I am feeling very privileged to be published in Nepal:
Maya had a secret. She held it close to her heart.
Not long ago, she had a dream. In the dream, she wasn’t herself. She was a figment of herself. Ghostly. White. Transparent. She found herself walking through a forest. But she could not get her feet to touch the ground. No matter how hard she tried, she just could not earth them. So she decided to let the feeling in her feet go. Because she knew that when you keep working up against something that is just not meant to be, your soul breaks. And when your soul breaks, you become empty.
As she was walking, she felt something touch her hand. But she could not see what it was. The touch was feather-light. It made her body shiver. She paused to look down. To her surprise, her hand had become a mirror. In the reflection, she expected to see her face. But what she saw was a vision. A woman in white flying across a landscape of snow-capped mountain peaks. Through the thin air, the woman was breathing life into each and every one. Blessing them. One by one. She sensed the woman had been there before. That each peak had a special place in her heart. Then she noticed the woman start to slow. Hover. Over a majestic peak. The most majestic of all. She touched down in the valley below. And as she did, she noticed someone standing before her. In a beam of light. The light beckoned her. As she drew closer, the face of another woman appeared. Tara. White. Tara took her hands and held them. Then she spoke: “Have compassion for the one”. Then she gave her a white lotus. At first, the woman did not understand the meaning of the words. But she understood the lotus. And with that, tears began to spill. For days and weeks and months, she had held them in. Until she could hold them no more. They spilled and spilled until the valley below became a lake. And with that Tara became one with the water. And the woman merged with the lotus. And the lotus floated upon the lake. And the surrounding peaks became translucent in the moonlight.
And in that moment, Maya’s dream was over. But, in her heart, she knew it was not.
Under the canopy of her bodhi tree, some months on, Maya contemplated the meaning of the dream. Again, she had seen them. White Tara. White Lotus. Water. As she had thought, they held a message. Warmth washed over her. She closed her eyes and held the meaning close to her heart.
*Please note this story is subject to copyright and can only be reprinted with permission of the author.
In October 2011, I returned to Nepal for the second time in a year. (It was my third visit all up. Three.) Unexplainably, I just had to go back – quickly. For all sorts of reasons, it was a deeply touching journey: Dasein Festival, trekking, Tihar/Deewali Festival. I felt, and still feel, thrice-blessed.
During my Nepal trips, a number of Buddhist symbols – and symbolism – have touched me and my life. In March/April 2011, it was White Tara, lotus, water (which I learned were interconnected on my return). Three. But nothing has prepared for the newest addition. In the last few weeks, and since coming home in October, I have been speaking about the things that I have done in my life – over the last few years – as being like a bicycle wheel, including hub and spokes. Three. I began from a centre, branched out, spun around on an outer wheel, then returned again to the centre. Today I was watching a documentary called “The Story of India” (narrated by Michael Wood) and there appears my wheel as I have imagined it in my mind, my thoughts, my dreams. Three. It is the “Ashoka Chakra” – a Buddhist symbol that is blue and has 24 spokes. I still do not understand the symbolism of the wheel, but one thing I do know – for sure – is that every aspect of this symbol is likely to have meaning for me. But now I need to go exploring to find out its deeper meaning.
The “Ashoka Chakra”:
These are more pote and chure. They are circles, or mandalas, in a sense. But when they are put together like this, they look like the universal symbol of women. How poignant. Or a teardrop.
These jewels were given to me on a night when I was dressed by the Women of Nepal in a beautiful rose-colored sari, which was very moving. We laughed (hysterically!). We danced. We sang. I cried. (I will never forget what happened to me when you sang the first line of “Ray Sum Fee Riri”! How many tissues did I need when you flung me back up into the hills of the Annapurna Sanctuary 23 years ago!)
Women of Nepal, I will always remember you.