In terms of lifestyle, old age here in the Himalayas has very little resemblance to that stage of life in the west, particularly California. In the Himalayas it is widely believed that this time is to be spent in spiritual activity, to gain merit and to direct every thought, word and deed towards a better lifetime next time around.
Our yoga group visited the Queens’ Memorial Chorten, a major landmark in the main city of Bhutan, Thimphu.
I joined a group of crones sitting in a circle chanting and swirling prayer wheels. and they delighted in teaching me the local version of the well-know Buddhist mantra Om Mani Padme Hum. They corrected my pronunciation with peals of toothless laughter. I couldn’t noticed an empty bottle of the other spirit kind, tucked away under my new sister’s skirt. These women are in their final years, know it, and are doing what they believe is right: spending time gathering merit. One of the ladies urgently tries to tell me something. “What is she saying?” I ask Rinchen, our guide. “She says, ‘next lifetime we will surely meet again as friends.” I am so touched, and wonder will our next life will be here in Bhutan or at Retirement Village in the States.Check out the movie! Maggie learns the Mantra in Bhutan
All the elements are here: the confluence of two rivers, wind propelled prayers, a beautiful earth and sunlight.
In Bhutan, we are 12 yogis leaning out the bus window, to capture this lovely spot, this beautiful moment. The chortens are from Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan, a confluence of different shapes, different yet neighboring cultures, offering the same reminder of the sacred that pervades everything.
Is not every moment a great confluence of past, present and future expanding into an eternal Now?
A muddy river runs through it, the lush green valley of the Elephant Nature Park. This sanctuary for rescued and retired elllies lies one hour north of Chain Mai. It has been our home for two spectacular days. From luxurious space pod accommodations of the Bangkok Novotel, to a simple hut in the jungle, surrounded by freely roaming ellies. And a lot of mud. Who knew that getting into the swift-flowing monsoon fed river with Mae Perm, my beloved grand old ellie lady, and hurling bucket-loads of water over her thick grey skin, could feel ecstatic! I, with hundreds of other people, have flown half-way around the world to do this.
At work in our jungle office.
Chris is putting hundreds of photos and video clips onto the hard drive, so we can take even more! Loads to follow.
It is probably a past life thing, but Chris and I both love temples, especially Thai temples with their out of this world extravaganza of golden architecture. And we love markets, of which there are plenty in this town. Now when a market happens in a temple, that is ultimate.
Throngs of people bustling through stalls selling food, weavings, jewelry, clothes, housewares and endless kitch. Musicians take there place in the middle of the pathways, so a cacophony of sounds fill the air. We love this harmonious chaos.
I had fun with these kids and send you a free hug too!
Sunday market Chaing Mai
And now, we are off to the jungle!