The Wandering Rinpoche (Two)Posted On: 24 June, 2017
Born in Nepal, I grew up fortunate to hear many great buddhist masters teaching from Tibet. It is a mysterious place for me and the pull to go to Tibet has always been strong. I had prayed so many times in the monastery when I was young hoping that one day I would be able to make a pilgrimage to Tibet and find my Root Guru.
During my time of wandering and practicing in India, I was meditating in isolation on a snowy mountain located in the north of India. I originally planned to spend more time on the mountain, however, one night in my dream, I received a message that suggests I should continue my practice in Tibet. When I awoke, I realised this was a sign from my Yidam; I started packing right away to get ready for a journey to Tibet.
When I was applying for a Chinese visa, many travel agencies said: for many reasons, it is very complicated to get a Chinese visa, even harder to get a permit to enter Tibet. But I was determined to pilgrimage into Tibet and I refused to give up. Therefore I asked many people about the ways to enter Tibet, I had heard in the past many have chosen to climb the snow mountains as a way to get there, but heard that now it is harder to do so since it is not safe. Some people asked me “where about in Tibet do you want to go?” I answered “I want to go for a pilgrimage to the Mount Kailash” (also known as Transhimalaya). They told me that as Mount Kailash is just next to the border of Nepal it doesn’t require a visa, but I will need to climb mountains; so it is a good idea to get some training beforehand.
It was known to me that Mount Kailash is a sacred place; therefore I firmly believed that at the Sacred Mountain there would be many great Buddhist masters, and I will surely meet my destined Root Guru.
I decided immediately to go to a training centre for mountain climbing located in Himachal Pradesh, North India. During the training I got up every morning to do uphill running and practiced mountain climbing. They taught us how to tie a rope, how to utilize climbing tools and how to react in urgent situations. Sometimes it made me feel like being the 007 special agent, especially when every time I looked down from the middle of the hill and it was joyful and impressive.
My plan had been to practice and to wander, yet here I was undergoing training for mountain climbing; It is truly unpredictable how fate plays to influence people.
Although the daily training was very hard, my heart would be filled with expectations each time I thought about Mount Kailash. After three months of training, I learned a lot and the friendship between my teammates and I was one of my most precious treasures. I was encouraged by my teammates during every training session; and whenever someone was left behind I would help them, cheer them up and share with them the food that I bought. When we were training, we would go into the woods or up on the hills where the conditions were more dangerous. A few girls and boys in our team were always left behind; I was worried about them, so I mindfully took care of them. One day there was a kid stumbled by the rock, his feet were wounded. So I carried him back to the centre and took two days off to tend to him. There was another time; an other teammate got a fever, people at the training centre did not know, so I got up at midnight to accompany and take care of him.
Looking after people make me feel happy and rewarded every time, so I take every chance to take care of others.
When my training session ended, we all hugged and loathed to leave each other, some teammates cried, and so did I. Although the time we spent together had been short, we had become family.
Before departure, I was packing in my room. Several teammates who I had helped before brought me gifts and said to me with tears in their eyes, “even though we did not know each other before, you looked after us like family and we feel sad to see you leaving.” We embraced each other and sat down to chat once more, they asked me how I could be so fervent about caring other people. So I shared some of my thoughts: I think life is like climbing a mountain, we cannot climb alone because friends and teammates are important as well; no matter where we go, we should always think about helping people around us; no matter what conditions we are under such as being the leader of an organization, we should always consider the feelings and benefits of everyone around us and achieve success and happiness together.”
Buddha used to say: the source of pain is selfishness, the source of happiness is compassion.
With some excitement and sadness, I left the training centre and continued my way to Mount Kailash. I planned to pilgrimage the Mount Qomolangma(Mount Everest) first and then on to Mount Kailash from there, so that I could visit two places in the same journey.
After a long time, I came to a village called Lukla in Northern Nepal. It locates at the bottom of Mount Everest – 2860 meters above the sea level. Taking with me some food and a tent, I kept climbing till I reached a highland with no sign of any human being, which is about more than 3000 meters above the sea level. Suddenly I started to feel discomfort all over my body and my head was dizzy for a few days. It must be the highest altitude that I had ever reached and from there I saw the grand Mount Qomolangma.
I was meditating in isolation for a month. Every day I can see the magnificent and pure appearance of the Mount Qomolangma as if I can see my Yidam. I could not help yearning and expecting that my Root Guru must be as magnificent and pure!
Later I walked along the bottom of the mountain, trying to find the route to Mount Kailash. After talking with some local people it became clear that there is no road in the area, which leads to Mount Kailash. They told me if I walk out from here I will reach the border of Shigatse(Xigazê) and I may get into trouble because it is very dangerous to cross the border illegally. The road to Mount Kailash is not here but locates at North-east of Nepal. I suddenly realized I had a huge misunderstanding about the geography before.
I followed their instructions and went on to the North-east of Nepal and finally came to the border. Nevertheless, this time the local people told me that no one should pass through without a visa. It was nothing like the Indians had told me, that one does not need any permission to enter the Mount Kailash at the border. I thought we did not need a document to make a pilgrimage or meditate, just like with the Mount Qomolangma.
Sure enough, the soldiers blocked me at the border and told me it is not allowed to cross the border without a Chinese visa and permit to enter Tibet. I went back to the village and chatted with the villagers. I found out that it takes only a few hours to get to Mount Kailash from the border so I decided to sneak out at night. Everything went as planned till midnight. I came out with my backpack ready to cross the border. My heart was pumping due to fears of being caught by soldiers and also excitement of finally being close to reach my destination.
I heard people talking in the dark and someone was walking towards me. All of a sudden, a man lit up his torch and swept over where I stood. I was revealed with my legs shaking. They held me up and interrogated me. I begged them to let me go and explained that I just want to make a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash, even just a glance. I was so scared that I even kneeled down on my knees and begged them. The soldiers from Nepal also seemed a bit lost but they caught me anyway and kept me inside a dark cabin. They told me even if they would let me go out of pity, I may still very likely to be captured by the Chinese authorities and it will get me into a bigger trouble.
Staying in the cabin that night, I was filled with fear and sadness and I missed my mom. I curled up in the corner and speculated on the kind of karma that could possibly cause so many obstacles on the way. (To be continued)