I want to pay tribute and honor the memory of an amazing woman who lived in great humility and extreme devotion her whole life. Little in stature but enormous in heart, she passed away a few days ago at age 86 and is already greatly missed.
I met Anila, a nun, a few years back on my way to Taktsang. She lived in a tiny house just facing the impressive monastery. When I saw this fragile and hunched body behind the outside door I felt instantly captivated and asked my guide to stop and give her the offerings I had brought for the monastery. She invited me to enter the house and have some tea and from this profound moment, we connected like long lost twin sisters. She had this tiny red kitten called “Norbu” and this cat bonded us even further; we three became karmically inseparable. Her care for this vulnerable being touched me deeply as she was so concerned that he was not eating properly. Fortunately I had some medication that my friend Jamie gave me that same morning saying that I would most likely find some animals in need on my way… so true! From that moment I couldn’t part from Anila and stayed with her a week sharing intense moments – like the visit to her home from Khenpo Karpo or the preparation for puja at Takstang at 4 in the morning, but also many more moments, that would probably be seen as ordinary for others, became sacred for me like sharing food and each other’s company, stroking and speaking to Norbu, sharing our life stories even though I couldn’t speak Dzongkha, nor her English. Our connection was much deeper than any language.
She injured her hand badly when she was young while holding a yak by a rope that ran off with her entwined. And she took care of a brother before deciding to dedicate her life to spiritualism and become a nun. Her love of animals was obvious through her constant care to Norbu, and their amazing fusional relationship made my heart sing. Her thoughtfulness was for all living beings though, which I witnessed as she barely stopped reciting mantra. Her generosity and systematic food offering practices were a great example for me. It was unbearable to see her crying so much when we parted the first time.
I could write so much about Anila but want to make a long story short as the essence of it is to make you realize how this incredible nun, who spent 40 years at Taktsang praying for others, was a hidden treasure – a true dakini essentially unnoticed but right there in this tiny spot where dozens of tourists were passing by every day… I want to acknowledge today her contribution not only to me, but also to all of you. Every part of her being was devoted to living by the Buddhist principles of generosity and humility in such a powerful and vivid manner. Her seemingly meager, yet truly grand existence had the power to bring light into your heart. Bhutan will never be the same for me, and neither will Paris. Something that I can’t yet measure went with Anila that night. I learned with her what longing really means but now this longing has a next life flavor. I thought we could still spend time in retreat together but her body just didn’t make it to wait longer for me. I always wanted her to be happy and serene like a mother wishes her child to be. She taught me how true it is that karma has no borders, no time, no space and will just catch you whenever you are, whatever you are doing. But karma is also love and when the time is ready the matching or “magic” happens. I keep you in my heart Anila and will make sure Norbu is safe… As I have known from our very first encounter, our mutual love and care will endure long beyond this life.
Thank you to all the friends and her family who helped me during the last years to keep close with Anila despite the continents and seas which separated us. May you all be blessed and happy. And please pray for her as she has done for so many.
The writer is based in France and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org