Khema Sets Out For The Beyul Of Sikkim
Months back word had reached the town that caves had been uncovered in an area not far away, a region known as Mustang. These were believed to be the caves spoken of in a legend of a local Abbot who had assisted the great master Padmasambhava on a ritualistic expedition to plant scrolls with secret teachings and accompanying empowered objects. According to the legend these teachings were far too advanced for the population of that time period so they had to be hidden until the spirituality and mentality of the population had matured. So, the great master harnessed the dakinis to keep those hiding places undiscoverable until the revered deity Vajrayogini signalled that the people were ready. Up until now it was only rumor that enough time had passed and as a whole the people of this region had advanced along the spiritual and scholastic path far enough to have prepared themselves for the honor of receiving these legendary teachings. Much excitement was astir around town that these could be the very caves of the legend and that the rumors were true!
A group of explorers from Khema’s village had assembled to trek through Mustang and assist in the recovery of any possible artifacts. The expedition returned to the village and confirmed that the legend had been true! Several valuable, sacred objects were discovered in the caves, among them were scrolls, prayer wheels, amulets and charts with information on medically useful plants and mystically powerful stones. The members of the party brought back as much as they could to be examined by experts in the village, yet they claimed that what they could carry was only a small sample of the treasury within those caves. Luckily an individual with artistic skills was present and had drawn some of the objects which they had believed to be very significant but which none of the explorers were able to carry back. Khema looked over the drawings with some of the other ritualists and senior monastics and concluded that many items left behind would be relevent for use in conjunction with the instructions contained in the scrolls. The caves would have to be revisited and explored further as soon as possible!
Among the scrolls was a travelogue referencing one of the sacred sites graced by master Padmasambhava, sBas yul ‘bras mo ljongs is the name of this sacred place. The travelogue describes the direction in which one could find this place, the mountains where it is situated and then its very landscape. Khema pointed out how some of the desriptions in the travelogue were encrypted language so that only those who have been initiated to the proper degree can know exactly what is being described. The reason for such secrecy is that if just any ordinary person decided to seek out a place like sBas yul ‘bras mo ljongs without the proper initiation and preliminary exercises, self-study and practice: first of all they would not even have the correct vision to see the sacred site, but secondly and more importantly if they don’t first lose their minds trying to enter the region the sites are protected by dakini who will do anything to keep out the uninitiated. Tales abound of bolders showering down on unprepared and therefore unwelcome seekers, forrest fires pushing them out, floods washing their camps away. It is a serious matter and these are not forces to be reckoned with.
Khema noted sBas yul ‘bras mo ljongs is the hidden valley of Sikkim. She had travelled through Sikkim before when she was much younger and had made her first pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya. That was when she was befriended by the Lama who initiated her in his lineage of ritualists. There was a stupa in Sikkim that had great significance to the lineage, it was said to contain a footprint of Padmasambhava. She and her teacher Lama had detoured on the way back to her village to circumambulate that stupa. Khema recalled the Lama pointing out the mountian-scapes, the directions and what can be found beyond the horizons. The language used in this travelogue was the very same! She could see in her minds eye, exactly what this scroll was describing!
She went to the nunnery that night and sat in her cell. She began to chant the prayer she had uttered in repetition thousands of times on that circumambulation with the Lama. She pictured her body lifting off of the ground and flying through the night sky, the hundreds of kilometers to Sikkim. She knew she was near the site when she hovered at the opening of two cliff faces where even in the darkness of night she could sense the “fountainhead of water flowing toward India”. She soared a few kilometers further landing softly near the same stupa from her initiatiatory circumambulation. There she sat until the morning sun broke over the eastern ridge which was just as the text had described like “the brocade decorations of the monastery”. Khema traced her gaze along the ridge to the north where indeed the ridges dispersed “like the spread-out fingers of a hand”. She turned and behind her rose the collection of rounded mountain tops which “resembled the Buddha family”. Yes, she noted the varieties of medicinal herbs growing bountifully, and all the flora in full bloom (which in other places would be unheard of at this time of year, but in this Beyul seemed naturally seasonal). She again floated up toward the sky to get a birds eye view of her surroundings, there lay the rectangular plateau where fauna were diverse and plentiful, “playful deer and musk deer..pheasants, peacocks”.
Her teacher Lama suddenly appeared out of the clouds and she heard his voice without his lips moving. He said to her that it is her time now, she has prepared herself to pilgrimage to this beyul sBas yul ‘bras mo ljongs. Her meditations and rituals are potent enough on their own now that she will be able to see the path through the hidden valley. When she meditates there she will gain the power of all the masters in her lineage before her. She could become a master herself and initiate her own students if she can get to this hidden valley and perform a few rituals with the right frame of mind and correct intentions. He told her to bring with her a prayer wheel inlaid with turquoise, coral and white jade, to spin it as she walked on after she had circled the stupa three times. Then when she reached the split between the two cliffs where the water bubbled out she was to perform 108 prostrations then string up prayer flags between two fir trees. He told her she should plan to camp on the beyul plateau or in a cave for a while, that she would know when it was the proper time to leave and return to her village. His last instructions were to remember his words and how it is written in the text “where the mind dwells on spirituality, happiness will follow”. With that Khema lifted herself higher and headed back to her hometown, returning to her body still seated on her meditation cushion in her cell. When she roused herself from her trance she gathered a few belongings and headed out on her own expedition to find the beyul in Sikkim.