Saturday, March 31, 2018

From ‘A Field Guide to Happiness. What I Learned in Bhutan about Living, Loving, and Waking Up’ by Linda Leaming

……..the people are charming and funny, and it is truly the most beautiful, unspoiled place I’ve even been.

Being kind is practically a law here because there are fewer obstacles to happiness. Life is still simpler. The country has never been colonized, and that gives the people an independent streak, a clear identify, and an optimism. They take care of each other. They laugh and enjoy life – and its contagious.

In the West, we have everything we could possibly need or want – except for peace of mind.

We Americans are brilliant at many things……we are also the most impatient and easily addled people on the planet. We cant handle too much randomness. We pack our days with appointments and events……

Most houses aren’t insulated, so keeping warm and dry is an issue.

Taktsang, a 17th-century temple complex built on the side of a sheer cliff that is honeycombed with caves. The place was discovered by the legendary 8th- century Buddhist saint Padmasambhava, or Guru Rinpoche…. Its iconic and a must-see ………its so high and the trail is narrow, and parts of it take you inches from the side of an abyss.

……….they [Bhutanese] have an inner calmness that is admirable and marked.

In Bhutan it always seems like anytime, anywhere, when I least expect it, some random person comes up and says or does something profound.

After living in Bhutan with the Buddhists, where every life, no matter how small or insignificant, is sacred, it feels weird to kill even the smallest bug.

Kindness is the glue that holds Bhutanese society together. ……everybody makes an effort to be civil and help everybody………

It is considered the ultimate bad manners to raise your voice, show anger or call attention to yourself in a negative way, complain, or make a spectacle. Strong displays of emotion are not shown in public. Anger, especially, brings loss of face to the angry person as well as the recipient.

In Bhutan, everyone always brings a gift when going to someone’s house. Its part of the social construct, and an expression of goodwill. The gift is often food such as eggs, butter, biscuits, vegetables, or alcohol. Most of the time its just a token……..

Its funny how life is slower here in Bhutan, but in some important respects, its speeded up. Realizations, comprehension, awareness, recognition – whatever you want to call what happens when you acquire skills – are faster when you’re part of life’s natural rhythms, with slower, more purposeful work, time on your hands. It’s a great way to become comfortable in your own skin, and you have time to understand who you are in relation to the world around you……..Its the way to learn to love yourself.

In India, they feed cows a steady diet of mangoes and mango leaves so their urine is bright yellow. They collect it…….dry it, and make paint out of it…..

The Bhutanese make good use of humor. They use it for teaching and self-correction, and even discipline can be thinly disguised as humor in Bhutan. Its easy to laugh here, because things seem more relaxed and everybody is inclined in that direction. There’s a lot of self-awareness as a result. Its tied to humility and subjugation of ego, and these are Buddhist attributes as well as part of the national character.

The Bhutanese share food, clothing, shelter, cars, time, ideas, laughter, money, jokes – just about anything ……….they have a natural propensity to give, and its not tied to how much they have….

When people are generous, there always seems to be enough. People who visit Bhutan remark that although it’s a poor country, nobody looks destitute.
Most who are munificent in Bhutan are hardly wealthy. The lowliest sustenance farmer will treat you like a king or queen if you visit his house.

As a whole the Bhutanese are the most generous people I’ve ever met. This was a few years ago and Bhutan is changing, but even now Bhutanese people are hardwired to be generous, and they still help each other in both small and big ways.

They understand that generosity and kindness make a society. Nothing more. Its so simple.

In Bhutan its not unusual for relatives or friends without children of their own and in good circumstances to raise other peoples children if its needed. It’s a good system, and its about doing whats best for the kids.

Preparing any meal in Bhutan starts with cooking rice, and Bhutanese red rice is preferred. Its hearty, nutty tasking, and is only grown on Himalayan slopes. When its cooked, it turns a beautiful pink color.
You cant have a meal without chillies. In summer, they’re grown in everyone’s kitchen gardens. In winter-time, we eat dried chillies, which are festive and red and dried on tin roofs all over the country.
The national dish of Bhutan is ema datse – chillies and cheese.

The Bhutanese system is matrilineal, so the women generally inherit property, and men, when they marry, move to their wives’ houses.

The Bhutanese are practical and they have equanimity in spades. They might lose their tempers – and after all, they’re human. But something in their upbringing or their society or their DNA brings them around. It makes them calm and levelheaded and able to see clearly and they instinctively gravitate towards the middle path….I know several happily married Bhutanese who started off married to other people, specifically brothers or sisters of their spouses. When it was clear that the brother or sister wasn’t a good match, the husband or wife married other members of the same family. And everyone gets along.

Although it is one of the least developed in the world, it’s the only country (besides Cuba) with free health care and education.

The Bhutanese seem to be able to embrace the concept of living, not only with less, but with less anticipation. Not expecting that everything will work out turns out to be a more optimistic way to live. Its stoic, yes, but in the end, it makes me happier. Being as opposed to aspiring, living in the present, focusing on intent as opposed to outcome, is a good way to a more balanced life.

All over Bhutan we see images of death. There are statues, paintings, carvings, words, symbols, and photographs. You can see them in the temples, in homes, and in shops……….Also it seems that there are so many ingenious, cinematic ways to die in Bhutan. There’s dengue fever, which is mysterious and rather hard to diagnose and will take a person quietly with not much fuss in a day or two. I’ve known people who have been eaten by wild boars because they stepped off a trail to answer the call of nature; who have fallen off of, driven over, or been crushed by part of a falling mountain; or who have been compressed by a random, falling boulder while languishing in a hot spring. Exposure is always common, as are bear maulings. And every year, a family or two succumbs to poisoned mushrooms during August or September, which is high season for the fungus.

The Bhutanese say we should think about death at least five times a day. If you remember that we are all impermanent, it will certainly clarify things for you.

There’s so much to love in Bhutan and there’s always a celebration……..It’s like living in a musical.

He [the Bhutanese husband] hated the way American families rarely gathered together and said things like, “So how is your life?” and were always on the go.

………….the Buddha said, “In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.”

I like that feeling, the solitude and sense of peace and tranquility. Its hard to find in the world.
This is the magic of Bhutan. Its not a polluted place in any sense of the word. It is a refuge and a place to be restored. There is a healing quality to hiding out here and a feeling of being sequestered, protected. The mind quits racing. Its centering. Less “noise” going on around me allows more ideas to come in. Its not            just me. Others have said so.

From ‘The Footprints of Partition. Narratives of Four Generations of Pakistanis and Indians’ by Anam Zakaria

Karachi ….is referred to as one of the most cosmopolitan and multicultural cities in Pakistan. Unlike Punjab, which is far more homogenous in its identity. Sindh remains home to multiple ethnicities, religions and castes. I can imagine that this was even more so in the early years of Pakistan.

‘You know we Punjabis are very different people, even different from other Indians. There is a cultural sense of not belonging here. You feel at home in Delhi only because there are so many Punjabis here but elsewhere, in UP and other states, you feel out of place. Most Indians are not as flamboyant, they don’t have large gestures or the Punjabi loudness in them. They are subdued, they don’t even share our sense of humor. We believe in taking life by its horns and just enjoying it. We are an irreverent race and perhaps that is another reason why Partition has also become something we don’t take seriously, we push it aside. Our grandparents freed us of that burden, of remembering Punjab as it existed sixty-five years ago……..Punjab has been raided so many times during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that maybe it has taught us to ignore invasions. Kashmiris, on the other hand, hold on, sticking to their misery…….. That [partition] is a tragedy but in a way I’m also free from that baggage. This is a Punjabi thing, though. It doesn’t exist for other communities, nor for the mohajirs (migrants) in Karachi because they were never fully accepted.’
I ask Alpana to elaborate……….. ‘Well I spent a lot of time with the mohajirs of Karachi ………They were the people who had chosen to move, not because they suffered violence but because that is what they wanted to do. But when they began to suffer in Pakistan, it became their basis of looking back. It was very difficult for them to adjust after expecting something completely different. Of course, they knew that they were better off than they would have ever been in India. They had arrived in a newly-made country that needed to fill a massive number of government posts……..several migrants got jobs at posts higher than what they had in India. They would even brag to their families back in India, those who had chosen to stay behind…….And its true, life was indeed better for them, in the fifties and even the sixties. While their relatives were still stuck in the same place with the same plodding pace of life, often at low posts, the mohajirs had catapulted ahead. But then as the second generation started to grow up, many of them began to regret their parents’ choice of migration. They had started to face the anti-mohajir spirit once the real sons of the soil, the Punjabis, started dominating, garnering power and government jobs due to their sheer numbers and the fact that they were rooted in the soil. The mohajirs had thought they would be the chosen ones but after the initial advantage that they had, they began to get identified with their old country, India. The second generation started to ask. What would have happened had we stayed on the other side? Meanwhile, the first generation had another kind of regret, that Pakistan had never turned out to be as they had imagined.
This was similar to how a lot of the first-generation Indian Muslims regretted their choice of staying back. They idealized Pakistan, wished they could be there. They would clap for Pakistan and support them in all matches and tournaments. What that eventually resulted in was Hindu resentment, an urge to rid India of such Muslims whom they saw as traitors. And on the other hand, back in Karachi, this led to another kind of suffering – that is, regret – which has kept them from moving on, from ridding themselves of the baggage of Partition. That’s the difference between us Punjabis and them. We have let go while they continue to cling on to what happened, what they chose, sixty-five years ago.’ ………Alpana began to interact with more and more locals, in Lahore and Karachi. ‘I began to feel at home……It was then that I began to see the immense similarity in our lifestyles…..the way we speak …..
You know, West Punjab is part of our civilization, our heritage and I can never claim it. That part of my heritage, which defines me, can never be mine again. I can never assert rights on it. It’s the same for the mohajirs in Pakistan. When you cut off a plant from its roots, the flowers begin to grow in different ways. That’s how we are today, each walking aimlessly to find some sense of belonging.’

