Friday, June 8, 2012

Waiting For Buddha

Holy Stupa for Buddhist. 
Every 70,000 years there is a new Buddha. His name will be Maitrye and he will come from Tushita, which is the heavenly palace. Now you know, if you can stay around that long.

Ramesh continued to teach as we drove through the dusty crowded bumpy streets of Kathmandu (so it's hard to read my notes). We were headed for a visit to the Stupa Bodha Nath, which is the most sacred site of the Buddhist in Nepal because it is supposed to contain a relic (body part) of the first Buddha. Normally nothing is buried in the massive stone of a stupa, so this is what makes Bodha Nath so special. It is surrounded by a rather clean and active circular "shopping" area with a temple or two to visit. At the time I was there, monks crowded into a tiny temple space, were in the middle of a noon ritual, one playing a clarinet, one a huge hanging drum, another cymbals, and other noise makers. And lo and behold as we circled left around the giant Stupa, I ran into Prueba, Nima's wife who had just been with me the entire trek in Tibet. She was at Bodha Nath to walk the Kora and to turn the largest prayer wheel in the city. I had finally adhered to a habit of so many who live in this heat and purchased a super duper umbrella which has some sort of reflection fabric on it to reject the sun's rays (?). So we shared until a gust of wind came through and that was that with the umbrella.

With two nuns at Buddhist temple.
I wondered how Buddhist thinkers came up with that number of years for a reincarnation of a new Buddha to happen. It's certainly out of our possibilities to be here that long. So Ramesh and I got into a discussion about Karma. He says, our lives are passing and will be destroyed but something new will emerge based on karma and actions, all judged by Shiva, the god of destruction and recreation. Having good Karma is not sufficient to move up in the godly world of the afterlife. Having good Karma and good intentions is what counts. We do good karma when we help others. He gave an example of two boys begging. One is rich and doesn't need a coin but is persistent and bothersome so finally you give him a coin so he'll go away. There is some goodness in the act of giving since giving means you have good karma. But you did not give it with good intentions so that doesn't add points to your re-incarnation. Then you see a poor boy who won't ask for a coin and doesn't drive you bats. You feel his needs and so take him to a shop and buy him clothes and what he needs because your heart feels for him and you want things to get better for him. He didn't ask but you saw the need and showed mercy. This is good karma with good intentions. This can give you an up grade in re-incarnation. It helps us eliminate evil things and have a better life prospect.

Largest prayer wheel in Nepal
The difference in Buddhism and Hinduism concept of re-incarnation is the Hindu believes it is possible for the soul to pass from one to the other. Buddhist believe, Ramesh says, in re-incarnation but not in the eternal soul. He gives the example of the singing (healing) bowls made of metal. There is sound inside it made from all sorts of metals and materials and activities. The bowl is always there going from one existence to another. When you gong it you feel its splendid sound spiraling into the atmosphere and it vibrates (affects) your soul. For the Buddhist, there is no bowl. The bowl is only a symbol of the soul but does not have soul. So if you are as confused as me, here's a shorter take: for the Buddhist there is no bowl, just karma. For the Hindu the bowl comes with karma.

School of Tankas
I asked him how to distinguish monks (you see them in airports often) by the colors they wear. And he answered, the goal of Buddhist is to achieve nirvana. It is their philosophy, way of life. Shidatta created it and when he died his body was cremated and some how taken to different parts of the world where stupas were created to hold his relics. He left two schools of philosophy, I guess : Hinayana School where the teachings of Buddha are followed, and the Mahayana School. A third developed called Theraveda school which is more an individualist pursuit of nirvana and is found in the mountains and in Sri Lanka, Burma and Thailand. Their monks colors are yellow and white. The Mahayana school, of which the Dalai Lama is head, wear a red scarf and their holy colors are red and yellow. This is a great vehicle for Buddhism and is very popular around the world because the Dalai Lama has pursued the concept of Bodhishattwa by which those who have finished the 13 steps toward enlightment don't enter in but turn and come back to help others achieve their enlightenment and better selves. The Bajrayana school wears yellow robes and relate to the monkey god Hamumana. Their yellow fabrics are full of script and have Shiva written with mantras of different gods who are forms of Shiva. Both religions worship the color orange. And consider orange God's preferred color. Wouldn't our boys in prison like to know that. And U-T fans.

Tanka art school
Whatever the faith, Hindu or Buddhist, the expression of their religion through art and architecture is fascinating. And the devotion of its patriots shows me I need to

It's time to go to Thailand and see what's cracking in that amazing country. I'm a week away from home. Keep listening.



WhAt we do for others is not because we"shoulda" or "oughta" but because it comes from our heart.

Geraldean and Judge said...

We sent you a long text message this afternoon.
How in this world did you find time to do the research and gather the information for your blogs? As we stated in an earlier comment, you probably aren't sleeping very much. Of course that is understandable since you spent some of your adventurous nights on a board.
Enjoy your elephant safari. Remember elephants are a lot like Herb Lane--both of them like peanuts!
As we told you in today's text, while you are riding elephants, yaks and little ponies on narrow trails, we are driving our air conditioned vehicles. Our way has to be better!!!
Really have missed you and are looking forward to seeing you next week.
By the way, just in case you have forgotten, you have a birthday coming up on June 20th. We will celebrate with you!
You are in our prayers.
Lots of love,
Geraldean and Judge