Star Date: Jan/Feb 2019
Hello Dear Family & Friends!
does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or
hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and
still be calm in your heart.”
Peace within. Elusive yet ever present. Fascinated by the devout Buddhist pilgrims circumnavigating mesmerizing Boudanath Stupa, I joined in. Around we went, clockwise, always clockwise, in solemn meditation. The vibrant sound of a puja in one of the temples drew me in. Monks, dressed in maroon and saffron robes, with drums, horns and cymbals blaring, awoke from their silent prayers with chants and noisy clanging. Joining in the celebration I was completely lost in the moment. When the din subsided I fell into a deep meditation . Opening my eyes at the foot of Maitreya Buddha, I gazed past the compassionate eyes and suddenly burst into tears. Sobbing I heard clearly, "If you want peace my child, see no ones' faults and make the world your own." Simple yet challenging.
This was one of those experiences one doesn't forget. The floodgates open, I let go of pent up feelings and emotions; that baggage we all carry inside us. Only peace remained. The peace beyond understanding.
Twenty two years later I found myself once again following in the footsteps of the pilgrims. Operating on intuition I went round and round waiting to be called back. I entered several temples but was disappointed to not find 'my Buddha'. Having to leave with friends I felt unsettled, like something was missing.
I returned several days later, only to discover that the temple hiding Maitreya Buddha, was under reconstruction following the devastating earthquake that shook Boudanath and all of Kathmandu Valley. Not a follower or joiner I was surprised at my disappointment of not being able to sit in silence at the foot of my friend; after coming 12,000 miles. And so I left.
Several days later I woke up feeling elated and drawn once again back to Boudanath. Awe inspiring, this stupa covers about 6,750 sq mtrs and rises to a height of about 141 ft. This colossal Stupa is set on ascending terraces in the powerful pattern of a Mandala. Boudhanath Stupa is the center of Tibetan culture and Buddhist studies in Nepal. Convincing Joseph to come with me we walked several times around the Stupa, gazing longingly at the locked temple doors. Suddenly we noticed a little catwalk past the Jhamchen Lhakhang Monastery to the alley behind. Away we went, balancing along a railing, with only a 10 foot drop below. Passing the temple's courtyard we climbed over the fence and went inside. A worker who was repainting the intricate symbols and mandalas on the walls warmly gestured for us to enter. And there I was once again, face to face with my mentor and teacher, Maitreya Buddha. The 32 ft high Buddha smiled down on the temple 'hackers'. Maitreya represents the future. In that moment the possibilities of our future seemed endless.
For 22 years I have worked on understanding and improving my life; taking on the challenge of the message long ago. A smile crossed my face as the words were whispered, "You have peace my child. You see no ones' faults and have made the world your own." A subtle but important addition to the message previously given. Still far from perfect, my heart was warmed and filled with peace to know that sometimes efforts are noticed.
Legend has it that Boudhanath Stupa was built during the 5th century AD, by an old poultry farmer who asked the king for land to construct a shrine to the Buddha. The king agreed, and offered her as much land as she could cover with the skin of a water buffalo. The woman proceeded to cut a buffalo hide into skinny strips, and placed them end to end to form a huge circumference. The king realized that he had been tricked by the old woman, but he kept his promise and the stupa was constructed according to these dimensions.
Today the stupa is the most popular site for Buddhists in Nepal. Pilgrims can be seen circumambulating the structure chanting mantras, flipping prayer beads and turning hundreds of prayer wheels along the way. It is especially spectacular at night when adorned with butter lamps.
Boudhanath is located on what was a major trade route between Nepal and Tibet. Many traveling merchants used it as a resting place. For centuries, Boudhanath has been an important place of pilgrimage and meditation for Tibetan Buddhists and local Nepalis. It is also a popular tourist site. In 1979, Boudha became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Great Stupa of Boudhanath is the focal point of the district. There are at least 29 Tibetan Gompas (Monasteries & Nunneries) around Boudhanath. The culture is very much Himalayan with a strong presence of Tibetans & Sherpas, as can be evidenced by the number of restaurants selling momos, thukpa & other Tibetan favourites. Many maroon-clad Tibetan Buddhist monks & nuns can be seen walking around Boudha, especially at the Stupa. As a daily ritual, many people walk three or more times around the stupa while repeating the mantra 'Om Mani Padme Hum' (Praise to the Jewel in the Lotus) either quietly or aloud, the eyes of Buddha watching in all four directions. During the days of & surrounding the full moons, the air is often thick with incense & mantras sung by monks. The number of people visiting the Stupa increases significantly, along with the intensity of their mantras & prayers. Boudha is a fascinating & very spiritual area.
Kathmandu is a religious and spiritual center high in the mountains of Nepal. One cannot help but be in awe of the ancient temples, the happy, relaxed manner of the Nepali's soothed by the promise of Karma in the next life, and humbled by the breathtaking Himalayas looming on the horizon. As in Bali, the Hindu and Buddhist religions are intertwined in the everyday lives of the Nepalis, making them a gentle, happy, friendly people. We in the west can take note. Nepal is a unique, timeless place. A place where it is possible to search out the quiet and peace amongst the chaos of the large cities or easily find calmness in the serene mountains and foothills of the Himalayas. Without effort, spirituality satiates your soul and refreshes your very being. Shanti.
As in many countries, solace and quiet lies behind the walls of a church or temple; far from the increasingly maddening noise and traffic. Like the local bars in Wisconsin there is a temple on every corner. During out visit we were drawn into many, many temples to Observe. Allow. Accept.
Ritual, offerings, superstition prevailed, often laughed at by the hanumans or temple monkeys. Life along the human storyline is different from the spiritual world. The suffering, confusion and shortcomings of human nature are often perplexing. And so we are led back, full circle, to finding internal peace in the midst of chaos. It's always there. We just need to know and remember it. Samajha pare shanti.
And so it goes.........................................Next month to the mystifying desert kingdom of Rajastan. Until then remember to be calm in your heart, even in the midst of chaos. We enjoy hearing from you. Take care!
Love, Light & Laughter,
$1.00US = 111.48 Nepalese Rupee
M Hotel Thamel
Kumari Marg, Jyatha
T: +977 1 4250454 | F:+977 01 266675 Mobile no +9779802053754
19/29 Kumari Marg, Jyatha
Thamel - Kathmandu - Nepal
Excellent hotel with friendly helpful staff and clean quiet rooms. Highly recommended. Book online for discount.
Bouddhanath - some entrances charge to get in. If you go into the shops sometimes you can continue on to the walkway around the stupa.
Cafe Du Temple
Great roof top restaurant - Fresh veg momo's
Vietnamese restaurant near by with tasty food and real live desserts like apple pie and chocolate cake
* Boudhanath information compliments of Wikitravel