Monday, May 14, 2018

Eight Great Places: An internet pilgrimage

I've been looking to go on pilgrimage via the internet to the 8 great places. I took this internet trip over 8 days, here is what I found:

Lumbini: This is where the Buddha was born. His mother took a bath in the pond before birth. You can see the actual place the Buddha was born. I found this video of a young woman who went to visit. Sothy Thoeng is from Cambodia and wears monk robes, and has some interesting footage. This footage was uploaded March 8th 2018, so it's pretty recent. He also walks around the village with close-ups on cute children and visits a gift shop. Here is another video in English. This video includes some areas around this that are of interest. The video is by Royal Mountain Travels of Nepal.

You can't take footage of being inside the temple that has the rock that denotes the place of birth. It seems like a bazillion temples sprung up. Even at the main site with the stone, it seems like there are many things to look at, archaeological sites. I like seeing all the tourists. I wonder what I would chant. I know various chants, but one doesn't come to mind that would be appropriate at the birthplace of the Buddha. I suppose anything positive would do. In a way, all these sacred places are inside our hearts.

There is an Ashoka pillar there. The archaeology is interesting. I would see the rock where he was born and the pillar and the rest while interesting is perhaps not relevant. Of course, you could not get away from all that and you'd have to enjoy the journey, and I'm sure you'd find something of special meaning. The Wikitravel site reminds us to "Circumambulate the stupas and other sacred objects in a clockwise direction." I would head to the Maya Devi Temple first. That is where the rock is, and where the pillar is. There is also a flame for peace that burns constantly.

This is the only site in Nepal, so why not learn about Nepal with Canadians on a budget.

Bodh Gaya: If I could only go to one place, I would go here. It has the descendant tree of the original tree the Buddha got enlightened under, the Bodhi Tree.

Videos: Asia Art Museum of SF has a short video. This short travel video visits the tree at dusk. This video gives a lot of backgrounds and is 26 minutes, and has commercials you can skip after a few seconds.

So I've heard you can rent time, there is a system to follow regarding space before the tree, an authority you go to plan time closer to the tree.

I like to imagine the Buddha gesturing to me to come and sit with him. I try to imagine that every time I sit down.

Sarnath: This is where the Buddha first gave a sermon. There is an Asoka Pillar here with the three lions on the top, which is also an emblem for India. The Dhamek Stupa is perhaps one of the earliest stupas, completed around 500BCE. There are at least 2 other historic stupas nearby. Sarnath has a museum as well. Supposedly the Buddha stayed at Mulagandhakuti Vihara his first rains season.

In all these places you take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. This site seems more Dharma as this is where the teachings began. It might be a good place to read the ancient texts. I've read Crime and Punishment in Leningrad, Voyage of the Beagle in Galapagos. I love pairing travel with reading the most appropriate book. Take your Majjhima Nikaya or Digha Nikaya with you. They are big books, so maybe The Life of the Buddha: According To The Pali Canon. Or the Dhammapada. I guess I would have a book if I were doing this journey offline, for all the places.

Kushinagar: This is where the Buddha was supposed to have had his parinirvana. There is a stupa where his ashes are supposed to be underneath, the Parinirvana stupa. Here is a short video of Nirvana Chaitya. Here is a short video of the Ramabhar Stupa. Here is a short video of the Matha Kuar Shrine.

This concludes the 4 main sites. The following are lesser sights: ShravastiRajgir:SankassaVaishali

Looking at the map, it would take 64 hours according to Google maps to drive every place in the order above. Going to each place in order would take 64 hours driving. Skipping the last 2 places could cut down on the driving quite a bit.

I also want to see the Milarepa tower. Click on the Google Map and zoom in and out, pretty amazing.

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