Day Tripping to Nagi Gompa: Reason and Existence | Veneeta Singha
"There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting."
- The Buddha
Verse 190 of The Dhammapada on The Four Noble Truths is explained with simple introspection and astute observation as: "If a wise person were to take refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha, he will observe the four Noble Truths with high wisdom."
A wise man proffered his guidance and enthusiasm for adventure to me sometime back. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity. I am, now, something of an explorer because of his teachings. Through him, I experienced and observed an environ that was so fraught with harshness yet so completely pure that I am devout in my immersion with and in the mountain world of Nepal.
Day trips here are unlike treks to faraway peaks and regions with the attendant promise of fulfillment. I learnt yesterday that they are also unparalleled in the promise, and realization, of refuge. Simple, really! The Nagi Gompa is a monastery nestled in the hills of Shivapuri National Park. My two friends and I eagerly hopped onto a bus to Kapan Monastery. The song playing in the bus reappears now with youthful but sagacious feeling.
"Ankha bhari nach chau chautara / chitiz bhari dekhchu jhan para / badal sari udchu tyo tada / tasbir bhari has chau jhan tara ... "
The unknown hastens hesitation. The walk ahead from Kapan was haltingly new. We reached the Bagala Mukhi Temple after cautious words of socialization. The beautiful temple and the view it allowed us, of the Valley, finally broke the ice - my journey from then turned replete with fun, friendship and a shared fervor for the hills of Nepal. Had I chosen to go alone, I would not have experienced the lightness of being that I returned so joyously with. The path is shown to us by nature and nurture.
"But going for refuge to Buddha,
to Dhamma and the Sangha too,
one sees with perfect wisdom
the tetrad of the Noble Truths."
Verse 190: Seeing Four Noble Truths
I will be accused of hyperbole, I am sure, as I recount my often breathless walk up the trail. We walked through pine forests and ridges lit by sunlight streaming through the trees. At short distances, the trail opened up on both sides to present the valley and hills in painted hues of green and blue. The mist seemed to envelope some parts with playful intelligence. If I had been an artist, I would have found my life's inspiration. As a day-tripper seeking refuge in nature and divine wisdom, I found my destination.
We stopped at a small hill plateau for breakfast. I looked around and remembered, with incisive clarity, the lessons I had been taught in my earlier trips. I also regained the undefinable joy of being in a nature adventure. "Flying like a bird" is, sometimes, a state of mind. Energized by breakfast, we continued our hike during which time many hidden insights crept into our conversations. The trail was steadily becoming steeper and the views even more spectacular. The flora and fauna deserve a very worthy mention, as always. Even the gravel of the trail appeared artistically placed. I must have needed to make the journey more than I knew.
"Such refuge is secure,
such refuge is supreme.
From all dukkha one is free
unto that refuge gone."
Verse 192: The Refuge That Ends All Suffering
The path gradually turned stony and scattered. Instinctively, we turned our minds to matters of survival, health, nature's abundance and we reached a Tamang Village elated by our accomplishment. As we sat to drink tea and prepared for the Nagi Gompa, we found ourselves reflecting a slower and more jagged terrain - more conscious and equally elemental.
The road leading to the Gompa was both warm and chilling in equal parts. My friend broke a branch and there I found my first wooden walking stick. Had I reached a stage in life that I was unprepared for? The final steps to the monastery were tinged with euphoria. A pilgrimage in some measure, my refuge resonated with profound spiritual and natural wisdom and beauty. At the Gompa, we received blessings from the Ani and the Rimpoche. The mind altering artistry of the shrine will be forever embedded in my consciousness. I had sought and found reason and credence in existence.
"Blessed is the birth of Buddhas,
blest True Dhamma’s Teaching,
blest the Sangha’s harmony
and blessed is their striving."
Verse 194: Four Factors of Happiness