Reflections

Reflections

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tolerance


The world today is rifted in strife. When one switches on the television or picks up the newspaper, one is always flooded with news about wars and calamities. Everywhere around the world - at all times, there is tension, there is conflict, and there is unhappiness.
One wonders why that is so. Ultimately, I think, it boils down to one thing.

Tolerance.
One simple word.  

One profound attitude.

Tolerance is the ability to accept or be patient with the beliefs, opinions or practices of others.
I believe that it is the lack of tolerance among most people that is the root of so much problems and tension in the world. When one believes that one is right and that one knows more and is better than the others – it often leads to intolerance for other people’s views and opinions. It does not leave space for people to be different, to be special each in their own way. It does not create a platform for people to co-exist in harmony.

In our personal relationships as well - if we cannot agree to disagree, if we cannot respect the views, thoughts and opinions of people around us, then there will be no true harmony.
Tolerance is a vital ingredient to every happy and healthy relationship. It is a core element of Buddhism – the willingness to allow others to hold different views from ourselves and to allow them to be different in their views and actions.

Tolerance is an important attitude that we each need to cultivate so that we can have happier relationships and live together harmonious in our one world.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The only thing certain about life is death ...



We go through life as though we will live forever, as though we are invincible. But the only thing that is certain about life is death. This is the truth for all people, no matter who they are and where they live.
And yet in our living, we rarely think about our own vulnerabilities or the fact that our last day, last moment, last breath may already be here.
We seldom take the time to appreciate the sunrise and acknowledge the joy of seeing another day. We do not think that this present moment that you are spending with your loved one, could in fact be the last one – here on this earth, and maybe forever.
We are often so caught up in our own lives, in our own problems and challenges, in our own belief systems and thought processes, in our own righteousness. We live our lives believing in our indestructability – or not even thinking about it at all. We rarely think of life as a gift – a blessing – and an opportunity to actually try and get out of the wheel of the samsara.
For those of us who have actually thought about death – I am sure that we would like to hope that when the time comes for us to pass, it will happen at a far off day, in a warm bed and surrounded by loved ones. We would like to believe that we are ready to go, that we have finished all our unfinished businesses. That we have lived a happy and satisfying life and we are ready for the ‘great move on’.

However, death can catch up with us at the most unexpected of times and places. It is not always the old who are the first to go. Accidents, natural calamities, health calamities such as heart attacks and strokes, boulders falling on people etc – are common occurrences and they do not differentiate between the young and the old. ‘Time and tide wait for no man’, so said Shakespeare – and many times it is also the young people who have to make the early exit.
And when it is time to go, you are alone. You cannot take the possessions you have accumulated over your lifespan. And despite the number of friends you may have made or the large extended family that you may have, when the time comes to walk across the realms – you have the make this journey by yourself.
And that is why I feel it is so important for everyone to occasionally reflect on life and on death. To try not take life for granted but rather to take stock of how you are living and to try and life in a way that you will have no regrets.
And for that you don’t need to make the dramatic changes – just try and live one day at a time  - be the best person that you can be - be good, be kind, be compassionate - so that every evening when you go to bed and you reflect on your day, you are satisfied with the way you have lived the day.
Cumulatively, these individual days will become a life well lived.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Two interesting landmarks between Samtse and Sibsoo

 Between Sibsoo and Samtse town, there are two landmarks that I found particularly interesting:

1. Some km away from Chengmari and nearer to Sibsoo, there is a lake barely 30 seconds walk above the main car road. It is not easily visible, so you will need to look out for a signboard above the road. With an area of 55.25 Ac - it is a nature conservation park under the Samtse Dzongkhag and overseen by DRED, Department of Forest and Park Services. During the dry months, the lake has very little water in it. When the monsoon sets in, the lake fills up with water. One can see the reflection of the trees on the murky green water. I was told that the  lake used to have lots of water in it in the past and was once a good water source for the tea gardens across the Indian border further below the road.

