Thank you Tshering Cheki for gifting me this book all the way from Bhutan! Because of you, I managed to read a beautiful story written by Aum Kunzang Choden. And I just realized that I had actually had another book written by her, titled “Membar Tsho - the Flaming Lake”, gifted by Ngawang Phuntsho, the author of Then I Saw Her Face.
My blogger friend, Sherab Tenzin, has reviewed the book beautifully. You can read it here and so does Leoparsica in here. I won’t repeat the line story of the book as many did :)
|The Circle of Karma by Kunzang Choden|
From the title and the cover of the book itself, you would have an impression that it’s gonna be a story swarmed with many Buddhist teaching, perhaps full of Buddhist theory inside that would make you bored (especially if you are a non-Buddhist). Well, don’t judge too fast buddy! In fact, they wouldn’t tell you what karma is, how it works, in a theoretically way. It’s really a novel with a nice flow of story from one phase to another.
The story was about the Bhutanese life in rural area that was common to be found. The book itself was published in 2005 but somehow, the reality might still apply in current time (applied mostly to rural area). As Sherab mentioned in his review, the protagonist of the book, Tsomo, accepted herself as ‘a woman, a person who should live less ambitious and more subdued’. She said that since she wasn’t allowed and no access to be taught the religious practice by her own father, who chose his sons to pursue it instead. Woman was trained to do the household chores like cooking, weaving, etc. or otherwise helped out in the field works.
Thanks to the initiative of many young Bhutanese who introduced and delivered donated books to rural area so that many Bhutanese children (both boys and girls) were getting more access to gain the literacy. The school had also been opened to both boys and girls where many teachers put a lot of emphasize on the importance of reading, which enforced "Reading week" as an integral part of the education system, and so on.
Other than the school for the monks, there was also school for Buddhist nun, which was called Nunnery. Here, women would receive education and high leverage if empowerment, which could help in improving their living conditions and economic vitality of rural villages. So, more women like Tsomo would get a help and guidance in pursuing their goals to get the spiritual education.
There were issues brought inside the book too regarding the marriage, betrayal, separation, poverty, and so on. It highlighted many issues that real happening in and around Bhutan. It’s a very beautiful insight brought up in this story. And this too highlighted that every single thing in our lives happened for a reason. No matter how tough life would be, it would lead us to another way, if we put enough effort towards reaching our goals.
From the whole book, below are the sentences that I love most, which was taken from conversation by Tsomo’s brother, a Gomchen or a Buddhist monk, after hearing Tsomo’s painful experiences:
“I am glad you have told me everything that there is to know. Burden gets lighter when shared. Whatever had to happen has already happened. It’s all our karma. Our lives are like that lamp on the altar. We are born and we live for a while like the lamp. We can either shine brightly or flicker, but we all must die. Life is transient. We are just passing by. Think of yourself as a pilgrim on earth and in your own body because that too you must surrender. But take heart in this, a pilgrim has a definite purpose even if it is only for the duration of the pilgrimage. A pilgrim wants to accumulate merit and pray for all sentient beings. We can all choose to be pilgrims.”
Such an awakening words!!! It won’t ask you to become a nun or monk after reading this. It’s just realization about life, what and how we pursue it, which would depend a lot on our karma.
“Many of those dying flowers will leave behind fruit buds. Just think of all the seeds we can sow. Unlike human beings, trees give forth everything they have. They never hold back anything and plan what to give and what to hold back.”
So, remember! What you do today will mirror your future. What you are experiencing right now is what karma wants you to experience based on your past deed. In other words, “What goes around comes around”. Therefore my friends, “Be good, Do good!”
Well done Aum Kunzang Choden for writing this book. It may look simple but there were lots of hidden meaning in its story. It introduced many aspects of Bhutanese lives to the outer world too! Hope to read more of your book in the future! Tashi Delek! :)