I still don't know what to write, so I'm randomly choosing an emoji a day and writing 200 words about it. Another one of my writing slump cheats. Today's emoji is 🐯
There's a famous temple monastery called Tiger's Nest, high up on a mountain in Bhutan. Yes, that Bhutan...the happiest country in the world. Three hours of medium difficulty trekking each way up Tiger's Nest was tough, but sooo worth it. Halfway up, we saw it shrouded in mist and clouds, hanging so precariously on the cliff side. It looked as mysterious as it's origin story. It was said that Guru Padmasambhava - the powerful Buddhist master - flew up to this mountain on a tiger, to meditate. Seeing such a sight, that was indeed our aspiration - to fly up to the temple right away! But there's no shortcuts on a pilgrim's path. Trekked onward we went, so another hour or so, despite our soft city legs protesting like crazy. That made arriving there all the more sweet.
We strolled around the temple, offering prayers, seeing the meditation rooms that the monks used. What a view they had. Windows peering out to steep cliffs and mountains floating in a sea of wispy clouds. And what amazingly secluded lives they lead here.
Then, the highlight of the visit. Chancing upon a meditation cave, I felt drawn to it. It was dark, damp and chilly. I can't imagine the harsh living conditions that the monks must face in the ancient past, while pursuing their meditation practice here. The cave was narrow and there's little where else dry to sit. To the back, a small altar deep into the belly of the cave. I didn't have a torch, but went ahead anyway, guided only by the candlelight of the butter lamp. Crawling in to the altar, I got on my knees and offered a small prayer. It was then emerging from that darkness of that altar space that I saw a silver of light at the far end of the tunnel-like cave.
What an apt metaphor for what was often a meditator's journey. Equal parts difficult and uncomfortable, and yet also awe-inspiring and hopeful.