By February 26, 2013 1 Comments

Life is Deathless

There Is No DeathIn 1990 I was invited to the Kingdom of Bhutan, to stay with a dear friend who was to be my host and guide to one of the most remarkable travel experiences of my life.

Bhutan is a small peaceful country and the primary religion is Buddhism.  It is bordered to the north by China and to the south, east and west by the Republic of India.  The Bhutanese by nature are kind and warm and very hospitable.  They appear to be formal and serious at first but when they like you they take you into their hearts after which they lock you inside and throw away the key.

My host took me on a long journey that lasted all day by car, we travelled in a convoy and mostly through rough terrain to a part of the country I will not disclose since I was asked to keep the details private and you will understand why later in the story.

We camped close to the river at the bottom of towering hills, lush green with vegetation. We were in a remote area, there was no sign of life; no villages, nor a single living soul in sight.  My host had brought his sons along with other friends, servants and guards.  By the time the tents were all erected and the food prepared, it was approaching early evening and darkness fell around us.  I watched the shimmering moonlight on the surface of the river as the guards prepared a large bonfire.  It was very peaceful…

We sat around the fire and enjoyed our dinner ‘Ema Tasi’ which is a basic dish of chilli and creamy thick goat cheese and broad beans.  It is eaten with rye bread, very hot but delicious…  We exchanged light hearted stories and jokes and at some point my host’s face turned serious and he looked closely at me and asked me if I would be afraid if he was to show me something.  I said no, but I admit that being camped in the middle of nowhere, in a country that is alien to me, made me worry slightly but I trusted my host implicitly.

“Look behind you Garo… look at the mountain behind you”

It took a few seconds before my eyes adjusted and then I saw them    and what a remarkable sight, I sat mesmerized oblivious to my surroundings and just looked ahead.

I saw lights, flickering and etheric, shaped like flames but bright white with a hint of blue and gold.  The lights were of different sizes but no smaller than a few feet, some brighter than others but  similar in shape.  They looked like flames but were not consistent with flames emanating from a fire as we know it, because the  lights floated or glided horizontally and vertically staying consistently in shape at all times. Flames from fires do not usually detach from their source and go wandering about in random directions, besides, flames do not flicker in the manner of the lights that I observed.   I watched and saw some of them ‘huddle’ together, others going between trees, chasing one another…  some remained motionless and just glowed above the ground.  I knew that I was seeing something out of the ordinary but I was not sure of what I was seeing so I asked my host what are they?

“That mountain is holy land, it is our burial ground.  The lights have always been there, they are the spirits, the souls of our ancestors…”

I was not scared, I did not feel any threat nor malice.  On the contrary, I felt a great peaceful presence and deep humility as I watched the flickering lights perform their ‘dances’ seemingly oblivious to us, the audience, as we watched in silent contemplation.

“Are they dangerous father?” his son asked to which my host immediately replied that as long as we respected them and let them be they presented no danger at all.

I turned to my host, wanting to ask so many questions but could only manage a few words… “This is beautiful…”

He shook his head understandingly and told me that they kept this ‘phenomena’ very private and that they do not share it with the rest of the world for fear of the commercialization or desecration of the burial grounds or their surroundings.  I fully understood and felt privileged to be allowed to witness a life changing experience.

We spent the rest of the evening by the open fire, eating, drinking and smoking and when it was time for us to retire I was delighted with the fact that the opening to my tent allowed a direct view to the mountain in question.

I sat in my tent and watched the lights manoeuvre and zig zag through the trees, flickering intensely at times and playfully chasing one another down the mountain and then up again.  Whatever I was witnessing was definitely not of the ordinary and nothing that I have seen before.  The ‘flames’ were not fireflies, nor was it gas (they retained their shape and moved in all direction)  I could not attribute it to a natural phenomena and could not find an explanation despite a lot of research that I later conducted.  After a while I resigned myself to the fact that the lights could very well be the souls of the dearly departed, who was I to differ or judge?  I was witness to something remarkable that I could never express fully in words and nor am I able to explain.  I just felt inside me that whatever I was seeing was beyond our world and so I wished them, the lights, peace and I felt humbled.

I felt it necessary to pray and I prayed quietly for the souls of the dead so that they may find their eternal peace and then I thanked God for allowing me yet again, the privilege and insight into one of his many wonders… life is deathless and together we are light…

Love and blessings

Garo Dedeyan
London, UK
February 2013

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  1. Very powerful moment indeed! I look forward with so much excitement to hear the story again and again once we visit 🙂

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