Pilgrimage has long been a part of global Buddhist practice
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    Among the Children of Wat Opot Paid Member

    The car brought her and the car left without her. Two older sisters were in the car. Srey Mom’s parents had both died of AIDS, and her sisters were supposed to take care of her. But they were pretty and young, and anxious to marry. In Cambodia the quality of a woman’s life is still largely determined by the man she marries, and it was not long before these young women realized that a promising young man, a good prospect, would have no interest in marrying a woman with a sickly young sister infected with the AIDS virus. So they brought Srey Mom to Wat Opot, a Cambodian community for children with AIDS. More »
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    Bodhgaya After the Bombing Paid Member

    Suspended over the new security entrance outside the Mahabodhi Temple were large blue banners, each with a motto in both English and Tibetan. Presumably the marketing campaign of one of many visiting Tibetan lamas, the slogans never failed to make me smile, even when the security line made me grumble. The first struck me as sound and straightforward (which is not to say easy) advice: “Do not emotionally disturb others.” The second, however, I found more elusive. Though I suspected that an element of clarity must have been lost in translation, I felt the phrasing might offer something meaningful, if only, like a riddle, I could figure it out. Puzzlingly, it cautioned passersby, “Do not forsake your standpoint.” More »
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    Adventures in Going Nowhere Paid Member

    When I was 29, I had the life I might have dreamed of as a boy: a 25th-floor office in midtown Manhattan, four blocks from Times Square; an apartment on Park Avenue and 20th Street; the most interesting and convivial colleagues I could imagine; and an endlessly fascinating job writing about world affairs—the ending of apartheid in South Africa, the People Power Revolution in the Philippines, the turmoil around Indira Gandhi’s assassination—for Time magazine. I had no dependents or responsibilities, and I could—and did— take long vacations everywhere, from Bali to El Salvador. More »
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    Prayer for World Peace Paid Member

    Cusco, Peru: Andean faith leaders, Christian priests, and members of the Japanese Buddhist community Shinnyo-en gather together at Saksaywaman, a complex of stone walls from the Inca Empire, to participate in fire ceremonies from both the Buddhist and Andean religious traditions. The fires from the two rituals were taken by firebrands and combined on a single torch.Photograph © Shinnyo-en More »
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    Yellow River Odyssey Paid Member

    The author at the source of the Yellow River, 1991. More »
  • 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 »