Episode 123: Tengboche

The Wheel Keeps On Turning. We did make it to the little town of Tengboche last night and took a tour of the monastery there this morning.

It really is wonderful to get to spend some time in a monastery up here, so far away from the chaotic urban landscape back in Kathmandu. It was a totally different experience than the one we briefly shared at Swayambhunath. Wow, that seems like months ago now!

I’m also pleased that Sonam was able to give everyone a quick tutorial in the Tibetan Wheel of Life. There was a nice painting of The Wheel just inside the monastery. I became quite taken with The Wheel and what it represents when Lobsang explained it to Scott Jacobs and I in Tibet in 2007.

I have never claimed to be an “expert” in anything that you’ll find out here in this unique part of the world. While I do have more experience with the region than your average westerner, by and large I am still discovering and learning about everything as I go. What I have come to completely understand, though, is the value of having a guide who is an expert in the local customs, culture, sights, sounds, smells and tastes.

Traveling through the buddhist Himalayas is unlike anything else I’ve experienced anywhere else in the world. While the landscape may appear very austere most of the time at altitude, the local cultures have balanced that monotony with an incredibly rich and detailed culture. In fact, I’ve spent more time reeling from the dizzying complexity of the local beliefs and customs far more than from oxygen deprivation up here!

You can always experience the Himalayas on your own, using only your eyes and your ears and other senses. The mountains will always be beautiful and well worth the effort to come and look at up close. But if you ever really want to try to understand the Himalayas, you need to stop gazing at these high peaks and spend as much time as possible talking with the locals.

Do that long enough and you’ll find your gaze change from looking at the mountains, to looking upon the local cultures to looking into yourself.

This outward journey becomes an inward journey.

Do that long enough and you’ll come to understand that you may never fully understand this part of the world. But that’s OK. Because you’re here. And right now, being here is everything.

Jon Miller

Total Running Time: 32:41