Friday, 18 September 2009


Its recently occured to me that i'm visiting the area that has mythically been called Shangri-La. Shangri-La. A fictional place? Like a Utopia.

I remember studying Thomas Moore's Utopia at school. Utopia meaning No place. An ideal.
I'm not an idealist. I've never thought of going to Tibet as some ideal, perfect forbidden city. It's a long way from that these days. I think i even expect to be saddened by how unlike the garden of eden it once was painted like it is in present day.
Thomas Moore's Utopia depicted his ideal political system and state, the best kind of republic.
I'm not sure Shangri-La had the same connotations, but its ironic if it did, as apparently Tibet (Tibet Autonomous region) , China and Pakistan have all claimed that Shangri-La was within their geographical boundaries.
Shangri-La was described in the 1933 novel 'Lost Horizon' by James Hilton, a book which i intend to read on holiday! The phrase "Shangri-La" most probably comes from the Tibetan ཞང་,"Shang - a district of Tsang, north of Tashilhunpo" + རི, pronounced "ri", "Mountain" = "Shang Mountain" + ལ, Mountain Pass, which suggests that the area is accessed to, or is named by, "Shang Mountain Pass".

Some think Bhutan is the last 'Shangri-La' now because of its unspoilt nature.

Some think Shangri-La is a state of mind.

I never thought i was going on a search for Shangri-La, i've heard of people doing that. I'm sure it was something that was really popular in the 1970's! But in some ways that's exactly what this is!

One week to go. I can still hadly think about it for being so moved.

Its nice to dream, some say its one of the things that differenciates humans from animals. But i think cats dream, and dogs dream, and orangutangs dream... animals dream.

But i dont think any of them are so stupid or naieve to dream of a Utopia. Wishful thinking. It's beautiful.

So much of my current life is taken up with thinking of 'the fall' and the temptation rather than the idea of the Garden of Eden.

Sex, drugs and rock n roll - i'm sure its some people's ideal, but it wasn't the Utopian place that has been dreamt of in this literature, and in sober moments i'm sure its not what metalheads would really want.

I'm a pretty sober person, who's practical, not so much a dreamer as a do-er.

So here i am going to the mythical Shangri-La. Will i dispell a myth? Or will i find out how what came before 'the fall' was so much better than the aftermath.

In terms of the myth of the Garden of Eden, the innocence Adam and Eve were supposed to have before Eve bit into the apple from the tree of knowledge... that kind of innocence of being un-aware - that doesn't seem like paradise to me. Ignorance, one of the 3 major poisons in Buddhism (Ignorance, Hatred and Lust). Ignorance, something we were meant to aspire to when wanting to return to a Garden of Eden like state.
The apple Eve took - from the Tree of knowledge of Good and Evil - that made (hu)man aware of lust, sin etc.
I have most surely partaken in that most dichordant apple as a daughter of Eve, but surely its only when you've seen that can you appreciate Utopia/Shangri-La - i dunno, do people in Bhutan think that they're in paradise?
And is it true that once you've partaken in the apple you can never return? And would you really want to if you could?
Well i'm getting on a plane in a week, i'm not ....returning! I'm just visiting.
And i can't wait.

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