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Journey to Serenity: Our Spiritual Journey in Nepal



Introduction:

Our journey to Nepal marked the beginning of a shared spiritual quest, immersing us in the serene beauty and rich cultural mosaic of this Himalayan gem. This is the story of a transformative experience.


Visa Reminder:

To all those planning a venture into the heart of Nepal, remember to apply for your Nepal Visa before your trip. The fees are structured as follows:


15 days: 30 USD

30 days: 50 USD

90 days: 125 USD

You can apply for your visa here:


Day 1: Arrival and Stay at Namo Buddha Resort

Our adventure kicked off with a scenic, although a little dusty (this depends on the time of the year you are going to visit) taxi ride to Namo Buddha. Having been there for so many times it was the first time for my partner and I saw everything with new eyes. The Namo Buddha Resort was our sanctuary for the next couple of nights, offering the comfort of a hot shower, room heaters and a cottage with breathtaking views of the Himalayas. Every time when I am returning to Nepal and stand in front of the majestic mountains I am realising on one hand how insignificant I am and yet how I am part of everything.

Our evening culminated in a group dinner at the resort's dining hall, bonding over delicious food at 7 pm. Later, we spent time outside, wrapped in the cool night air, sharing stories and insights with fellow travelers around a bone fire.

Look for more details about the resort here!


Day 2 and Day 3: Visit to Namo Buddha Monastery


On our second day, we embarked on a journey on foot to the Namo Buddha Monastery. Its a leisurely 30 to 45 minutes walk to the revered site, established under the guidance of my late teacher VV Thrangu Rinpoche. It stands as a remarkable example of Tibetan monastic architecture and the tenancy and vision of a great teacher. The monastery serves not only as a sanctuary for practitioners but also as a welcoming destination for visitors, offering a café and yummy vegetarian meals, particularly during significant Buddhist events.


Monastic Life and the Grand Shrine Hall


The sound of the drams and instruments and the chanting during pujas performed by the monks and nuns is always awe inspiring and invokes a feeling of devotion. Visitors are welcome to attend the pujas and prayers. As we entered the Grand Hall, we are captivated by the beautiful wall painting done entirely with natural stone, illustrating the lineage of the Kagyu lineage gurus. The lineage stretched from the mystical Tilopa to Naropa, Marpa and Milarepa, who attained enlightenment in one life times and who is somehow a bit of a Tibetan Hero and all the way to the 16th Karmapa. We had the fortune of meeting the artist behind these masterpieces, the humble Lama Rigzhen. The colours in the wall paintings are entirely done with natural stones. This is a lot more costly then ordinary colours. The colours are a lot more vibrant (without being artificial) and they can last 1000’s of years.



A Blessed Encounter

A major highlight and reason for our visit was the opportunity to meet the late VV Thrangu Rinpoche during his 90th birthday celebrations. It was the last time we should see him as he passed into paranirvana in May 2023. My partner was fortunate to be able to meet him for the very first time and I was fortunate to ask him some personal questions not knowing that I will not meet him again so soon. His presence profoundly deepened the spiritual aspect of our journey.


Namo Buddha Stupa – The Legacy of Great Compassion



The place is called Namo Buddha (Takmo Lujin in Tibetan) because of the Stupa, just a 5 minutes walk down the hill from the monastery. The VV Thrangu Rinpoche choose the location for his monastery due to this holy site nearby. This stupa commemorates Sakyamuni Buddha in one of his previous lives as a Bodhisattva, who, in an ultimate act of compassion, sacrificed himself to feed a hungry tiger in order to save it and her cubes from starvation. This story is a testament to the act of compassion and selflessness and serves as an inspiration for Buddhists.

The act of circumambulating this sacred stupa for at least three times is a practice considered as auspicious and it is believed that one accumulates positive karma by doing so. Each step around the stupa invokes a deep sense of peace and it is a good reminder of the virtues of compassion that the stupa symbolizes.

The Namo Buddha Stupa is one of the three holy sites in Nepal, alongside the Boudhanath and Swayambhunath stupas.

Visiting Namo Buddha, always feels like coming home and we felt a profound sense of peace and reverence. The beauty of the landscape and the energy of the religious place touches something deep in your heart.


Day 4: Boudhanath: A Tale of Compassion and Devotion


On Day 4 we returned from the mountain to the city, to Boudhanath about 5km from the centre of Kathmandu. It takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours from Namo Buddha to Boudhanath by taxi.


The Boudhanath Stupa is one of the largest spherical stupas in the world and an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is not only an architectural wonder but also a repository of fascinating legends and histories.


Among the many tales associated with Boudhanath, the story of the cow herder woman, Jyajhima, and her four sons is particularly captivating. This tale intertwines devotion, perseverance, and a clever use of resources.


