I found Bhutan a rather charming and fascinating place. No matter how worldly and materialistic your approach towards life is, if you travel Bhutan with an open mind, their philosophical and idealistic culture would force you to contemplate, and contemplate twice, on some of the most confusing questions concerning human existence.
During my visit to Bhutan, I happened to spend a chilly evening with a couple of friends I met in the capital city Thimpu. They shared with me some crazy ideas about their culture and a unique Bhutanese philosophy that left me spilling my guts out. These young men had no decent excuse to ponder or even believe in such crazy ideologies – and their firm belief left me startled.
“There’s a very simple solution to be happy in your life,” said one of them. “Just think about death a few times every day.”
The entire conversation around such a cheesy topic started when – during our philosophical conversation – they happened to ask me about that one thing I want from my life. “To be happy,” I spat without taking a second. “But unfortunately I haven’t figured out how to do so,” the next few words followed on their own.
Bhutanese people believe that thinking about death or about that moment when we cease to exist makes you feel more alive. It frees us from being entangled with your everyday commitments – which in reality are the very reason for our sorrow.
Where most of us spend a considerable amount of time reading self-help books and joining laughter group therapy sessions – this realistic approach towards one of the most unrealistic problems of today seemed like a perfect solution to me.
These culturally rich places like Bhutan always find a way to surprise us, to teach us something good, provided we are open to the possibility of surprises and not weighed down with our own beliefs.
PS: My best advice – though it’s not possible for many western tourists – is to visit Bhutan like an independent traveler to experience its rich culture. Though it’s a little hard to do backpacking in Bhutan I’d still suggest you not seek out package tours and rather travel on your own, trying to find your own way to indulge in the country’s more “authentic” experiences.
If I did this, so can you. Happy Travelling!