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Tibet. Kora. Before and after

Tibet. Kora. Before and after
For the first time I knew about the expedition to Tibet four years ago. It was when my daughter came back from her another travel and told about the terrific places, incomparable beauty and incredible power of the holy mountain Kailash, and the difficulties she had during Kora around Kailash. Everything was new for me at that moment: her story about the mysterious mountain, photos of the mountain landscape, monasteries and temples. I couldn’t understand what the words mean: “I couldn’t take a step ahead”.

I admit, I attested to the fact that the girl had had not many difficulties during her life and that she was simply overcoming the difficulties. I would… Well, I calmed down simply because, her travel had finished well and my daughter is at home alive and safe. How do you think I felt, when one year later the daughter announced a decision to repeat the ascension. And exactly one year later again.

Well, what kind of unimaginable power makes my fragile girl together with thousands of people from all over the world to seek for Tibet, shrouded in controversial mysteries and legends. I started reading and watching video and photo about Himalaya, Kailash - the convent of Budda or according to the stories of the Tibetan lamas - the ancient pyramidal town, founded by the God sons. Step by step, Tibet became my dream as well.

And, eventually, my wonderful trip started on 7th of September of 2014 in airport Domodedovo. It was the fourth Kora for my daughter and the first Kora for me. We had a wonderful group, it was large enough. And therefore we had some unpredictable and incalculable difficulties related to the organization and coordination of the group. These difficulties did take place. And may be someone remembered these difficulties. But as for me, I was sincerely interested in meeting and talking to each member of our group, I was constantly listening, watching and willingly exchanging information with them. Since the first minutes of acquaintance, I appreciated very much the opportunity to talk to people, group of like-minded people, brought together by the common interests and sense of reality, united by a desire and opportunity to challenge and overcome ourselves and get the sense of ourselves here and now.

I become constantly a member and listener of interesting discussions, memories of participation in the past expeditions, stories about the lessons learned, about the upcoming challenges, about, for example, that Kailash is a construction, which was built artificially by someone to gather and concentrate the energy of the future (from the space) and of the past (from the earth). It is believed by someone, that Kailash was built like a crystal: the part which is seen on the surface of the Earth is a mirror reflection of the part inside the Earth. It is also unknown when Kailash was created, since the Tibet Plateau was formed about 5 mills of years ago, but Kailash is very young: it was formed about 20 thousand of years ago. 

The time between the flights passed up to me. The flight above the Himalaya is behind. Leaning my forehead against the cold glass of illuminator, I couldn’t take my eyes of the clouds and bizarre mountain reliefs. I dad seen a lot of beautiful works of art with the view of Himalaya made by talented masters, I had read not the little literature, but still I want to say that it is better to see that personally. After making a deep breath, I left inside of my chest everything which should had not simply passed by and disappeared. By the way, it is a wonderful method to take a deep breath and to leave the memory inside of the chest for a long time, forever. A bright spot in my memory is arrival to Kathmandu. Warm, stuffy and moisture air. The shock of chaotic, noisy and unexplained traffic on the streets. The smog. Not very clean and narrow streets. Bright colors of the Nepal snappy dressers. The unbelievable combination of very bright colors of the clothes was like a compensation for the humble city view. The faces of the Nepal citizens seemed to me doomed and sad, but calm and not fussy. In the looks of people you may always see smiles. In response to you, you may hear “Namaste” or good wishes. Gradually, you start paying less attention to not very nice views of city dumps, and start valuing more the warmth of the people looks, the atmosphere of the goodwill and sincerity, and watching at the moment how difficult the life is for the Nepaleses. 

In Katmandu I got to know the group members personally. Till the last day of the travel I had not disappointed in no one of the group member. Apparently, not interesting people don’t go on such trips. The excursions offered to us in Kathmandu were the first visual introduction to the cultural and historical legacy of Buddhism, illustration to my humble knowledge of Jatakas and other texts. Padmasambhava’s cave, Stupa in Boudhanath, Namo Buddha Stupa amazed me by their old look. Nearly negligible engagement of the current reality in the ancient monuments is rather plus, than minus. The greatness of ages and ancient events is felt truly near the monuments, untouched by civilization. All the three days spent in Kathmandu were full of very interesting excursions. At the same time we were always repeated that there would be a significant challenge, which we should have been prepared. Our days started with pranayamas and meditations at half past five o’clock. Then we had morning yoga practices in groups, corresponding to our level of preparedness. The guys conducted the trainings offered us very interesting and diverse complexes. During the evening practices the group reunited by the mantra “OM” for the good of all the living beings and in the name of the forthcoming Kora.

Time for the flight to Lhasa had come. New height. New feelings. New impressions of meetings with towns and places. And the first challenge for me was a complex, hiking up Mt. Chimpu. During the first hiking up the Chimpu to the Padmasambhava’s cave, I started the climbing very sprightly and overconfidently, forgetting all the warnings and good advices, I had received from the experienced travelers. I also got a feeling of the complete lack of strengths and abilities to hold the taken pace. When the whole group got ahead of me, and no one had left to be ashamed of, I kept on going by fits and starts from stone to stone and taking a breath there for a long time. I stood up, made the next spurt and got exhausted again. On top of all, I managed to choose a wrong path away from the main path and despaired completely. A sound similar to the roar of Himalayan bear empowered me. Gathered the remaining strengths I went through the dense thickets, went out to some lonely Tibet dwelling. A girl explained me that she hadn’t seen any group and I would had to go down and then to choose a slightly different direction. Once again being in despair, I wandered down the mountain and suddenly met Valya Uliakina, who almost resuscitated me and my confidence in a favorable outcome. Eventually, I went out on the proper path and continued my climbing up. And here was the last step and… the voice of Andrey Verba suggesting the main group go down after an election. 

Unfortunately, the Mt Chimpu remained unconquered for me. This mountain is placed above the Samye monastery with lots of retreat caves and hermit’s huts around, where nowadays many practitioners still continue to hold retreats. Fighting back tears, I went down the mountain together with others. It was strange but, while going down the mountain I didn’t feel the force and energy raise. On the contrary, it was the most difficult moment for me. Here I felt the great energy of a man, whiling and having an opportunity to help helpless people. One of the trip members Yakov Fishman showed me important spots on hands to massage and shared some other knowledges. I had a hard time during the ascension, but what impressed me most of all was the great gratitude to Yakov Fishman and other monks, who while taking over me offered help and all the group members who sincerely sympathized me and tried to help. I fought back tears to not explain anyone that I was weeping not because of self pity, but because of the heart gratitude to the really not closest persons. In Samye we had one more interesting excursion to a monastery, before which I had not gained strength for. That was Samye-Gompa, the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet. Later I had to read myself about the monastery very much suffered from the so-called cultural revolution.

Then I had a trip to Lhasa in hope that my conditions would get in right. So it was. During the days I spent in Lhasa, most of all I remember the regular practices every morning and evening on the hotel roof, beautiful views of Potala Palace in the evening twilight and predawn haze, and quite healthy feeling. These were the days full of information and emotions, the days during which we visited ancient and beautiful monasteries and temples. We contemplated magnificent statues made by lovely masters of ancient time, depicted their love of Buddha and gratitude to his great teaching on their beautiful creatures, shining with gold and gems.
Some other seemingly more unpretentious and at times half-ruined, slightly faded pictures and statues sink deep into my mind. Unexplained force stopped me and kept me in places where there were not much light, magnificence and brilliance. I uncontrollably wanted to touch things with my hands and stay near for a while with my eyes closed. The Sera monastery was built in 1419 by the followers of Tsonghapa Sonkhie. In the old days, it held more than 5000 monks, but nowadays only few hundreds of monks keep going to hold religion disputes, emotionally defending their points of view. Scattered in the mountains, like a fistful of rice, the buildings of Drepung Monastery was founded in 1416 by Jamyang Chojey, the follower Tsonghapa. The monastery used to be one of the biggest monasteries in the world with up to 10 thousand monks inside. The Jokhang Temple - is the Tibet altar with gilt roof and its main sanctuary - statue of Buddha Shakyamuni made of pure gold. And of course, the visiting card of Tibet - the Potala Palace on the Red Hill, at a height of 3700 meters in its full splendor and greatness. The Buddha look, entering into the heart… Great images of gods shining with gold and gems, stones of the monastery walls bright finished by centuries. It was easy to breath here in spite of the soot and fumes from lampads.

Stories of local Tibet guide, which contained very limited and at times questionable information, were always completed by Andrey Verba. Well, it is rather incorrect to say “completed”. I listened to him with great interest and after visiting the next hall I came out with a strong intention to read something else and to go to the recommended fountainheads. The guide seemed to listen to Andrey with the same interest as the group did. Moves from monastery to monastery, from one sacred place to another one, from town to town - Shigadze, Tsaparang, Ganden, Stupa Kumbum, - were long. But the views outside the bus windows and the impressions of visiting each new monastery and temple, generously compensated those few inconveniences and fatigue from the trip. I felt well myself. The morning and evening practices helped a lot. I didn’t miss any practice, keeping in mind the importance of being prepared to Kora.

