The place will teach you the futility of materialistic obsession and the value of praying for others than yourself. Lhasa, Tibet will redefine your definition of happiness and virtue of life.

Spiritual City for Abandoned Souls: Lhasa, Tibet

There’s a special group of people living a very special life. They pray for others and spend their entire life studying Buddhism to communicate with god. They dwell at the highest place on earth, closest to the sky to reach god. As you might have guessed, yes, I am talking about Tibetans.

Sandwiched between China and India, especially between the Himalayas and vast plateaus, Tibet was isolated from the rest of the world. Around 7 B.C., after consolidating various tribes and designating Songtsan Gampo as its capital city, Tibet adopted Buddhism exposing itself to the world. Ever since then Tibetans consider themselves life-long Buddhists, maintaining the lifestyle till nowadays.

Lhasa is the spiritual heart of Tibet.

It literally translates into ‘place of the gods’ and is located 3,650m above sea level. In the center of the city are people on their pilgrimages, the Potala Palace where Dalai Lama resided, old residence in the east quad, and alley-full of stores run by migrant Chinese to the southern part of Lhasa. Lhasa is a sacred refugee to find tranquility of the soul, as well as a place gods inhabit. There are several reasons Tibetans consider the capital ‘place of the gods,’ one of which being the Potala Palace that stands in the city center. After Tibet adopted Buddhism, the palace was named after Mt. Potalaka where Avalokitesvara—the bodhisattava (“enlightened being”) of compassion—inhabited. It took hundreds of years of construction over construction since the 7th century to complete the way it is presented now. The blue sky and white clouds right about the palace create a picturesque view; and except for in summer, the permanent snow that covers the mountains provides another astounding mystic beauty.

My exhausted and abandoned soul

The Potala Palace may be a place of sublimity to travelers, but to Tibetans, it is a nostalgic, sacred place that they no longer can return. People visiting Dalai Lama’s old adobe to give prayers for others every day until the floor becomes slippery… Watching them chanting mantra and spinning prayer wheels consoles my exhausted and abandoned soul.

Besides the Potala Palace, there’s also Drepung—one of the largest monasteries in Tibet; the Jokhang Temple—so-called ‘Shrine of the Lord’, the most revered temple by Tibetans; Sera—a monastic university where you can hear catechism.; Barkhor market, a place where you see a flux of people coming in and out; and last but not least, the endless plateau and the Himalayas that reveal the true face of Tibet just outside the city. A place where being alone seems most natural. Focus on Dalai Lama’s teachings, stroll along the snow-covered mountains in spring, and try meditating Kora wishing other people’s happiness. In no time, you will find your and everyone else’s soul healed, making the world a slightly better place.

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