Several accounts of Partition that I have come across say that it was the riots of Rawalpindi in the March of 1947 that triggered off other events. Ishtiaq Ahmed………writes ………..
‘On March 5, Sikh-Hindu agitators began shouting anti-Pakistan slogans and were challenged by Muslims. Firearms, stabbings and arson were employed by both sides. Initially, the non-Muslims felt they had been successful in driving off Muslims from the streets of Rawalpindi. In the evening of March 6, however, the direction of violence changed from the city to the villages in the district. Suddenly armed Muslims in the thousands began to raid Sikh villages. Neighbouring villages in the Attock and Jhelum districts were also surrounded. In some places the Sikhs fought back, but on the whole the conflict was one-sided…In some places nearly the whole Sikh and Hindu populations were wiped out. However, the deaths included the Sikhs killing their own women and children rather than letting them fall in the hands of Muslim marauders.’

‘……I had read a chapter in my Class 5 Urdu book………The Sikhs would slaughter Muslim children with swords. They used to cut them up into tiny pieces.’…… depicts the picture of Sikhs butchering children with their swords, is a textbook endorsed for Class 5 by the Punjab Textbook Board, which falls under the government of Punjab. These books are studied widely across the province, both in private and public schools…….Tariq Rahman, a renowned professor and researcher, further says: ‘Pakistani textbooks cannot mention Hindus without calling them cunning, scheming, deceptive or something equally insulting.’

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

From ‘Beyond the sky and the earth. A Journey into Bhutan’ by Jemie Zeppa

You must leave your home and go forth from your country,
The children of Buddha all practice this way.
-          The Thirty-Seven Bodhisattva Practices

Bhutan, small Tantric Buddhist kingdom……Bordered by Tibet in the north, India in the south and east, Sikkim to the west. Entirely mountainous (altitudes ranging from 150 to 7,000 meters above sea level). Capital: Thimphu. Language: Dzongkha, related to classical Tibetan, plus various other dialects. People: in north and west, of Tibetan origin; in the east, Indo-Mongolian; in the south, Nepali. National sport: archery. ………..Never colonized.

Modern economic development had begun in Bhutan in the 1960s with the construction of a road linking Thimpu to the Indian border. Until then, the economy had been based on barter; money was virtually nonexistent, and taxes had been paid in kind. Thirty years later, the feudal nature of rural Bhutanese society seemed largely unchanged. Virtually everyone owned land, but, except for the lowlands along the southern border, the terrain was too difficult to permit much more than subsistence farming. Buddhism permeated daily life, and many families still sent one son into the monastery. Relatively few foreigners visited the country; foreign aid was limited, and tourism discouraged.

Did I realize that there were no phones in the eastern part of Bhutan? That most Bhutanese lived in villages and hamlets dotted across one of the most difficult terrains in the world?

Bhutan is all and only mountains.

…..Thimpu’s official population is 20,000.

The Bhutanese are a very handsome people, “the best built race of men I ever saw,” wrote emissary George Bogle on his way to Tibet in 1774, and I find I agree. Of medium height and sturdily built, they have beautiful aristocratic faces with dark, almond-shaped eyes, high cheek-bones and gentle smiles, Both men and women wear their black hair short.

