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Podcast 2019
Middle Kingdom Podcasts (2005-2017)

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Timothy M. Leonard's books on Goodreads
A Century Is Nothing A Century Is Nothing
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Bhutanese Art & Dance


I've noticed readers have accessed my Bhutan travel piece in Travel Tales. It is also available in "A Century Is Nothing."

The NYT just published a fine article about a new Bhutanese art and Black Hat dance traveling exhibition to open in Hawaii. It is linked below.

“Dance is critically important to their conception of the universe,” Mr. Houghton said. “A mandala is a dance — gods dance, they don’t walk around. It is a dramatic representation of what is going on in heaven.”

Travel in Bhutan

The wandering monk spoke.

“One day in the Himalayas I hiked to a meditation hut above Taktsang, Tiger’s Nest, in Druk Yul overlooking the Paro valley laced with rice paddies, rhododendron, fir, spruce, hemlock and barley fields.

“Guru Padmasambhava or Guru Rimpoche (Precious Teacher) was the spiritual founder of the Nyingmapa old school of Himalayan Buddhism in 800 A.D. which is still taught in central Bhutan. Tantric Buddhism in Bhutan dates to 450 A.D. and is the esoteric form of the Drukpa Kagyupa Buddhist School. The state religion of Mahayana Buddhism or the Great Vehicle was established in the 8th century.

“According to legend, Rimpoche subdued many demons in Paro and central Bhutan. At one time he had two wives, an Indian and a Tibetan. He transformed his Indian wife into a tiger and flew to Taktsang Monastery in the 8th century.

“Tiger’s Nest is a series of small tight buildings built into the cliff. It is composed of intricate staircases, stone flagging, a small open air kitchen, balconies, rooms for sleeping, and meditation. I was welcomed by boys and monks who showed me a small meditation room filled with statues, offerings of rice, coins, fruits and vegetables.

“They showed me the cave where Rimpoche lived for three years. Three monks appointed by the chief abbot in Thimphu live here for three years for meditation study and are followed by novice monks in their spiritual meditations.

“Taktsang, destroyed by a fire in 1998, was rebuilt.

“I traveled east along the spine of the dragon climbing to 10,000 feet dropping into valleys and climbing again. Distinct elevations consist of grasslands, crop lands, forests, hardwoods, coniferous forests, soft woods, alpine meadows, yak pastures, and glaciers. Barley, wheat and potatoes are primary spring and summer crops from 7,500-13,000’ with the tree line coming at 12,000-14,000' and coniferous replacing hardwoods above 8,000’.

“I passed West Bengal and Indian road gangs working at quarter mile intervals. They perform hard work carrying large rocks and crushing granite to repair and fill the endless washouts. They will live and work here for two or three years maintaining the roads before being replaced by new workers from northern India. Their living situation is very grim. Shelters are woven reeds, fortified with any materials they can find along the rivers. They carry their children on their backs as they work. Younger ones sleep along the road under torn black umbrellas.

“Ten thousand people live in the Bumthang area. Small shops and stores along the single main street serve as homes and business. Built of wood with small steel stoves and chimneys, the rooms are multipurpose; selling in front, eating and sleeping quarters in the rear. Merchandise includes thread, wool, fabric for weaving, canned goods, small toys, sweets, local spirits, spices, eggs, a limited supply of green vegetables, a few green apples, and soap.

“The architecture is Tibetan, rectangular buildings are two-three stories high, a pitched roof with open space holding firewood and fodder. The middle floor is for storage of grains, seeds and foodstuffs. The upper floor is the living quarters, broken into smaller rooms. The ground floor on a working farm is for the cattle. If not, there are windows at this level with a shop, storeroom, kitchen, and servant’s quarters.

“I arrived at a monastery in the foothills overlooking the town where 300-500 Bhutanese gathered to receive a blessing from a lama. Children and adults sit and talk on rows of timber slabs on the sun baked ground.

“Three monks blew long wood and silver jallee horns to chase evil spirits away. The lama, Nam Kha Nen Boo, is Khenbow, a reincarnation of a former monk known for his fortune telling power. He was seated and read in a low tone of voice for twenty minutes and used a small hand held drum and bell.

“Finished, he moved among the people touching us on the head with a statue called a Tshtshto. This dignifies the life of a human with a blessing “Have a long life.” People approached with offerings for his blessing. Bags of red string, flour, and jenlap, a nutmeg like substance, were offered. One lama handed each person jenlap. Another lama gave each person a single red string to be worn around the neck.

