Travel

Pilgrimage has long been a part of global Buddhist practice
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    The Nuns' Island Paid Member

    Here in the nunnery the afternoon is for sleep, study, contemplation. The night before, Ayya Khema suggested that we imagine we are going to die shortly and then see what we cling to. I find I am sad to lose my possibilities—for achievement, and, yes, for liberation. Why am I here, after all, if I do not believe in my capacity to be enlightened?—though we are made so uneasy by this idea that we make jokes. Sydney, a 26-year-old Fulbright scholar from Florida, says that should sudden illumination awaken her, she will telegraph her family: "Bingo!" More »
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    Pointy Rhinestone Glasses Paid Member

    Tan Chawut's Chanting echoed out across the temple grounds—as startling as the cry of the tree-dwelling gekko, as reassuring as the whirring of cicadas. I had journeyed to his monastery—Wat Rumpoeng (Lum-pung) in Northern Thailand—in search of tranquility and insight, the fabled twin blessings of Buddhist meditation. The regimen was rigorous: 20 hours daily of sitting and walking meditation in strict seclusion. During the last three days of a two week retreat, in an exercise known as "determination," retreatants were expected to meditate round the clock without lying down. A meal of rice gruel and greens was served at six a.m., the main meal at ten. For the rest of the day we fasted. Visiting and idle chit-chat were discouraged. More »
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    Ten Thousand Cups of Tea Paid Member

    When I traveled through Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, and Nepal, I spent many hours in tea shops. To order in any of these countries, I needed to know only one word: chai. Few other words are shared in languages as diverse as Turkish, Urdu, Parsi, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Tamil, Hindi, Newari, and Nepali. On a typical day I easily drank six cups of tea. Once I made some calculations: If I drank six cups a day, in a month I would consume 180 cups of tea. After a year the total would be 2,190 cups. Then, if I considered the five years I lived with Tibetan refugees in India, I had drunk a grand total of 10,950 cups of tea. More »
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    Cilantro Days Paid Member

    I have always loved the dance of cleaning the kitchen, washing the vegetables, cutting, cooking, cleaning again. My culinary career began when I apprenticed with a Swiss chef at age seventeen. Cooking was art, it was dance, but in Guatemala, I learned that it was medicine as well. More »
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    Notebooks from Lhasa Paid Member

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    A Yen For Cleaning Paid Member

    A friend had told me about Sho Ishikawa, who had grown up in Ittoen, a commune near Kyoto where toilet cleaning was considered a path to self-knowledge. Sho’s parents had spent most of their lives in the commune. Indeed, his father was in some ways one of the present spiritual leaders. Sho himself now lived in Manhattan and worked in public accounting. “It is difficult to imagine cleaning for your whole life,” he warned me during the first of our phone conversations. But perhaps I could. To augment my earnings as a writer, I had been cleaning professionally for six years. More »