Umpqua National Forest, Oregon, USA-Pacific Standard Time Zone
~~* Pilgrimage to the Golden City-Page 7 *~~
~~*A Two Month Walk*~~
Saying farewell to my new acquaintance, I began what turned
out to be a two-month walk through the lonely winding roads of this remote
region. The terrain was generally unforgiving, with very steep climbs and
treacherous jungle regions, broken up by intermittent domesticated areas with
villages in their center. The ascents were often very abrupt, requiring a
traversing type of climb rather than a direct route. Often several thousand feet
had to be climbed or descended in a day. It is an awesome and vast region with a
mystique about it. The rugged ancient trails sometimes appeared etched several
feet into the earth and at other times were barely visible for some reason or
another. Since my trek began at the edge of the monsoon season, there were
frequent legs of the journey spent in densely fog-enshrouded heights. Green
luminescent mosses cleaved to exotic rock formations.
Entire days would go by with my only meal a foraged portion
of herbs. My bare feet at this time were hardened enough to endure the hiking,
but the often-wet trail would soften them somewhat. The native people moved
along quite briskly on these trails, almost in a ballet like fashion, carrying their heavy burdens of goods on baskets that rested
on their backs and straps that wrapped about their foreheads. Each had a small
"T" shaped stick made of a native hard wood like hickory. I found the one I acquired of great value along the way. At one
village stop I acquired a pair of Chinese thongs, which turned out to be a great
mistake. Upon wearing them a blister - then a sore - broke out on my left foot.
This in turn festered, causing my foot to swell and my large toe to turn
~~*Searching For Life*~~
Fortunately, the next stop I made several days into this
illness, was a Swiss medical station that had a small airstrip and
building. Only natives attended the station at that time. They encouraged me on
and gave me a salve of sorts that was very effective.
In spite of the majestic scenery, whether it was ancient gardens terraced into steep mountain sides or moss laden jungles found way below the over story of peculiar forests, my focus of attention was only slightly diverted because of the deep trance like meditative states I would induce. I was ever seeking to follow a spiritual path that would lead to freedom and life.
In these circumstances I would often emerge from my spiritual
condition and not know where I was or how far I'd gone. I trekked over Lamjura
Pass and down again to the distant valley below, my climb up and down through
difficult terrain seemingly driven by a need to know the way of those who
claimed to have been set free from the tumult of this life. Nights would pass by
as I listlessly waited out a rainstorm curled up in a little ball on the ground
perhaps next to a tree. There I would be, engulfed in darkness and hoping for
dawn so that I might continue on.
On one occasion my eyes were drawn to my side to find the
entire left side of my linen shirt saturated by blood. I couldn't understand
what had happened since I didn't recall being wounded. Only a small mark
remained of some affliction that wouldn't stop bleeding.
Soon after that incident, I stopped at a waterfall to wash
and refresh myself. It was so unique a place since the water had etched a
drastic spiral into solid rock. As I bathed, my hands ran along my bare head
only to discover more blood. This time I found the culprit. A rather well fed
leech fell to the ground. From that time forward I began to notice literally
hundreds of leeches that had ascended the surrounding foliage desiring to make
contact with some passer-by. Natives would agilely pass me by on the path with
their ankles bleeding from the parasites.
Upon reaching a very large village area called Those' Bazaar,
which was fairly well populated, I became deathly ill with a fever. A
gracious person took my offer to pay for refuge as I sought to recover. I
remember the beautiful strong beam frame of the house and the adobe walls
recently refreshed with a new layer of clay. Quickly I fell asleep, racked and
even delirious with fever. As time went by, I would occasionally raise enough
out of my condition to eat a bowl of rolled rice and milk, only to again be
immersed in fitful dreams and visions. I trembled and moaned with dream after
At one point I dreamed I was in a large theater filled to
overflowing. I sat in the very front row, looking up at extremely tall dark red
velvet curtains. Next to me sat a young lady friend who was also expectantly
waiting for the stage to open. Suddenly I was constrained to leave this setting
and pleaded with my friend to go with me. She obstinately refused, at which
point I arose and began walking up the long walkway, grieving that I had no
friend. To compound this, all of the people of the theater began raucously
laughing at me because of my departure. As I was leaving, a light shown from
above and a voice spoke and said, "I will be your friend". I
was so deeply affected by this event that I awoke only to find the fever
completely gone. Up and away I went, thanking my gracious host who marveled at
Well on my way in the Trek I also contracted a violent
stomach problem. Quite ill I arrived at the Tutenchilling Tibetan Buddhist
Monastery. It was the heart of a very religious season. The enormous grounds of
the place were abuzz with monks that were participating in various prayer rituals.
Before long, under the care of the place, I found myself in their temple
actively engaging in their mantric chanting. I drank liquid from the silver-lined skull
of a long dead, highly esteemed incarnation of Buddha. With my hands intertwined
in a ritualistic fashion, I received tokens of grain to eat.
How fantastically the place was enshrouded in every form of
art depicting the many and varied aspects of this particular branch of Buddhism.
Tanka paintings were everywhere and prayer flags draped poles from the
tops of every building. Worshipers constantly circled the grounds, zealously
chanting mantras on their prayer beads. Mandalas, mantras and images of their
gods and Buddhas, exquisitely painted, filled their walls. I had audience with
several highly respected lamas.
As the ritual season ended I received a small Buddha made of butter,
a red string draped about my neck and a packet of very valuable Sanskrit
parchments to deliver to the Thangboche Monastery were I was instructed I would
meet my teacher. By now my trek was well into the higher reaches of the
Himalayas. Most of my travel was spent high above timberline in view of the
majestic always-white peaks of the border between Nepal and Tibet. The nights
were cold and the rumble of avalanches could be heard in the distance.
On what seemed to be a barren mountainside stood a small village called Namche Bazaar. It was a village of Sherpas and Tibetans that had been exiled by the communist Chinese. While there, Nepalese officials stamped my visa and warned me I was entering the demilitarized zone between Nepal and Red China. At that time I was not too far from Thangboche.
34620 Tiller Trail Hwy.
Tiller, Oregon 97484