An American’s Soul-Lifting Journey to Nepal
Nepal, Nepal, Nepal. The very name sends my soul-bird flying to Himalayan heights.
I chose this mystical land so far from my native America as a vacation destination for my husband and two "nephews"
, first in April, 2014 and again in November, 2018. The second time my twenty-year-old stepson replaced the nephews. Circumstances made it impossible to take him the first time.
Nepal offered my nephews unparalleled experiences, so when the time was right we made sure that James had them too. Our second visit surpassed the first, not because of the region we explored, but because of the Nepalese friendships we established and maintained for the past four years. What unfolded in my life because of these friends was unimaginable, and proved that a oneness-world should and must be the goal of humanity.
Selecting a trekking company was not an easy task for my first visit. I must have contacted a dozen of them before finding the right one. I was concerned about the integrity and honesty of the company, and how willing they would be to accommodate our preferences. Then I found Good Karma Trekking.
When the owner, Raj, emailed me I immediately felt I was in good hands. Raj embodied sincerity, honesty and a genuine concern for the satisfaction and wellbeing of his clients. Furthermore, Raj doesn’t just see clients from a business point of view. He connects with the heart. Over time I realized I was dealing with an exceptional human being. This was not just a businessman who had created a successful trekking company, but a humanitarian who cares deeply about improving the lives of his countrymen and the environment. He even established the GoodKarma Foundation, which offers all kinds of supportive opportunities.
Our first visit to Nepal immersed us in the grandeur of Annapurna Base Camp and the soulfulness of several historical sites in the Kathmandu Valley. This was all stunning, but equally impressive was the dedication, soulfulness and strength of our trekking guide and porter, Krishna. The man, not much taller than myself, and I’m 5’2”, was a powerhouse of physical strength, spiritual devotion and commitment to his work. What I was seeing in both Raj and Krishna gave me pause. I felt more like a family member than a client.
Our second trip to Nepal surpassed the first. During the four-year span between visits I not only maintained correspondence with both men but our friendship and mutual respect deepened. My heart went out to them and all the people of Nepal as they endured the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake. I did what I could to financially assist, but I knew it was nothing next to the hardships they lived. Krishna’s entire community of Gorkha, the epicenter of the quake, was in ruins. Happily, now they and their families are all doing well. Krishna’s family even invited us into their home and served us the most delicious Indian cuisine I have ever had. If the community knew of Babhana’s cooking genius, there would be a line outside her door everyday! Raj gave their family the resources to build the small house after many months of living in a tent. The humble abode welcomed us in with its soft green walls and simple furnishings. Looking over the family was a small picture of Gorakshanath. My own Guru had told us so many stories of Gorakshanath, so seeing him there sweetened the whole experience.
Also during those years, Raj stayed with us for a while as he toured the US. That’s when he read an ebook I had written many years prior. He had mentioned an interest in learning to meditate and living a more disciplined spiritual life, which is the basis of my book, An Unconventional Pursuit, so he was the perfect audience. Well, he loved it and exclaimed, ”I’m going to have this book printed in Nepal, and from there it will go all over the world!” And he did and it is. And that’s what happens when we live in our oneness-hearts with a view to transforming the world. This global concern for humanity to raise its consciousness is part of what makes Raj so special. It is no wonder that he was selected to participate in an United Nations international program in New York. He also gave my ebook to the former Prime Minister of Nepal, LokendraBahadur Chand, who then wrote a beautiful review that is now the foreword of the book.
So here I am, an American, seen by many around the world as ‘having it all’, yet it took someone from a country known for its impoverished state to get a book printed and distributed to fellow spiritual seekers. This is Nepal. Her innate spirituality and her love of oneness have drawn seekers the world over for millennium. Her troubled political life and its corruption, her poverty-stricken masses, and even nature’s onslaught cannot stifle her larger than the largest heart. My own spiritual teacher, Sri Chinmoy, had such fondness for Nepal. He wrote, “Nepal, within, without a self-offering heart… in you shines a oneness-heart of a Hindu and a Buddhist. Indeed, this is a gift supreme of your consciousness-light for the world at large.” While visiting there he met Mr. LokendraBahadur Chand who felt his divinity deeply.
Then it was my turn to meet such a respected and long-standing prime minister. It was our departure day from Lukla, the village where most trekkers fly into to be near Mt. Everest. I awoke to our good friend and guide, Krishna, excitedly saying, “The former Prime Minister has invited you and family to house for lunch.”All I could think is, “Oh my God”.
Gratitude filled my being. Who was I to meet a prime minister? I don’t think this kind of thing would happen in America. In my country you have to receive a Medal of Honor for bravely fighting in a war or something like that for such a meeting. But the Nepalese value sincere spirituality. Genuine spiritual aspiration IS that Medal of Honor. So there I was, seated at the table with Mr. LokendraBahadur Chand to my left, just as comfortably as if he was my own father.
It was a wonderful experience for my stepson too, who dreams of serving his country in an elected office one day. Although when he asked the Prime Minister what wisdom he gleaned from his many years, the response was, “Don’t go into politics.” I’m not sure James is going to follow that advice.
Not surprising, it was Raj who arranged that visit, and was also invited to join us. Earlier on our trip, I was so impressed when Raj arranged for a helicopter ride to the base of Mt. Everest on a moment’s notice. At the time, I didn’t think his abilities could be topped. While trekking we took a break at the Everest View Hotel. It’s the highest hotel in the world with breathtaking views of Mt. Everest. At one point, Krishna turned to me and asked, “Would you like to take helicopter to Everest?” I did not see that coming. Completely surprised by the possibility of that happening I exclaimed, “Yes! But it would have to be now. Is that possible?” The weather changes so rapidly that one can’t hope for clear skies to remain clear. He phoned Raj and within moments Raj had arranged for a helicopter to pick us up. Within 20 minutes we were on our way. That doesn’t happen in America either.
I could barely see the majestic snowcapped peaks through the tears of gratitude as we soared passed. So many yogis have meditated in these mountains’ caves. Their blissful energy permeated the ether. I just wanted to soak it in. I must have succeeded because my entire being felt transported to a higher dimension. My husband, James and I all felt it. We got out of that helicopter and stood before Mt. Everest, Mt. Nuptse, Mt. Lhotse, and the Khumbu Icefall in silent rapture. The power, majesty and spirituality of the Himalayas uplifted and humbled us at the same time. My heart wanted to burst.
This is how I felt during deep meditations with my Guru, Sri Chinmoy. As a matter of fact, that meditative consciousness permeated our entire trip to some degree. I believe it’s what draws tourists to Nepal. It is Nepal’s offering to the world. Other countries may try to capture Nepal’s outer territory or resources, but her inner wealth is eternal and can never be taken away. It is there as an offering for all of humanity. To the peace-loving people of Nepal and to the soul of that divinely humble and strikingly beautiful land, I offer my deepest, heartfelt gratitude. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.
April 13, 2019
Author of An Unconventional Pursuit: One Woman’s Spiritual Journey with theEastern Master Sri Chinmoy(facebook.com/anunconventionalpursuit)