I search for the right word to describe the people, for the quality that impresses me most – dignity, unselfconsciousness, good humor, grace …….

Historical  records show that waves of Tibetan immigrants settled in Bhutan sometime before the tenth century, but the area is thought to have been inhabited long before that. In the eighth century, the Indian saint Padmasambhava brought Buddhism to the area, where it absorbed many elements of Bon, the indigenous shamanist religion. The new religion took hold but was not a unifying force. The area remained a collection of isolated valleys, each ruled by its own king. When the Tibetan lama Ngawang Namgyel arrived in 1616, he set about unifying the valleys under one central authority and gave the country the name Druk Yul, meaning Land of the Thunder Dragon. Earlier names for Bhutan are just as beautiful – the Tibetans knew the country as the Southern Land of Medicinal Herbs and the South Sandalwood Country. Districts within Bhutan were even more felicitously-named: Rainbow District of Desires, Lotus Grove of the Gods, Blooming Valley of Luxuriant Fruits….. Bhutan… thought to be derived from Bhotanta, meaning the “end of Tibet” or from the Sanskrit Bhu-uttan, meaning “highlands.”

While the rest of Asia was being overrun by Europeans of varying hue but similar cry, only a handful of Westerners found their way into Bhutan. Two Portugese Jesuits came to call in 1627, and six British missions paid brief but cordial visits from the late 1700s until the middle of the next century.

Someone asks about relationships. The group leader says that the Bhutanese are very relaxed about sex, especially the eastern Bhutanese. Usually, people get married by moving in together. They get divorced by moving out. There is no stigma attached to divorce or having children out of wedlock.

“You’ll find that if you do have a relationship with a Bhutanese, the village will be quite accepting of the whole thing……they say there are no secrets in Bhutan, especially in eastern Bhutan, so you can expect everyone to know about it by the next day.”

In Buddhism, there is no devil, no external dark force – there is only your mind, and you must take responsibility for what you want and how you choose to get it.

For a small country, Bhutan has an extraordinary number of languages and dialects; at least eighteen have been recognized, some confined to a single village.

Chortens are complex Buddhist symbols representing the body of Buddha…..Inside there are precious stones, written prayers, relics. In Nepal, most chortens have been desecrated and robbed, but, in Bhutan, this is extremely rare. The Bhutanese still believe in the sanctity of these monuments, and would expect divine retribution if they disturbed one.
Across the river, hanging from a cliff is the monastery of Taktsang, the tiger’s nest, where Padmasambhava and his flying tigress landed. The flying tigress does not seem half as incredible as the monastery itself, which looks as if it has been glued to the cliff face.

The Indian teachers freely admit they are here because they could not find jobs in India, and they almost seem to resent the fact that they have to take orders from the Bhutanese. ………Mrs Joy tried to give me a whispered account of “the problem with these people,” meaning the Bhutanese, but I pulled away….

I am always amazed at what the upper portions of these ghos can hold: books, plates, cloth bags, a bottle of arra for me, rice crisps, dried apples, a cucumber, a handful of chillies to eat in class………….

Before school, after school, Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning. There is always someone at my door and it is making me crazy. Sick kids, fighting kids, kids with boils, scrapes and gashes; kids offering potatoes, garlic, enormous bitter white radish; kids wanting to see snaps, play the keyboard, listen to the Walkman, look at things (“Miss! What is these?” they ask, holding up sunglasses, a nail file, a box of tampons) Kids wanting just to come in …….Big kids wanting help with English homework, wanting to help me with my housework or cooking or shopping, if miss is ever needing anything, they can help. Fellow teachers, coming for tea, coming to chat, have I settled myself up, do I have a boyfriend at home, why did I come here actually, and do I want to sell my camera? ………Men and women from the village coming to ask if I want to buy cloth, handwoven kiras, belts, bags, do I want balls of cheese or butter, a bottle of milk or arra, anything at all? …..they ask. What do I need? They will find it, they will bring it.
I need to be alone. After a full day of talking, smiling, listening, showing, nodding, translating, I want to be alone. ……..But no, this is not to be. They feel sorry for me because I am here alone. Miss, poor miss, she lives all alone. Cooks alone, eats alone, sleeps alone……..they want to help. ……….People in Bhutan are rarely alone.
I decide to go for a walk every day, out of town, along the curve of the mountain….. The first day, I lock my door – not because I fear theft, but because I know from experience that if I leave it unlocked, I will have a houseful of people waiting for me when I come back…….Sangay Chhoden comes running out of her mothers shop……. “Miss, where going?”
Korbe,” I say. Roaming.
“I coming, miss?” she asks…….smiling shyly, and I cannot say no. Soon we are joind by Phuntso Wangmo. Sangay and Phuntsho practice English……..The next day, several more students join us. Soon, half my class is waiting for me after school. They insist on carrying my jhola because “in Bhutan student is always carrying lopen’s things,” and we continue our lessons. ………We move on to adjectives and human traits, and I learn that it is okay to be poor if you are kind, it is even okay to be lazy if you are generous, but the very worst thing to be is arrogant. “Showing proud,” the kids tell me, their faces wrinkled in disgust. “……….This is very bad.”

