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Notes From Bhutan

by Christopher Hedge with Paul Horn and Jigme Drukpa

“Bhutan – Taking the Middle Path to Happiness” is a documentary on the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan and its development policy of “Gross National Happiness.”

Imagine a country where the peoples’ happiness is the guiding principle of government. Imagine a people who see all life as sacred, a land with abundant renewable energy, a nation committed to preserving nature and its culture. Imagine a country where the government’s goal is “Gross National Happiness.” Where is this Shangri-La? Bhutan.

But can a place like Bhutan really exist? Can such ideals be realized? Can this small, geographically isolated country tucked away in the Himalayans truly protect its environment and culture as they open their doors to the West?”

The concept of taking “the middle path” is one rooted in the Bhutanese view of the world, a simple message: happiness lies in the middle path. Neither overindulging in the world’s pleasures nor rejecting the world’s goodness can lead to a prosperous and peaceful society. Happiness can only be found by taking the middle path – the path that provides the needs of mankind without sacrificing the life generating diversity of nature.

Paul Horn and I were invited to join filmmaker Tom Vendetti in Bhutan, and to play a concert for the royal family to celebrate the birthday of the King. We were joined by maestro Jigme Drukpa. These are a few excerpts from the concert, recordings around the area, and a composition "A Peaceable Kingdom" made on location in the middle of the night after an impromptu session between Paul Horn, myself and national maestro Jigme Drukpa. In the distance, you will hear chanting recorded earlier in the day at a home that was undergoing a ritual harvest blessing from a group of Buddhist monks. This modern take on their traditional music became a hit song on the first FM radio station in the country.