terrealuma's on holiday – or at least I am! (Maciek is still there, and freezing). Somehow, karma
snatched me out of my everyday life and flew me to Kathmandu for a week. It was an offer I couldn't refuse.
Nepal is the birthplace of Buddha and I can feel it. In the midst of the dirt, dust and chaos, in the stream of traffic that seems to move in the ten thousand directions at once, apparently free of any external laws, an ever-moving beast of a million parts, there is an infinite responsiveness and a striking lack of aggression. The laws of the road appear simple – everyone wants to get somewhere and nobody particularly wants to die today. Without the assumption that every separate individual has the right to get where they want to go at their own determined pace, and that anyone who happens to get in the way is infringing that right and launching a personal attack on the bearer - life is more peaceful. I've gone from someone who is definitely on the cautious side when crossing roads to a willing participant in the mix, stepping out with trust. My nervous system is soothed and you can't fake that.
My nervous system may keep quiet on the roads, but it revels in the temples and stupas like a joyful puppy at play. Boudhanath boasts one of the biggest stupas in the world, a UNESCO world heritage site, yet when I heard the hotel manager advising some guests what there was to see there, he saw no need to mention those facts. 'Peace,' he said, was the reason to go and visit.
Peace indeed. At such a huge tourist attraction, I was expecting to maybe snatch a secret corner of that, a moment. But despite the fact that pretty much everyone is taking photos, the sense of warmth and peace that emanates from the huge round shape of the stupa, with Buddha's eyes at the top, includes everyone. At sunset the fairy lights come on. The chanting begins. A huge mound of popcorn is stirred and bagged and handed out to the crowds by laughing monks, and the whole mass of people, monks and tourists alike, are swept up in a powerful, quiet, clockwise motion around the stupa. They walk as one, in a single direction, without straight lines, like a wave. As it surges around once, twice, three times, the energy palpably rises. The moon and the eyes of the stupa look down. We are all smiling. The smile seems to come directly from the heart. We make up the nervous system of the planet, suddenly calmed.
I'm going back to Terrealuma with renewed energy. (Hopefully Maciek will not have frozen to death there!) My sense of what is possible has expanded. I intend to do whatever I can to spread this wave, this calming of the nervous system, this simple, magic, common sense.