There are no janitors here: in Bhutan, the students are responsible for school maintenance. This is called social work, and it is officially part of the curriculum. At breakfast, I look on uselessly as the students line up for a breakfast………There is actually no need for a teacher to supervise……The students are exquisitely well-behaved.

I am still not used to nightfall in Bhutan, the way it really does fall, suddenly…..

In the school……In the lower classes, the girls are still bold and confident, but they become increasingly shyer as they move into the upper grades. They put their hands over their mouths and giggle when addressed; they defer to the male students and seem to shrink a little more each year. I wonder if sexism is somehow a by-product of Western-style development, or the number of Indian teachers in the school system, or if chauvinism is just as deeply embedded here as anywhere else.

Everything is more meaningful here because there is less of everything. Every brown farm egg is precious.

The cultural competition begins with a traditional Bhutanese dance. The men and women move slowly in a circle, raising and lowering their hands in front of them in simple, lulling gestures as they sing. The beauty is in the measured, synchronized movements; this is not a dance about performance but participation. There is no instrumental accompaniment, only the voices rising and falling in the melancholic, pentatonic scale, and lingering over microtones that no tempered instrument could ever match. The style is called zhungdra, the oldest form of music in Bhutan, and the melody climbs and climbs and then falls suddenly, rhythm changing unpredictably………

What I love most is how seamless everything is. You walk through a forest and come out in a village, and there’s no difference, no division. You aren’t in nature one minute and in civilization the next. The houses are made out of mud and stone and wood, drawn from the land around. Nothing stands out, nothing jars.

…he tells me that there is trouble in Bhutan, between south and north, Nepali and Drukpa. “They don’t want us to be Nepali anymore,” he says. “We have to wear their dress and speak their language. We can no more be who we are.”

Tony says that all lakes in Bhutan are considered holy. His students warned him not to pollute the lake, or bring meat anywhere near it, or leave any garbage nearby.

Nepali immigration into Bhutan began as early as the end of the last century when laborers from the lowlands were recruited for timber and stone extraction; the laborers eventually cleared plots of land in the malaria-infested jungles of the south and settled there.

In Bhutan, the 1958 Citizenship Act gave citizenship to anyone who had lived in Bhutan for at least ten years and owned land. With the implementation of the country’s first economic development plan in 1962, there was plenty of work to be found building roads, schools and hospitals, and Nepali immigrants continued to move into the country. Integration did not seem to be a concern; apparently, travel to northern Bhutan was restricted for the southern Bhutanese until sometime in the 1970s. South was south, north was north.
The south became an issue in 1988, when census records indicated a disproportionate increase in the population in the southern districts. In the neighbouring Indian states of Meghalaya and Assam, Nepali immigrants were being evicted……….Gorkha National Liberation Front in Darjeeling began calling for the establishment of Gorkhaland, which would spread across northeastern India, including parts of southern Bhutan.

….we travel overland to Delhi. Northern India is exhausting. Along the way we are stared at, glared at, honked at, swerved around, groped, grabbed, pinched, poked, fondled, bullied, propositioned, lied to, proposed to, and sang to.

There is no quick confess-and-forgive formula in Buddhist practice. Buddhism requires a constant, relentless internal honesty………

Dogs are a problem all over Bhutan, especially in towns, wherever there are institutions with kitchens – schools and hospitals and army camps. The packs belong to no one and to everyone. It would be a sin in Buddhism to round them all up and kill them, since all sentient beings are considered sacred, even these horrid, diseased, deformed dogs.

