Last night’s dream was about Karma and involved the Death of a Sherpa. In the dream a bait was left that lured the Sherpa to his death and that as a result Karma would be inflicted on all those involved with his death.

Sherpas are of Tibetan culture and descent and speak a language called Sherpa, which is closely related to the form of Tibetan spoken in Tibet. Most Sherpas belong to the ancient Nyingma, or Red Hat, sect of Tibetan Buddhism and live in Nepal, many with livelihoods that depend on mountaineering and trekking.

However, until the 20th century, Sherpas had not attempted to scale the region’s mountains, which they viewed as the homes of the gods. Living in close proximity to the world’s highest mountains, the Sherpas traditionally treated the Himalayas as sacred, building Buddhist monasteries at their base, placing prayer flags on the slopes, and establishing sanctuaries for the wildlife of the valleys. Gods and demons were believed to live in the high peaks, and the Yeti was said to roam the lower slopes. For these reasons, the Sherpas traditionally did not climb the mountains. [1]

Many Indigenous people have a sacred connection to land, with their law and spirituality intertwined with the land, the people and creation, and this forms their culture and sovereignty.

In Australia, the Pitjantjatjara Anangu Aboriginal people have been the caretakers of Uluru for tens of thousands of years. For the Anangu, their culture and law, the Tjukurpa, teaches that the landscape is sacred and was formed as their ancestral beings moved across the land and waters. According to their Law they have responsibility as guardians to protect the Uluru-Kata Tjuta sacred areas.

According to Tjukurpa the climbing of Uluru was not permitted however outsiders (visitors) began climbing Uluru in the late 1930s and the Tjukurpa was ignored. In 1985 the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park was handed back to the traditional owners but it was not until 26 October 2019 that the climb was official closed to tourists. [2]

Most Sherpa climbers today work on the mountains guiding tourists, setting ropes and ladders, carrying everything from food to tents and oxygen canisters to bring money and development to their communities but it just happens to be one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.

According to the Himalayan Database, an archive that tracks expeditions in the Nepalese Himalayas going back to 1905, about a third of the deaths, about 94, have been Sherpas and by comparison only 13 Americans, a leading nationality of the climbers have died on the mountain. [3]

To a Buddhist Sherpa, the law of karma is one of the most important laws governing their lives. It means that every action of body, speech and mind affects both the doers and those around them in unimaginable ways. The Buddha used the term karma specifically referring to volition, the intention or motive behind an action. [4]

In the midst of the Coronavirus shut down, tourism has been one of the most highly affected sectors and the industry’s shutdown has highlighted the amount of people who work in and rely on this sector today for an income. It has also highlighted the disruption that global tourism causes the local environment through pollution and to the Indigenous communities themselves, particularly poorer communities where the lure of money for families and communities can very often lead to their cultural and physical death.

The dream seemed to indicate that Covid-19 is connected to the law of karma and that the Virus’s presence reminds us of the enormous responsibility that we each have be be mindful of the intentions that precede our actions, particularly in relation to the Indigenous Peoples of this planet and their sacred Law that says that all people must live with the land and not off it.

Sammy Wilson, the Former Chairman of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Board of Management stated at the closing of the walking on Uluru:

“The land has law and culture. We welcome tourists here. Closing the climb is not something to feel upset about but a cause for celebration. Let’s come together; let’s close it together.” [5]

Perhaps when travel and tourism opens once again we will be more mindful of our intentions to travel and that for each action we take there is a future consequence not only for ourselves but for all the people whose land and waters we are visiting.