Well it seems I have more to do here…on the eve of my departure a sudden shift in the fabric of the universe created an invitation to return to teach here for another month, at another resort.
I never even made it to Bangkok. Two weeks of prostrating under the Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya must have purified me enough to return to the peace and quiet and pure (if freezing) air of Bhutan.
An interesting place, Gaya. Apart from the area just underneath the Bodhi Tree, which is easily one of my favorite places on Earth, Buddhagaya, as it is sometimes called, is easily NOT my favorite place, anywhere. Dusty dirty crowded loud, there are not many places to rest peacefully here, except under The Tree, so here is where I spend my time.
Early mornings I would take a bicycle rickshaw from the Sikkim Guest House to the Mahabodhi temple, just next to the famous tree, and join Neyphug Tulku Rinpoche and a few friends for the morning session. Wooden prostration boards crowd the lawn surrounding the temple where masses of people, mostly red-robed monks, practice purifying karma for the benefit of all sentient beings. The first few days it was a bit quiet, so I was able to borrow a board, eventually I had to buy my own, which I will donate to the Bhutanese monastery there. By the time I arrive most mornings it is already 6:30, well into the morning for most of the monks.
After a few hours of bowing to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, our small, impromptu and evolving group would gather for chapattis and omelettes and chai at a restaurant somewhere around the temple. Beggar season is now, and they are everywhere. Seems they travel throughout the year, finding the tourists or pilgrims wherever they happen to be at that time of the year. They are ruthless in their pleading, using their legless, armless, pantless and dirty children as decoys.
After a long siesta and shower, the afternoon sessions generally begin around 3 or 4. Sounds around the temple relay the time of day…early morning is silent, mid-morning Tibetan style puja with horns and cymbals and deep throated chanting, several times a day the Muslim call from the nearby mosque (and “Muslim Grave Yard”). Around 6 the inner shrine hosts various groups for evening chants: these weeks it has mostly been the Thais.
After the evening session we again go to eat, usually at the cozy veg restaurant with the big booths at Mahayana guest house. After prostrating all day, bedtime never seems soon enough, and it is a treat that I appreciate rarely elsewhere like I do here. It also means I don’t have to breath nasty dust anymore for a few hours, as one tends to do all day long here.
So basically this is how I spent 2 and a half weeks, while waiting for a new Bhutanese visa. Now that I am back again in the high cold hills, I will resume the mystical tale of the Paro valley and beyond…