Meditation in Bhutan: Awakening the Thunder Dragon

We meditate silently sitting on the traditional flooring boards, absorbing centuries of ardent constructive emotions. For half an hour I silently chant the revered Buddhist mantra, Om Mane Padme Hum, which adorns Bhutanese prayer wheels and is spun endlessly into the cosmos, providing prayers and blessings for the well-being of all residing beings.  I really feel myself surrounded by a golden gentle, imperceptibly floating above the ground, enveloped in heat, and completely comfortable. And it’s no surprise. Punakha Dzong is named “the palace of great happiness or bliss”  It was constructed by Nagawang Namgyal, the primary Zhabdrung Rinpoche in 1637 and is the second largest dzong in Bhutan housing many sacred stays of non secular leaders or rinpoches. It lies on the foot of the “hill that looks like an elephant” a website prophesied by the revered holy man Padmasambhava. Traditionally, dzongs have been fortified buildings which housed a monastery and an administrative centre. It was the capital of  Bhutan till 1955 when the federal government moved from this comparatively low-lying, quasi-tropical valley (at a mere 1,200 metres above sea degree), to Thimpu. Group photograph of an outside yoga class in Punakha, Bhutan (photograph credit score: Erin Bidlake) The dzong, on the confluence of the very holy Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu Rivers (often called the daddy and the mom) is tentatively listed for acknowledgement as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. River rafting has turn into widespread on the rivers although that is thought of by the Bhutanese to be sacrilegious. The jacaranda bushes across the website bloom with a profusion of purple flowers every spring. Punakha continues to be thought of the winter capital of Bhutan, often called the Land of the Thunder Dragon, and the nation’s head abbot alongside along with his entourage of monks make the pilgrimage there on foot yearly. The nation’s longest suspension bridge crosses the river and is linked to Chimi Lhakhang, the fertility temple devoted to the naughty exploits of Drukpa Kunley, often called the Divine Madman.  Crossing the bridge and passing by the rice fields, kids maintain up handcrafted guide markers, written in English, declaring “I Love Bhutan.” The village on the foot of the temple is resplendent with phalluses, the image of fertility—painted on partitions, sculpted in quite a lot of sizes, they're on sale in lots of shops. Chimi Lkakhang is a pilgrimage website for {couples} in search of to conceive a baby. While we have been there, a younger lady introduced her child to be blessed and our information, himself named Chimi, was requested to do the honours of holding the infant and passing into the internal sanctum with mom and child. Bhutanese monasteries (photograph credit score: Leslie Smith) When in Bhutan it's unattainable to take care of Western notions of scientific agnosticism and even ambivalence. Bhutan’s energetic and laid-back Buddhist tradition sweeps you in and gathers you into the fold. Without even noticing, you start to seek the advice of astrologers about probably the most propitious date to hold your colour-coded prayer flags, every designed to convey you good well being, higher emotional concord, intelligence, happiness, or a mix of blessings.  Quickly, you end up performing the required triple prostrations in entrance of Buddha with out a second thought. Long meditations, which you as soon as considered onerous, move blissfully. Spinning prayer wheels turns into now not a novelty however an automated reflex: it's empowering to have the ability to lifting blessings for humanity heavenward. Indeed, the aged congregate each day round prayer wheels, chatting animatedly to their buddies and honoured with the correct to put on the darkish saffron robes of monks as honoured elders. They have earned their locations contained in the temple enclaves by dint of a lifetime of arduous work and now honour their households and their society with every spin of the large wheels which, by their revolution, recite the Sanskrit mantra,  Om Mane Padme Hum: blessings to all sentient beings. WHAT DOES OM MANE PADME HUM MEAN? Known because the mani mantra, om mane padme hum has completely different interpretations however its essence stays the identical. The  mantra is probably the most broadly used of all Buddhist mantras. Anyone who feels impressed might recite it. All Buddha’s teachings are contained on this mantra and so it may well’t actually be translated into one easy phrase. However, Tibetan Buddhists imagine that practising the mantra aloud or silently invokes the highly effective and benevolent blessings of Chenrezig, who embodies compassion. Viewing the written type of the mantra has identical impact as recitation so the mantra is usually replicated in locations the place folks can see it. Spinning the written type of the mantra round in a mani (prayer) wheel provides the identical profit. Small hand wheels and huge wheels, usually turned by water for steady movement, containing hundreds of thousands of copies of the mantra inside, are discovered in every single place. om mane padme hum mantra (photograph credit score: Leslie Smith) Here’s what Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche teaches about this highly effective prayer: ”The mantra Om Mani Pädme Hum is simple to say but fairly highly effective, as a result of it incorporates the essence of the whole instructing. When you say the primary syllable Om it's blessed that can assist you obtain perfection within the observe of generosity, Ma helps excellent the observe of pure ethics, and Ni helps obtain perfection within the observe of tolerance and persistence. Pä, the fourth syllable, helps to attain perfection of perseverance, Me helps obtain perfection within the observe of focus, and the ultimate sixth syllable Hum helps obtain perfection within the observe of knowledge. “So in this way recitation of the mantra helps achieve perfection in the six practices from generosity to wisdom. The path of these six perfections is the path walked by all the Buddhas of the three times. What could then be more meaningful than to say the mantra and accomplish the six perfections?” —Dilgo Kyentse Pinpoche, Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones 

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