Entering Tiger’s Nest is one of the most magical experiences. The walls are covered from ceiling to floor with the kings of god staring down protecting the temple from all directions. The stairs are steep and seemingly endless. When talking about why the trip to Tiger’s Nest (or temples in Bhutan in general) is/are so arduous, the response was along the lines of, “without suffering, we won’t know happiness.” This was the epitome of our experiencing the deeper meaning of GNH. We used the practice of presencing – fully sensing and being present within each moment in order to take in the glory of this sacred site.
The night before our trip we met with a Buddhist practitioner (I will update with his name) who was supposed to link in the theory of GNH to the trip we were about to take to Tiger’s Nest. He told us that GNH is the cultivation of a mental attitude. He said that happiness is very easy to measure, and that it is in the mind – that with meditation (chanting, yoga etc), blood pressure goes down and the mind can be cultivated and controlled. He said it is not necessary to KNOW GNH, it is necessary to LIVE it. He said that GNH is based on interdependence and collective happiness. Part of GNH, he said, is deeply spiritual and that there is tangible culture and intangible culture. Visiting tiger’s nest was part of the tangible culture – there are 207 monasterys and 10,000 stupas! (the little spinning mantra temples) in the country. We meditated with him for a short time. He said that meditation is a practice of sustaining the continuity of your awareness. and… “What we think, we become.” Regarding Tiger’s Nest – he said it is a sacred place because it was visited and blessed by enlightened masters. These were people who brought no ignorance, no greed, no anger, no desire and no stress to the site. He also told us that this site must be preserved even with the energy that we bring to it. We had been told that we might not have the opportunity to reach the site if the path became slippery. However, even if we could not reach the site, if we could see it, we would be there, and if we were there, we would be enlightened. Fortunately, the day was beautiful… and we all made it (therefore, yes, we were all enlightened).
The experience of Tiger’s Nest was truly magical. In the main temple, I felt so deeply connected to spirit in a way that I sometimes lose or forget when so entrenched in the material world. It was a phenomenal moment that I am so grateful to have shared with a group of wonderful people.
The learnings that I took from Tiger’s Nest? Impermanence. ‘Enlightenment’ may occur, karmic residues may fade, but everything is impermanent. I also recognized the importance of connecting body, mind and spirit in every day life. When I truly feel into that place (as Marian reminded us of Rumi’s ‘field’) I feel a deep connection to all other beings and that I can act/lead my life from that place rather than from a place of fear. I recognized that many times I/we are so afraid of being vulnerable, of getting hurt, of losing our power, that we don’t always act from the intuitive knowledge of what is right and wrong. I realized that we need a great collective healing in the world in order to connect back to our humanity and accept that things come and go, live and die.. and that we have to become more conscious as a society/collective in order to cultivate relationships based on trust, honesty, integrity and true love, thereby having an economy that is based on true satisfaction, fulfillment and global wellbeing.