Holistic Living - High with Tashi-La
by Life Positive
Sometimes it throws up a breathtaking perspective of the valley below, sometimes the music of goat bells. And sometimes, someone who helps you find the meaning of life.
Waking up one misty morning in my hotel room in Mcleod Ganj, I decided to act upon the advice of my Tibetan friends and go seek peace in the mountains.
My favorite route took me past smoking kitchens, a dialectic school for young monks, the Dalai Lama's residential complex and the Geden Choeling nunnery. My journey began that morning, quite appropriately, through a curtain of fog.
The voice came out of nowhere-a soft "good morning" in Tibetan. "You walk like you have an appointment to keep."
Startled, I looked around, reminded of less-than-agreeable spectral visitors biding their time in uncomfortable purgatory. She emerged, quite literally, out of thin air. A nun, her age impossible to guess, swathed in a swirl of dull maroon, fingers looping a worn rosary, and eyes smiling at the foolishness of someone who looked as if she had a bus to catch on a morning as promising as this one.
"No appointment, just a walk."
"You must be going somewhere." She smiled.
"Nowhere," I replied, wondering how far my fractured Tibetan would take this conversation.
"Even 'nowhere' is somewhere; each step takes you there."
Profound, I agreed silently. "I am out on a morning walk. This path should get me somewhere."
"It will. Every path you take will get you 'somewhere'. The question is: is that where you want to go?"
We had, without volition, turned a corner together, and there I was, sharing a comfortable silence with a complete stranger. "You walk in the hills every morning?" she asked after a while.
"Some mornings, when I can get up early enough," I replied.
"Morning is the best part of the day. You see things clearly. Did you know your best decisions are usually made in the morning?"
I hadn't thought about it.
"You decided to take this walk didn't you? And look where it has brought you."
I did and gasped at the magnificence of the sun beginning to appear through cracks in the slowly thinning fog.
"That's what I meant about choosing your path."
My path was not the only thing I had chosen well that morning. My traveling companion was no less interesting. "You belong to the convent?" I asked.
"I live at the convent, yes, but 'belong' there? These are only addresses. Here you are, far away from your people, yet it feels right to be here, doesn't it?"
It did. I was in the right place because that's where I wanted to be. It was really as simple as that!
By now we had attained a respectable height up the hillside. The view was sensational. Spread below us was the town of Dharamsala slowly waking up to the new day. We leaned against a large rock, breathing in the beauty.
"What is your name?" I asked. "My parents called me Pema," she said softly. "But now I have a better name. Every time you say it, you add to my good fortune: Tashi." An all-encompassing Tibetan word to denote good luck, 'tashi' was part of every greeting.
"The lamas say that you are invested with the qualities of your name. It is your sacred duty to live up to it." I wondered what the lamas would have to say about my unpretentious name. But then, in the inscrutable way of the wise, they, I knew, would come up with an answer that would give my rudderless name some wealth. My guide didn't disappoint either.
"No meaning in your name, you say? That's not possible. All you have to do is seek the qualities that you think will make your name complete. But what you do will be remembered long after your name is forgotten."
We had topped the crest of our small hill; a descent now, and I would soon be back in town. Tashi-la's destination lay at a higher point up another ridge. We stopped for a moment. "Someday you will walk higher up this hillside," Tashi-la said. "Perhaps I shall see you again then."
As I retraced my steps, the purity of Tashi-la's logic hit home. It's amazing how clearly you can see everything when the sun is behind you.
Nita Thomas, India
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