Tibet – at the top of the bucket list

A trip to Tibet is something more than an unforgettable experience and something that must be in your list of “things to do before you die”.

I remember arriving in Lhasa. We were all “high” from the altitude a bit less than 4000 mand we had to stay there for 3 days in order to get used to it. We visited the monasteries there. One of the things that initially impressed me was the kindness of the Tibetan people.

We were walking around the Jokhang Temple, Tibetan Buddhism’s most sacred temple, which is situated at the heart of old Lhasa and is the daily recipient of prayers of worshippers and pilgrims. There were many people performing this walk, called Kora (a pilgrimage, acircle, around sacred places). From earliest dawn to last light, Tibetans arrive to perform this Kora of Jokhang in order to clear their Karma, so that their prayers can be “heard by the Buddha”. Yet the Kora is also a residential area and a market, the heart of Lhasa where

Tibetans live, meet, socialize and also shop. Houses and stores fill the spaces between the smaller temples, prayer poles and prayer wheels. Broken only by intersecting alleys, the buildings transform the Kora into an enclosed lane. All day long there is a constant movement: a clock-wise flowing stream of worshippers, monks, shoppers, vendors and inhabitants.

As I was walking inside this “stream” of people, I started feeling this energy penetrating my body and, more specifically, the area of my heart. It was really intense and I was not expecting this to happen in the middle of this crowd. I felt that this energy were emanating from the people. Looking at the face of every person around me, I could really feel and “see” the radiant kindness of the Tibetan people. Then a monk just hugged me from the left side, put his hand around my shoulders and started walking by my side.

He uttered some nice words in Tibetan and I could clearly feel that he was giving me his blessing. I started crying. I felt the kindness permeating my soul from the world that was surrounding me. The monk put his hand on a red substance and painted a small circle in the center of my forehead. He bowed in front of me and then left. That was the moment when my journey to Tibet had really started.

We visited many sacred places, monasteries, amazing lakes, caves where famous masters had got enlightened. I remember one monastery with an enormous stupa , a mound-like monument containing Buddhist relics, typically the ashes of Buddhist monks, used by Buddhists as a place of meditation. You could walk around it via an external corridor. It had many entrances in different chambers. The whole structure had around 5 floors and each floor had 8 or 10 chambers. Inside the chambers there was no artificial light, so when you entered it coming in from the sunlit exterior, in the first few seconds your eyes could not see almost at all.

But after your eyes had adjusted to the room, suddenly you could see this amazing scenery created by statues of Buddha. Each Representation was different creating a sudden and strong emotional and aesthetic impression. After visiting all these chambers I felt one of the most amazing and magical feelings I had ever felt in my life!! The rest of the group had been waiting for me for almost 20 minutes. I stayed there like a child that didn’t want to leave the place!!

Then we visited the holy mountain of the Tibetans, Mount Kailash. We were told that every Tibetan at least once per year visits Kailash mountain and does the Kora, the pilgrimage around the mountain. We did the same. This trip lasted 3 days. Our purpose was to walk and contemplate about our life, relax deeply while walking and sink in the present moment. Relaxing in the moment while walking, having no past and no future was one of the most amazing experiences one can have in life.

Our mind usually runs in a rat race all day calculating the next things to do and trying to avoid pitfalls, mistakes and problematic results. But there, in Kailash mountain, all these just vanished in thin air. For 3 days things shifted inside as we were simply walking on the trails of the mountain. My life literally changed and I experienced a deep feeling of harmony, beauty and inner peace!

The food also was delicious, as we had with us Tibetan Yaks (the Tibetan cows) carrying food, tents and equipment, together with a crew with cooks and mountain guides. They were preparing amazing food with rice meat and vegetables for us, and – believe me – we were really hungry up there!! We visited locals who live there in their tents and huts and we drank Tibetan tea with milk which was more than welcome. We also met monks and wise old men who gave us their blessing and told us important things about life!! We walked and hiked around 30 km in these 3 days in altitudes around 4700 – 5700 m.

I remember the last part of the Kora we were tired but so happy. When I returned to the jeep which was there to take us from Kailash I knew what I had to do in my life from then on. I was so excited and left this holy place with great respect and gratitude for what it gave us. I think I could almost feela kind and loving spirit permeating these mountains making them seem as if they were reallyalive with an ancient wisdom almost as if thousands of ancient monks and priests had been residing there, blessing all the visitors and kindly guiding them to receive the truth and answers for their lives. Just amazing!

One has to visit this place to understand its magic; otherwise one can only imagine it. The end of the trip was an amazing return trip by car to Nepal. This was also a unique experience because we had to travel a huge road descending from an altitude of 5000 meters to something like 1000 meters and so we literally traveled from the snowy, icy peaks down to an almost tropical climate. We passed through the clouds as we were descending a road between mountains. We could see very far away the end point and as we were going down gradually the temperature got higher and higher.

When we finally arrived in Nepal

characterized by its dense vegetation, we could see behind us the big peaks of the white mountains. It was a dream trip!  What has remained from this experience is a big transformation and awe felt due to the fact that there is such a unique place in the world with beauty and spiritual tradition.

It is indeed the trip of a lifetime that can enrich your life and be engraved in your memory.