No number of superlatives can capture the five day experience I had in Nepal. I had wanted to visit this spiritual land for years, and to do so under the guidance of my Lama was an incredible privilege.
When I initially asked Ruby about this trip more than a year ago, it was meant to be a small group - maybe five people - and possibly Rinpoche. When we finally arrived in Kathmandu, we had 61 pilgrims on the trip! And, the whole of KMP (and KIM) was able to go! Even Howie, Ms Han's wonderful cameraman, came. And Joan, a long time friend of mine, who decided to cancel her appointments and busy schedule to come on this trip.
On the first day, we had an audience with a stunning White Tara statue. HH Trijang Rinpoche had said that if you could see only one holy site, you should see this one, so we did. We were even fortunate enough to receive her blessings as the temple caretaker let Rinpoche put the holy red powder on our foreheads.
Rinpoche at the White Tara Chapel
Susan and I were blessed!
We visited four holy Vajrayogini chapels, made extremely sacred and secret aspirational prayers at these sites with the deep wish to be able to do the powerful practice of this Diamond Dakini. We touched our hands to where Guru Rinpoche's handprint burned into the outside of the cave where he gained Enlightenment, and made prayers inside the cave.
Guru Rinpoche's handprint
We made prostrations and offered butterlamps at many sacred sites - at the self arising Tara at Pharping. Here an image of Tara had miraculously manifested out of a rock. The local people built a shelter around it and this has since evolved into a temple. Other images of Tara are emerging and it is said that eventually all 21 Taras will arise from this rock.
Self Arising Tara
Highlights of the journey included a night visit to Tilopa and Naropa's caves where they achieved attainments from meditation. One of the Vajrayogini holy sites we went to at Sankhu also contained the ashes of a Nepali lady who had achieved Vajrayogini. When I visited places like this, it made Enlightenment seem achievable and so tangible that I could almost touch it.
From caves to stupas to chapels to hilltops and valleys - we literally ran across from Kathmandu to its environs, bumping through potholed roads (I'll never complain about a pothole in Malaysia again!) - every moment was an experience which words do no justice. Thank Buddha I did the prostration retreat before this trip - it made me just a bit fitter, at least I'd like to think anyway.
Emotions swelled and tears welled at the most inopportune moments but no one really gave a damn because we were all so drunk by the spirituality that is infused in Nepal. The whole trip was amazingly well organised. It is no mean feat to bring 7 vans of us around the narrow Nepali roads. We even had to change hotel in mid trip! The only medical casualty was Yek Yee who twisted her ankle and the only item which was lost was Ruby's glasses. Not too bad in the overall scheme of things. The Protector must have been with us every step of the way.
The blessings of this whole journey was all due to the generous compassion of our Lama, who selflessly took this bunch of spiritual wannabes and tirelessly explained the significance of every holy site, leading us through prayers which have planted seeds that are now up to us to nurture and cultivate.
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