Rhythms of a Himalayan Village fuses splendid photographs and text to capture the Buddhist Sherpa community of Gompa Zhung in northeastern Nepal, revealing a world where the sacred and secular coexist in harmony. The opening section of the book, Celebration, recreates a festival called Mani Rimdu. At its heart is a mystery play in which every event corresponds to a different aspect of an individual spiritual awakening as he moves beyond greed, anger and negligence to illumination.
Hugh Downs spent several years in the village of Thubten Choling, in Northeastern Nepal. In distance it lies very near the Everest trekking route on which thousands of trekkers slowly wend their way every trekking season. For the years that Hugh lived and studied there, it was vastly removed in time from these lines of tourists their minds set on the glories of Everest, oblivious of this tiny village off the trail. Chapter by chapter, Hugh Downs recounts the passing of the seasons in Thubten Choling, the Bhuddist scholars and artists that were his teachers, farmers that planted and tilled their fields, births and deaths of neighbors, funerals and weddings, smiles and sadness. The black and white photos he has taken are not just an eye catching addition,and nor were they taken merely for visual drama. They are an integral element of Hugh's life and experience in that village, no less than his writing. they are all part of the rhythm of a Himalayan village that Hugh voices so warmly and genuinely, that any reader must feel it too. Rhythms of a Himalayan village is both a beautiful and accurate title for Mr. downs book. to mistake it for something meant for scholars of Buddhism or students of anthropology would be a great mistake. It is imbued though every line and every photograph with such a personal warmth, it becomes, seemingly without ambition, a book for anyone who quests to touch the human spirit.
Hugh R. Downs
Hugh R. Downs was born in Chicago and currently lives in Oakland, California. He is a world traveler and frequent lecturer on Buddhist art and art related topics.