We take our shoes off as we approach the Temple.
The gravel and stone on my feet feels so good, it’s so smooth from the millions of feet before mine.
It’s wonderful to feel this connected to the earth and something about it feels so right… one of the things I like most about this journey is the respect and appreciation I’m witnessing. I love when an entire body of people share in a common experience and this is one of many here.
It’s hard now to even distinguish one temple from the next. I’ve given up trying to understand which is which.
Our mantra on this trip is Surrender to the Mystery. This practice on non-attachment to outcomes has saved us a number of times already.
Each Temple takes my breath away, or brings me new breath, depending.
It’s a 2500-year-old sapling of the original, because the actual tree was in India and to protect it’s lineage, The King ordered saplings from the tree to be planted here in Sri Lanka to ensure its legacy.
It’s a good thing because the King’s wife became so enraged at her husbands appreciation for Meditation and jealous of how much time he would spend under Buddha’s tree, she poisoned it and the actual tree is gone.
This several thousand-year-old tree is now the most direct descendant. (many more are now in many more places— with same intention of legacy preservation) Once again it’s a good thing because for the last 30 years Sri Lanka has been in a horrible civil war and many of the sights and relics have been destroyed by terrorists.
We leave our shoes in a corral—it’s like a coat check- we’re given a number in exchange and hope it’s all legit when we return. Around here you never know.
Incredible flower stands that would put Pike Street Market to shame are lined along the walkway for us to buy flowers as an offering to The Buddha.
This sacred ceremonial act is called Pooja.
Blue Lotus Flowers are so prolific and outrageously beautiful here. The lotus is symbolic for enlightenment.
We aren’t to smell them, and if one drops, it’s done. Nothing but absolute purity for The Buddha.
As I heard this I thought about how impure I am and my thoughts are but how possible life is anyway.
As we make our way, I think about the flower venders and their families, growing the lotus flowers I think about all the efforts these people put into gathering all these items— it’s obvious this serves a dual purpose for them—they feed and shelter their families—but it’s also very evident they take serious pride in the fact that their flowers end up at the base of The Buddha, carrying with them the wishes and struggles of humanity.
Everywhere we go, I really struggle to not over pay.
The money feels so insignificant here and I recognize quickly how so little can change so much.
But then I think about the folks who come here who can’t afford more and find myself again grateful for the middle path—doing what I can where I can, not creating too much future expectation but not holding on to something someone else really needs.
It’s a fine line and I’m grateful for the awareness as I walk it, live it.
We walk up a giant promenade towards the Temple. Normally this place is packed with folks on pilgrimage, waiting and pushing and scrambling to see the sacred relic tree and the incredible statues creating the Temple.
Tonight only a few.
The Buddha statues are so prolific it’s breathtaking.
I bet there are hundreds of thousands around the country.
Perhaps to a non-artist they all look the same. From an artists perspective the subtle differences in artist, approach, material—it’s all incredibly beautiful.
Each one has a totally different vibe to me– I find myself contemplating this concept that this depiction was an actual man who made this large impact on the planet. I’m not certain about all that—I’m just certain that the teachings resonate deep within me, regardless of the form they are delivered in.
The repetition of The Buddha is part of the entire country’s experience.
It feels like it’s everywhere.
It’s so evident we are in the birthplace of the original teachings and it’s very clear the role Buddhism plays in daily society here.
It actually is the society.
When we get to the tree, it’s really beautiful. People grab the leaves almost before the hit the ground; we were fortunate to all find some.
They are beautiful and regardless if this is actually historically true; there is something wonderful about holding such a significant part of history.
Within the Temple Grounds are essentially four smaller temples on each side of the huge tree. You can’t actually get near the tree of course, incredible relic filled shelters surround it and it’s completely protected.
I’m told that this tree and the tooth of the Buddha in Kandy are the two most protected, sacred objects in Sri Lanka.
We walk around the tree compound area 3 times in honor of the Triple Gems—the Buddha, the Damma and the Sanga. As we walk, I am more and more moved by the devotion I see. I’m dedicated to my steps here because of the gifts these teachings have given me—if this is the customary respect to them, I’d do it all day.
Families are here, moms and dads with a baby or two. They are chanting, kneeling, meditating.
Expectant mom’s come here, old folks, monks, and students.
The world’s here—but the devotion is far from universal. I’ve not seen a peaceful commitment to a teacher or teachings like this that aren’t God oriented.
The Buddha clearly was not a God.
He demanded people understand this.
So, we’re hear, everyone is hear to respect and acknowledge a great man, the wisdom he offered the world, and the community of people who support it all.
I can’t imagine anything like it.
We chant together in front of one of the Buddha’s. People are watching us and I’m watching them and I think about all the people who’ve chanted like this for thousands of years.
I always think about that when I hear chanting and it makes it so moving I can’t help but feel connected to such a larger vibe.
I really really love it, for that reason alone.
As I walk, I look at the people.
I look at them holding the flowers for Puja; I look at how important this is to them. I wonder about their struggles and fears and joy and I wonder what this does for them.
I wonder what it’s doing for me?
This is the question I’m left with as we walk away—
The answer isn’t necessarily something I can just write out.
I think it’s kinda a movement, not a statement.
It’s what show’s up in my daily life.
I see the results when I choose to be kind rather than right. I see it when I choose patients, when I lean in to help someone, when I remember to be my own best friend first, when I wake up each day and add more love it the world, when I work to make things better and when I remember it’s all insignificant in the larger significance of it all.