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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Spread The Heart Advice of the Khenchen

Turning 30 in Bhutan
After the Khenchen (wise monk) explained to me that worrying about getting older was useless thinking, I felt a little guilty about how I wasted precious time entertaining silly thoughts instead of making more of a difference in the world.  I knew that he was right about how one should be grateful for being a human being with fascinating body parts like eyes to experience the world.  I also couldn’t have agreed with him more that since the God blessed us as a human being, our job was to be of service to others.  Everything that he said rang a bell of familiarity to me.  I knew this wisdom when I was a child, so how did so many others and I forget this sacred truth?  How could my friends and I internalize his advice about worrisome thoughts of getting or looking older while we live in a society that advocates looking younger?  How could I get back to this place of honoring/appreciating the body and focusing more on helping others?    

So as my thoughts swam around, I pushed the matter forward to the Khenchen.  I stated that I intellectually understood that my mind created the unhappiness about turning 30 and I got that a number was just a number.  However, I pleaded that it was so hard to let it go, especially when you live in a society that favors looking young, which is usually associated with beauty.  I gave him examples about how in America some of the media advertised special creams or plastic surgery to make one look younger or more beautiful.  I claimed that in my opinion some people felt pressure to look younger to the point of injecting botox in their beautiful faces and it seemed that most people in general don’t want to grow old.  My point was when a person faces daily media advertising ways to look younger, how could a person “let go of the number/age” or worrisome thoughts of getting old so that they could concentrate more on helping others?

He continued to stress that these were all useless thoughts and that since the God made up our body and intelligence, then everything about our physical make up was wonderful.  Thus, he concluded that people worrying about the way they look and trying to alter their appearance were like insults to the God who made them.  In other words, one is perfect the way one is because God made him/her that way; anything that God makes is perfect because it comes from a loving source.  He said that if people worry about changing their looks then the God would cry: “Because I made you, you must save the world.  You must save the environment.  You must teach kindness to the people. Why do they think that after I made them?”  He said that people forgot that concept and we were only thinking about our life or our age.  Once again he reinstated that worrying about looking younger or getting older was useless thinking and a completely wrong way to think. 

Then, being the funny man that he is, he paused to decide how to tease me a bit.  He joked that since I had thought that 30 was such a big number, then I must have surely thought that he was old.  Like magic there was a cloud of laughter in the room as I swore that I didn’t think he was old.  Not only do I love the Khenchen’s wisdom and kindness, but I also love his humor.  Half joking and half serious, I told him that we needed him to call up some of the advertisement companies and commercial agencies to preach his wisdom on T.V. (to decrease suffering, to add more humor and to spread more compassion in the world).

Even though he was giving me some serious advice, we laughed a lot and the atmosphere was fun.  I was so pleased that his advice made perfect sense and I did my best to sum it up, but that led me to another grueling thought:  Hmmm if I am going to forget the number/my age, how do I celebrate being thirty? Ahhhh should I celebrate my birthday?

I'll be meditating somewhere in the Himalayan Mountains
Sure enough, he suggested that I should forget about my birthday, forget about my age and not talk about it. WOW!  FORGET ABOUT MY BIRTHDAY! MY 30th BIRTHDAY! This was a huge blow to my usual costume.  I have had some pretty lavish parties in the past and I always thought that my 30th birthday would be the grandest.  It made me realize how much I have changed while in Bhutan.  In the past, I used to picture myself having the most impressive celebration for my 30th birthday in Las Vegas, but now it turned out that on my birthday I would be practicing humbleness and meditating on compassion somewhere in the Himalayan Mountains.

"Little Sabrinas" celebrating a birthday in Bhutan
He made it all sound so easy as he claimed that when people asked him his age, he had to count the years because he had forgotten how old he was.  My friend Sonam says that this is not abnormal in Bhutan; most Bhutanese people don’t celebrate their birthdays and some people don’t know their date of birth.  So this makes it easy for them to forget about their birthdays or how old they are.  As a result, they don’t seem to worry about their age or getting older.  Therefore, she thinks that it is hysterical that I have been complaining about turning 30, especially since she will also be turning 30 and she sees it as just another number or day.  It shows the differences in our cultures.  However, Sonam and I joke that since some of the new generation of youth is taking on the Western tradition of celebrating their birthdays and since television/advertising is entering more homes, then the new generation may turn into little Sabrinas not wanting to turn 30.  Although we laugh at this thought, I cringe and hope that there will be more Khenchens around spreading the wisdom of the Buddha. 
Like prayer flags spreading prayers in the wind
let's spread the heart advice of the Khenchen

Moreover, as the conversation came to a closing with the Khenchen, he shared with me one last simple, yet powerful thought.   He told me to always think that I was like a beautiful sixteen-year-old and to meditate upon it to the God.  Thus, I would become that: young and beautiful looking.   Finally, I understood what he meant when he claimed that people saw him as an eight-year-old child regardless of what age he was.  Why?  How?  He reflects youth and beauty because that’s how he views himself; one’s internal thoughts reflect outward. 

