2013 Nalandabodhi Pilgrimage

Contributed by Susan Busby

This spring, two Nalandabodhi Connecticut members were lucky enough to travel on pilgrimage with the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and 30 other Nalandabodhi members on a trip of a lifetime.  We all met in Bangkok, then flew to Myanmar (Burma)  for a week and then to Sri Lanka for another week.

Traveling with Rinpoche and sangha members was really wonderful.  We all supported and helped each other during the trip, which when you are traveling in Asia can present physical and emotional challenges.   Because the group was composed of Nalandabodhi members from all over the world, we also made new friends as we got to know members that we had not met before.  We were all blessed by Rinpoche’s presence, guidance, and, of course, his sense of humor.

We climbed to the top of Mount Popa in Myanmar (777 steps) and to the top of Sri Pada (5,000+ steps) in Sri Lanka.  We saw ruins of ancient temples, stupas, and gigantic Buddha images.  We saw Buddha relics, and a Bodhi tree grown from a sapling of the tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment.  We fed hundreds of monks their daily meal.  We sang, we shopped, we meditated and we ate together.

We received teachings and meditation instruction at several Buddhist monasteries and meditation centers in both countries.  Although these teachings and instructions were from other Buddhist traditions, many of us were struck by the similarities to the teachings and instructions we have received.  One great instruction came from Upul Gamage from the Nilambe Meditation Center in Sri Lanka about work study which also can be applied to any type of work:

(a) Do it as if for the first time, with much attention;

(b) Observe your own preferences and aversions, likes and dislikes, as you work, and try to let go of those;

(c) Try to be present.  Don’t worry about the past or future, which creates stress and fatigue;

(d) If working with others, be friendly and share; and

(e) Work for others.  Do not just work for yourself.


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