A New Era is Born
Bhutan welcomes The Gyalsey
“I am deeply pleased to announce that Jetsun and I look forward to the birth of our son in the coming Losar… I take this opportunity to offer prayers on this most propitious day, as a father, for my son.”
There are some words you hear. There are some words you feel. On November 11, 2015, the people of Bhutan listened to these words, a Royal proclamation that struck chords deep within us, and one that will echo through our history.
For those who continued to listen to His Majesty The King, the profundity of this message was to come in the days that followed. Their Majesties asked all Bhutanese to focus on the tendryil of this occasion, not just celebrations.
What is the tendryil of the birth of this particular Royal Child? And what does it mean that such a phenomenon has occurred in a year when we celebrate the birth year of none other than Guru Rinpoche, 400 years of the coming of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, and the fifth birth cycle of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo?
Tendryil is a term that we use every day but most of us do not really understand its true meaning. This auspicious occasion is no cosmological coincidence. It did not just happen and it is not just an event. What are we then to understand from this extraordinary astrological moment? To use the simplest of expressions, what are the stars telling us?
Our tsips (astrologers) explain that astrology is a proven science, a method of divination. And divination itself is understood as a systematic method, which actually organizes what appear to be disjointed, random facets of existence to explain human affairs and terrestrial events.
In other words, our Gyalsey was born at a moment when the celestial system was at its most beneficial pattern and arrangement. This is a moment to be treasured. Therefore we rejoice.
But, as we learn from Buddhism, it is also our responsibility to earn the benefits of this blessing. We have to accumulate individual as well as collective merit (sonam). We have to create good karma. We do not want to miss the benefits of this tendryil. As we are constantly reminded, we often do not even recognize our own Buddha nature and, therefore, miss the opportunity to achieve enlightenment.
The Dratshang is performing kurims (sacred ceremonies) in all the Dzongs and important lhakhangs, the Hindu priests are offering prayers and havaan (fire offerings) at the Samtse Mandir, saplings of the Bodhi tree are being planted. The Bhutanese family is celebrating by offering prayers at home and at lhakhangs.
As our Buddhist masters explain, by doing this we influence the causes and conditions that create an environment that is conducive to our wellbeing and happiness. We are removing the obstacles that obscure the realities so we understand the auspicious circumstances.
In the larger perspective we understand the connectedness or interdependence of all things and realise that we are a part of something much greater – the movement of the entire universe. When the cosmological configuration is auspicious we are blessed with good tendryil so our efforts bear fruit and our aspirations will be achieved.
So the Bhutanese family, across the country, supplicate the blessings of our guardian Deities for the health and well being of His Majesty The King, Her Majesty The Queen, our Gyalsey, and the Royal Family.
But there is much more to it. Given the ideal astrological configuration today and the spiritual assurance that the future promises, we have the responsibility to influence a new era. It is a perfect opportunity for “the profound task of nation building” that His Majesty The King has repeatedly commanded over the past nine years.
The Royal aspirations ring loud and clear: “We must reflect on our past achievements, take stock of our present responsibilities, and envisage a plan for our bright future. The future is neither unseen nor unknown. It is what we make of it. What work we do with our two hands today will shape the future of our nation… Our children’s tomorrow has to be created by us today.”
Why do we look at the past? Alexis de Tocqueville, political scientist, historian, sociologist famously stated: “When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness.”
More relevant and more challenging, His Majesty The King reminded us just a few months back: “Our work lies ahead of us. What we have to do has never been done before. So today would be the right time to seriously ask ourselves what there is for this generation to do? What is this generation’s duty in the history of our nation?”
Today, we welcome our Gyalsey, a Prince who personifies his own and our collective destiny. The Tsugla Lopon of the Dratshang explains that birth of our Gyalsey, under such special circumstances, is a culmination of the merit that the Bhutanese people earned through our aspirations, devotion, and prayers.
The Tsugla Lopon asks all Bhutanese to “rejoice in our good fortune and celebrate this extremely auspicious phenomenon. Just as we devote ourselves to the Buddha in his various forms, images, and manifestations, we accept with complete conviction that our Gyalsey is a Bodhisatva in real life form.”
