Buddhist Pilgrimage Day 3

Buddhist pilgrimage 2008-10-27 photos.

We would have to take a long bus journey from Varanasi to our next destination at Lumbini. Lumbini is the birth place of the Buddha.

I was a bit late for breakfast and I sat beside Raja for the only time we had ate together during the trip. He asked me why I didn't turn up for the Ganges river trip and I told him that I thought no one is actually going. Before we depart from our hotel, we had a bit of free time and I sat down at the hotel lounge to read the newspaper. There was an interesting story about an Indian boy who had helped his fellow students to learn by teaching them through arts, games and singing.

We left our hotel at approximately 8:30 am and we would eventually arrived at the India - Nepal border at 6+ pm. We had a stock of bottled water at the back of our bus. Choon Hong started to distribute the water bottles and we would pass the bottles one by one from the back to those in the front.

Somewhere along the bus journey, Sita invited our fellow members to ask Venerable Mudita questions, and she handed me a paper so that I can write the question down. I was sure that I would have a question to ask, but it would eventually took me some time before that question surfaces up in my mind.

The question would not be related to meditation practice since I had rarely meditate, it would not be related to Buddhism theory or question on zen koan. It would be related to a doubt that I have on Pure Land Buddhism. I had to read out my question as Venerable Mudita could not read all my scribbling, and I was sitting beside him at the front of the bus.

In Pure Land Buddhist thought, Enlightenment is difficult to obtain without the assistance of Amitabha Buddha. Pure Land Buddhism teaches that devotion to Amitabha leads one to the Pure Land, from which enlightenment is guaranteed. Rigorous practice is not required of those who wish to be reborn in the Pure Land. They need only have faith in Amitabha's primordial vows and recite his name. Thus, belief in Amitabha is called a path of easy practice.

The doubt that I have is Pure Land Buddhism would have offered us a much significant easier path to enlightenment as compared to the main Buddhist path. The question I asked Venerable Mudita was "Whether it is sufficient for a person to go to Pure Land after he has passed away if he has faith in the Buddha's teaching (Amitabha) and he aspires to go to Pure Land?"

Venerable Mudita answered No. Faith alone itself is not sufficient for one to enter Pure Land. It will also depend on the state of the mind, its awareness, when a person has passed away. This is dependent of whether one has done good deeds and whether one has practiced the five precepts.

Venerable Mudita's answer had cleared up my doubt.

A fellow member asked Venerable Mudita what should we do if we felt sleepy in meditation. Venerable Mudita suggested many remedies to this problem. I am afraid I cannot remember all of them. We can smile when we are meditating, when we are more joyful, we will have more energy to meditate. We can do walking meditation when we feel sleepy, we can also investigate our sleepiness.

He told us a story about Ajahn Brahm when he was young. Ajahn Brahm would put some matchstick on top of his head when he was doing meditation. But, he would become very skillful in balancing it even when he was sleepy. :)

We can wash our face. We can also contemplate on the Dhamma. We do not need to feel bad or frustrated about it, for that would only make matter worse.

Ajahn Brahm had written a book on meditation. "Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond. A Meditator’s Handbook" You can download the first 5 chapters of Meditator's Handbook and also listen to his Dhamma Talk Podcast.

Thanks to Venerable Mudita for sharing his insight.

After the question & answer session, we would have some chanting. Venerable Mudita had a portable speaker to play audio and it was being hanged to the ceiling of the bus. Even with the speaker, the sound would be quite soft from the back of the bus.

We had packed lunchbox from the hotel Varanasi and we would have to eat our lunch during our bus journey. I could tell you that this had to be my most adventurous lunch that I had, for the bus was jumping up and down. The lunch was quite delicious, I ate potato, tomato and curry puff and some breads. The curry puff was very nice. I had left the two boiled eggs to be eaten last. It would take me quite some time to remove the egg shell amid the bumpy ride. I was hoping that both the egg on my hand and the egg that was still in the lunchbox will not jump out. Eventually, I would complete my lunch. Some of our fellow members had eaten a smaller portion of their lunch.

The other difficulty that we had to endure for a long bus journey was that we would need to wait for the toilet break to pee. At least for men, we can pee just about anywhere, so we were more fortunate than the ladies. On one of the toilet break, some people might have step on some dungs that were beside the bus, and others were reminding the rest not to step on it.

We would passed through Gorakhpur at around 2:30pm, after travelling 6 hours from Varanasi. We would have a longer toilet break the next time because Raja, the assistant and bus driver would had their late lunch. Some fellow members had bought bananas here and offered them to the rest. A Thai group tour bus also came up right beside our bus.

I was able to access internet at some place and manage to post a twitter. Though, it would be too difficult to read from my mobile phone in this bumpy ride. The sky would grow dark here as early as 5pm? I would feel very sleepy from that time onwards.

We would reach the Nepal border at 6+ pm. There were quite a lot of shops near the border, but the light outside would be too dim when I took a photo from inside the bus. We would wait inside the bus at the border for quite a long time as we would need to apply for the Nepal visas ($US25) to enter Nepal.

The ladies were more talkative and were making jokes while we waited inside the bus which had become very cold. Some of the ladies like Choon Hong had come to Nepal before for trekking at around 4km height. Very impressive! Jesse took a photo of me with some ladies, I had only a few photos of myself taken with my camera phone for the whole trip.

Our hero, Raja, finally came back with our passports and visas stamped. Our patient break was finally over and we would had a short trip to our destination hotel Nirvana. Along the way, we could see signboard like Yeti airline, Buddha airline, that were named after Nepal attractions. We had our dinner immediately after reaching our hotel.

I was totally dead tired and had fallen to sleep at quite an early time for me.

Had a good nite.


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