Friday, January 6, 2012 4:04
Wherefore art thou?
Where shall we go? There are literally thousands of relevant sites in the life of Padmasambhava; caves with his bodily imprints, lakes where he withstood flames, monasteries consecrated by his dance, and pilgrimages that hold not one, but dozens of sites. In fact, it is said that within Tibet there is not a square foot of land that hasn’t been touched by the Guru’s presence. With such a bounty, how shall we choose our itinerary?
Although the magnitude of potential sites can be overwhelming, there are recurring themes amidst the scale of choices. First, there are the caves. In a land known for inhospitable climes, caves offer a natural buffer against cold and wind. They also are preferred places of meditation. There are numerous caves throughout India, Tibet, Bhutan, and Nepal where Padmasambhava and his consorts are said to have meditated. Some of these locations have become places of veneration, either because of subsequent treasure discoveries or because of the spiritual realizations attained amidst the earthen womb. Triptych Journey is considering several potential cave sites, including-
Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paro_Taktsang),
Chimphu in Tibet: (http://wn.com/Chimphu)
Treasure sites are also a recurring theme in the Padmasambhava landscape. Although Guru Rimpoche traveled through Tibet more than a thousand years ago, he left behind a legacy that continues to be revealed (http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Terma). Within each generation, new spiritual teachings, (or ‘termas’), are being discovered; in the earth, in caves, or in magical objects. The most prodigious discoverers (‘tertons’) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tert%C3%B6n) of these treasures hold special significance in the religious history of the Himalayan region. Their revered sites of treasure discoveries, or ‘termas’, will also be part of our six-week itinerary.
There are also sites connected to the life story of Padmasambhava. Samye, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samye), site of Tibet’s first Monastery, will be on our itinerary. Padmasambhava performed the Vajrakilaya dance on the grounds of the site, clearing the grounds of ‘obstructions,’ or local spirit demons who were aligned against the introduction of Buddhism. Through his ‘perfect dance,’ Padmasambhava trapped the local spirits in a ‘thread cross’ which was laid across the site, binding their allegiance to the dharma. We also will visit Tso Pema, http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Tso_Pema), a modest lake in the hills of Himachal Pradesh, India. Padmasambhava escaped the flames of a vengeful mob, protecting himself and his consort in a cloak of water.
And finally, we will visit significant places in the spiritual history of Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism. We will travel to Bodh Gaya, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodh_Gaya), where Buddha sat beneath the Bodhi tree, committing himself to not move until he reached enlightenment. Bodh Gaya continues to be a pilgrimage site for all Buddhists and it buzzes with monks clad in the various colors of Buddhist identity. We also will visit Dharamsala, current site of the Tibetan Government in exile and home residence of the Dalai Lama. Dharamsala is also the residence of the Dalai Lama’s oracle, Nechung, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nechung_Oracle), who is intimately connected to the Padmasambhava story.
The final itinerary will certainly include some of the above locations as well as others not yet identified. Where we go is still a moving target; the intent of the itinerary, however, is not. The itinerary will provide a creative culture for the artists to develop their impressions and expressions of the journey. The Padmasambhava Project is about the austere and awesome environment of the Himalaya. And it is about the people who call this environment home; their ongoing relationship with mountains and spirits and the fluid transition between sacred and mundane.