-The 14th Dalai Lama
The beginning is the same as the end, there is no coming or going, there is no birth nor death, all there is a long journey that goes on and on and on. We begin our trek outside of the main city, Lhasa, to make our way towards Namtso or “Heavenly” Lake which is located approximately 112 km (70 mi) outside of Lhasa.
Namtso has five uninhabited islands that have been used as a place for spiritual retreat by many pilgrims. They access the islands by waiting until the end of winter and walking over the frozen ice, spend the summer there, then wait until the next winter to cross again. After the shift into Chinese Government control, this practice is no longer allowed. In 2005 a paved road was built from Lhasa to the lake, with the sole purpose of increasing tourism within the area.
When we arrived at the lake, there was already a flood of Chinese tourists crowded at the shoreline which seem to really destroy the idea that Namtso still maintained it’s “Heavenly” existence. I felt a hint of sadness that this natural landscape that had once been used as a place of spiritual power dissipate into another tourist attraction. Ironically I’m one of those tourists.
A friend and I hiked up the overarching hill to get a better view of lake, which left me panting heavily as I struggled to reach the top. You could sense the difference in the altitude with the thin air forcing your lungs to work twice as hard. Once at the top, I parted from my friend and found myself sitting peacefully on a cliff with the prayer flags calmly rustling in the wind. The view of Namtso was incredible.
I closed my eyes to really absorb the elements around me listening to the Tibetan air rush by my ears, feeling the Sun playing hide and seek through the clouds, and realizing my breath slowly shifting between the intervals of awareness. I sat like that for a few minutes and carefully opened my eyes to see the lake in its “Heavenly” state.
Namtso Lake was vibrantly shining rich colors of turqoise while simultaneously reflecting the sky up above. The tourists down below looked like ants crawling in predetermined pathways around a large puddle and I felt like I was elevated into the atmosphere. I felt more awake then I had ever been, it was as if I had been sleeping my entire life. There was a sudden rush of contentment and the deep realization of where I was physically, mentally, and spiritually.
When I finally decided to leave, I noticed a rock at my feet with a Tibetan prayer carefully etched into it. It was then that I knew, I had been here in a life before me.