Ap Genyen Is Leav­ing The Lhakhang

Business Bhutan - - Opinion - JURMI CHHOWING Jurmi Chhowing is a writer and the founder of Yal­lamma! The Writ­ing Com­pany. He can be emailed at iamdrukpa@gmail.com

To,

Guru Rin­poche

Cop­per-Col­ored Moun­tain of Glory Land of Rak­shas. Sub­ject: Leave of Ab­sence Namo! My All Con­quer­ing Va­jra Mas­ter,

Be­fore I get down to the worldly de­tails re­gard­ing this req­ui­si­tion for an in­def­i­nite Leave of Ab­sence, I apol­o­gize for the in­tru­sion into the tran­scen­dent work with which you are en­gaged in the Land of Rak­shas.

I’m cer­tain the Rak­shas are be­ing tamed.

But over here I’ve to con­fess that I can’t han­dle it any­more. It’s not lack of faith - just the monotony of grant­ing `stuff’. I’ve had more than a thou­sand years work­ing with the Hu­man Realm and I’ve al­ways been fine with the chang­ing times of the dif­fer­ing ages but now the mat­ter has re­ally come to both head and heart. And re­vealed it­self in the mag­ni­fy­ing face of the last decade with the strange in­vo­ca­tion of what the Bhutanese have been call­ing Con­sumerism, Glob­al­iza­tion, Pri­va­ti­za­tion, Mod­ern­iza­tion and Democ­racy – for­eign im­ports of cap­i­tal­is­tic ten­den­cies ba­si­cally char­ac­ter­ized by the Kle­shas.

Again, I was do­ing quite well with the way things were: grant­ing a cow here, a rain there and in-be­tween, the odd har­vest or two. But in­creas­ingly, things are get­ting out of hand. To­day, mat­ters of spir­i­tu­al­ity have nose­dived to this de­sirous ur­gency for all things quan­tifi­able. Grant­ing wishes has be­come both a bur­den and a bore. And the want is at its apex.

Just the other day I granted the 999th Prado, and I was be­ing se­lec­tive, as it came from an hon­est busi­ness­man who wanted it so he could pick up hitch­hik­ers stranded along his many busy routes. By the way - a Prado is a new kind of `Khorlo’ that runs on four fat rub­ber wheels with a spare to spare. Peo­ple lit­er­ally en­joy be­ing in and driv­ing this new `Wheel of Life’. They slave and even rob to own the beast. And once this beastly Yana has been granted, they come back ask­ing for Safe Pas­sages, Spare Tires and most re­cently, prayers for a de­crease in the price of fuel (a foul gas that pro­pels the medium).

This is be­sides other wants such as the third new wife, pro­tec­tion of the sev­enth new­born, a win­ning lot­tery, high marks for pass­ing school and col­lege ex­am­i­na­tions, schol­ar­ships abroad (to the Land of the Hea­then), higher pro­mo­tions, ex­pand­ing busi­nesses, new ven­tures, and the bloody vic­tory in ev­ery archery match and good old Health, Longevity and Pros­per­ity. And most re­cently, it’s been Elec­toral Votes (where the ma­jor­ity de­cides over the mi­nor­ity that will rule them for a pe­riod of four years).

I’m fed up.

The last cou­ple of months were all about four Tshog­pas. (a Tshogpa con­sists of a group of in­di­vid­u­als cho­sen from 47 nooks and cran­nies and their back­ers) bang­ing on my doors and win­dows. Thank­fully the four have come down to two. My good ear is still ring­ing with one known as the DNT and my bad ear with the other called the DPT (I say that with grat­i­tude to the Great Shab­drung’s slap be­cause it has helped to halve the in­creas­ing wish-lists). This tshogpa thing is re­lated to that demo­cratic thing. They do this ev­ery four years. And in be­tween, I’ve to pre­tend to grant more wishes for more Pra­dos, Pro­mo­tions, Stocks and Ven­tures; yet more Jour­neys, Ar­rivals and Des­ti­na­tions.

