A Disciple’s Experience at Mt. Kailash
In July Ma, Bapuji, and about ninety disciples travelled to Mt. Kailash in Tibet. The goal of the trip was to do parikrama, walk around the mountain, which is the heart of Lord Shiva. However, things did not turn out as planned. The following is one disciple’s experience on that spiritual pilgrimage.
It is the day when we were supposed to drive from Lake Mansarovar to the start point of the parikrama and to walk the first part of the parikrama to a Gompa (buddhist monastery) located at 5000 m (16500 ft).
However, in the evening before and during the night rain and thunderstorms had dominated the weather. Nevertheless, neighbouring groups leave the camp. Among us, some have already decided not to try the parikrama, others want to wait and see how the weather develops and to postpone the decision. In the morning the weather does not change significantly, but the second group wants to start walking, see how it works and then decide on the way whether to go on to the gompa or to return (in case of too much snow or rain). At that time the message is that Ma does not encourage anybody to go, yet also does not oppose such plans. So I am one of the people who pack their backpacks and get ready to leave, in particular since the rain is diminishing.
Then all of a sudden a new message from Ma comes, and after asking back her brother in law states it clearly: Ma does not want us to leave. At that moment it is not at all easy for some of us to accept. But also it is clear: The decision has been made.
Some minutes later we are told that Ma asks us to come to the main tent (big enough to host the whole group). Still I and probably some others assume that now Ma will address us and tell us personally the background of her decision. But something different is going to happen: The singing of mantras fills the tent, and this goes on and on, not only for minutes. With every minute it becomes more clear: The parikrama will not be accomplished by us (a start tomorrow would not allow us enough time to return to Kathmandu thereafter). At the beginning of the meditation I still feel a lot of inner tension, but within the next hour I can let it go. And I understand that by this meditation Ma tells us without words that she wants us to stay in the camp.
After the meditation we are told that instead of the (walking) parikrama around Kailash we will make a driving parikrama around Lake Manasarowar. A highlight of this tour is the visit of a beautiful and peaceful gompa at the south shore, right at the foot of the 7700m mountain, Gurla Mandhata. For myself it is here that I can make the final step to an inner peace with the fact that the parikrama will not be possible.
Coming back into the camp in the evening we meet the other groups which have left in the morning for Kailash: They had to turn back because of huge amounts of rain and snow, combined with resulting rock fall. Even more: They report that that the whole Kailash area is being evacuated because of the extreme weather. All these reports make it very clear to us: Our Guru has made the best possible decision for all of us! On an abstract level this statement may sound trivial – but sometimes in a concrete situation it is not even obvious that a decision has to be made.
In the sequel the rains do not stop, and it is decided to return to Kathmandu two days earlier than planned. Also this is a wise decision, since in the western Tibet region the rivers have swollen significantly and sometimes it is not at all easy to cross them. And only after returning home we realize what an exceptional weather event we have experienced at Kailash: The rains were the beginning of the unusually strong monsoon rains, which occurred further north and further west than usual. And with the fact that the Indus River originates just west of Kailash these rains were the beginning of the devastation of Ladakh and Pakistan.
This episode happened immediately after Guru Purnima (which we celebrated at Lake Mansarovar) and stressed and illuminated the following: It is not the task of the Guru to prevent us from all hardships. But in such a critical situation the Guru makes the best possible decision for us, and it is our best possible decision to follow our Guru.
There is a slideshow published this month about the time at Masarovar here.