See the difference between Spring and after the rainy season:-

Lake in Spring 2014
Lake in September 2014

2. Halfway between Samtse and Sibsoo, there is an interesting gateway over the main road. It reminded me of the magnificent roads and bridges that once existed in different parts of the world during the Roman era. This particular gateway apparently used to be a water irrigation channel. The architecture is quite impressive and it would be interesting to see more of such innovations these days.

Irrigation Channel

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

"I wandered lonely as a cloud
that floats over vales and hills..."

were the words that came across my mind as I was driving towards Sibsoo from Samtse town. Emerald green were the terraced fields of rice and small were the houses with their open verandas. Dark green trees lined the sides of the gently winding road. The sky was clear and blue. Stray clouds  - soft white cotton puffs floating in the sky in isolation as though suspended in time and space.




And as I wandered lonely as a cloud over the hills and plains, I had the opportunity for some reflection on life. 

And it was liberating, it was joyful.

Surrounded by such beauty, I felt utmost blessed to be a born in this incredible nation of ours.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Life is a journey, not a destination


This is one advice my father often gives me. When I am rushing through life and trying to get everything done, he says life is a journey and not a destination. Try and enjoy the little moments – for it is ultimately these moments that we will remember and cherish.

Yesterday, some friends and I were on our way down to Phuentsholing from Thimphu and down the Chukha road, which I remember in my childhood calling the ‘snake road’ – due to the winding and never ending curves. Small waterfalls were flowing at the side of the road and further down the valley a number of mountains, greens of different shade, were rolling into each other, enveloped by soft white clouds.


We continued our journey, winding down the Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway through changing vegetation and passing by small landslides and fallen boulders. As we passed through Gedu the air became heavier and we were surrounded in mist. Thick shrouding mist – greyish white all around - we could barely see 10 feet ahead of us.
Just when I thought that our journey would be likewise gloomy all the way to Phuentsholing, we arrived at Jumja – the unstable stretch of land where landslides often obstructs the journey of many travellers. I have travelled on the highway many times, but it was my first time being awed by the magnificence and splendour of the scene.
The sky was serenely blue – stretching all the way across the plains where it seemed to shimmer and blend into the horizon. Below in the valley, a soft milk-white blanket of clouds covered the plains and puffed all the way into the distance. Blending with the blue, some clouds above were swirling and it was as though a whirlpool of white on a blue canvas.

I was above the clouds and I was below the clouds – I was in the clouds.




It was no longer important why I was going down to Phuentsholing. Or what I was leaving behind in Thimphu. It was just me and the wide expanse of the sky. Me and the embrace of the clouds. I felt free – simply enjoying the moment for what it was.
And in that moment I recalled the words of my father – that life is a journey and we must try and enjoy it to the fullest.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sometimes it feels as though it is just you and the world. The weight of the universe feels as though it is on your shoulders and you feel overwhelmed. The ordinary day to day task of living feels like a gigantic task and you wonder why things are so difficult for you.

It is in these moments that it is important to take a step back, take a deep breath and try to put things into perspective. During these moments you need to look beyond yourself - at the stranger briskly walking down the street or the person sitting next to you concentrating on his work. Take a look at the old lady slowly going around the chorten or the small child with a big heavy bag on his back walking briskly to school. Take a look at the taxi driver with a grumpy look on his face or the fashionably dressed lady driving a big vehicle.

If you take the time to talk to any of these people, you will find that each of them are facing their own challenges and difficulties. While they also enjoy their share of joy and laughter, each of them have their own battles to fight and have their own hurdles to overcome.

So sometimes it is important to keep in mind that it is not only you who is struggling with life's challenges. Being human means that suffering exists. That is the first of the four noble truths. Suffering comes in different sizes and shapes. It comes in different magnitudes. But it does not make it any less real for anyone. So it is important to keep in mind that we must be kind to each other because we are each fighting our own battles.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

gift of life

Clear, colorless, pure
Abundant and yet so precious
The gift of life - Water.