“I visited the Jakar Dzong. The head lama opened large doors in the quiet spiritual center. Ornate sculptures of Padmasambhava and flickering yak butter lamps filled the center wall. Inside another room was a ten foot high statue of the guru, bronze statues with salt and butter flower carvings.

“Display cases with hundreds of identical 5-6" Buddha statues sat in tiered arrangement extending the length of the room, reaching the ceiling. Larger images depicted historical and religious levels of spiritual attainment.

“My meditation is on The Eightfold Path or Middle Way between self-indulgence and self modification. The eight orders are: Right Views, Right Purpose, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Awareness, and Right Concentration or Right Meditation.

“I have a diamond in my mind. I am alive and empty in the here, now, and present. I know imagination is better than knowledge. Now I travel south on a path through the jungle.”

The Land of the Thunder Dragon, or Druk Yul, is an amazing peaceful place.


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Bhutanese Dance & Art


Hello Talking Animals


The logic of pain. Pain tolerance. Pain loss, pain's memory, pain's fascination. The awareness of pain, how it dances, how it begins, creating itself, developing the heavy lidded dull, perhaps sharp edge - no, the dull throbbing kind, the kindness, the specific joy of pain down through the nerves - exposed - sliding along invisible blood red threads that you can't, you don't see - these minute tentacles of laughter, however you know they are there. 

The roots of pain bellow well below the surface of appearances, growing down into cold hearted tissue. It needs a biopsy. What's that? A lab tech's evaluating, analysis under a microscope - sterile environment, free of dust, germ free; tissue and a semi-colon; all in the same sentence which, after five days of blizzards is the perfect opportunity to be sitting outside with an iced coffee at dusk near a water fountain pen resolving the pain issue tissue, yanking it out after inserting 3-4 needles filled with antiseptic solutions into gum tissue, so soft, so pliable, how they massage tissue preparing it for a needle, one of those heavy duty stainless steel syringes made in Finland probably, with a perfect circle for a finger so the downward thrust of pressure is constant and now bewildering.

This is what happened and it didn't take his well trained discernment eye more that a nano-second after the partial was removed to see the tooth, as witnessed from inside near the interior monologues, dialogue, red stormed flesh dancing with pain ( a sickness leaving the body ) how now the birds fly, free from pain winging one true sentence.

It would have to come out, how the old recalcitrant reclusive tooth had served it's large print purpose dancing with food, clicking gum lined stories (some never to see the fine print) never the less dazzling to the extreme pleasure of pain, how it was a vast comfort, this pain and it was well worth remembering and nurturing, hearing "18 Musicians" by Steve Reich  Ensemble speaking as the heart beat out it's death defying rhythm pulsating along beating faster than shadows leaving themselves in the labyrinth of love. In theory.


Man makes prayer flags 

Man inks prayer flags in Lhasa. 



Leopard OS


A long delicious heavy wet snow creates a magical wonderland of white. The skiing on the Great Mountain will be sublime.

Meanwhile, I happened, as luck and chance and fate would have it, to discover an Apple outlet in a shopping megaplaza extravaganza. Nice people helping people. So, I leaped toward the Leopard OS and various software goodies. The system is being reconfigured and upgraded as we speak dialects.

Speaking of iLife, iWork, iExplore and iDream.

Hello Mighty Mouse!

And, lo and behold, the D&R outlet at the mega place had nine copies of my novel. The Chinese girl trapped behind a gate looking out at the world is getting exposure.

orange and jade.jpg


Joyful Heart Day


Valentine's Day, ah...chocolates, flowers and love. Such a delightful mix to express, by express your affection, love and deeper meaning to someone special. Your love and passion is clear, simple, and direct. Heart to heart romantic transmissions in a free fall.

"I Love You," three little supercharged chemically produced symbolic words. Actions speak louder than words.

Practice random acts of kindness.


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Intermittent Heart Flurries


May your heart be light. Be light about it.


Open it.

Can you see the mountain? The great mountain?

Yes, the sharp stones are covered in green with white snow below a blue sky.

And the clouds?

Yes, they are thin, light and flying. 


Clear and you are a strange travelling creature of the nature world this wandering whirling dervish Chinese monk from along the Silk Road now on the western edge, the fringe of a long silk carpet woven on the loom of time.

Yes, it is a magic carpet.


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