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Spiritual Bhutan


Defiant Miracle Himalaya - In the Land of Thunder Dragon

In Bhutan, each part of the sky and earth has a name straight from Buddhist scriptures. The plains are “eight-petalled lotuses” (symbols of purity) and the mountains “elephant lying down” (symbols of strength), “proudly posted lions” (symbols of courage) and “garuda birds taking flight” (symbols of the loftiness of metaphysical views). Lakes are “cups of ambrosia” or “vessels of plenty”.

The parts of the sky seen between the rocks are like “spirals of joy” or daggers representing the destruction of mental poisons (desire, hated and ignorance).

The whole country is scared. Every valley is a place of pilgrimage, every rock, river and cave has its spiritual history. In one spot a hermit meditated, in another a holy man left his footprints in the rock. Another spot is the dwelling place of a spirit who protects the teachings. One spring is the home of a naga, half man, half snake; one forest will never be cut down because it was once blessed by a great teacher.

Although many of these sites are unknown outside their own valley, others have an almost mythical reputation in the Himalayan Buddhist world. One such place is Taksang, “Tiger’s Lair” in the Paro Valley, One of the most impressive sacred sites in the Himalayas. It is said that Padmasambhava hid a number of “spiritual treasures” in the cave, which is surrounded by temples that cling to the face of a steep cliff. Another example is Monka Senge Dzong, “lion’s Fortress” a sacred site blessed by Padmasambhava and his disciple Yeshe Tsogyal. This lofty site, whose spiritual power is said to have remained intact, lies at a height of 4.000 m. and is surrounded by Rocky Mountains and glaciers.

Bhutan, covered with dense forests and clear rivers, has not been conquered since Vajrayana Buddhism was introduced by Padmasambhava in the 8th century; Buddhist culture has been able to Bhutanese People.

Each hill has its own small temple surrounded by prayer flags fluttering in the wind. The streams turn the prayer wheels day and night. All over the mountains and forests are retreats where practitioners- monks, nuns and lay people- got to meditate. Impressive ceremonies and sacred dance festivals are held all year round.
Two schools of Tibetan Buddhism predominate in Bhutan: The Drukpa Kagyu School, to which almost all the State-supported monasteries belong, and the Nyingma School, which has long been represented by a succession of important and remarkable spiritual teachers and followed by a large section of the population. Bhutan’s patriarch, Je Khenpo, who belongs to the first of these two traditions, theoretically has a religious rank, equal to the king’s temporal rank.

Because Bhutan has escaped the devastation suffered by its neighbor, Tibet, its Buddhist artistic heritage has remained intact and is unequalled in the world. Religious art traditions are still very much alive and Bhutanese sculptors in particular are renowned throughout the Himalayas for the delicacy and beauty of their statuses.

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