|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?
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|
|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…”
SUMMARY OF THE THINGS I LEARNED FROM 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.