Just like some points in time have the right alignment of stars and planets, Bhutanese Buddhists believe that some places are topographically and geographically positioned with the right alignments and setting. Such places are very powerful in giving rise to positive thoughts and actions. Therefore, they are considered physically powerful spots. Natural and spiritual energies and vibes flow from the landscape of such powerful spots, making them conducive environment for spiritual experience. Thus, spiritual persons seek such places in order to speed up and enhance their spiritual practice.
Places such as Taktsang have the physical and geographical make of such a place. Therefore, spiritual masters such as Guru Rinpoché and Yeshé Tsogyel used such conducive environments to enhance their spiritual achievement. In doing so, they also made prayers and injected more spiritual power into the place. They would have prayed that whoever came to these place also get the same kind of spiritual experience, happiness and bliss as they have obtained. In this manner, the powerful nye becomes more entrenched with spiritual blessings and power
Why does one go on nekor?
When one visits, lives and practices in such a place, the practice becomes greater in power and the blessings and attainment one is seeking comes faster. That is why one goes for nekor to be associated with such power spots, to connect oneself to the prayers made by previous enlightened masters who have blessed those places. Nekor, thus, combines spiritual practice with the act of being in direct contact with nature.
If one wants to create a connection with Guru Rinpoché, one must visit Taktsang or Kurjé because he had blessed those places; he has made prayers that those who visit the places become connected to him. He had blessed these places to be very conducive to spiritual practices. He had prayed that those who come in contact with these places eventually reach enlightenment.
The whole point of going on nekor is to be expedite one’s spiritual journey through the physical journey along a powerful place. One’s internal transformation happens more swiftly and more powerfully through association with the power spots.
One goes on nekor to purify oneself from negative tendencies, overcome vices and accumulate merit. The power of the né helps one to intensify the process of purification.
What should one think during a nekor?
Buddhist master encourages the pilgrim to constantly be in the awareness of the deity or the lama that is associated with the né. One should also, as one walks and takes steps think that one is taking a step towards enlightenment. As one goes up, one should think that one is going up towards nirvāṇa or enlightenment. As one comes down, one should think that one is coming down to the world to help the sentient beings.
One should be fully aware of one’s bodily movements, one should verbally chant mantras or prayers associated with the né or the person who started the né, then one should mentally always think of the deity or the master associated with the né. One must avoid polluting or exploiting the holy places by dumping waste or extracting its natural riches.
At the end of the nekor, one can dedicate the merit one has accumulated through nekor to all the sentient beings with a wish that all sentient beings connect themselves to such powerful spots and reach enlightenment ultimately.
Karma Phuntsho is the Director of Shejun Agency for Bhutan’s Cultural Documentation and Research, founder of the Loden Foundation and the author of The History of Bhutan. The piece was initially published in Bhutan’s national newspaper Kuensel in a series called Why We Do What We Do.