Friday, January 11, 2013

Buddhism East and West (travel)

Ashley Wells, Seven, Amber Dorrian, Wisdom Quarterly
Golden Buddhas in Thai Grand Palace (Steveohim/; trekking Himalayan foothills, West Bengal, Singalila Nat'l Park, Darjeeling district, near Sikkim (Biswarupsarkar72).
As the world was ending, most of us gathered in Los Angeles, the mecca (Bodh Gaya) of world communication right at the planet's throat chakra. But two of our editors took a trip to the far reaches of Buddhistdom, which is just outside of Christendom and the world's other Vedic/Hindu offshoots.

One went east, the other west, one to India, the other to Europe. There didn't seem much use in traveling to world-class cities to find Buddhism hiding out in the city. We can get that at home.
No, all spirituality resides, as it has for millennia, in and around the Himalayas. It's the rooftop of the world. The "Rebirth Stories" (Jatakas) tell of the Bodhisat resorting to quiet Himalayan caves.

"Enlightenment does not perfect personalities;
it only perfects perspective."
Saints may be jerks, but you can't let that get you down.
We need to stand right where we are and begin our climb.
Island peak on Indian Sea (NH53/
Alas, what did we find? Travel is amazing, amazing beyond imagining. Get a backpack, and get on the road! We recommend it to everyone. If only because it lifts us out of the provincial, the biases we never even think to question.
Buddhist Europe is more Central Asian, having traveled up from its co-origins in ancient India/modern Afghanistan. Kalmykia is a lot like being in a second or third world Asian country but with Caucasians.

Bhumi (Earth) is a great place to learn.
Better to spend time on top of the world with a guide like Bish. But what is there to find? Talk of the food, talk of the pain, talk of toilets, talk of dreams, talk of pushing limits, talk of past misgivings -- but for all that what we find is that YOU CAN STAND IN THE PLACE WHERE YOU ARE. That is, you can begin right where you are, wherever that may be.
Kukulcan pyramid naga temple (wiki)
We should have all gone to Mexico together and danced at the foot of Kukulcan temple pyramid in Chichen Itza and danced with the Aztecs. Right here, right now, this is where it's at. We dreamed of going there (anywhere) to begin. But we have to stake our ground and set up our mats-and-cushions (zafus and zabutons) and do our sitting (zazen) until dhyana/jhana (zen). Then on to insight (vipassana).

None of this takes a plane ride, a bus tour, a train hop, or a suicide-by-taxi bid. It can all start right NOW. Stop, drop, and roll (out a sitting mat) and see. One can start meditating right here, right now. Or, if one prefers to stand, R.E.M.'s lyrics may make a little more sense. So sit.

"Stand" as performed by Legos and R.E.M.

"Losing My Religion" by R.E.M. live on MTV

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