in the footsteps of the buddha

  • Pilgrims, Peace, and Politics: Lumbini, Birthplace of Gautama Buddha Paid Member

    Having traveled a day and night from India by motor scooter, train, multiple buses, and a short stint on a bicycle rickshaw, I opt to walk the last leg of the journey to Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautama Buddha. The twenty-two kilometers of road cross the Nepali Terai—the flat, fertile region of southern Nepal stretching from the Indian border to the Himalayan foothills. Growing most of Nepal’s food, the Terai is covered with rice fields, each bordered by small stretches of sal trees and a grid of twisted grass footpaths. Nepalese women and children with enormous bundles of rice stalks on their heads walk along the paths to granaries, where a hand- or foot-powered blower separates the rice from the shaft. The Nepali waste nothing. Piles of rice straw line the road, to be fed to animals, then used again as manure for fertilizer and kitchen fuel. More »
  • Crooked Cucumber Paid Member

    I moved to San Francisco in the winter of 1966 and began attending morning zazen at the San Francisco Zen Center. Suzuki-roshi had been away in Japan during my initial visit to the Center, but, despite having been told very little about zazen and Zen, and with very little encouragement from anyone, I resolved to come to zazen every morning and every afternoon for one year. More »
  • City of Screams Paid Member

    In February 2001, Mullah Omer, leader of the Taliban, issued his infamous decree: all pre-Islamic art in Afghanistan was to be destroyed, including the two great Buddhas carved into the sandstone cliffs of Bamiyan. When Rob Schultheis began this article—a history of the ancient monument and the people who built it—the Buddhas were still standing.The first historical account of the Buddhas of Bamiyan—the larger of which is said to have been the tallest Buddha in the world—comes to us from 632 C.E., in the words of the great Chinese pilgrim Hsuan Tsang. Hsuan was in the midst of an epic ten-thousand-mile trek along the Silk Road, to the westernmost outposts of the Buddhist world. Much of what is now Afghanistan consisted of small Buddhist kingdoms then, but the countryside was wild and lawless. Hsuan writes of narrow, precipitous trails, of snowdrifts twenty to thirty feet deep, of demon-haunted passes and murderous bands of robbers. More »
  • A Footprint on the Shore Paid Member

    Inspired, illuminated, she crouches on Lo-chia Island, a tiny dollop of land in the restless brown waters of the South China Sea. She hunkers down and springs above the waves, her white robes billowing, winglike, behind her, one strand of glistening black hair falling on her neck from her tightly wound bun, her eyes beaming forward at the green hills of Putuo Island. One foot strikes the shore with such force that it sinks into the rock, making a footprint. She is home. More »