『The Heart of the World』，作者Ian Baker。
传说到达Beyul的人可以获得千年以上的寿命；甚至说在那里有逆转时间的力量。『Seven Years in Tibet』的作者Heinrich Harrer（也就是同名电影中Brad Pitt扮演的那个德国人），传言他是受希特勒之命，来到西藏寻找世界轴心（一处名叫沙姆巴拉的Beyul）和其中蕴藏的可以扭转乾坤的神秘力量。
Centuries ago, texts were discovered in Tibet describing beyul, hidden-lands where essence of the Buddhist Tantras is said to be preserved for future generations. These revered scriptures are attributed to Padmasambhava, the eighth-century Buddhist adept celebrated as Guru Rinpoche, who helped to establish Buddhism in Tibet. They describe valleys reminiscent of paradise that can only be reached with enormous hardship. Pilgrims who travel to these wild and distant places often recount extraordinary experiences similar to those encountered by spiritual practitioners on the Buddhist path to Liberation.
One of the most renowned of these hidden-lands lies in the region of the Tsangpo gorges in southeastern Tibet. It is called Beyul Pemako, “the hidden land shaped like a lotus.” Many pilgrims have journeyed there in search of its innermost sanctuary. From a Buddhist perspective, sacred environments such as Pemako are not places to escape the world, but to enter it more deeply. The qualities inherent in such places reveal the interconnectedness of all life and deepen awareness of hidden regions of the mind and spirit. Visiting such places with a good motivation and appropriate merit, the pilgrim can learn to see the world differently from the way it commonly appears, developing and enhancing the Buddhist virtues of wisdom and compassion.
Whether this mysterious sanctuary hidden amid Pemako’s mist-shrouded mountains can ever be located geographically is of secondary importance to the journey itself. In the Buddhist tradition, the goal of pilgrimage is not so much to reach a particular destination as to awaken within oneself the qualities and energies of the sacred site, which ultimately lie within our own minds.
Ian Baker has made repeated journeys into Pemako, following the accounts of Tibetan texts describing these places of pilgrimage. These works reveal the Tsangpo gorge as the life-current of the female deity Vajravarahi (Tibetan: Dorje Pagmo), whose form is identified with Pemako’s inner topography. In the deepest part of the gorge he descended to a waterfall that British explorers had sought for more than a century. Some Tibetans maintain that these falls are an entrance to Pemako’s hidden center. Whether this waterfall is literally the gateway to Yangsang, as legend maintains, I cannot say, but waterfalls serve an important role in Buddhist practice as symbols of impermanence and supports for certain kinds of meditation. Such places often have a power that we cannot easily describe or explain. When approached with an awareness of the emptiness and luminosity underlying all appearances, they can encourage us to expand our vision not only of ourselves, but of reality itself. I hope that Ian Baker’s book about his journeys into one of the least explored regions of Tibet will inspire others not only to venture into unknown lands on a geographical level, but also to discover the inner realms within which our own deepest nature lies hidden.