April 10th 2016, Sunday will go down as one of the most memorable days of my life. His Majesty the King was offering six chests made out of sandal wood to be taken up to Chari Monastery. Fringed with gold-plated metal carving of traditional design, the 6 dark reddish chests ranging from some 35 kg to 55 Kg would be used to store important relics belonging to Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. Chari is historically a very important place, where Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel initiated, conducted and founded many spiritual and secular activities for the country in particular and sentient beings in general.
At around half past nine in the morning, I got a call from Dasho Zimpon asking me to report to the base of Chari Monastery to be a part of the Royal entourage in making the offering. My happiness to be part of the sacred event was immeasurable because Chari is one of the sacred places that I have always revered from deep within.
The very sight of the mountain itself with pristine forests, where Chari Monastery is located has always evoked a deep sense of tranquil and awe in me that words fail to describe. Likewise, it is not hard to imagine the clean river, occasionally turning its colour into milk-white as water forcefully hits the bedrock as if nature itself is rejoicing in making an offering of water and milk to the abode of Zhabdrung Rinpoche. I occasionally make it a point to visit Chari to re-new and re-experience this feeling. So to be accompanying His Majesty the King for a sacred cause to one of my favorite places is more than what one can ask for.
It was a life-time and history making moment for me. Moreover, a few years back my friend Sonam Kinga, Chairperson of NC and I helped a man carry a refrigerator in turn on our backs for the Monk’s Kitchen along the same route. Subject to your intention and conduct, it is generally believed that such labor helps us cleanse demerits we may have accumulated all these lifetimes advertently or inadvertently.
His Majesty arrived at the base and we started picking up our loads. Even though, His Majesty was carrying a heavy one, He was concerned that the loads might be too heavy for us to carry and asked us to walk slowly. As we ascended the steep climb, His Majesty never failed to smile and greet people who were on their way back from the Monastery despite the load on His Majesty’s back.
In the first segment of the journey, I was commanded to walk ahead of His Majesty. Thinking that I might be standing in His Majesty’s way, I didn’t realize that I was walking a bit fast and non-stop. I would have passed out, if His Majesty hadn’t asked us to stop for a rest. His Majesty made sure that all of us received adequate recovery time before we began the next ascent. After about four stops, we reached the final destination.
While all of us took different turns to carry the boxes, we didn’t realize that His Majesty was the only one who had carried it all the way up by Himself with no help from others.
At the Monastery, His Majesty personally supervised the transfer of relics from the old to the new chests. As the boxes were being opened one by one, I felt so fortunate and blessed to be present there witnessing the timeless relics in the very presence of The Bodhisattva King, which is no different from being in presence of the Lama himself. His Majesty was pleased to have all the monks witness the transfer by asking each one of them to hold the relics and offer their prayers as it was being transferred to the new chest.
At one point of time, His Majesty without a second thought removed his own Namza (yellow scarf) and laid it on the floor to cushion some of the relics that had given way to time. This act of humility and gesture of devotion to Lama Rinpoche moved me so intensely that before I knew it, my eyes were watery. If we believe that just being born in a precious human form is a result of accumulation of many good deeds of our past lives, just imagine what it takes to be born as a Bodhisattva King.
After everything was carefully placed in its rightful place, locked and sealed, His Majesty commanded that we recite Jigten Wangchuk Soeldup (prayers). Three items of Lama Rinpoche such as a ceremony hat, cup and a pair of religious trumpet (dung) will be on display for the public for the upcoming Zhabdrung Kuchoe at Punakha Dzong to mark 400 years of his arrival in Bhutan.
Also for the first time, I saw His Majesty with prayer beads and murmuring prayers. His Majesty never let his prayers beads rest on our way back until at the base of the Chari, where a group of people were waiting to submit their petition to the King. His Majesty patiently heard them, while the officials took note of the issue to be resolved.
Throughout the day, I murmured as much Jigten Wangchuk supplication as possible and wished that every one of us be blessed with such a moment with the Bodhisattva King. A moment to reconnect with our legacy, a moment to reconnect with our own self, our own nature of mind, our own primordial state of egolessness, which is personified in the embodiment of our Kings and our Lamas.
Given His Majesty’s tight schedule, it would be practically impossible for each one of us to have such a moment in person with His Majesty. But then such a spiritual exercise need not necessarily entail physical interaction with His Majesty. Even if we have the aspiration to emulate His boundless compassion for all in whatever little way we can start from taking care of our trash, following traffic rules, diligently performing our duties, making laws to dispensing justice, governing responsibly and in doing so we would have truly served our King, our Lam, and our inner self.
That I would be blessed with such a meaningful event is something I have never even aspired. I would like to sincerely re-dedicate all the merit that we may have generated collectively under the patronage of His Majesty the King to the swift accomplishment of all the wishes of His Majesty the King.
Palden Drukpa Lha Gyal lo!
by Tshering Dorji
The writer is the Deputy Chairperson of the National Council from Haa