pilgrimage

  • A Pilgrimage Among Friends Paid Member

    Chances are you have never heard of the Kumbh Mela. Any coverage of the event on Western television is usually given short shrift, the name translated with a shrug as “The Festival of the Pot.” A crowd shot, and some mention of how many people attended, given in millions. Indians themselves record the numbers in lakh or chror—for in a country of over a billion people isn't it more useful to count in multiples of a hundred thousand or ten million? On the television screen you might see ten seconds of local color: hoards of Naga Babas, warrior ascetics with streaming dreadlocks, storming into the waters clad only in marigolds and ashes. And you think, "How exotic!" but you can have no notion of the event itself. More »
  • I And Love And Akhtar Paid Member

    Bodh Gaya, it is said, is the number one place to go to realize that you don’t need to go to Bodh Gaya. The small town in India is famous for one reason: here, the Buddha achieved spiritual enlightenment under a ficus tree some twenty-five centuries ago. Some regard the place as a spiritual mecca. But Buddhists have no mecca, strictly speaking. There are four Buddhist holy sites in the Indian subcontinent—Lumbini, Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, and Kushinagar—where the Buddha was born, was enlightened, first preached, and died, respectively—but visiting any of them is non-obligatory for even the most devout people. Despite the long tradition of pilgrims journeying to these holy sites, there is nothing in the teachings mandating that Buddhists visit. More »
  • 2 Photos from Stephen Batchelor in India Paid Member

    I received the below photos from Stephen Batchelor this morning, which he took while leading the 2011 Tricycle "In the Footsteps of the Buddha" Pilgrimage to India, which came to an end on February 7th. I hear it was a wonderful trip. The first photo is of the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya and the second is of some trash in water. Is this pairing a profound commentary on the state of Buddhism and the modern world? You decide!   More »
  • BOOKS: Hard Travel to Sacred Places Paid Member

    A good travel book makes you feel like you’re there. But, of course, in reality you’re not there. The experiences described belong to the writer, and if you were to travel to the places mentioned your experiences would be unique. This might be especially important to keep in mind when reading spiritual travel books, when the journey is a pilgrimage. Just as we have not physically been to the place that we are reading about, we should be wary to mistake the spiritual insights (or longings) of an author for our own. Travel books are great, but they can’t replace traveling. More »
  • Organic architecture in Ladakh, India Paid Member

    The monastery photo from yesterday’s blog post on Bhutan made me think back on my trip through Ladakh, India a couple of years ago. I went with a friend who was involved with Himalayan Health Exchange, a health care service program that works in medically under-served Himalayan communities. I was so moved by the architecture in Ladakh—it felt so organic, in harmony with the landscape. Here’s a couple photos from that trip and some journal scribbling. Behind the main range of the Himalaya in northwest India, secluded in the south of Ladakh, the mountains of Zangskar rest on a morning blue backdrop. I’m walking through a wide river valley with massive dry, brown peaks calling my attention. The open sky and jagged rock mountains fit together perfectly. When will I be perfect? More »