Today I had the immense good fortune to have an audience with Llama Gyeshi, who at 74 is in charge of the oldest monastery and gompa in the Khumbu; he’s the third most important Llama in Nepal (the Dalai Lama being number one of course). Not only that, but because he was delayed in seeing me, Tashi and the Llama’s daughter (also Tashi), his wife invited me into the kitchen for lunch! I took a shot of the kitchen which you can see below; the older gentleman is Tashi’s uncle, and Tashi is cooking.
We then interviewed Llama Gyeshi for the video we are making for the Pangboche electrical power upgrade appeal after which he gave me a blessing as well as a signed postcard that he generally gives out to the climbers on Everest expeditions to bring them good fortune and protect them from harm. He thanked me for offering to help the village find funding for the power expansion and asked about my family, I told him about Enrique, my husband of 13 years, and my mother, and that I would bring them to Nepal in 2014. He asked me to bring them by to see him.
Here's two shots of me with him; hover for details.
I was honestly somewhat nervous before meeting him - which somewhat surprised me given that I have spent much of my life around some of the world’s most famous cultural figures and now in my present career political leaders. Hearing this man speak of the virtues of Buddhism - of caring for others, serving others, seeking peace and understanding, forgoing violence - when he was clearly living them himself was humbling and made me realise how easy it is in the hurly-burly of modern living to lose track of these timeless messages and the centrality they should really have in the lives of us all. How much better of a world would we live in if all of us thought first of these precepts before deciding how to act towards one another?
As you can see from his kitchen and surroundings, there is no palace here, no gold and jewels, just comforting images on the wall from a life spent in faith and a loving family that shares his life and helps him in his mission.
Unquestionably I will remember this visit as one of the highlights not only of my time in Nepal but of my life and I hope that I never forget to try harder each day to live in a way that is congruent with the simple timeless precepts this man represents.
Here's a final picture, taken from the video we shot, of this wonderful man.