One of the students has died in the night………it was Tashi……two students sit by Tashi’s side. A plate of food has been placed beside him. His classmates will take turns sitting with him until his family arrives for the cremation. I sit with the students, the prayers rising and falling around me, and try to pray but I cry instead. “You should try not cry, ma’am,” Chhoden tells me, ……. “We say that it makes it harder for the spirit to leave, if people cry.”
It takes Tashi’s family three days to make the journey from their village. For three days, his classmates continue their vigil in shifts, never leaving the body alone………the body does not burn properly, and the lama heading the ceremony says it is because of the spirit’s attachment to this world. Tashi’s classmates bring his flute and his paints from his room and cast them onto the fire, admonishing his spirit. “You’re dead now. See, all your things are gone. We don’t want you here. Go now.”
“How awful,” I say to Chhoden.
She shakes her head. “No, madam. We have to tell like that. If we show how much we loved him, his spirit won’t want to leave and then it will be stuck here. It has to know its dead.” She says some people know immediately that they are dead, but others just wander around, sitting down with their family to eat, wondering why no one will speak to them. “That’s why we leave food out near the body, so that the person will not feel so bad.”……..

There is none of the sanitized grief that I associate with death in my own culture. Tears are hidden not for the sake of appearances – there is no need to hold up well in the eyes of the community – but for the sake of the dead, so that they will be able to leave behind this lifetime. Grief is everywhere, in the stunned expressions of Tashi’s friends, in his mother’s collapsed face, but there is also a stoic acceptance.
“Everyone dies,” Nima tells me after the cremation. “This is what the Buddha taught.”………

“But see, miss. If I think how many countless times I have been reborn in this world, we say millions of times, then how many times have I been happy already? How many times have I married and had children and fulfilled all my goals, and how many times have I suffered and died? Then I think I must have experienced everything by now, but I am still here, so I have not learned anything. Then I feel tired, miss. I feel tired of this life and I think I should become a monk and go to a cave and find a way out of all this coming and going in circles.”
Later, in meditation, these words come back to me. It is like something opening in my head, too fast for words. I must have experienced everything by now, but I am still here, so I have not learned anything. In a moment, I grasp it. Not the Buddhist theory of the self, how there is no essential Jamie Zeppa, how she is only a collection of changing conditions, attributes and desires common to all sentient beings, but the experience of that fact. Everything falls away. It is the experience of pure freedom, a momentary glimpse of how it would be – to be in the world and not be attached to it, to move through it, experiencing it and letting it go. It is impossible to put the feeling, the certainty into words, but later, I know that this is the moment I became a Buddhist.

…….a verse from the Buddhist canon: “Mindfulness is the abode of eternal life, thoughtlessness the abode of death. Those who are mindful do not die. The thoughtless are as if dead already.”

“You know, miss, in Buddhism, we say that life is like housekeeping in a dream. We may get a lot done, but in the end we wake up and what does it come to, all that effort?”

In Bhutan, I often felt frustrated by the absence of questioning, and constrained by the strong social mores. In Bhutan, you should because everyone else does. You should because that’s the way it has always been done. You should because if you don’t, you will be criticized, perhaps ostracized, and ostracism is dangerous in a village. Here [in Canada] I feel equally frustrated by the whining and the self-absorption. I can see the advantages of the mindset in Bhutan, the cohesiveness it generates, the social security net, and the disadvantages as well, the fear of critical questioning, the rigidity that stifles creativity. …………..In Bhutan, the lack of privacy could infuriate me, but I always felt safe. Bhutan does not cultivate serial killers: people live too closely together, their lives are too interconnected for such atrocities to grow unnoticed and unchecked.
It seems to me that the two worlds represent extremes in many ways. Extreme individualism and extreme social conformity. Extreme privacy and extreme communalism. On one hand, a society of too many freedoms; on the other, too many constraints.

I feel slow. I think slowly, I talk slowly, I react slowly. In the blur and rush of everything around me, I am more mindful. The mindfulness has grown quietly and surely, perhaps more a result of my slow, sparse environment in Kanglung than my own efforts. I can see how it would evaporate here [in Canada] without a consistent daily practice.

………..into the hallway where we stop to kiss, and I feel a million tiny windows flying open into my skin………I close the door and lean against it, feeling the wood against my back, blood running in my veins, warmth in my palms, the trace of the last kiss.
Energy is eternal delight.

………it is true that Bhutanese who marry foreigners can not be promoted past a certain level……

The worst are full of passionate intensity, the best lack all conviction.