There is no doubt that the Khenchen is a beautiful person inside and out.  When I first asked him to give me advice about turning thirty, I never expected him to suggest that I should appreciate being human, concentrate on making differences in the world and forget about my birthday or age, etc.  Overall, this was amazing advice and I have more to share from him.  His wisdom shows that he is full of love.  Therefore, as my friend Pema says, “Let's spread the heart advice of the Khenchen…”


1.     Let the age/number go as well as the worries about looking older because these are useless thoughts that doesn’t serve any sentiment beings. 
2.     Regardless of what one looks like or how one ages with time, remember that it’s all a gift from the God that should be appreciated.
3.     Eyes, teeth, intelligence etc. are all precious gifts from the God.
4.     Everyday realize that one’s body is a wonderful gift. 
5.     People should try not to concentrate on trying to make themselves more physically beautiful or altering their body or face because it’s like an insult to the God that made them. 
6.     Everything that the God made is perfect, beautiful and wonderful. 
7.     One should try not to fall into the trap of trying to change oneself to look how society or others might want him/her to look like.  It’s all useless thinking.
8.     If a person thinks beautiful thoughts about himself/herself, then those positive thoughts will reflect out and others will perceive him/her as beautiful.  How one perceives oneself is how others will see him/her.
9.     People are here on Earth to make the world a better place. 
10.  One’s purpose in life is to care for mother Earth, to help others in need, to help the next generation, to be concerned with our next life, to practice compassion, to teach kindness and to have only kind thoughts for others. 


  1. Hey Trevor! Where have you been? That is a really cool looking profile picture. Where were you in that picture?

    1. I was in Thailand on the island of Ko Phi Phi. I try to travel whenever possible. Tons of pics on the fb page. I've been keeping up with your posts. I don't want to go overboard on the comments lol. Bhutan looks like a wonderful place. Me and your dad talk about your travels and posts from time to time. The age advice is great because I hated 29....end of an era lol. Have fun! Keep posting!

    2. Lol end of an era!!! Thailand must have been so much fun by the looks of the monkey on your shoulder lol. You have to put Bhutan on your travel destination in the near future because I think that you would really like it.

    3. Lol yeah but the monkeys try to pickpocket you. No joke. Bhutan is definitely on my adventure list now!

  2. To spread the Goodness--Love and Compassion, there is no finite as the number itself but infinitely vast and open as the space.This is the heart of Boddhichitta--the compassionate heart......and you're blessed to have received noble teachings about Boddhichitta from Khenchen.

    1. Pema you speak so lovely. I'm so happy to be able to spread the teachings of the Boddhichitta and after I read your comment I found myself researching for the last hour more about the bodhicitta teachings and bodhisattvas. It's my new favorite term - the awakening of the heart/mind. Thank you for all your kind comments.

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  4. A very thoughtful and an interesting post.
    I love the way you can adjust with the environment and take up Khenchen's advises sincerely. I love you for that.
    You know, I am glad I am Bhutanese and I am Buddhist. There is a purpose to live--living for others, for our family, for our friends, for out kids and for all the sentient beings. :D
    Well, before I turn out too philosophical, I wish your beliefs in Buddhism give you all the blessings from God and have a good life. Forget the number but don't forget the age. Sometimes, it is good to remind what we are, where we are and how we are. Accept the reality!!!
    In between, you are looking absolutely beautiful in the picture :)


    1. I love your comments. They always make me smile. Your awesome! I love ya too! I'm glad that you are proud to be a Buddhist Bhutanese and I hoping to be a Buddhist Bhutanese in my next life (I want to be a Khenchen:-) I agree-sometimes it's nice to remember the age and reflect on how far we have come throughout the years. xoxo

  5. Hello my beautiful daughter. When you were born you had the perfect little face and your hair was already with style and Im not saying that because your my baby its true. Khenchen gave good advice It made me think about other people who can't see or walk who have handicap in life. I know that they wouldn't want us to feel sorry for them. They would want us to be grateful for who we are and not worry about cosmetics.Your grandma Soares birthday is today she is 84 how about that and she is doing well. She is one not to care about looking younger she lived life going with the flow and she prays everyday to her god.Thank you for your post it is awakening.........30 whos turning 30? LOL

  6. Mom, that was really sweet of you to say and I laughed out loud thinking about my classic baby picture with the tweedy bird hair-do haha. Grandma is definitely a good example of being an all natural lady and she loves her rosary. We will skpe later so I can wish her a Happy Birthday. I don't know who's turning 30, but it's not me lol. Love you!

  7. Yup words to live by. I don't care about birthdays any more, just another excuse to get keyed lol! Even tho 30 is a big one but you can't stop it. Don't worry about it lol