to settle here in these forested hills, bringing with him his two sons, both of whom were ordained as Buddhist monks.

Pala, as we call him, was a wonderful caretaker. He had a green thumb and the gardens around the compound were always a mass of blooms. He was never idle, and seemed always
to be busy fixing or making something.
The two sons visited regularly, but were often busy visiting local villages to perform rituals and pujas for local families...

Read more in Masters, Mice and Men
Books by Lyse Lauren


Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Silent Power of a Mountain

Mount Kangchendzonga
 One day, while sitting in the loft of my 'tin palace,' a small retreat hut which I built at the end of a ridge not far from Darjeeling, a town in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas, I was overcome, as happened on many occasions, by the majestic vista that spread out before me.

 From my perch, I could gaze out the window past the cupola of a small Chorten which rose up right in front of my house. It had been there a lot longer than my little house. These structures are a Buddhist symbol of the stages of enlightenment and often contain the relics of holy beings. Beyond the chorten, a line of bamboo poles had been raised, each containing large colorful prayer flags which fluttered in the wind. Each flag was covered in ornate Tibetan script bearing mantras and prayers. 

Beyond this, a few sturdy trees clung to the edge of the cliff face hiding somewhat the vast chasm which opened up right below. From that point, space ruled and swirling mists rose up from the distant valleys far below. 

The huge peaks of the Himalayas rose up just a few miles to the north, and on a clear day, one could see from Mount Everest in the west, right across a huge swathe of towering peaks to the tiny kingdom of Bhutan in the east. 

But there were no clear mountain views that particular day. Instead, monsoon mists billowed around the steamy valleys in an endlessly shifting dance.

And yet, there were moments when the clouds parted during the rainy months and then one could catch a fleeting but unforgettable glimpse of the huge massif of Kanchendzonga, freshly dusted and clothed in a thick and brilliantly white mantel.

Kanchendzonga is the world’s third highest mountain. It is an enormous eruption of black and grey granite that rises up 8586 meters in the far eastern portion of the Himalayan mountain chain.
That is just a few meters short of Mount Everest.

Recognized as a sacred mountain by the natives of the fiefdom of Sikkim, it holds a certain mystic and is revered by the locals who remain committed to protecting it from the footprints of irreligious mountaineers. 

However, the mountain itself is a treacherous domain for mortals and many have lost their lives trying to scale its flanks.

But from a respectful distance, the monsoon vistas are very special. There is no other time during the year when the play of light is quite so luminous and pure. What can emerge between the billowing clouds for fleeting moments are evanescent explosions of brilliant color and light. They appear as almost not of this earth.


These glorious visions of the mountain had inspired and sustained me for the many years while I lived on that ridge. The mountains were a ceaseless ocean of shifting color and light. They never looked the same. The play of light, the subtle shades of color, the shifting clouds and moods which it drew forth at different times of the day and night; all were a constant reminder, for me, of the dance of life which is forever changing. One could never lift ones gaze and not find there a new world of wonder.

During those years this majestic view of clouds, light, and mountains was nature's teaching for me. To look out of my windows and see how everything interacts in the natural world was a constant and vital lesson in impermanence and change.

Nature reflects the basic truths of life ceaselessly and with unmatched simplicity and beauty.
Even so, we often fail to notice them. We are constantly reminded of life's impermanence and yet we are swallowed up by our thoughts and by the ceaseless stream of distractions which claim almost all of our attention from the very moment we wake in the morning until we close our eyes at night.

Caught by the movement of the forms upon the screen, our eyes fail to see the screen upon which their movement depends. We gaze right past what is always present, unmovable, unshakable and mountainlike, grasping instead at the dancing forms and the shifting play of colors and lights.

In times cluttered with ceaseless distractions it is in the simplicity of nature that we can find, quite effortlessly, little windows of opportunity; windows that allow our spirit to soar free from the worldly display for a moment or more.

In the freedom of just such a moment, we can begin to discern what is constantly shifting and changing and what is consistently present and stable and begin to know the difference. In our eternal search for happiness, this is a very essential milestone on our journey back to the source of all being.

The silent power of a mountain can help us to recognize the unshakable power within.


Read More in Masters, Mice, and Men
Volume Three in the series; Shades of Awareness