Earth, Wind, Fire, Water and Consciousness

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Other than being the highest mountain in the world, Everest is rich in culture and has a strong religious history. Buddhism is the most prevalent religion and is a large part of life there. Guru Rinpoche is the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. Prayer flags can be seen on the high peaks of the mountain and are in five colors to represent the five Buddhist elements: earth, wind, fire, water and consciousness. At the center of Buddhist beliefs are patience and mindfulness.

Sherpas are an ethnic group that inhabit the area. They generally live in the high mountain region of the eastern Himalaya. They are devoted to Buddhism and are considered "Tibetan Buddhists." Although there has been technological progress made around Everest, they have stayed with their traditional customs. For example, instead of using our modern technology, they continue to grow and raise the majority of their food herding yaks. Sherpas are strong willed and courageous people on and off the mountain. They are willing to help and use their religious beliefs and traditions in their daily lives.

There are two main monasteries in this region. First is the Tyengboche monastery. It remains today as one of the most important religious centers for the Sherpa culture. The Monastery is at the meeting point of two rivers, the Dudh Kosi and the Imja Khola. It has a beautiful view of Everest. The other is the Rongbuk monastery and is located on the north side. This monastery was founded in 1902. This is one of the last sites you will view if you are climbing through the North side of Everest. Some say that it has the most breathtaking views of Everest and is a sacred threshold.

All in all, Mt. Everest is more than just a large mountain. It's location, bordering Tibet and Nepal, is the homeland to many. It has a distinct cultural and religious background and provides opportunity and faith to those who inhabit the area. The Sherpas are faithful to Buddhism and continue to practice their ancient traditions today.

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http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/everest/history/sherpasworld.html

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This page contains a single entry by published on September 22, 2008 3:26 PM.

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