Being in Bhutan for the past few days has been one of the most remarkable experiences we have each ever experienced. Here are 5 brief reflections that we wanted to share from our journey thus far. While some of these things may be broad generalizations, they are some of the initial impressions that we have had.
1) Trust: There is a huge element of trust here that is very tied to the country’s priority of Gross National Happiness (GNH). People trust that you will tell the truth and do the right thing. For example, they do not have stop-lights here but instead have round-abouts and trust that people will respect one another on the road. There is very little honking and people are very compassionate and trusting of others on the road. In addition, the prisons here are more like rehab clinics and allow in-mates to go home for holidays to be with their family. They trust that people will come back and they do.
2) Solitude: People seem very comfortable being alone and can sit and wait for hours, peacefully. For example, we went into a prayer room and the friend who took us there just stood outside and waited for us, though we were in there for over 45 minutes. She simply waited patiently outside at the door in the cold for us with no complaints.
3) Compassion & Serving Others: There is a great element of compassion and serving others here that we have not seen in many other places. For example, on our first night in Paro it was a rather cold night and our friend who was taking care of us at the hotel came in and put a heated hot water pad in each of our beds before we went to sleep. It was a small gesture that really meant a lot to us.
4) People of devout faith: We have been struck by the devout (primarily Buddhist) faith of the people here. It has led to a lot of conversation in our team about faith and what we each believe, as we all come from different religious backgrounds.
5) Intentionality & Mindfullness: Intentions are everything here. War is only okay if the intention is to protect oneself, but it is not acceptable if the purpose is to hurt others. There is much in this culture about mindfulness and taking control of the thoughts that fill your mind. As one friend here told us: “You cannot fully control anything in this world but what goes on between your two ears – your mind. No matter what happens in your life, no one can take your mind from you. Control your mind, don’t let it control you.” It has been powerful for us to be more mindful about our actions and intentions.
A few photo highlights below: