Meditating In A Cave In The Himalayan Mountains, Bhutan… A Lifelong Dream Come True…

On our last sightseeing day in Bhutan, we took a long walk through a beautiful forest outside of Thimphu, up to the Tango Monastery and School of Buddhism.

After seeing the main temple hall, we took another walk to see a meditation cave that is located below a rock that is said to be shaped like the face of a horse.

In this cave, Shabdrung, the man who unified modern Bhutan, meditated in isolation for three years.

To get there, we hiked down a very narrow path down from the monastery, and climbed rock steps and then a series of steep wooden ladders to the lower cave.

We could not enter the upper cave, which was closed because a monk was meditating there.
He had started his three years’ silent meditation retreat, and he has already spent five months there.

The lower cave was actually very pleasant.
When you think of a meditation cave in a rocky cliff, you might think it would be musty or dark, but it was neither.

The cave was extended outwards in order to capture the sun during the day.
The floor of the cave was made of very thick and very wide wooden boards.
There was a wooden wall with windows overlooking the whole valley below.

The walls of the cave were painted with beautiful murals of Buddhist deities.
I also noticed that nowadays, there was electricity in the cave.

The friendly monk who serves as a caretaker of the cave, asked if we like to meditate there.
He suggested that we spend some time meditating in the cave because the energy is “Very Good here….”

I was more than delighted to accept his offer.
No other people were around and the monk left us in silence.

I closed my eyes and enjoyed the silence of the mountains.

A small mindfulness bell was tied outside to the window, and it seemed that every time my mind drifted, the wind caused the mindfulness bell to ring ever so gently…. And I remembered to bring my mind back from its wandering.

Finally, the realization dawned on me….. That here I was…..Meditating in a cave in the Himalayan Mountains…

It was a lifelong dream of mine….. To meditate in a cave in these high mountains….
So many spiritual masters whom I deeply admire, lived and meditated here….
And here it was…. My dream was finally coming true…

The cave was pleasantly sunny, airy and I could feel the rays of the sun warming my skin and radiating through the wooden floor I was sitting on…
I felt a surge of happiness bubbling up inside me.

I remembered the words of the wise Shabkar:

“In wild places where no one lives
Are pleasant caves in which to dwell and practice

In wild places where no one lives
One’s consoling friends will be animals and birds.

In wild places where no one lives
One’s nourishment will be roots and berries.

In wild places where no one lives
Is the market where samsara is traded for nirvana

In wild places where no one lives
Are the conditions favorable for realization

In wild places where no one lives
Is natural beauty delightful to behold

There is no possible way to express
The many virtues of staying in remote and lonely places
Far removed form human habitation

Therefore, heir of the victorious Ones
Go to a secluded place and practice…”

Shabkar Tsodruk Rangdrol, (1781-1851) was a great Tibetan yogi from the Nyingma school of Buddhism that is the most popular sect of Buddhism in Bhutan.

In times when monks were supported by wealthy patrons, Shabkar chose to live an uncomplicated life, and not to be bound by institutional allegiances or dependence on benefactors.

He lived an entirely hand-to-mouth existence.
He had no fixed home and had reduced his own needs to an absolute minimum.

That same night, back in our hotel room, I watched a TV show about “How The Very Rich Travel.”

I saw a rock star who buys cars that he rarely uses, each worth $375,000.
Another young American TV star said that she buys the biggest and best motorcycle every passing year.

In ancient days as well as in current times, the pursuit of “Bigger and Better,” cannot really lead to anything enlightening and worthwhile.
The core of our being cannot be fooled, it is infinitely wise and it cannot be satisfied by cars or motorcycles.

Here in Bhutan, there is not a single McDonald’s or KFC, and no other global multinational corporation has its base here.
The population of Bhutan is only 700,000 people, which does not tempt the global players to come here….

But there are plenty of mountaintop retreats in Bhutan that are hundreds of years old, and are devoted to helping people to find true meaning and enlightenment.

It is easy to see that the pursuit of happiness cannot be reached through gratifying the ego.
The ego has an insatiable thirst for more, and those who take the road most traveled, of trying to feed and satisfy their egos, end up like hamsters running in circles on the endless wheel of Samsara (earthly cycle of illusions)….

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