Sunday, June 5, 2016

Master's Profound Heart Advice to His Disciple

This story is a real life account of a master's heart advice to his disciple, the latter being my father. I have been a witness to this episode and the narration produced herein is a first person point of view. I tried my best here to reproduce and translate his root Lama's advice given in Tshangla-kha aka Sharchokpa to its closest resemblance in English with an intent to benefit whoever reads it. Incase you find any contradictory views or distortion in the meaning, I am solely responsible for it.

Image Source: Google
Hidden high up in the woods, inside a small log cabin, my father remained seated on a fresh wooden flooring in a cross-legged posture with his head slightly bowed down in respect. His root lama, the great Yogi, had positioned himself in a relaxed posture of royal ease on a gently raised dais. The fragrance of the burning incense stick from inside the house was wafting slowly out into the woods and soothing the olfactics of all mortals and even the unseen forms. The birds had begun chirping in a ubiquitous tone with the breaking of the daylight, and the distant sound of the flowing river could also be heard from below the valley. As I was busy preparing sugar-free morning tea for them, I could not help myself from lending my auditory senses to the words of his root Lama. I would not say I was eavesdropping at that moment, rather, I still feel blessed to have overheard the initial part of Lama's pith instructions being given to my father.  

His Lama said in a soft tone "No matter how much learned you become, how much respect you earn in life, how many mantras you recite over time and no matter even if you spend several years in retreat, you would not have achieved anything if you are not able to tame your mind. What matters most at the end is to be able to recognize your mind and see your true nature of mind. The whole of Buddha's profound teaching ultimately converges into mind. While treading the path of a Buddhist practitioner, you must know your purpose. Always remember it." 

His Lama further went on by saying "Do not ever let your mind be swayed away by the winds of five poisons (དུག་ལྔ།) i.e attachment, anger, ignorance, pride and jealousy. Be always careful. Constantly examine your thoughts and contemplate on བློ་ལྡོག་རྣམ་བཞི།the 'Four thoughts that turn the mind to Dharma', no matter how many times you have heard it or how basic it may sound. It has to be a part of you throughout your journey till the end." The four thoughts for contemplation are:
  1. Precious human birth (དལ་འབྱོར་རྙེད་པར་དཀའ་བ།);
  2. Impermanence (ཚེ་མི་རྟག་པ།);
  3. The short comings of Samsara (འཁོར་བའི་ཉེས་དམིགས།);
  4. Karma and its consequences (ལས་རྒྱུ་འབྲས།)
He also reminded my father to always fill up his thoughts with ཚད་མེད་བཞི།, the 'Four Immeasurables' while carrying out his daily rituals and practices now and hereafter.The four immeasurables are:
  1. Loving-kindness (བྱམས་པ།);
  2. Compassion (སྙིང་རྗེ།);
  3. Joyfulness (དགའ་བ།);
  4. Equanimity (བཏང་སྙོམས།)
Just as I signaled them that the tea was ready, Lama took a break by saying "I am very happy to be here with you today but all I can do is only serve as a guide in your pursuit for self realization. Self realization has to come from within yourself. Do not seek it outwards. It is not something which comes from outside through some external force". He also used a metaphor by saying "A plant cannot be grown faster by someone pulling it from top. It has to grow by itself from within and obviously it is a time taking process. Just like the plant, I can only help you grow (realize) faster by nurturing you properly at the base instead of pulling."
"If you feel that it makes sense, whatever I tell you today, take it as a small advice from a simple Buddhist practitioner like me. Not that I know everything, requirement of a Lama is a must for a serious practitioner as you move further up. Since, you have considered me as your Lama, whether I am capable of it or not, thank you for that and for becoming a Buddhist practitioner." his Lama said. 

Finally, I served them the tea with great reverence and I headed back home leaving them undisturbed to continue from where they had stopped.

Such were the sublime and profound words of wisdom from his root lama which would definitely serve as a guide and reminder to everyone who follow the path.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Prime Minister of Bhutan on TED

Soon after our Lyonchen (Prime Minister) delivered a captivating speech at the TED Talks sometime in February 2016, I wanted to make a mention of it on my blog, but somehow, it took a while for me. Was it due to my overly busy schedule or my inexorable laziness? Either of it or both of it is to be blamed for this inordinate delay. As we say -"Better late than Never", I am finally doing it now as it would be quite unfair on my part to brush it aside. Few weeks ago, two of my friends; one South African and one Indian, forwarded me the link to this TED talk with much appreciations to our Lyonchen. I had then decided to post it here.

