Monday, July 27, 2009

My Trip to India...

My 24 days trip to India was a spiritual journey to me. The trip started in Delhi and ended at Bodhigaya, the place where Buddha attained Enlightenment. This is the place where the famed Bodhi Tree is. The word 'Bodhi' means Enlightenment. The common name is Pippa Tree. The leaf is rounded and tapered at the tip.

Upon touching down India, my stomach went on a diet. I lost appetite and survived on water and deep fried pastry. I could only consumed pastry skin and all fillings were given to my buddy, David. Naturally I lost a lot of weight.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche led this trip and the whole entourage took up 3 buses with devotees from all over the world. Oh! and we have Richard Gere on this trip too. He is a celebrity but on this trip, no special attention was paid to him. There were no paparazzi. The other master was Ribur Rinpoche. Ribur Rinpoche does not speak English. Smiling and nodding heads were the most direct form of communication between us. He was around 80 years old at that time. I love to look at his eyes because of the childlike sparkle that light up his face. The other masters were Lama Konchog and Lama Lungdrup. Lama Konchog was a special master to me. No words could explain the gratitude I felt for him. I did not study under any of these masters. I am a 'free loader'. I hopped on the 'band wagon' and innocently went on a trip like a holiday. I realized that due to good merits, I visited holy grounds where Buddha walked 2500++ years ago.

Jetavana Monastery-Saravasti. This is the place where Buddha resided for 25 raining seasons. Many teachings were taught here. Prince Jeta sold this land to Anathapindinka who covered the ground with gold coins. Prince Jeta moved by the sincerity of the devotees that he donated all the trees on this plot as part of the monastery. The story amplified respect, devotion, faith and commitment to a teacher, Lord Buddha. Today, this place is a ruin. I have very strong feeling when I stepped into the compound.Deer Park - Saranath. This is a place where Buddha taught his first 5 disciples after Enlightenment. There is a big stupa and nearby a Buddhist Temple managed by Sri Lankan monks. When the Abbot knew that we were with our precious Gurus, he opened up the 'relics' of Buddha for our viewing. Such holy objects will be opened for public viewing on auspicious days. Our presence was an auspicious day because of our Gurus merits. We benefited from the Gurus presence.

The bus journey for the rest of the way was rough. We 'rock and roll' on the road. The driver stopped along the way for us to do our 'business'. This was an eye opener for me. I did not realize that there was no toilet along the way. We did all our 'businesses' on mustard fields. What were supposed to 'shade' us were the mustard plants but they were not tall enough to hide us. We were conscious about our modesty. The only way was to hold up a piece of sarong and we took turn to go behind the sarong. It was cold on a winter day in an opened mustard field with the sky looking down on us and the cold wind 'chilled' our butts.

Bihar is one of the poorest states of India and this is where Bodhigaya is situated. We arrived in early morning. All the temples, boarding houses and hotels were full. Tibetans pitched tents around the teaching areas. The Ningmapa were performing yearly Monglam prayers for world peace. Can you imagine the whole place was swarmed with people from different countries of East and West? We were given activities timetable to visit holy places.

Nalanda - The first Buddhist University. This was built for monks educations. I walked the ground and hope to pick up vibes of all the famous monks.

River Ganges - This famed River. Holy to both the Hindu and the Buddhist. We saw funeral pryers along the river. Swami bathing in the river. Dead people ashes being put into the River. We went on boat to release fishes into the River. We also took the opportunity to dip our hands into the water but there were those that think it is dirty. There were floating dead bodies. How dirty can moving water be? Can it be dirtier than human thoughts?

River Naranjana - The river where Monk Siddartha floated his bowl and it went up stream. This river was dried up during our visit. (No picture available).

Mahakala's Cave - we have to climb up. I fainted half way up. Before I fainted, black and white strips like movie films of activities flashed across my mind - my past life? It was very fast and I did not register any scene that I could remember. (No picture available).
Rajgir - The Vulture's Peak. This is the place where Buddha preached the Prajna Paramita Sutra. This scripture is short and it contains the essence of Buddha's Teaching. It was here that I am moved by the care and concerned the monks accorded to us and the compassion of Lama Zopa Rinpoche. It inspired me to pen something in the bus while waiting for others to board. This article was sent by friends to "Mandala", a worldwide Buddhist magazine from the States. The article was published in one of the magazine.

Taj Maha
Finally after 24 days of 'holiness' - Sue and I went to Taj Maha b
efore flying back to home. We were the only two who wanted to go to Taj. So we laughed at ourselves - From 'Holiness' to 'Samsara". Sue was a good companion and we stayed at Holiday Inn in Agar.

Taj Maha - The Monument of Love. What great love justified a King to build something like this for a woman? I spare you the details as they are available on Internet. However our visit to Agar Fort brought back familiar feelings. We walked the ground and visited the bedrooms of MomTaj and the Princess. The room of MomTaj was inlaid with beautiful soap stones. The princess room was plain and simple - pure white marble. So jokingly we said that Sue was MomTaj in her past life and I was the Princess. Reason being Sue loved the room with beautifully inlaid soapstone but I preferred the clean and white marbles. There was one section of the Fort that both Sue and I did not want to step in. We do not know the reason why. Later we heard a guide explaining to a couple that the area was slaves' quarters. We returned home after 2 days visit.

Today, all that happened were history. Out of the 4 precious Gurus, Ribur Rinpoche and Lama Konchog are not longer around. Lama Zopa Rinpoche continues his Dharma activities for Sentient Beings. He has tremendous compassion and a very devoted disciple to his teacher - the Late Lama Yeshe.

To fulfill his Guru's aspiration, he is building the world tallest Maitreya Buddha (the coming Buddha) in India. This is not an easy task. It needs courage, tremendous perseverance, money and commitments to complete, not to mention manpower and the willingness of volunteers to come up front. I was part of this project and now others have taken over. I realized that this is not a one or two persons project but the project of Sentient Beings for their well being. The project is so massive and depended on donations to succeed and the changing rules of the states and country is not much of a help at all.

Will I see Lord Maitreya's statue this life time? I wish Lama Zopa Rinpoche long life and good health and may all his aspirations fulfilled as he wishes them to be. To Lama Lungdrup, may he too live long and benefit sentient beings with his guidance.


  1. wow.. I am taking a similiar trip this Nov 7... and I am sure u will share some of the tips.

    For now, my main concern is diet and food... hahaha

  2. Hey! Nice that you take a break from your music art to come and see me. Appreciate.

    Robin, you will enjoy!