|Bhutan is erecting the world's tallest statue of the Buddha at its capital Thimpu.|
These questions seem to me on the right track. They are all questions about how Bhutan combines the mixed blessings of modernity -- capitalism, democracy, Western science, education, medicine -- while trying to preserve its particular heritage.
|There are fearsome powers in this world.|
|The court is within the traditional administrative center, the local dzong: a massive temple/monastery/fortress and court building. National dress is required to transact business in the dzong.|
|Guru Rinpoche, who tradition holds united the country through Buddhist practice in 8th century CE, is pictured as taming the tiger. Might that animal represent these fractious mountain people as well as their animist deities?|
|There are strict rules for visits to sacred sites.|
The in-flight magazine of Bhutan's national airline, called Tashi Delek -- On the Wings of Dragons, pointed me to an extremely accessible dissection of some of these issues. Helena Norberg-Hodge writes about Ladakh, a region of Indian-administered Kashmir. Her insights also seem relevant to Bhutan's struggle to balance ancient and modern elements -- with the significant difference that the Bhutanese have very consciously anticipated the threats from modernity as well as its benefits.
Bhutan is striving to prove that this is possible. I can only wish these warm, smart people well.