As I stepped up from the last step, I crossed a threshold from one world to another. My chest exploded as a stream of energy poured in, and the doors to my heart burst open. Tears began to stream down my cheeks, such was the power of the mantra that is chanted constantly, and connected me with all beings.
This was my experience of reaching the pinnacle of a 365 step climb in Kathmandu to reach the stupa of Swayambhutnath, also known locally as the Monkey Temple. The sun was directly overhead above the point of the grand stupa. As you circumnavigated, spinning prayer wheels were in motion touched by those visiting. Some chanted the mantra, "Om Mani Padme Hum".
An old world and new world co-existed here: the peace emanating from the stupa as patrons gave reverence and acknowledgement, contrasted with the selling of trinkets by various vendors eking out a living, eager tourists exchanging money for a symbol of their pilgrimage.
In another part of the city, we visited the stupa of Boudhanath. Visitors pass through an arched a gateway, another kind of threshold. Very quickly you realize there is a flow here, the direction in which people are circumnavigating the stupa. Some visitors are devoted practitioners, the concentration and fervor etched on their faces as hands spin the prayers wheels and mantra whispers out their lips.
I'm in awe of this place. Old architecture distinctive of Nepal from a bygone era stills exists here. What were once residences facing the stupa are now businesses.
This place feels timeless, where past, present and future co-exist simultaneously.
The juxtaposition of eating dinner from the top of floor of one of these beautiful historic structures, overlooking the peace of the stupa, was not lost on me. Here in this place, there is no separation between "spiritual life" and "everyday life". This idea exists only artificially in the mind.
There is no duality. All is one, one is all. The beauty of this was all right there, in that moment.