A Vision of Paradise (Major Blog 1)

Once Shelby[1] had been tented to, the group made a decision to pack up and leave immediately. As we embarked on the treacherous journey back to the village, I couldn’t help but think about all the ancient texts we had discovered. One of these texts in particular became the bane of my thoughts on the journey back to the village.

About nine days later, we had finally arrived back to the village. The journey back took two days longer than anticipated due to the exhaustion the group was suffering from. Almost as soon the group arrived in the village everyone scattered back to their respective dwellings while the sherpas took the ancient texts up to the village monastery. As exhausted as I was, I couldn’t help but follow the sherpas in order to track down the text I had faintly looked at in the caves known to me only as the Bras Mo Ljongs[2]. What attracted me to this particular text were the circumstances that I had found it in. With all the sickness, death, and misery that were part of the cave expedition, I found the introductory section of the text in an obscure corner of one of the caves. I’m not one to dwell on coincidences but I couldn’t help but think it rather ironic that I found this text given the ominous circumstances that surrounded me. The text talked about a time in the future when the doctrine of the Buddha would disappear and evil practices, disease, famine, lawlessness, and great misfortunes would fall on all the countries of the world[3]. It was the discussion of misfortunes and disease that peaked my interest given that I had been a part of such things during the cave expedition.

Once the sherpas had made their way into the monastery, I carefully followed behind them. I knew that the scholars, nuns, and monks would be eager to get their hands on the texts the group and I had found. I had to find the Bras Mo Ljongs and claim it for myself. Before the texts were unpackaged and sifted through, the nuns and monks performed a smoke purification ritual[4] in order to remove any obstructing forces that may hinder the study of the recovered texts. Apparently there can be up to 80,000 obstructing forces headed by the king of obstacle makers named Vinayaka[5]. The ritual consisted of various kinds of substance offerings and the visualization of the dissolution of the substance offerings into the infinite expanse of the “dharmadhatu” or the realm beyond the limitations of ideas[6].

Once the ritual was completed, I made my way to go see the head nun and monk. I had heard the head nun was a pleasant old lady but the head monk was known in the village to be a grizzly old man with a short temper. I asked both of them if I could speak with them in private and they obliged. They seemed a bit reluctant at first given my ragged appearance due to the expedition but when I explained that I was the village blacksmith and was part of the group that recovered these texts they became friendlier. I felt a little silly asking permission to take something that I was part of recovering but I figured that these are holy texts and it’s better to have divine permission from a holy person than to just take it. The words from the “Brief Windhorse Practice of Tara”[7] sounded through my mind when I felt silly which were: “May whatever we do turn out well”[8]. With those words in mind, I explained to my hosts that I was unable to grab a hold of the text called the Bras Mo Ljongs during the expedition because of the turmoil I faced at the time and if they would so kind as to find that text for me and put it aside.

The head nun was more than happy to do so but the head monk was a bit suspicious as to why I wanted this particular text out of all the ones we had brought back. His suspicions weren’t without merit. I explained to the old man that my cause was noble and that I would return the text to the monastery as soon as I was done searching what I was looking for. “And what is it you’re looking for blacksmith?”, the old man muttered. In all honesty I had no idea how to answer that question. I had the imagination of a child in all its optimism, curiosity, and adventure but I realized at that moment that I had no practical or utilitarian reason to sit down and examine the text. While I thought of a good answer to come up for the monk I suddenly felt my legs go numb and my head felt like it was dissipating into the ether and I collapsed.

No doubt I had fainted from being exhausted from the journey. My body gave up but my mind was still active and searching for answers. It was this active state of mind which I believe caused me to have a dream or vision of the place described in the Bras Mo Ljongs.

My dream or vision began almost instantaneously with my head feeling like it was dissipating into the ether. I felt as if I was sucked out of my exhausted body and pulled into a realm without form but I was still conscious of what was happening to me. I also felt like myself not some mist, breeze, or air but I felt as if I was the same being that occupied the human form I now saw below me as I floated into the sky. I arrived at the summit of Mount Meru and was abruptly stopped by some mysterious force. It was strange, I had no human form but I saw everything as clear as I did through my eyes. But I had no eyes. There were no ears to hear the wind but I heard it. No nose to smell the freshly fallen snow but I smelt it. No feet to feel the earth but I felt it. As I was puzzled by this predicament, all of a sudden I heard a loud bell that sounded like the bells of enlightenment[9] rung in the monastery only 10,000 times stronger. From the clouds descended a group of what I instantly recognized as the peaceful and wrathful deities[10]. I thought I had died and entered the Bardo plane or the intermediate state following death.