On such a day, citizens are also reminded that the issue of national identity is not separate from that of the Monarchy. When we come together, in prayer and in celebration of this auspicious birth, we are consciously pledging our unity as members of the same nation-state.
On the future of our nation state, the message from the stars is an amazing one. According to credible astrological sources, a Prince born in the year of the Fire Monkey comes with astonishing qualities of leadership. He is in control of situations, decisive, and sure of himself with enormous drive. He is focused on his goals, enterprising, and is a passionate trailblazer.
For the Monkey personality, being agile and supple in body, mind and spirit, with a fertile mind and amazing energy, nothing is impossible. The Fire Monkey is inspired by setbacks, stimulated by adversity, and even excited by danger.
Both eastern and western astrology emphasise the Fire Monkey’s ability to solve problems using disarming and skillful means. Contemporary Western astrology, which is often associated with systems of horoscopes that purport to explain aspects of personality and predict significant events, says that an Aquarian (born in January/February) Monkey is a blend of vision and soundness, harmony and promise.
But this good tendryil does not mean that we sit back and wait for pre-destined events to bless us. As we perform our kurims, as we light our butter lamps and incense, as we prostrate before the dramatic Vajrayana images in our sacred temples, we are clearing the obscurations that will help us see and understand the True Nature of Reality.
Reality, in a spiritual context, is Enlightenment. But there is also the reality which His Majesty The King describes as this “work that lies ahead of us”, “this responsibility that lies with you, me, and every citizen of this country”.
This reality is our national vision. “National goals don’t change,” His Majesty said. “I pray that there shall be everlasting sovereignty and stability, peace and prosperity, unity, harmony among our people.”
In recent years His Majesty has identified critical issues that have to be addressed to realize his long-term vision. These have included the structure, nature, and culture of governance; politics and the core values of democracy; a just society and the rule of law; the roles of Constitutional bodies and the ills of corruption; the importance of economic growth and self-reliance; youth, with a major focus on education and unemployment; culture and the environment.
Just as Buddhism teaches us that the benefits of good tendryil does not just happen, His Majesty The King also emphasises that it is not enough to celebrate our successes. “Praising what we have already done will not bring new rewards. It is equally important to see what our weaknesses are, where we have not done very well, where we need to do better.”
“With honesty, let me share some thoughts with you today. If we take a close look, we Bhutanese are good at writing plans, speaking well and expounding ideas. But implementation fall short of commitments. There is gap between commitments made and output delivered. We are not able to deliver results of expected quality in a timely manner.”
Another critical issue of Royal concern is the poor coordination among the agencies of governance and the immaturity of Bhutanese politics. “In the course of discussing issues of national importance, there are bound to be disagreements. Such disagreements indicate that while perspectives may differ, all of us share the same concerns and objectives, and are motivated by the desire to be of service to the nation.”
The Monarchy represents the state that is above politics: “There is a higher responsibility – not written in any legal document but instead enshrined in humanity and history – a natural responsibility and duty that we all must shoulder equally, irrespective of who we are. Of paramount importance to the strength of a nation, is the ability of her people to live as one united family – a community in which interaction is marked by trust, understanding and cooperation.”
“My dearest hope is that you will remain united in your efforts to not only meet the short-term needs of the people but also the long-term goals of our nation. In spite of the changing government and leadership, there must be continuity in our vision at all costs.”
We go back to the Royal Address to the Nation on November 11, 2015. His Majesty described the occasion of the Royal Birth as a convergence of the Kingdom’s past, present, and future. In the birth of our Gyalsey this particular year, the celestial patterns too have spoken – our past has moved through the present into the future.
As we welcome our Gyalsey, we reflect on our children and our children’s children through the Royal vision. “I see our small landlocked country. I see our small Bhutanese family… It has always been my prayer that we will all be united in our efforts to build a stronger nation, so that at the end of our lives, when we bequeath our country to our children, they will inherit a stronger nation.”
Today, as we celebrate the birth of His Royal Highness, we evoke the pledge that this vision must be built on a strong foundation – the sacred commitment of integrity and fidelity between the King, country and the people.
Contributed by Dasho Kinley Dorji, former Editor-in-Chief of Kuensel. Additional reporting by Rinzin Wangchuk.