The Birthplace of Buddha

Tomorrow we are going to begin a 7+ (?) silent meditation program at Panditarama Lumbini Vipassana Meditation Center, run by Myanmar. It is a well-respected program, attended by around 100 international every year, many for longer stints than ours. Due to our visa expiring on June 14, the maximum we can stay there is 9 days, but we’ll see how it goes. Being quiet for days on end, while alternating hours of seated and walking meditation (12 hours total daily) may be quite a grueling task, but it should also be highly relaxing and mentally rejuvenating. The website has pretty much all of the information the curious could desire, but in brief our life will be very simple and strict, with no solid food after noon, less than 6 hours of sleep a night, and of course a pure veg diet. Meditation begins at 4:30 am, and there is a nightly dharma talk, although from the literature we have read it seems most of them are tape-recorded.
This should be a very interesting experience, probably full of good parts and bad parts; physically all the sitting still and slow walking will probably be rather exhausting, mentally we will probably be pushed even further!
We will be staying at the center, as full time meditators, and consequently will not have internet access barring some type of emergency. Hopefully since Anderson had eye problems recently, our cosmic energies are such that we will not be stricken with any more ailments :-). His eye is doing well, vision is pretty much normal in the left eye, perhaps just a tad bit weaker than the right, but now after over scrutinizing his vision-condition for two weeks, it is somewhat hard to tell! The drop regiment, with eye cream at night (as weird and nasty as it sounds… a bit string of goop draped across each eye right before going to sleep) will be continued, probably unnecessarily, but better safe than sorry while “off the beaten path.”
Yesterday evening we saw the archaeological site of Buddha’s birth, a green stone encased in glass, with what might be some semblance of a footprint, but might just be millenia of decay setting in… Also saw the pool where Buddha’s mother was bathing when Buddha decided he’d grown weary of being enwombed, all very relaxing and serene, large trees filled with prayer flags, and appropriately virtually devoid of noise (and therefore tourists).
This morning we arose early, and after some chai we again rented bicycles (100 NRs/day) and saw the remaining temples that we did not see yesterday. Highlights today included the rather fancy German compound, as well as a massive Korean temple that is still very much under construction. Many temples are in the process of being built, almost half in fact, as it seems a second wave of nations are getting involved in the Lumbini action. There are many European countries, surprisingly, though America is not (yet?) represented. Most of the places are rather extravagant, so even with Nepali building materials/costs the temples must have some wealthy donors. Where we will be meditating is at the other end of the spectrum, a small discrete group of buildings set off the main road and in the woods. Hopefully our next week will be very peaceful, surely that is what Buddha would have wanted 🙂

So no posts for a while, you’ll have to fulfill your travel fantasies elsewhere, maybe here?

Anderson & Liz

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