Image URL: https://anonymouslefty.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/uncharted-2-shambhala-vista-wallpaper-concept-art.jpg

But to my surprise the group of deities pointed in the four directions just above the village. Where I had collapsed became the center of the four directions. As I witnessed this awe inspiring phenomenon, I made the connection between what I was experiencing and the mystical land described in the Bras Mo Ljongs. Once this realization dawned on me, I heard the bells of enlightenment once more and felt myself being pulled back down into the monastery where I was back in my human form and awoke.

Having awoken from my dream or vision I was a bit startled as the whole experience felt as “real” as what I was experiencing now. I was being tended to by the old head monk who told me that I had collapsed and that I should drink some medicine he had prepared for me. I quickly stood up and humbly declined and without saying another word began to make my way home. As I made my way to my horse I heard the old man yell out that he would have a monk deliver the text when they found it.

As soon as I got home I boiled some tea and went straight to bed. The next morning I awoke to the noise of the villagers setting up for the upcoming New Year celebration. As I looked out my window and saw how happy the villagers were and how involved they were in what they were doing it dawned me that the vision I had was actually an obscure message. The mystical land described in the Bras Mo Ljongs which one was able to be free from harm was not actually a geographical location as I had hoped. A place of pure blissfulness or a state of happiness was not somewhere which I had to find because I was already in it only I failed to realize it. With that recognition I gained a state of complete peacefulness and began to prepare my own New Year festivities.

[1] Medium.com Writer: Shelby McIsaac (Shelby) https://medium.com/@shelbyy1993.

[2] Rigzin Ngodup Dokhampa, Sbas Yul “Bras Mo Ljongs”: The Hidden Valley Of Sikkim, trans. Thupten Tenzin (Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, 2003), pgs. 75–86.

[3] Rigzin Ngodup Dokhampa, Sbas Yul “Bras Mo Ljongs”: The Hidden Valley Of Sikkim, trans. Thupten Tenzin (Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, 2003), pg. 1.

[4] Dodrupchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima, A Guide To Sang Practice, trans. Adam Pearcey (Rigpa Translations, 2006), pg. 7.

[5] Dodrupchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima, A Guide To Sang Practice, trans. Adam Pearcey (Rigpa Translations, 2006), pg. 7.

[6] Dodrupchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima, A Guide To Sang Practice, trans. Adam Pearcey (Rigpa Translations, 2006), pg. 8.

[7] “Abu” Patrul Rinpoche, Brief Windhorse Practice Of Tara, (1808–1887).

[8] “Abu” Patrul Rinpoche, Brief Windhorse Practice Of Tara, (1808–1887).

[9] Heninrich Dumoulin, Zen Enlightenment: Origins and Meaning, (Shambhala Publications, 2007), pg. 78.

[10] Evans-Wentz, Walter Yeeling. The Tibetan Book of the Dead: Or the After-death Experiences on the Bardo Plane, According to Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup’s English Rendering, (Oxford University Press, 2000), pg. 84.

Bibliography

1.) “Abu” Patrul Rinpoche, Brief Windhorse Practice Of Tara, 1808–1887.

2.) Dodrupchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima, A Guide To Sang Practice, trans. Adam Pearcey, Rigpa Translations, 2006.

3.) Evans-Wentz, Walter Yeeling. The Tibetan Book of the Dead: Or the After-death Experiences on the Bardo Plane, According to Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup’s English Rendering, Oxford University Press, 2000.

4.) Heninrich Dumoulin, Zen Enlightenment: Origins and Meaning, Shambhala Publications, 2007.

5.) Image URL: https://anonymouslefty.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/uncharted-2-shambhala-vista-wallpaper-concept-art.jpg.

6.) Medium.com Writer: Shelby McIsaac (Shelby) https://medium.com/@shelbyy1993.

7.) Rigzin Ngodup Dokhampa, Sbas Yul “Bras Mo Ljongs”: The Hidden Valley Of Sikkim, trans. Thupten Tenzin, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, 2003.

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