We all met in Kathmandu to fly to Lhasa with Yogi Raj Swamiji Amar Jyotiji as a group of 72 people, mostly his devotees and 16 westerners, disciples of Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov. Lhasa stands at nearly 12,000 feet (3656 metres) and most of us felt the abrupt change of altitude from Kathmandu with a shortest of breath as soon as we exited the airplane.
The city of Lhasa was surprisingly big, modern and far more Chinese than Tibetan although Tibetans are quite noticeable as women have maintained wearing their long skirts and men spinning their prayer wheels. We visited the Potala, the highest achievement of Tibetan architecture, with over 1080 stairs from bottom to top, housing 1000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and some 200,000 statues. It is comprised of 2 main sections: the red one serving for religious studies and prayers, and the white one as home to the Daila Lamas and the administrative purposes. We visited a small section opened to the public: the 13th Daila Lama living quarters and study rooms, (the 14th being the present one in exile), the Maitraya room which shows the Buddha of the future: the only Buddha represented in a western sitting position with legs down instead of crossed legged, the Dharma cave and the Healing room. We admired many of the colorful murals, paintings and sacred objects of Tibetan Buddhism.
The next day we went by train from Lhasa to Shigatse saving us a 10 hour drive which took us through numerous tunnels and amazing valleys where people and yaks work the land in a timeless fashion. The next morning, we went as a convoy of buses from Shigatse to Saga, taking us the full day traveling through hills of pale green, deep ochre and magical purple tones going West on the Tibetan plateau alongside the Nepalese boarder, having to stop at many check points for proper permits and authorizations, and capturing some of the snow peaked Himalayas in the horizon. From Saga at 15,223 ft (4640 metres) we proceeded to sacred Lake Manasarovar where we saw at last the mighty Kailash: abode of Shiva and gateway to Shambala (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axis_mundi). It was a very emotional moment. Swamiji prostrated and upon rising lifted his arms with tears saying "My home"! Such a blessing it was to have done this pilgrimage in his holy presence.
We stayed at Lake Manasarovar for the full moon of May and did the Kora around the lake, a Puja by the lake the next day followed by a deep meditation and singing with Swamiji. The next day we went to Darchen, at the base of Mount Kailash, to begin the walk to Dira Puk, a 12 km walk along the West side of Kailash, discovering the great guardians cliffs and mystical figures carved unto them. We came across several pilgrims, Tibetans and Hindus, walking in silence or praying before reaching Dira Puk at nearly 17,000 ft (5080 metres) where we slept. This sacred mountain is home to 4 religions (Bön, Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism) and the source of 4 rivers feeding Asia: the Brahmaputra, the Karnali (Ganges), the Indus and the Sutlej river.
Despite the difficulty in breathing, the inconvenience of morning headaches (due to the altitude), we were immensely blessed with the presence and sight of Kailash (some pilgrims went 3 times to the area without seeing it a single time). Facing the North side of Kailash while in Dira Puk, some of us made a prayer for the uplifting of humanity, exchanging stones from our home country with those of Kailash, and establishing a feeling of brotherhood with all sentient beings of the planet. The overnight stay brought a change in weather waking up to winter conditions of snow, sleet and strong wind for our return to the starting point of the walk. Even though many of us would have liked to do the circumambulation of the mountain, time restrictions did not allow us that pleasure yet we made the most of the different aspects of this very sacred site.
Certainly, there will be more revealed to the consciousness as time distils this incredible soul experience.
Carmen Froment on behalf of The Aquarian Team