Occasionally, I see and hear my fellow citizens scratching their heads or rolling their eyes for the right words to thank His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo. “I don’t know how to thank His Majesty” or “It’s beyond words and thoughts”, they say. Some would write and sing songs, and dance on the mountains, hills and streets. These are all good. I only feel we should be doing a little more than sing and dance or be fixated on finding the right words. If at all we must say something, “Thank you Your Majesty. I’ll be a good citizen” should be sufficient.
The way I see it, there is no need to thank His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo. The Sun lights and heats the whole world every day, but it is not expecting any thanks from the Earth. It is happy seeing lives thrive on the Earth. When Bodhisattvas pray and wish for all sentient beings to liberate from the cycle of sufferings, they are not looking for mundane ways of gratitude. They are happy seeing sentient beings live their lives aligned to transcending the cycle of sufferings. At such high and peerless levels, words mean little. There is no use saying ‘thank you’ to the Sun. Instead, we should be wise enough to ‘make hay while it shines’ and plant hay while it rains. If we did a favour to a mute person, would we be looking for words? No! It is that person’s gesture of joy and gratitude that gratifies us. I am alluding that instead of looking for words, we should Align, Act and Acknowledge those that do. A Vajrayana lama would say it is becoming one with the Buddha or Guru Rinpoche.
To align is to be in consonance with the interest of the King and Tsawa Sum. It only takes a few moments to ask ourselves ‘will what I do please the King, Country and People?’ or at least ‘will it not undo or decelerate the country’s journey of progress?’. Then we can move ahead with our ‘act’ or ‘non-act’. Sometimes it is really about some actions and sometimes to act would be to not act. For example, it was an example of ‘align and act’ by staying at home during the recent two nationwide lockdowns. For most of us, it was a service to the nation by not doing anything. Literally. Then I find it is important to acknowledge others who live lives aligned to the aspirations of the Tsawa Sum just like we must appreciate those who live in alignment with Buddha Dharma which is said to be equally meritable.
There are myriad ways we can align and act. Let me begin with corruption – favouritism, nepotism, abuse of power, bribery, embezzlement, etc. According to Transparency International reported in Kuensel recently, it is a good news that Bhutan has moved a place up to 24th out of 180 countries in 2020. But we should be at number 1 given the number of times we claim we are ‘choedhen gi gyalkhab’. Those in positions who could engage in corruption must not do it and those seeking it must not seek. Everyone must consciously understand and let system do its work.
For example, we could at least take a few moments to ask ourselves before committing such un-aligned acts “if this is on the evening news on the national TV, will I and my family be happy and proud? Will my King be proud?”. Engaging in favouritism and nepotism means to negate the whole idea of being open and accommodative of all human beings as equally competitive and deserving until proven otherwise. We must not forget that everyone is a son or daughter, nephew or niece, or cousin of someone. It is quite petty of us humans to be kind and positive only to those close ones which is only as good as animals. Abuse of power as the name suggests can be likened to a father suddenly becoming a villainous step-father. It is like the angel we have been praying to is not an angel, but a demon in disguise. Where else can one go for refuge in such a situation! Power actually is response-ability – being in the right place to respond/act, not the unrestrained might of wild winds that destroy everything in its path. Bribery to me is like two people telling each other and agreeing “we are lowly and wrong utterly lacking conscience”. Embezzlement is as good as traveling to the future and creating a debt-pool in one’s own path, from which will need a lot of giving in order to come out of the pool alive.
Justice is a great dish which both vegetarians and non-vegetarians find sumptuous, and serving this is a huge way to “align and act”. I do not mean judiciary system and Drangpons per se, though these two elements can be huge part of serving this dish. I mean justice as knowing what is right and wrong, what is fair and unfair for both oneself and others. Whether another person has seen it or not, we all know what we do – whether it is right or wrong, legal or illegal, etc. In the first place, what is wrong, illegal and unfair must be avoided. But if one has somehow committed such an infraction, there must be some conscience to own it and be accountable instead of trying to shift the culpability to others using influence or one’s own gift of gab. An act of justice is as simple as returning something found on the path to its rightful owner directly or indirectly, or willingly and cordially apologizing and taking responsibility when one has damaged another person’s car. It is as simple as closing one’s shop at 9 PM (which is the case currently) instead of being relaxed because one may know the patrol personnel. As mentioned above, Drangpons are an inseparable part when justice is discussed. I only wish that a Drangpon’s name would become synonymous to justice. The party that is right should feel the victory hearing the name of presiding Drangpon and the guilty party should dread as the ngelbam.
Another big place to align and act is in taxation and business. We used to hear gossips about businesses and tax officers colluding. It is a classic case of hands and mouth joining to leave the elbow out. Government is at loss in the end. I really hope it is only a gossip and rumour and there is no truth in it. Else, it would be an absolute contradiction – looking for the right words, but actions are in the opposite direction. Similarly, many landlords have trickled down the benefits they received through loan interest waiver solera from the Golden Throne to tenants by waiving off rent totally or partially. It is all good if landlords did waive off, but what if those that didn’t also demanded acknowledgements from tenants to enhance their relief while filing annual tax returns! Wouldn’t that be hand-itching? Tax evasion is a huge act in the opposite direction by businesses and individuals. It means they place no gratitude for the roads, schools, hospitals, clean air, and peace in the country.
There are numerous other ways that would relieve us from looking for right words or expressions. Being law-abiding in general is essential and very easy too in my opinion. Both law enforcers and law abiders must reflect on the question ‘am I being a law-abiding citizen?”. For example, sale of tobacco is banned in the country, but there is no dearth of these products. Are some people able to smuggle in and sell these products because they know the law-enforcers? What’s the use of hanging a large portrait of His Majesty in one’s shop and office if such were the acts! Responsible business and consumption I find is a critical act since we are importing most of what we consume. Being responsible in business also means as small as not selling alcohol to underage customers and as big as not smuggling. One may be a rich individual inside the country, but extravagant import consumption drains out the country’s resources, which would be otherwise at the government’s disposal for more important and utilitarian public goods and services. Construction segment of the private sector, which I do not believe they are private sector since they mostly execute government projects, is another area. They have a huge opportunity to align and act. Quality of the roads and bridges they make, offices, hospitals and schools they construct, should be in pursuance of a long-term cost-savings for the country and unshakable reputation for companies concerned.
Likewise, there are many ways that can perfectly substitute saying thanks to His Majesty The King. It can be as small as not littering to as big as guarding the borders diligently and sincerely. It can be a heartwarming act of kindness to a stranger and something as obvious as serving one’s parents well. Whatever it is and whenever it is, let’s Align, Act and Acknowledge. I do not believe our King is looking for any word of thanks. In one sentence if I may conclude, “What we need is not a leader to lead the masses. We need leadership of the self” – His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo.