"The Tibet trip was an incredible experience of my life. Me and Tibetan people look similar, so it felt very familiar. With no words I can see behind their strong eyes, they are holding a lot of pain from the past, that is why they have an equal balance of love and understanding, and they are very caring, once you connect you can trust them. When I joined Tibetan monks and ordinary people chanting in a monastery, my tears kept falling and I never felt so close, nothing special, but all one. Gods and monks and people. I felt that I just came back home."
- Mukti, Japan
Up until the early years of the 20th century, Tibet was still one of the only places on the world map coloured in white, a colour that indicated its vast tracts of land remained unseen and unexplored by people from the West. The Tibetans carefully guarded their natural, geographical isolation for as long as they were able to, adding further to the mystery that surrounded their country.
Tibet still remains a mysterious place and one that requires some effort to visit but rewards you with its unique landscape, culture and people. I am always profoundly touched by the simplicity and open-heartedness of the Tibetans. Despite all the suffering that they have experienced over the past half-century, they have retained their unique warmth and preserved their special religiousness which still pervades their daily lives. To smile and walk with them around the Jokhang shrine in Lhasa or to meet the pilgrims as they do the kora around Mount Kailash is to feel simultaneously completely at home and yet transported to a different place.
The land itself is vast and wild in most parts of the country, inhabited only by the nomads or drokpas with their herds of yak and goats. But there is a special light in Tibet emanating from its higher altitudes that illumines the bare landscape in a rainbow of colours that are quite unexpected. As you drive and walk through this land, you are surrounded by a nature whose elements have assumed deep significance for the Tibetans because of the past associations with many of the Mystics who came before. Guru Padmasambhava’s initial visit to Tibet in the 8th century was the first in a long line of illustrious Mystics that included Naropa, Marpa, Atisha, Milarepa and many more who found something special in this vast land.
For the past thirteen centuries, Tibet has brought its unique understanding to the inner workings of human beings and offered an example of how to live harmoniously with the planet and one’s fellow man. The country is in a tremendous phase of transition but its people remain rooted in a daily, down-to-earth relationship with life that is humourous and dignified, human and profound. They offer a living example of how to live with freedom and compassion in the midst of even the most difficult circumstances. It is an example that is both humbling and uplifting.