A dear friend invited me to his homeland, the Kingdom of Bhutan, in the 90s. I stayed with him at his family home up in the mountains, towering over the surrounding scenic views; it was so beautiful, and I felt it surreal at times.

My host was incredibly gracious and made me feel at home. They even offered me to wear their traditional clothing, which I proudly wore, and they were delighted. I love the Bhutanese and enjoyed my stay there. I learned so much from them and about their culture. I loved their openness and felt free to discuss subjects such as the paranormal with them, which they deemed perfectly normal. There was no tip-toeing around these subjects; they are admirably open, and as much as it is a part of their lives, they hold sincere respect and gratitude for the other side. Their sincerity touched me; the more I learned about their ways, the more connected I felt.

My host organised a party at his house and invited friends and family from all over, including four or possibly more Buddhist monks. My host taught me how to greet the monks, and they found it very amusing that I was wearing their national dress and welcoming them in their mother tongue. The monks were roughly similar ages, and the head monk was older. I watched them perform their prayers, accompanied by the occasional chime. I did not understand their language, but I could feel the power and the presence of an overwhelming energy surrounding us. I felt humbled in their presence and became emotional.

When the prayers were over, the part began with a delicious spread on the tables outside. I went to the bathroom to wash my hands, but it was occupied, so I waited my turn. The door to the bathroom opened and out came the head monk, and he looked at me and smiled. I will never forget his smile or eyes; I felt like he had reached deep inside my soul. We stood there in silence; I was mesmerised; I thought I was in an advanced soul’s presence. He then raised his hands, clasped them together in prayer, and bowed to me. He swiftly moved away and made his way to the party. As I washed my hands, I reflected on my experience and could not get over the head monk’s eyes, calm and powerful. I felt he saw right into my soul, and something in me shifted; I cannot explain, but I felt emotional again.

I joined the party and chatted with my host; I asked him about the head monk.

“There is something ‘different’ about this monk, right?”
“What makes you say that?” I shared my experience.
“He is among our top monks in Bhutan and is highly regarded. During our annual deep prayers, I witnessed him enter a trance state and bend a sword easily and without causing injury, right before our eyes.”

I was fascinated; I wanted to learn more, but I knew how to respect boundaries. When I returned home, I felt a distinct cultural and mental difference, most distinctly the level of scepticism and cynicism that was rife in our society; such a shame.

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