“Zen masters say you cannot see your reflection in running water, only in still water.”
This week Ben’s Reflection challenge has given me an opportunity to post some of my favorite captures from our recent visit to China. In Shangri-La there is an area called Napa Lake Nature Reserve. It was suggested that we skip this area because our guide had been there two weeks earlier and the lake was completely dry. It turns out Napa is a seasonal lake and during the dry season it is a beautiful grassland for animals and birds. During the rainy season, June through September, local streams and rivers feed it to create a beautiful lake. Fortunately, we did not take our guide’s advice 🙂
“Who could be so lucky? Who comes to a lake for water and sees the reflection of moon.”
As we drove into the Napa Reserve, we were greeted by one of the most beautiful lakes I’ve ever seen. The water was absolutely still, reflecting the mountains that surround the lake on three sides. The day we visited it also reflected a deep blue sky filled with puffy white clouds. Yaks and cows grazed peacefully on the grasses as local ethnic minorities in colorful costume harvested their crops in the nearby barley fields. Plein-air painters worked with their brushes and easels, focused primarily on the bright red wildflowers that bloomed everywhere. But those are scenes for another day – today is a day for reflections.
“Reflection is the lamp of the heart. If it departs, the heart will have no light.”
‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Alawi Attas
The temperature in the reserve, which is 10,000 feet high in the Tibetan mountains, swings between very hot summers and extremely cold winters. Local families have built shelters for their livestock as protection from the sun in the warmer months. These shelters become completely inaccessible as they are surrounded by water when the lake fills.
“The mirror reflects perfectly; it makes no mistakes because it doesn’t think. To think is to make mistakes.”
The area is home to many devout Tibetan Buddhists, and as the photo below indicates, the waters serve as housing for their traditional Stupas, or shrines with colorful flags typical of such structures.
“Each star is a mirror, reflecting the truth inside you.”
Napa is also a birders’ paradise, well-known as the home of the endangered black-necked crane. Unfortunately the crane is seen primarily in winter, but we did observe many other beautiful birds enjoying their reflections in the still, blue waters.
“Leap of faith – yes. But only after reflection.”
Posting about Napa Lake has been a lovely reminder for me of a very special experience. Hopefully it has given the reader a moment to reflect on nature’s beauty as well. To see some other bloggers’ interpretations of the challenge, click here.