By the way, the path elaborated by the organizers, periodically brought us up on new altitude and then gave us a rest at some lower altitude. Thus, we gradually got used to new heights. Darchen was approaching. Kora was approaching. But before it, there was unforgettable visit to the lake Mansoravar and the Kingdom Guge. The reliefs of the mountain peaks seemed to be steeped in tears. I would try to share the fascination by the exciting views and colors, but I will reserve the only one right. The right to plead all of those people, who have even the slightest opportunity to see it with own eyes, please use the opportunity! Don’t deprive yourself of this miracle. For the whole period of my life, for all the 55 years, I haven’t felt the delight, happiness and inspiration bigger than I felt there. Although, I had used to travel to different places and experience different events. 

Usually, going on a trip, I start missing home and the loved ones even before the airplane takes off. While there I didn’t miss anything. I constantly kept my eyes opened, took deep breaths, liked and enjoyed talking to all the group members and was happy. Nevertheless, I was nervous if I would have enough strengths for Kora, if I would fail the group, If I would get through. I have to say, that as we approached Darchen, the living conditions and food became humble and ascetic, but it didn’t bother me. 

Finally the day, 21 of September came. Kora is sacred circling around the whole mountain, after which a person gets cleansed of all the bad Karma gained during several past lives. I can’t share elevated feelings and can’t show off that before Kora I had listened to all the advises to go at my own place. By the end of the first day I already was moving in spurts with respites. It was hard. But I managed to get through. But the next day had to be difficult. The pass. The long pass. It got very cold in the mountains. We had to come out early in the dark. 

We were going in groups. We talked shortly to each other. But at the same time I had a continuous conversation inside of me. I admit sincerely, I couldn’t think about anything elevated. I asked myself different questions and the answers were quite unexpected and controversial. I would not share everything now. But among others: “What am I doing here? What for? Will it ever end? Where are my lasting strengths?” I was praying, repenting and asking for forgiveness. Every cell in my body kept showing up and asking the release and deliverance. Right after the pass, after I had been torn apart from the inside out, I started feeling much better.

I finally found myself breathing. And even tried to stabilize my breathing. I realized my body: hands, legs and head partially. I started looking up to Kailash. I managed to see those pyramidal outlines and the exciting views around. I realized that I managed to get through when I managed to sympathize those Tibetan people who had no chance to go the path as I walked through. 
The second day of Kora finished for us in a guest house. I had not strength to be worried about that my telephone discharged and I had not been in contact with my closed one at home. I had no strength at all. But I still had a hope that, in the morning the strengths would come back and everything would be well. I had not so much distance left to go through.

But strengths came out. There was a necessity to move on. I had a worry to fail the group tending to arrive in Darchen in time. And again a miracle supporting force. Volodya and Masha from Saint-Petersburg. How thankful I am for your help. How with all my heart, I wish you have someone near you at the right time, who is able to help you. Volodya, your words: ”Exhale, exhale, exhale. Take step shorter. Shorter. Kailash will give you strength. It is on our side. It will help us” are invaluable for me. It was really not easy for me. It seems that I am not that kind of person, who Kailash welcomed with opened arms and blessed to do good deeds.
For this reason, perhaps there I was, to realize and go on realizing myself and my place in the world. I am one of many, who thinks about it and works with consciousness, based on the help and support of the club OUM.RU, experience and knowledge of like-minded persons and teammates, and of course the knowledge left by Buddha and his followers. 

There is an opinion, that everything is destined to get from this Kora will come later. Awareness, sensation, real events. But today already I certainly know what I have received for sure. I am full of feelings of deep gratitude to the people surrounded me: organizers and the participants like me. The willing will also be useful sometime to people needing my help and support.

I have returned to my ordinary life. But I believe now that for long time there are left in my mind: unique unrealistic mountain sceneries, mysterious and forbidding Mountain Kailash, the blue Tibet sky, shining brilliance of the honorable greatness of Buddha Statues, seemingly childish, but at the same time courageous weather-beaten faces of the native Tibet people, kind and sadly smiling Kathmandu and the bright sadness about that our group split apart at the Domodedovo airport and each of our group went in different directions... I believe that not forever.