It never ends.I’m at the end of my tether. Plus I’m tired of the chem­i­cal Dalda, the suf­fo­cat­ing In­cense and the plas­tic Bis­cuit. And what gets my

re­main­ing goats, sheep, chick­ens, ponies and dogs in the yard, is that they also do that in your name. And in the name of Con­tent­ment (which they have be­gun call­ing Self-Re­liance). How they hope to merge in­creas­ing Needs and Wants with Self-Re­liance is be­yond me be­cause did you also not teach them that De­sire is the Root of Dis­sat­is­fac­tion?

So, be­low the rock, I’ve had time to con­tem­plate (for which I’m in­debted to Mas­ter Jamyang). And I be­lieve that a sim­ple Leave of Ab­sence might do every­body the world of good - in­clud­ing my­self. Also – lately - I’ve been see­ing my Pan­grizampa Tsomen in my dreams. Over the cen­turies, I’ve al­ways kept apart my duty from my sen­ti­men­tal­ity. But now (may be time is fi­nally catch­ing up) I long for my mer­maid. And the fact that we live in the same neigh­bor­hood has been tor­tur­ous and tempt­ing.

I guess I’m cav­ing in but I know your adaman­tine mind will un­der­stand.

And even if I’m granted a Leave of Ab­sence I’ve thought about some of the cu­ri­ous gad­gets the faith­ful bring when­ever they visit which could solve the dilemma of my ab­sence. They use th­ese gad­gets with ap­pli­ca­tions that en­able in­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion (like Vi­su­al­iza­tions). I thought about it as I do not want to aban­don my re­spon­si­bil­ity com­pletely, par­tic­u­lar­lyto the gen­uinely faith­ful, so I’ve de­vised a so­lu­tion. The apps are called WeChat, Mes­sen­ger and Skype (be­sides many oth­ers) and th­ese days al­most ev­ery lama, pa­tron, monk and devo­tee sets up their own ap­pli­ca­tions to stay in con­tact (a new sort of De­pen­dent-Orig­i­na­tion).

Al­though I may be ab­sent in the lhakhang, I’ll be present on­line in an app called GenTalk.

I’m sorry if I sound flip­pant, but man­ag­ing the greedy wishes of a fat­ten­ing flock hun­gry for all the il­lu­sory things of this world is tak­ing its toll. And the ma­jor­ity asks for things they do not even need; with money they do not even have. The die has been pounded so hard my num­ber is up.

My Adaman­tine Guru - what to do?

I re­mem­ber back in Yanglaysho how you bound me with the Dharmic Oath to pro­tect and serve the wishes of the peo­ple but al­ways in ac­cord with the Dharma. And how grate­ful I was! It was such a giv­ing po­si­tion. I loved the job. It also freed me from the jun­gles of my own emo­tions. I also re­call how strongly and pur­pose­fully the Shab­drung re­minded me of my du­ties with the sa­cred slap. I never had a mo­ment’s sus­pi­cion that all those kneel­ing and pros­trat­ing be­fore me were do­ing so in the name of the Dharma. But now I’m be­gin­ning to doubt the mo­ti­va­tion of ev­ery one who claims to come in your name.

The peo­ple’s as­pi­ra­tions are so far away from your teach­ings that it is hard to know what is and what isn’t. I feelshort-changed.

I rest my case, hop­ing you’ll grant this boon (or show me an al­ter­na­tive rem­edy).

Yours faith­fully, Ap Genyen Jagpa Me­lan Dorji Dradul Dechen­phu, Thim­phu Druk Yul. (Sealed With Sa­maya)

PS: This was vol­un­tary. I’m not aware of the feel­ings of Ap Jowo, Ap Chundu, Ap Radrap or any other Neps; but I’m cer­tain they are in a sim­i­lar predica­ment.

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