A Tibetan monk thought he had achieved the spiritual goal of nirvana when he levitated more than six feet. But inspiration soon turned to frustration: The holy man is stuck where he floats, and can’t get back down to earth!
Choden Thubten, 72, has been hanging in midair for man six weeks at the remote monastery in the Himalayas. And while his fellow monks are helping him float between areas of the holy refuge to eat meals, perform chores and ten to personal needs, they’re not trying to help him come back to the ground.
In fact, some of the monks have even taken to playing mischievous pranks on Thubten, pushing him back and forth in midair like a balloon toy or spinning him in circles until he gets dizzy.
“It may not seem like the kindest thing, but we believe Choden must learn humility,” says Nampong Lotse, taking a break from tending his section of the monastery’s garden – where Thubten is also working, using extra-long tools to reach the soil.
“it is pride that caused him to be in this position, and until he removes the pride from his soul he will not come down. Teasing him is our way of helping him to humble himself.
“Besides,” he adds, “laughter is one of the many blessings of the Buddha.”
HOW LONG WILL THIS LAST?
Thubten could be stuck for quite awhile: So far he’s shown no sign of the humility that his brother monks say he needs.
“it is a great achievement, to free the body from earthly bonds and rise free with the spirit,” he says. “And only I have achieved it, while others labor on the ground.
“I do not say that I am better than my brothers for achieveing. this when they could not.
“But is it so wrong to be proud of such a thin? it is a blessing I have spent my entire life seeking from the Buddha.”
After decades of trying to levitate, Thubten says, he began an intense regimen of fasting and deep meditation about six months ago.
Then, one day, he slowly began rising in the air:
Flabbergasted, the other monks at first bowed in recognition of his achievement, but soon came to believe that the levitation was more a punishment than a sign of spiritual enlightenment.
Lotse says Choden’s permanent position does serve the monastery in some ways. “It is much easier now to clean high ceilings, and to prune tall trees outside,” he says. “I sometimes hope he does not come down.”
Seix weeks later, the hung-up holy man says he has come to accept his strange condition.
“It is noteasy to sleep,” he says, “but I feel blessed to be free of my earthly bonds.”
“The teasing is another matter,” he adds. “It may be a blessing to htme, but to me it is very hard on the stomach.”