Titled "This country isn't just carbon neutral -it's carbon negative.", the talk can be watched on TED website as well as on Youtube. I have watched it over and over again. Every time I watch it, I learn something new from it. You can watch it right away on the video insert below.

As is customary to every Bhutanese, he begins by paying homage to our extraordinary monarchs who have shaped Bhutan to what it is today. The second obvious thing is to make a mention of Gross National Happiness (GNH). Bhutan is mostly known to the outside world for the famed philosophy of GNH and not touching upon this subject would make Bhutan's story incomplete.

Lyonchen, with his exemplary oratory skills, donned in a bright yellowish sersho gho, introduces Bhutan to the outside wide world as a tiny nation sandwiched between the two most populous countries. However, he says we are surviving. Not just surviving but thriving. Throughout his talk, the audience remains glued onto him. The crowd bursts into laughter when he says we have the biggest pocket on earth and draws out a cellphone and a book from his hemchu. Thank you, Your Excellency for making us proud. It is only through such forums that people know Bhutan as a country and not just another state of India.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Big-Ma Throws Her Mighty Fist on Bookstores

Rules, for obvious reasons, are framed, implemented and monitored, either to bring in decorum in the system or to provide a level playing field. However, at times rules are framed too stringent that it makes more harm than benefits. The Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan was one typical case, which went to the extremes of defaulters getting slashed with lengthy prison terms for selling few tobacco products. Ultimately, it had to be amended with certain relaxation on the penalty part.

The latest commotion is from the bookstore owners. The Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) Act mandates all the stakeholders to register internationally published books. According to those concerned bookstore owners, they say that every book they import should have BICMA registration number on the first page. The registration comes with a fee of Nu. 5 for every book title. This truly is Big-Ma's act which to many sounds illogical. Ever since I heard about this requirement, many questions have been circling in my head. Is it because our government wants to promote our indigenous books? or Is it to filter out certain books from reaching the readers? If it is all about banning those books perceived as having potential to sow discord in the society, BICMA could easily circulate a list of blacklisted titles with an order to refrain from selling such books. Wouldn't that be far more easier? Ofcourse, those involved in framing this act, must have thought a lot about it in their highest wisdom. The Act also mandates all book houses to submit a copy each of every publication ( brought down from three copies). I would imagine that a decade into the future, BICMA would be running the biggest library in the country.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Race Against Time

The Project. Yes, a project is always supposed to be time bound. It has a start and an end. The desired objective has to be fulfilled with the given resources and within the given time frame. This is my interpretation framed from the concepts of project management.

But, what is with the project? I narrate this, because of late, I have joined this mega-project, by far the nation's biggest hydropower project - Punatshangchu-I Hydroelectric Project Authority, a 1200 MW bilateral undertaking. I made up my mind to steer away from the operation & maintenance phase to the project phase to break the monotonous life and, more so, to complete the range of experience in this profession. I confided in my confidence in this field of interest and made my effort to push myself in here. As luck would favor it, I got my way into this project on a deputation term. (FYI: The selection was purely through a competitive process with no dirth of red-tapism involved.) :)

First few days or weeks into this new setup pushed me out of my comfort zone. Most things were new to me. The work culture was entirely at a different level. I had to fast-track my adaptation rate to ensure that no transitional lapses occur on assuming my post. It is little over a month now and I have learned to believe that black tea is the only tea and Hindi is unofficially an official language in this project. Despite all odds, I love this challenge. I have a tusker's task ahead to discharge my responsibilities in ensuring that this project completes on time. It already took its share of overruns for which this project has come under the zoom lens of many people. There is no time to stand and stare. It is a race against time. The completion date has been committed and it is time that we put on our blinkers and work tirelessly to spin the monstrous turbines.

It would have been a good way to relax and start the year by reading a good novel or to take a short break from work. However, I have little choice at the moment. As my wife flips over the pages of Monu's "Chronicle of a Love Foretold" taking a sip of her lemon tea in between, I am busy jotting down the important clauses from Document No. III of the Contract Package MEM-5. The weekend ends with a quite dinner. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Ease of Doing Business Fallacy

Refer to my earlier blog on the Ease of Doing Business in Bhutan. The ranking then for the year 2015 was 125 out of 189 countries. Despite the government's effort to make it easy for the new entrants, there was a drop of 3 ranks from 2014. Per the Doing Business 2016 data, Bhutan's latest ranking stands at 71, a whooping 54 ranks up from 2015.  This announcement also came up boldly in the Bhutanese media.

