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Pilgimmige in India 2004

Pilgimmige in India 2004

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Published by Alan Weller

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Published by: Alan Weller on Mar 02, 2009
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1Pilgrimage in India, October/November 2004.Lessons in Detachment.Chapter 1.  The Holy Places. Abandon evil, O monks! One can abandon evil, O monks!If it wereimpossible to abandon evil, I would not ask you to do so. But as it canbe done, therefore I say ‘Abandon evil!’If this abandoning of evil would bring harm and suffering, I would notask you to abandon it. But as the abandoning of evil brings weal andhappiness, therefore I say, ‘abandon evil!’Cultivate the good, O monks! One can cultivate what is good, O monks.If it were impossible to cultivate the good, I would not ask you to do so.But as it can be done, therefore I say, ‘Cultivate the good!’If this cultivation of the good would bring harm and suffering, I wouldnot ask you to cultivate it. But as the cultivation of the good bringsweal and happiness, therefore I say, ‘Cultivate the good!’ ”(Gradual Sayings Book of the twos, II, 9, translated by Ven.Nyanaponika, Wheel 155-158.) These compassionate words of the Buddha show that also in hislifetime people must have struggled with the depth and complexity of his teachings and had to be encouraged on the right path. How muchmore so in our days!During one of our long and strenuous bus rides through India Lodewijkrecited this sutta to our friends.Lodewijk and I started our pilgrimage in New Delhi where we visitedKuru, the place where the Buddha preached the Satipaììhåna Sutta. Weclimbed up to the rocks to look at the stone with Ashoka's inscription.Here I read aloud to Lodewijk the Satipaììhåna Sutta. Before, this placewas a heap of dirt and public toilet, but our friend S.K. Singh, formersecretary of foreign affairs, had it restored and fenced in. Trees wereplanted and now it has become a peaceful place where one can reflecton the Satipaììhåna Sutta.We visited all the holy places with Acharn Sujin and a large group of friends, Thai and foreign. We went to Lumbini, where the Buddha wasborn, and each time we are impressed by the pillar erected by KingAsoka, 249 B.C. which commemorates: “Here Sakyåmuní (the sage of the Sakyan clan) was born”. This pillar, standing there unshakablethrough the centuries, symbolizes confidence in the Buddha’steachings. It is a vivid reminder of the Buddha’s birth. If he had notbeen born and become the Sammåsambuddha we would be ignorant of 
2realities. We would not know about akusala and kusala, about the wayto develop understanding of realities. We went to Bodhgaya where theBuddha attained enlightenment, to Saranath where he held his firstsermon, and to Kusinåra where he passed finally away. We also visitedSåvatthí where the Buddha spent many rainy seasons and Vesålí whereMahåpajåpatí was ordained as the first bhikkhuní. We visited Råjagahawhere we climbed the Vultures’ Peak, and the Bamboo Grove where hepronounced the Paìimokkha, the Rules of Discipline for the monks. Herethe bhikkhu who accompanied us chanted part of the Paìimokkhaproclaimed here and explained that therefore the first monastery wasactually established there.We circumambulated with candles the Stupa that marked the differentplaces and in Bodhgaya we went around the Bodhi tree, and at allthese places we recollected the Buddha’s great compassion for us. Throughout the years I have visited the holy places many times, butthis time I noticed that they had been greatly improved by theArcheological Survey of the Government of India, and that the parksaround them were well kept. The atmosphere was very peaceful andinviting to discussing and considering the Dhamma. We had Dhammadiscussions in English as well as in Thai.In Bodhgaya we had a Dhamma discussion in Thai near the Bodhi tree,next to the Stupa that marks the cremation place of the greatCommentator Buddhaghosa. I paid respect here and I thought withgratefulness of Buddhaghosa who promoted the preservation of the Tipiìaka in using the original commentaries that give clear explanationsof the texts. Here, Acharn Sujin emphasized that we should not merelythink of the words of the texts, but that we should have firmunderstanding of the characteristics of realities that appear.We should not dwell on the past that has gone already, nor think of thefuture that has not come yet. There can be awareness andunderstanding of the dhammas appearing at this moment.We visited the Maha-Bodhi society in Bodhgaya and in Saranath. Thefounder of this society Anagarika Dharmapala performed an enormoustask in restoring the holy places which were neglected and had becomelike a desert. He played an important role in the revival of Buddhism inIndia and Sri Lanka.Relics of the Buddha are kept in the Mulagandhakuti Vihara in Saranath,the building of which Anagarika Dharmapala completed during his life,not without great efforts in overcoming many obstacles. When we werein Saranath the relics were taken out of the shrine and we were giventhe opportunity to pay respect. First the monks chanted the sutta of thefirst sermon: the “Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Dhamma”. TheBuddha spoke about the Middle Way which is the eightfold Path andabout the four noble Truths.I recited this sutta several times in the bus with Sarah and Jonothan.After the chanting, we were allowed to approach the relics and the
3Venerable Kahawatte Siri Sumedha pointed to the relics with a lotus toeach of us and said: “Here are his bones and some ashes.” The relicswere also placed on our heads.We were impressed by the great devotion and eagerness with which hespoke about the holy places and reminded us that we should begrateful to have this unique opportunity to visit them.Our group also took part of the offering of food and requisites tohundred and twenty monks. This was an occasion for Sangha Dåna, anoffering to the Order of monks. According to the Vinaya those who wantto perform Sangha Dåna have to ask the Abbot to assign the bhikkhuswho will receive food and requisites. When one performs Sangha dånaone does not think of giving gifts to a particular monk, but one gives tothe Sangha.Acharn Sujin had asked Lodewijk to address the monks on thisoccasion, and he spoke the following words:Venerable Monks,On behalf of this group of Thai and foreign pilgrims under the spiritualleadership of Acharn Sujin Boriharnwanaket and the practicalleadership of Mr. Suwat Chansuvityanant, I wish to thank you for givingus this opportunity to perform Sangha Dåna. We wish to pay ourdeepest respect to you and to the memory of the Ven. AnagarikaDharmapala, the founder of the Mahå-Bodhi Society of India, whorevived Buddhism in India.We admire your courage to go forth from home into homelessness. Youcarry a heavy, almost awesome responsibility to preserve and topropagate the Buddha’s teachings.Our world is threatened by war, terrorism, religious intolerance andfundamentalism. How can Buddhists contribute to peace andunderstanding? The answer is not obvious. From my discussions withmy wife Nina in the last few weeks, four elements, basic tenets of theBuddhis teachings come to my mind.First: the anusayas, the latent tendencies, unwholesome inclinationsthat lie dormant in each citta. Why do governments and people neverseem to learn from history and continue to make the same mistakes? The answer is, partly, ignorance of the anusayas. Knowing one’sanusayas is very basic. We also have to develop the perfection of truthfulness in knowing and understanding our anusayas.Second: Satipaììhåna. Last week Nina and I visited the place Kuru inEastern New Delhi, where the Lord Buddha preached the SatipaììhånaSutta. The place is now clean, well kept and well guarded. Now treeshave been planted. Sitting besides the rock inscription of King Ashoka,Nina read to me the Satipaììhåna Sutta. It was very peaceful. Far fromgetting the full meaning of the sutta, I understood at least clearly thatthe four applications of mindfulness are not theory, but pertain to

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