Spirituality in Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon

In case you are interested the photos on my “Home page” were taken in the small HimalayanKingdom of Bhutan in July.    Though this is not a travel site I would like to share my experience with you – as it relates to yoga / spirituality / religion / tranquility and inner peace.

Why did I choose this unique, almost un-spoilt destination?

I believe sometimes the universe gives us signs.  This was the case with my trip to Bhutan.  Between conception of the idea (reading an article in the Yoga Journal), further research (talking to people who have been there), reading the guide book and finally – departure – almost couple of years had passed.

As soon as I met my Guide at the airport in Bhutan he started to tell me about Buddhism, the tapesty of  Bhutanese life today.

Golden Present Buddah (under construction)

Buddhism originated from Northern India around the 6th Century BC. Siddharta Gautama who would become known as the Buddha (awakened or enlightened one) practiced yogic techniques and meditation. Some of the Sanskrit words/expressions were familiar to me through my studies of the Yoga Sutras. The Yoga Sutras were written about 2,200 years ago and the 196 aphorisms cover the whole philosophy of yoga from the ethical standards through meditation to Samadhi or Bliss state (where there is no I or Mine).

One can see that Buddhism is inscribed into the landscape of Bhutan via the prayer flags on the mountain sides and roofs , white and red Chortens (receptacle for offerings) with prayer wheels of different sizes, images of Buddhist Saints. In the courtyard of the Paro Dzong (Citadel) there are several murals, rich in tradition and colour. The paintings I really liked are the “Four friends (the peacock, rabbit, monkey and elephant promoting teamwork) and the “Wheel of life” (cycle of birth, death and recarnation). The images of the three Buddhas in the Phunaka Dzong will stay with me forever.  Each Buddha sits on a lotus-flower throne with legs crossed and they represent the past, present and future, all expressed with their hand gestures (mudras).  You will find trinity in yoga; just think of the secret sound of AUM which we chant.

The ultimate goal of Buddhism is enlightment.  Buddhists are very aware of the three elements of Karma which are: actions, their effect and their consequences.

Through my travels in Bhutan I saw the gentle and courteous interaction between different generations, the importance of family and respect they have for all living and nature.  It seemed that people were content with their life and inner peace radiated on their faces in a shy smile.

I believe this trip was important for my personal development and brought me closer the true meaning of yoga which is to unite mind, body and spirit and to live in the present.

Four friends – promoting team work

Wheel of Life (cyce of birth, death and recarnation)

Prayer flags and chortens with prayer wheel inside (powered by the creek running throgh the chorten)