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July 20, 2015

Sherpa guides of Nepal

sherpa return

≥≤ Sagarmatha Dispatch-Gazette ≥≤

30,000 years ago a genetic adaptation to high altitude emerged in ancestors of today’s Sherpa people.

1300 years ago the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism emerged as part of Sherpa culture.

These two elements, the physical adaptation and the practice of awareness, incubating in the mystical environment of the Himalayas in Nepal, set up the conditions for the still-unfolding story of Sherpa guides in Nepal.

The practical life of a Sherpa trekking guide is hard — physically, mentally and emotionally, setting up conditions, analyzing logistics, and deploying equipment for the success of climbers and explorers. In the photo a Sherpa guide returns to his wife and children after months in the mountains, guiding, and carrying much of the physical and psychic load of intrepid clients.

from BBC Sherpa documentary video:

For all that, Sherpa guides have a reputation for lightness of spirit, and for instigating a familial esprit among teams, even in the face of deadly risk.

The Nyingma tradition of Sherpas is distinguished by the categorization of nine vehicles on the path of awareness, which include elements of learning, practice, intent, behavior, relationship, and ultimate reality. This outlook imbues Sherpa life with inner qualities that match the outer conditions in which they formed.

Therefore Sherpas are uniquely capable of guiding and shaping an expedition into rarefied climes of inner and outer space.

The most rarefied outer conditions are at the summit of the mountain called Sagarmatha, Chomolungma, Everest — perched atop Earth’s biosphere on the edge of space. Here, even a Sherpa guide prefers to carry a supply of oxygen.

Of the nine vehicles of the path, Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorje (Nyingma “master of masters”) said,

The eight lower levels have intellectually fabricated and contrived that which is changeless solely due to fleeting thoughts that never experience what truly is. They apply antidotes to and reject that which is not to be rejected. They refer to as flawed that in which there is nothing to be purified, with a mind that desires purification. They have created division with respect to that which cannot be obtained by their hopes and fears that it can be obtained elsewhere. And they have obscured wisdom, which is naturally present, by their efforts in respect to that which is free from effort and free from needing to be accomplished. Therefore, they have had no chance to make contact with genuine, ultimate reality as it is.