Jyajhima, a humble cow herder, was determined to honor the remains of Kāśyapa Buddha, who lived long before Śākyamuni Buddha. She sought permission from the king to build a stupa, asking for the land the size of a buffalo skin. Ingeniously, she cut the skin into a long strip to encircle a large area, thereby securing enough space for the stupa.


With great sacrifice and effort, Jyajhima and her sons began constructing the stupa. As the structure's foundation took shape, its sheer scale astounded the locals. High officials, feeling overshadowed by the ambitious project of a poor old woman, petitioned the king to halt its progress. However, the king, having given his word, allowed the work to continue, leading to the completion of the grand stupa.


This remarkable story of Jyajhima's dedication is not just a historical account but also a symbol of unwavering faith and the power of commitment. Today, the Boudhanath Stupa attracts thousands of pilgrims and visitors from around the world, including Tibetan traders and refugees who have found a spiritual haven around this sacred monument. It is believed that any sincere wish done at the stupa will be fulfilled.


Visiting Boudhanath, is deeply moving and a sense of peace and devotion surrounds this ancient site. The mystical stupa, with its rich history, serves as a reminder of the profound impact of faith and the enduring human spirit. It is our favourite place to stay. It is outskirt of Kathmandu with many restaurants and cafes with lots of yummy food. It has also many religious shops where you can buy religious artefacts, e.g. statues, singing bowls and the famous pashima shawls.


Day 5: Swayambhunath: A Harmony of Nature and Spirituality

Perched atop a hill in Kathmandu Valley, Swayambhunath is an ancient, sacred complex known for its iconic stupa and rich spiritual heritage. Often referred to as the 'Monkey Temple' due to the many monkeys residing nearby, this site holds a special place in both Buddhist and Hindu traditions.


The complex is an interesting blend of shrines, temples, a Tibetan monastery, museum, and library, with some structures dating back centuries. The stupa is adorned with the watchful eyes of Buddha, which is seen on most of the stupas in Nepal, symbolizes wisdom and compassion, gazing out in all four cardinal directions.


Swayambhunath's origins are deeply rooted in myth and legend. According to the Swayambhu Purana, a Buddhist text, the entire Kathmandu Valley was once a vast lake. From its waters grew a lotus, marking the birthplace of the valley, named "Self-Created" or Swayambhu. The site's transformation from a lotus to a hill, where the stupa now stands, is attributed to the bodhisattva Manjushri. His sword drained the lake, making the valley habitable and revealing the sacred lotus hill.


The stupa itself is a marvel of symbolic architecture. Its white dome represents the world, with the thirteen tiers leading to the top symbolizing the path to enlightenment. The large, all-seeing eyes of Buddha on each side of the stupa signify the omnipresent nature of awareness and compassion.


Every day, before dawn, the site comes alive with pilgrims, both Buddhist and Hindu, who ascend the eastern staircase, passing the majestic Vajra and guardian lions. As in Boudhanath the devotees circumbulate the stupa clockwise (kora).


Kora: The Spiritual Journey of Circumambulation


In the heart of Tibetan culture lies the practice of Kora, a spiritual journey that involves walking clock wise around sacred sites. This ritual, deeply embedded in Tibetan Buddhist, is more than just a physical act of circling; it's a form of meditation and a symbolic pilgrimage that holds great religious significance.


Kora is performed at various sacred sites, including natural landscapes like mountains and lakes, as well as man-made structures such as temples, stupas, and monasteries. Some of the most renowned Kora sites include the majestic Mount Kailash, the serene Lake Manasarovar, and the iconic Boudhanath Stupa in Nepal.


The essence of Kora revolves around the concept of né, which refers to empowered or holy places. These sites are believed to have the power to transform those who visit and perform the Kora. The act of circling these sacred spots, known as nékor, is thought to bring spiritual benefits and generate merit. Pilgrims often undertake this journey with deep reverence, seeking spiritual enlightenment and blessings.


Koras can range from simple walks to more physically demanding treks, often involving long distances and challenging terrain. The experience is enriched by practices like spinning prayer wheels, chanting mantras and counting mantras on a mala (a rosary).

Traditionally, Buddhist pilgrims perform Kora in a clockwise direction, emulating the path of the sun, while followers of the Bon tradition circle counterclockwise. In some instances, the devout may choose to perform full body prostrations throughout the Kora, signifying humility and devotion.


The act of Kora is a beautiful blend of physical endurance, spiritual devotion, and cultural tradition. As I embarked on my own Kora, I am struck by a sense of inner peace and devotion, which touches the depths of my heart.


Conclusion: A Haven for the Soul

Nepal is more than just a destination; it's a retreat from the chaos of the modern world. The mountains, away from crowded places, electronics and EMF offers a sanctuary to rest and rejuvenate both body and mind. The sacred places provided me with a sense of peace, introspection and refocus on what’s truly important in life. This made the journey a truly transformative experience.

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