In 2006, I was called to do pilgrimage to Mount Kailash, a sacred mountain in the wilderness of Western Tibet. I went un-knowing of what I was undertaking. I had no concept of and no experience with high altitudes, and the altitudes at Mount Kailash are from 14,500 to 18,500 feet above sea level. Air is thin, so energy is limited, and trees are rare as it is above tree-line. I did not know the language or the culture. I just knew that Kailash called me to lay my body on the land of Tibet and open my heart to be received. I was called to do Khora with Prostrations, which is circumambulating Mount Kailash by repeatedly prostrating on the ground. In this way, one moves around the 34-mile Khora path one body length at a time, from standing to lying stretched out on the ground to standing, then walking the few steps to where my fingertips touched the ground and again laying down into a full-body prostration. A mantra is recited as one does this. Although I did not know it at the time, I am told I am the first Westerner to have done this. Many people walk or ride the Khora on horseback. This takes about 3 days. Some Japanese and of course Tibetans have done the Khora with prostrations, but no Westerner that I am aware of has done this. It took me 28 days to prostrate around this holy mountain. They say that doing Khora dissolves a year of karma of one’s life. For me, it dissolved and continues to dissolve my life.
Excerpts from Dying & Living
In July, August, and September of 2006, I made a journey that I knew would change my life. When I agreed to go to Tibet and do prostrations around Mount Kailash, there were some things that I did not know. I did not know that this journey would change every piece of my life, shattering the old and leaving me naked, lost, and grateful as the realization dawned that I could not return to my old life. While I knew that the journey around Kailash would change me, I did not consciously understand that the change does not stop. Once this kind of door is opened, it is an invitation that evolves, walking slowly in front of me, inviting me to keep coming forward. p. 1
Mount Kailash is spectacular. Although I cannot see it, I have no doubt that it is streaming out constant blessings on us all. But my heart and your heart is streaming out constant blessings on us all, too. Have you ever noticed how we humans are around babies? The toughest tough guy shines forth light and joy when meeting a baby. His or her true heart suddenly emanates, shines out and blesses us all. Babies are Mount Kailash, too. It’s not Mount Kailash, it’s not the form. It’s not the baby, either. Those things exist to remind us of our hearts, that our hearts are always there, are always working, do not need developing or training or more of anything. Our hearts constantly love. We suppress that, hide that, and keep it secret, shining it only with a special friend or in a special moment. Yet it’s there 24/7. pp. 174-175
The love inside me and outside me is the same love. If I close that door and make you different from me, then I have forgotten the Khora with prostrations. I have let the world separate into East and West again, and I have told you that I can function without your love, and I can’t. I can repeat historical patterns in a solipsistic world of my own past projections. But I can’t live in the present moment without living in your/my love. p. 180