my sherpa friend had brought organic cherry saplings they hoped to plant for an increased market value income in the valley – a good introduction to meeting the highest religious man and well respected leader of the valley, himself concerned with sustainable development. the encounter was meaningful, interesting, a privilege and honor to visit the high lama in his own house.
yet at the same time, the course of our talk revealed to me images of a future my heart wishes not to accept:
a future with a road connection to beding (or most probably even those few km higher to na) bringing in masses of visitors eager to see the great glacial lake of tsho rolpa. a series of hydropower plants tapping tama kosi’s vibrant tributary, barging into the sensitive alpine ecosystem to harvest its powerful turquoise waters originating in the glaciers of this sacred valley.
a development scenario like many I have experienced in nepal these past decades, as valley by valley, ridge by ridge, roads, dams and other concrete structures are cut into their steep rockfaced walls. bulldozers eat away hungrily at nature’s skin, bringing down their forests, rocks and flowers. bringing in dust, noise, waste, the masses of humans who no longer wish to walk their pilgrimages, preferring the ease of a bumpy transportation to reach their destiny within a day. the valley’s riches covered in dust, plastics thrown away carelessly through bus windows and along the last bit of foot track, and an overcrowded holy sanctuary who has lost its powerful silence and its awe of the elemental magic.
anger welled up inside me at the blindness, the ignorance of human beings, the greed of people in power, at the disconnection of the human race with nature, the do-ability of whatever their minds come up with to term as “development”, and their insensitivity to the wounds they cut into mother nature’s system. it hurt my own body, as if these wounds were cut into my own flesh.
and I cried at the global loss of the sacred. at the fact that money’s has become the world’s highest value, overpowering any other much deeper value – of love, light, purity. of silence, connection, wholeness….the sacred within and around us. and in this moment, it seemed to me that I was the only one who feels this, the only one who sees and hears. the only one who calls (I know I am not).
yes I understand, “development” is neccessary. cannot and must not be avoided. it is part of our path, individually and collectively. a natural course of life, to grow, develop, change, try out, perhaps make mistakes. and the greater system will ultimately “correct” whatever mistakes we make in our smallness. but perhaps….. development up here in this valley can take a different, a new, a more enlightened path? as global awareness rises individually and collectively, and values shift, perhaps this valley can open up to a new way of bringing change, without destroying its very foundation?
as I took my last glance up the valley towards na, it seemed to indicate to me: that it is time to reveal its secrets, its sacred jewels. the hidden valley – beyul – which had been revealed / “opened” as a sanctuary for a handful of settlers migrating from tibet just a few hundred years ago – is it ready now and willing to open itself up to the whole world? a road will allow more and more people – national and international guests – to come up and experience in awe this beautiful nature. if it is constructed with care and respect towards the natural, sacred space…
…perhaps, as a start, we could consider constructing a road differently than before, e.g. as an inconspicuous 3 m track built on the recently completed new footpath – where motorcycles can pass, easing transportation for goods and people – without bringing in the masses accompanied by dust and noise of jeeps, buses and trucks? (as my good friend sepp zimmermann, after decades of experience in nepal’s road construction business, suggests).
the gods at the grove of the white yak, where I stopped on my way down to place my question and ask for guidance, they simply told me: we too, do not know how. this is why we need you humans to figure this out. it is the global, collective path of the human race to learn and realize and grow. out of their state of ignorance, towards an enlightened state of living and coexisting in harmony and respect with nature – our foundation, our roots, our “mother”. nature is essentially where we come from, what we are made of.
and listening closely to the tumbling waters of rolwaling khola, I hear them say: we – nature’s elements and spaces – will endure. we are here to endure – as the human race is trying and practicing, growing and healing, to become more and more true, more and more wise, more and more connected, to finally – ultimately – remember…