For the past two weeks I traveled throughout China, Tibet, and Taiwan. The trip was wonderful - so many sights, fragrances, sounds, landscapes and faces, so many experiences that deeply touched me. In Tibet, the old temples, aging and yet so adored by the people were amazing. I will never forget entering these temples and monasteries, and inhaling the penetrating fragrance of incense and yak butter candles. Unfortunately, these traditions have cast a dusky film on the colorful murals and adornments inside. The interiors appeared dingy and worn, disintegrating before your eyes.
This child greeted us as the Potala Palace with a spontaneous warm smile and "Hello!” one of a few English words she knew. Faces like hers, with such freshness and innocence, are tremendously uplifting. Yet, beyond the smile, the faces of the Tibetan people tell a story of a fascinating culture and simple way of life spiritually inspired, and of a recent history with so much political pain and strife. Tibet tradition is fading rapidly, as the aging monasteries and influx of another culture into this region attest. This is a living lesson in impermanence.
Yamdrok Yumtso Lake
Juxtaposed with this reality is the surrounding panorama of mountains – high and strong and beautiful, with gloriously clean blue-blue lakes and skies. There is an enduring and rugged timelessness in this stunning landscape that is contrasted in the fleeting moment of this little girl’s tender smile.
There is a subtle bliss just underneath or beyond the poignancy and sadness of impermanence. As I continually experience, impermanence is all around, everywhere, inherent in form, all forms. Realizing this I instantly realize ... the unborn, undying, uncreated, unconditioned, permanent and naked consciousness - the awareness-that-is-awake that you are. And that smile of subtle bliss fills the sky. Yes, it entirely fills that vast, impossibly blue sky over the Tibetan plateau.