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At the beginning of our trip, our teacher, John Peacock suggested the we set our intentions for friendliness and generosity to our fellow pilgrims. This reflection is on generosity. The Buddha said Generosity is the gift of material things, the gift of fearlessness, and the gift of the dharma.
Material things have presented themselves for gifting to my friends, family and myself all along this trip – beautiful wool, cotton and silk shawls, carved Buddha images in all positions and sizes, a street urchin with her hand out asking for dana. I have indulged for my friends and family, the beggars, and myself, even fulfilling a request from a friend for a Thangka from an artist trained at the Tsering Art school. It has been fun and a real lesson in guarding the sense doors, sensual pleasure, and craving.
Fearlessness – I began my contemplation of fearlessness at the Indrasaila Cave near Vulture's Peak where Deepak Anand told us about and showed us a site outside a quiet village which had a good sized cave where it is said that the Buddha meditated. The path down to the cave was a little precarious in spots. A venerable old Indian gentleman, one of several from the village who had come to greet us, just gently took my hand and stepped consistently and steadily down to and up from the cave. I followed and placed my feet where his had been. This man, who I could not communicate with except with a smile and bow, gave me the gift of fearlessness in my small trek and I feel gratitude. Justin and Namgial have given me the gift of fearlessness all along this trip by keeping us informed, warning us of oncoming bicycles (rickshaws, ox-carts, buses, jeeps, motor bikes... ) when we are crossing the streets, by negotiating with crossing officials at the border between Nepal and India, and a hundred other things that have allowed all of us pilgrims to go to these sites where the Buddha was born, awoke, taught, and died. There are so many more examples....
The gift of the Dharma – John Peacock has tirelessly and patiently spoke to us and answered our many questions about his passion – how the first written texts about the Buddha are like a skills manual informing us, if we strive diligently, on how to ethically, kindly, and with gentle friendliness behave towards ourselves and other beings and the world. Today, at the site where the Buddha “went forth” into the homeless life, John continued his teachings on co-dependent origination. The Buddha's courage and fearlessness in leaving his settled life to find awakening and his decision to teach, and John's encouragement that we can follow these teachings to break the cycle of Samsara, are a gift of the Dharma and fearlessness to me and to our group. Justin and Namgial have also been very generous with their gifts of the Dharma. Justin shared his broad knowledge of temples and devotions and herding us cats with compassion and kindness. Namgial is the embodiment of equanimity in many tough situations and has shared his knowledge generously about such things as the Wheel of Life.
Thank you to all of my teachers and fellow pilgrims.
- Marsha Lawson, Arundel Maine.