However, the picture is somewhat different. The government did not waive the magic wand to leapfrog the ranking by such a large figure.The sudden improvement in the ranking is supposedly due to the change in the way it is being ranked. This new methodology which when retrospectively applied to that of 2015 data ranked Bhutan at 70. Infact, the rank has dropped down by one instead of improving.

Source:World Bank Group
Nonetheless, this new rank gives us enough reason to smile and feel proud of our system. Our country ranks at top 100 in the world, which is much better than our neighbours in the region. In the neighbourhood, Bangladesh ranks 174, Pakistan 138, India 130, Sri Lanka 107, Maldives 128, Afghanistan 177 and Nepal 99.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Commemorating 60th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo

The whole nation is in a celebratory mood for the nation witnesses the 60th Birth Anniversary of no other than our Fourth Druk Gyalpo, the 70th Jekhenpo, Trulku Jigme Choeda and Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. There has been array of events happening every now and then in every nook and corner of the country to mark this joyous occasion. I believe many more are in stock to showcase the best of the best in the upcoming days. Of all the initiatives, People's Initiative in Celebrating the Sixtieth Anniversary (PICSA) is the flagship of the nation for commemorating this mega-event.

The celebration takes every form and shape - From  cleaning and greening to dancing and singing. Sadly, I have just been a bystander to all these events.

When the whole nation is in this frenzied atmosphere, I feel discontented to realize that I made no tangible contribution  to any of these events. It is not for the lack of willingness, but for the need of my indulgence for the upkeep of the national asset - the hydropower plant-  which keeps me occupied at all times. Everytime, I prevent or restore the machines from breakdown, it gives me atleast a solace to feel that this is all I can possibly do for the nation -my small contribution to mark this glorious tripartite event. Hundreds of us work late nights in the hydropower plants to ensure that the bulbs of thousand homes are always lit, the foods of thousand families are always cooked and every shows of the PICSA are never disrupted. We might not make it to the limelight for what we have done, we shall remain as un-sung heroes, but all it matters for us is to feel proud for what ever we are doing. Long live the Druk Gyalpo, the Jekhenpo and the Royal Queen Mother.

Monday, March 2, 2015


Today, as I was busy catching up on my work after missing on some of the self declared milestones,  Damcho forwarded me the story "Used vs Loved" in wechat. Scrolling down the whole length of the story, I said "I can't spare my time to read whatever it's all about". On a second thought, I considered reading it as she would never forward it to me if it do not touch her heart. I 'm sure most of you must have read this story, which I believe is going around in social media given the virality of the message. Here I am, reproducing the wechat message forwarded to me by my wife. It is slightly long but worth reading it.

While a man was polishing his new car, his 4 year old son picked up a stone and scratched lines on the side of the car. In anger, the man took the child's hand and hit it many times; not realizing he was using a wrench. At the hospital, the child lost all his fingers due to multiple fractures. 

When the child saw his father.....with painful eyes he asked, 'Dad when will my fingers grow back?' The man was so hurt and speechless; he went back to his car and kicked it a lot of times. Devastated by his own actions.......sitting in front of that car he looked at the scratches; the child had written 'LOVE YOU DAD'.

The next day that man committed suicide. 

Photo source: Google
Anger and Love has no limits; choose the latter to have a beautiful, lovely life.

Things are to be used and people are to be loved, But the problem in today's world is that, People are used and things are loved.

During this year, let's be careful to keep this thought in mind: Things are to be used, but People are to be loved ... Be yourself....This is the only day we HAVE.

Watch your thoughts; they become words. 
Watch your words; they become actions. 
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits they become character; 
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

If you don't pass this on to anybody, nothing bad will happen; if you do, you might change someone's life.

Do you know the relationship between your two eyes? They blink together, move together, cry together, see things together and sleep together, even though they never see each other.

 I'm glad a friend forwarded this to me as a reminder.
God bless you; I hope you are having a wonderful day!

Thank you Dear for forwarding it to me. This will serve as a gentle reminder to be watchful of my thoughts and actions.
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