By Charok Lama Rinpoche
A once-in-a-lifetime journey to the peaks of the world reminded me of how small we are, and of how big a change we have brought to the world. The power of humans can be seen when you set foot on places not touched by the creations of humans, and you start to realise how much we have lost in the process because of our creation, and you fall in love with the beauty of nature all over again.
My winter holiday was ending, and the Monlam prayer festival at Kopan was over, so I had planned to go to Pokhara or Mustang, but those plans hadn’t worked out. My sister was going off to Europe soon, and we hadn’t spent much family time together, so my siblings and I came up with a last moment plan to climb the Gokho mountain.
I believe I am an adventurous person, and am always up for trying out new things, so for me, climbing a mountain sounded like fun. We started off our journey in a helicopter accompanied by an elderly from one of the villages up there, and a sherpa lady whom we met at the airport. We made it to Luklha and took another chopper to Shongbujay. After we started climbing up the hill, I had to make a stop at Loudo Gompa to see my dearest Ani Ngawong Samten, who is the closest person to a mother for me, and who looked after me when I was a baby. I always stop by to see her when I go to the Kumbu region.
It started snowing when we got to Loudo, and we were stuck there for two days. While there, I met up with a lovely group of people who were doing retreat there and had an amazing time with Anila and them.
In those two days, we planned to go through the three passes to reach Gokyo, but the snow had turned to ice, and the trekkers said it was impossible to go, so we came down and took another route through Zarok, Kunday, Mong Dara, Macherma and Dolay to Gokho. The landscapes shifted with the days, from forest to huge hills, from rocky mountains to snowy mountains and icy landscapes. It took us four days of trekking to reach there, and we were all tired when we reached Gokho.
The next morning we made our way up the peak. Unlike any other experience I have had so far, climbing up the mountain I have to say was one of the hardest jobs, even for someone like me. But once you reach the top, the feeling of tranquility, satisfaction, peace and the lightness my heart felt after such a long time was worth it. I love the mountains maybe because I’m from the Himalayan region, but there is a complete different energy up there. The name for Nepal in Tibetan is (Badyoul) which translates to hidden valley, perhaps because it is hidden within the mountain ranges between India and Tibet, but in history, it is known as Badyoul because of the countless Dharma treasures hidden within the valley, so the energies could be from that as well.
The first time I returned to Kumbu, around 6 years ago, after coming down at the age of 2, I had many concerns regarding electricity, shower, clothing and accommodation, but after the first time, I learned that those things aren’t as important as we think they are, and the simplicity of the life up there is actually so much more freeing than we would think it to be.
What matters to the people up there is faith, honesty, sincerity, hardship, love, endurance and so much more. Experiencing these makes our minds and hearts stronger. And with these by your side and with the beauty of the mountain peaks facing you, you really come to realise that life isn’t about competing, showing off or fighting over our egoistic needs. How can anyone be truly free if we are bound by these worldly concerns, and how can we be free if we are constantly feeding our self-grasping attitude?
Only when we see the true truth in these questions, can we realise how much of our lives we are actually wasting on not looking for true peace, but looking for momentary peace by feeding the ego.
The sheer bliss of visiting the Kumbu region and the mountains is that there is happiness in learning these valuable lessons over and over. And with these lessons learned, you actually start to be more calm and peaceful. It gives you glimpses of the reality of life, and reconnects you to nature and the power in it. What you were and what worldly concerns you had becomes an old chapter of your life. And a new chapter in your life begins with you changing your behaviour and concepts influenced by love, caring, understanding and compassion.